One of the scariest movies I saw as a child was “The Witches,” (1990) based on the book by Roald Dahl. A boy and his elderly grandmother are on vacation at a hotel, where he discovers a secret society of witches. They wear masks and long gloves, and their goal is to kill every child in the world. They plan to do this by starting candy shops with poisoned sweets; the sweets will turn children into mice, who will then be killed by their parents. The boy and his grandmother turn all the witches into mice and have them eaten by cats; the boy is turned into a mouse, and the book ends with him still as a mouse. (In the movie he returns to his human form.)
This archetype of the witch is similar to the one in “the Witch” (2015) and “Hereditary” (2018); a witches curse with fuck up your whole family and make you kill each other in the most terrible ways.
The other side of the witch archetype is the sexually liberated, pagan woman who’s assertive, confident, and has supernatural abilities. Examples of movies with these characters include Maleficent (2014) and Harry Potter (2001-2011).
Now, I happened onto this subject while talking with CharityYates on Twitter about a dream she had after reading an article about how Beyoncé was a witch, and she woke up thinking it was 1876. That was just enough of a prompt to send me on an internet scavenger hunt.
I found this wonderful article about how the videos for Lemonade invoked the Yoruba water goddess Oshun, who was known for sensuality, love, and fertility.
“In “Hold Up,” the album’s second single, Beyoncé appears as Oshun, a Yoruba water goddess of female sensuality, love and fertility. Oshun is often shown in yellow and surrounded by fresh water. Donning a flowing yellow Roberto Cavalli dress, gold jewelry and bare feet, Beyoncé channels the orisha, or goddess, by appearing in an underwater dreamlike state before emerging from two large golden doors with water rushing past her and down the stairs.”
Invoking a Yoruba goddess could definitely be perceived as “witchy,” in a positive sense.
On the negative witch side, Beyoncé’s drummer Kimberly Thomson tried to get a restraining order against her boss in 2019 for practicing black magic on her. She says Beyoncé killed her kitten, sexually molested her, and kept lovers away from her. Try as I might, I couldn’t find anything beyond that complaint to provide any context.
But there is a lot to be something to be said for negative occult imagery in hip hop, like Lil Pump’s Illuminati.
Might wake up tomorrow and buy a Bugatti (Bugatti)
Illuminati (Yeah, sheesh)
Swervin’ in ‘Rari while I’m on an Oxy (Brr)
Two twin hoes in the lobby (In the lobby), ooh
Sorry, b*tch, I don’t say sorry (Uh-uh, yeah)
F*cked on that b*tch from the UK
I put her on molly, now she act retarded (Damn)
Illuminati make a b—h go crazy (Go crazy)
I don’t know which one of these is my baby (Uh)
The whole idea is fairly creepy. This is more like the negative Witch archetype – hurting people for no reason, using drugs to make people into a shell of themselves.
Of course, I’d be remiss if I started with a description of the Witches and the disguised witches and didn’t mention David Icke. Icke’s key concept could have been lifted from Dahl: shape shifting “reptilians” manipulate events to keep people in fear so they can feed off that fear. This has required him to defend himself multiple times, saying essentially, “no, no, I don’t mean this as a code for Jewish people, I’m talking about actual lizards.” Jon Ronson’s Them is a terrific read, and includes a chapter where he travels with Icke. He also spends a chapter with Alex Jones, the Klan, and a Muslim extremist. He infiltrates Bohemian Grove with Jones, and the whole experience sounds more like a frat reunion than a cult power ceremony.
I’m going to wrap up here. Conspiracy theorists get characterized as crazy people with bizarre beliefs. But, would a company sell a knowingly tainted product for years, despite knowing that it was tainted, like the potion to turn kids to mice? Juul shipped millions of pods that were more than a year old. CEO Kevin Burns, when asked, “Half our customers are drunk and vaping like mo-fos, who the fuck is going to notice?”
(Content Warning: following paragraphs discuss sexual assault and pedophilia).
Would an international pedophile conspiracy be allowed to hurt children with widespread knowledge by public and private officials? According to the Ryan Commission, “Catholic clergy had, across decades, violently tormented thousands of children. The report found that children held in orphanages and reformatory schools were treated no better than slaves—in some cases, sex slaves. Rape and molestation of boys were “endemic.” Other reports were issued about other institutions, including parish churches and schools, and homes for unwed mothers—the notorious “Magdalene Laundries,” where girls and women were condemned to lives of coercive servitude.”
Would beloved entertainment figures reveal themselves to be serial rapist of more than 50 drugged women? I grew up watching Bill Cosby on the Cosby show, Picture Pages, Fat Albert, Ghost Dad … and had just finished watching the entire Cosby Show series on Netflix with my wife during a really painful period in our lives in 2014, when I started to read about the accusations.
If I were British, Jimmy Savile’s crimes might have had a similar personal impact. He was a knight, a well known TV presenter and comedian, who hosted Top of the Pops and Jim’s Fix It, where he made wishes come true for kids. And he used his charities as cover for his sexual abuse of hundreds of people.
“At Leeds General Infirmary, 60 people, including both staff and patients, stated that they had been abused by Savile, their ages ranging from 5 to 75. …It was reported that Savile had boasted to nurses and other staff that he performed sex acts on the bodies of recently deceased persons in the mortuary of Leeds General Hospital and claimed to have removed glass eyes from corpses and made them into rings.”
Allison Mack, the cute blonde actress from “Smallville”, was prosecuted for sex trafficking after she had recruited young women into a cult called Nxivm. These women were branded and kept as sex slaves.
“There was a secret society formed within Nxivm called D.O.S. — an acronym for a Latin phrase meaning “Lord/Master of the Obedient Female Companions” — where women were “slaves” overseen by “masters” and ordered to have sexual relations with Mr. Raniere.”
“Ms. Mack is said by prosecutors to have targeted vulnerable women under the guise of female empowerment, starving them until they fit Mr. Raniere’s sexual ideal and threatening them with the release of collected “collateral.””
These accusations were proven in court, but if Alex Jones rattled them off to you without other context, they would sound crazy. I haven’t even mentioned Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Scientology, Jerry Sandusky … There’s no need to bring a gun to Comet Ping Pong. The abuse is real, and famous people really do hurt vulnerable persons.