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  • Writer's pictureAstrid The Psychic Witch

6 Movies That Weave Real Witchcraft into Their Narratives

As someone deeply fascinated by the portrayal of witchcraft in cinema, I’m thrilled to share with you five films that go beyond the typical cauldrons and broomsticks to capture the essence of true magical practices. These films are a testament to the intricate and often misunderstood world of witchcraft, inviting us to look closer at the rituals and symbols that have been carefully woven into their narratives.

1. The Wicker Man (1973)

Wicker Man witch sabbath ritual

“The Wicker Man” stands as a towering figure in the realm of occult cinema, immersing viewers in the enigmatic customs of a secluded island community. The film’s depiction of the May Day celebration is steeped in ancient Celtic lore, with its portrayal of the Green Man and the sacrificial Wicker Man effigy drawing from pre-Christian fertility rites.

What makes this film particularly enthralling is its commitment to authenticity; the chants, processions, and offerings presented are not the stuff of fantasy but rather echo the seasonal cycles and earth-based worship that are cornerstones of many pagan traditions.

The haunting soundtrack further enriches the atmosphere, embedding traditional folk music that perfectly encapsulates the island’s eerie aura.

2. Häxan (1922)

Häxan movie clip

“Häxan” is a fascinating journey back in time, not just in the history of cinema but in the portrayal of witchcraft itself. This silent Swedish-Danish film, whose title translates to “The Witch” in English, serves as part historical document and part dramatic reenactment, exploring the fear and hysteria surrounding witchcraft in the Middle Ages. Its groundbreaking use of special effects, including stop-motion animation and double exposures, creates an eerie atmosphere that’s captivating even a century later. “Häxan” doesn’t just tell stories of witch hunts and trials; it delves into the psychology behind them, suggesting that many accusations of witchcraft were rooted in misunderstandings of mental illness and social non-conformity.

It’s a bold critique of how fear can lead to profound injustice, making it a must-watch for those interested in the intersection of history, mythology, and cinema.

3. The Craft (1996)

The Craft movie clip around the fire

“The Craft” may be seen as a teen flick at first glance, but its cultural impact on the perception of witchcraft is undeniable. This film introduced a generation to the concept of Wicca and the modern witch, showcasing rituals that, while dramatized, were grounded in real practices.

The use of an actual Wiccan consultant ensured that the elements of circle casting, invoking the elements, and the ethical “Rule of Three” were depicted with a certain level of respect and accuracy.

The film delves into the personal transformation of its characters through witchcraft, highlighting the empowering and sometimes volatile nature of stepping into one’s power. It’s a narrative that mirrors the personal journeys of many who walk the witch’s path.

4. Simon, King of the Witches (1971)

Simon, King of the Witches movie poster

“Simon, King of the Witches” is a film that stands apart for its earnest portrayal of esoteric ritual and philosophy. It is one of the few films that directly references the work of an actual occult figure, Franz Bardon, whose teachings on Hermetic magic are complex and profound. The protagonist, Simon, is not just a caricature of a sorcerer; he embodies the dedicated practitioner, using a variety of ritual tools and techniques that will be familiar to students of the occult.

The film delves into the use of ceremonial magic, the creation of magical diagrams, and the invocation of divine forces, all of which are integral to Bardon’s system.

It’s a film that invites viewers to look beyond the veil of special effects and consider the disciplined pursuit of metaphysical understanding.

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5. The Love Witch (2016)

Elaine The Love Witch ritual

“The Love Witch” is a visual love letter to 1960s technicolor films, but it’s also a meticulously crafted depiction of witchcraft. Director Anna Biller’s commitment to authenticity shines through in every frame, from the handmade costumes and sets to the actual magical practices depicted on screen.

The protagonist, Elaine, uses real tarot cards from the Thoth deck, engages in rituals with historically accurate herbs and oils, and casts spells that are inspired by genuine magical workings.

The creation of witch bottles and the careful attention to detail in the altar setups showcase a level of dedication that is rare in cinematic portrayals of the craft. This film doesn’t just play dress-up with the aesthetics of witchcraft; it embodies the ritualistic heart and soul of the practice.

6. A Dark Song (2016)

Dark Song movie ritual

Venturing into the realms of the intensely personal and esoteric, “A Dark Song” is a gripping tale of grief, obsession, and the rigorous demands of ceremonial magic. This Irish independent film stands out for its raw portrayal of the lengths to which individuals might go to harness the powers of the unseen.

The story follows a grieving mother who enlists the help of an occultist to perform a months-long magical ritual, the Abramelin, which is said to grant the magician the knowledge and conversation of their guardian angel.

What sets “A Dark Song” apart is its dedication to the minutiae of the ritualistic process. Unlike many films that gloss over the laborious and often taxing nature of true magical practice, this movie dwells in it. The characters undergo a grueling process of purification, isolation, and repeated rituals, accurately reflecting the commitment and discipline required in many forms of high magic.

The Abramelin ritual itself, though not commonly practiced, is drawn from historical occult texts, lending the film an air of authenticity rarely seen in cinematic portrayals of witchcraft.

“A Dark Song” doesn’t shy away from the darker sides of magical practice, including the potential for obsession and self-destruction, making it a compelling addition to our list for its honest depiction of the complexities of real witchcraft.

These films, with their distinct narratives and aesthetics, all share a common thread: a reverence for the real practices that define witchcraft.

They remind us that witchcraft is not just a trope to be trotted out for scares but is a living, breathing tradition with depth and complexity.

Happy viewing, and may you find a spark of magic in every story.

Astrid The Psychic Witch

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