The connection between Halloween and witches is a long standing undeniable one. After all it is often called the Witch’s New Year. However, this time of year is also one in which all of the old, often unfounded, negative portrayals of witches rears its ugly little head even in major news publications like TIME Magazine, who recently featured an online piece that feeds into the much maligned image of the witch by shockingly comparing witches to terrorists.
Over the past few years, we have seen an amazing revamping of the image of the witch, and this great media love affair with the witches challenged the old portrayals of deformed evil hags plotting with the devil. The Witches of East End shows us strong, independent women who embrace who they are and protect their family at all costs. The Vampire Diaries give us Bonnie, the ever loyal best friend, and who can forget the much loved world of Harry Potter that introduced us all to the magic of new possibilities.
Many see this revival and interest in the revamped image of the witch as a positive thing, over coming stereotypes and opening up new avenues for people to explore their own beliefs about spirituality and reviving ancient traditions. This offers witches of all traditions and religions an opportunity to openly practice their craft and share their knowledge, but not everyone is casting this witch craze in a positive light.
In a piece entitled, “Why Witches on TV Spell Trouble in Real Life,” TIME writer Jennifer Latson suggests that this revived interest in witchcraft is “mere silliness” at best and a sign of troubled times at worse. In the article, much to the offense of pagans and witches everywhere, Latson quotes history professor, Emerson Baker, in this amazingly offensive passage.
“Witches, like terrorists, threaten to wipe out everything you believe in. If they could, they would overthrow your government, overturn your faith, and destroy your society.”
This type of rhetoric is reminiscent of McCarthyism hysteria and is, understandably, provoking upset among many in the pagan and witch communities, as well as human rights groups.
“How could anyone publish this and not understand what kind of harm they are doing? Witches come from so many walks of life and religious backgrounds and most of them embrace ethics of compassion and acceptance even though we have been persecuted for centuries. To say something like this, to compare us to murders who blow up planes is just unspeakably wrong and so offensive, I can’t even believe it,” said Mother Willow, who is herself a practicing witch.
Just this past month alone, seven people were burned alive after they were accused of being witches in Tanzania, other women and children have been tortured and beaten in various countries, and most recently, a 55 year old grandmother was killed by a mob in India after her son-in-law accused her of being a witch.
Here in the U.S., where we are suppose to have evolved past the point of hysteria and oppression, could propaganda like this bring The Burning Times back to the United States? If, after all that we have learned from history, mainstream media can not see the inherent dangers of vilifying witches while attacking an entire spiritual path and all who walk it, then apparently our culture still has not learned the lesson that rhetoric like this can have serious, even deadly consequences.
TIME Magazine comparing witches to terrorists makes the accusations from the Salem Witch Trials seem almost benign. We must never forget that by the time those trials were done, 20 people had lost their lives, and the citizens of New England were living under the shadow of soul crushing fear.
With this kind of ill-informed, baseless hysteria over witches, it is little wonder that modern day witch hunts are growing around the world and show no signs of stopping, and one can not help but wonder just how high of a price witches will pay by the time it does.