Unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve probably already seen – or at least heard about – The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Originally a set of comics written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated by Robert Hack, the series has recently been turned into a television series by Netflix. Unlike the original Sabrina the Teenage Witch series from the 90’s, The Chilling Adventures presents a much darker version of Witchcraft. And it’s this version of the Craft that has many real-life Witches up-in-arms.
I don’t want to give away too many details, because you should watch the show yourself, but I will say that the Devil plays a major role. Essentially, Witches must sign their names in the “Book of the Beast” in exchange for their magical powers. The show does not hold back or in any way sugar-coat the Satanic elements of the story. Naturally, some members of the Witchcraft community are not pleased. Those who are upset have taken to the internet to bemoan the show’s misrepresentation of actual Witches.
However, this is nothing new. Throughout the years, pretty much any time a new Witch related movie or show comes out, there are practitioners who feel that said movie or show does not accurately represent their Witchcraft. But here’s the deal, just because it isn’t representative of your Witchcraft doesn’t mean that it isn’t representative of someone else’s. No one person, group, or tradition owns the word Witchcraft. Therefore, there are hundreds (if not more) permutations of what Witchcraft looks like. Meaning, it is damn near impossible for any movie or show to be inclusive towards all forms of Witchcraft.
And just for the record, some Witches do work with the Devil, whether it’s the Devil of folklore or Satan from the bible.
Of course, there is also the entertainment aspect of it all. It’s a fictional television show. It’s meant to be entertaining. I’m sorry but I don’t think many people (myself included) want to watch a show where the magic is ultra-realistic. Witchcraft and magic IRL is amazing and wonderful, but it also operates largely on a non-physical level. So, what exactly would we be watching? Someone meditating?
That being said, I’ve found that many of the spells and rituals performed in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina are pretty legit. This may very well be because they have actual Witches and Occultists working on the show. The magic isn’t overly fantastical and much of it feels at home within real life practice. For example, they use or make mention of charm-bags, poppets, cleansing baths, and reversing candles. The curse used by the Weird Sisters in the first episode comes from Paul Huson’s Mastering Witchcraft. Not to mention the exorcism ritual in episode six contains references to Witches from both history and folklore, like Sybil Leek and Mol Dyer. And speaking of folklore, the show is littered with subtle references. For instance, the character Nick Scratch whose name consists of two common nicknames for the Devil of popular folklore. Additionally, their depiction of familiar spirits is pretty spot on!
For myself, the new Sabrina contains several elements that are familiar to my own practice. I’m able to enjoy those pieces as well as those that don’t align with my beliefs. Why? Because it’s just a television show. And I’m not going to flip my lid because something doesn’t match my personal Craft to the letter. Again, we need to get over the habit of bemoaning those things that are different or unfamiliar to us. After all, isn’t that exactly what causes people to fear Witches in the first place?