However, in this post I want to talk about "Pagan" movies. I realize that I probably won't cover every well-loved Pagan movie, but here are 10 that made my list (more or less in order):
10. Mirror, Mirror (2012):
Ok, once I got over the initial shock of OMG, I HAVEN'T SEEN GIANT FURRY BLACK CATERPILLAR EYEBROWS LIKE THAT SINCE JENNIFER CONNELY IN LABYRINTH!!! (sooo distracting...) I thought this was a pretty good film. Not fantastic, but fun and imaginative. It also proves a point that I think Pagans understand better than anyone else: there's nothing new under the sun, but everyone likes a well-told story, including one that's been told over and over before, especially if it's been modernized or given a new spin. Because this also pretty much sums up religion in general.
9. The Skeleton Key (2005):
NOT that into Kate Hudson. Still, I liked this movie enough to buy it, and my opinion of it is remains good even after watching it several times. The portrayal of Hoodoo in the movie is the reason why it made this list. And I know, there’s a lot of stupid
8. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000):
So, I'm sure you are starting to see that I'm one of those people that really like "bad" movies (you know, the MST3K variety?) and this one is no exception. I think it's great, in it's horribly-campy-crappy-sequel kinda way. Naturally I love the fact that the movie contains a Wiccan ("Erica"), who bandies about a few actual Wiccan ideas, such as "we embrace nature, not evil" and talking about "the first law of Wicca is harm none - because whatever you do comes back on you threefold, and karma's a bitch." Now granted, that's about it for actual Wiccan content, unless you count her large and very obvious pentacle and her going around saying "Blessed Be" and doing tarot and chanting. The "may I have permission to take this leaf? THANK YOU!" scene is priceless. So is her talking about Witches being a "persecuted minority" and the rants that follow. And the scene where she invokes Persephone... alright, maybe this movie is a bad example. But you can still laugh at Erica and her PERFECT portrayal of a Fluffy Bunny and lame Witch stereotype.
7. The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988):
I'm including this movie because it is loosely based on the true findings of ethnobotanist and anthropologist Wade Davis, who investigated the zombie phenomenon in Haitian Voodoo (Vodoun) society in the early 80's. He discovered that the rumors of zombies were real, finding scientific evidence of one man's supposed death, "resurrection," and subsequent slavery as a zombie. By going to Haiti, learning firsthand about Voodoo, and eventually participating in some of the ceremonies, Davis was able to understand how religion, culture, "zombie powder" (a potent poison used to drug the victims), and psychological manipulation caused the people targeted to behave like the living dead. Davis hated this horror-movie adaptation of his book, but it's worth a look for its entertainment value and introduction to the subject.
6. Various Miyazaki movies (1984-current):
If you are looking for quality, kid-friendly movies that are not only entertaining but that also impart Pagan morals, check out some of Hayao Miyazaki's films, such as "My Neighbor Totoro," "Princess Mononoke," "Spirited Away," and "Kiki's Delivery Service" (among others.) Miyazaki is known for portraying strong female characters, pacifists, the interplay between good and evil, and the existence of the spirit world around us. Most of his films also have a clear message of conservation and environmentalism. Little Witches will really enjoy "Kiki's Delivery Service," about a young Witch growing up and finding herself. It's really adorable, and one of my favorites.
5. The Craft (1996):
You would think that Pagans would hate this movie for all of the crazy, special-effect "witchcraft" shenanigans that happen in the second half, but apparently I'm not the only Pagan who likes it. Personally, I dig the ritual scenes from the first part, which look quite a bit like what we actually do in our covens. This movie is also on my list because it is was the first mainstream movie to portray Wicca, and despite steering people the wrong way on a lot of things, it got people interested in learning more about it. That in turn promotes reading and discussion, two things that I don't think you can ever have enough of.
4. The Secret of Roan Inish (1994):
Another good family movie, this one is set in Ireland and weaves a tale of a selkie and her connection to a little girl named Fiona and her Irish family. Selkies are seals that can come to land and shed their seal skins to become human, in some cases having romances with other humans and often even marrying or having children with them. In this movie, Fiona discovers that her rumored selkie ancestor may be the reason for her little brother's disappearance. This movie is chock-full of both nautical and Irish folklore, and should definitely be watched by anyone who has a strong love of the sea.
3. All the Harry Potter movies (2001-2011):
I think these are awesome Pagan movies... and with Harry Potter, you either get it, or you don't (and if you don't, you probably don't like it.) Harry Potter's world is fun and entertaining enough that it obviously falls under the "fantasy" and "make-believe" categories, but when you look a little deeper, it is amazing how much actual magical and metaphysical content there is in the books, and by extension, the movies. Names, mythology, herb and gemstone correspondences, divination, even magical theory to some extent can all be found here. Both the movies and the books also teach some valuable moral lessons, in my opinion. And whether you like Harry Potter or not, as a modern fairy tale, it seems destined to become a classic, and it has had a huge impact on Paganism. Read Starhawk's 2001 essay, "Why I like Harry Potter" here: http://www.starhawk.org/pagan/harrypotter.html
2. Avatar (2009):
I've heard "Avatar" being described as "Dances With Wolves - but in space." I guess that description is not that far off, when you really think about it, except that the natives win at the end of "Avatar." We all know, on the other hand, how things turned out for the Native Americans: NOT SO GREAT. But anyway, this movie is my #2 pick is for three simple reasons:
1. The ecology and sustainability (this includes social sustainability) among the Na'vi.
2. The worship of Eywa, a nature-based Mother Goddess of Pandora (perhaps the planet itself.)
3. The reality of both of these portrayed as natural, concrete, definitive facts of life.
I mean, what Pagan doesn't envy the Na'vi to be able to plug in and access their Goddess and their ancestors like that, or to live in complete harmony with their people and their surroundings? I realize that not everyone is like me and wants to go live in trees and scrounge around in the forest for all their needs, but I think that almost every Pagan who watches this movie wishes on some level, however small, that they too could visit Pandora or make Earth a little more like it.
1. The Wicker Man: (1973):
Yeah, yeah, I know... this is almost every Pagan's favorite movie. But damn it, it's just so much fun, despite how dated it is. Supposedly Alex Sanders even consulted on the movie, which is what gives it it's authentic feel where Paganism is concerned. And even if you've never seen the movie, I'm sure you already know that the Pagans are the "bad guys," but that won't keep you from rooting for them anyway. Seriously, if you have never seen this, check it out. It should be mandatory viewing for anyone with a broom and/or a pointy hat.