Time magazine said witches aren’t real, and now it’s facing a real-life witch hunt. A number of critics in the pagan community are demanding an apology from the magazine this week after it published an article exploring pop culture’s never-ending fascination with witches and the occult, but appeared to relegate witches to the world of fantasy.
The article cites numerous witch-themed cultural touchstones, from Arthur Miller’s classic McCarthy-era drama, “The Crucible,” to last year’s FX series “American Horror Story: Coven.” The article notes increased interest in witches and witchcraft and cites historian Emerson Baker, who attributed that spike to post-9/11 paranoia.
“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,’ Baker writes,” the article said.
Many practicing Wiccans were not amused, and some accused the magazine of comparing witches to terrorists. A Change.org petition calling on Time magazine to apologize for the “inflammatory article” quickly spread on social media and pagan-focused Facebook pages.
Some in the community took to Twitter to criticize freelance writer Jennifer Latson personally:
@JennieLatson Recommend you research and talk with actual practitioners of Wiccan and other pagan practitioners before smearing them.
â€” Morgan Sheridan (@morgansher) November 1, 2014
“I wonder when was the last time a witch beheaded someone, set fire to someone or bombed someplace?” wrote one person who runs a Facebook community for pagans. “When was the last time witches started a war? When was the last time witches advocated banning a book or burning a symbols on someone’s front lawn?”
At least some in the community defended the article -- or at least said they were not offended by it. The piece, defenders pointed out, focuses largely on fictional witches in literature and entertainment, which are separate from real-life Wicca and other neo-pagan religions.
One Facebook commenter wrote: “I am all for taking up a fight against people speaking against witches, but this one is actually saying fantasy witches are people’s teddy bears that protect them against the monster under the bed or the horror movie you watch after a crappy day at work to get over it.”
Read Latson’s article here and decide for yourself.