Recently I was thinking over my early years of practicing witchcraft and how impressionable I was at that time in my journey. I began to think about the various representations of witches in mainstream pop culture and where my influences fell into that genre. After a little soul-searching and introspection into who I was then and who I am now, a realization came to me. There was one iconic figure above all others who had not only influenced me early on, but remained to be a continuous source of identification and inspiration in my craft. She was someone who understood the necessity of balance in witchcraft, who wasn’t afraid to embrace her inner darkness, but was also considered inherently “good”. For all the darkness in me, I have a lot of inner light in me, too. This witch was the perfect embodiment of that.
“That witch” was one of my earliest fictional witchy influences from my teenage years: Lirio from the 1996 cult film classic The Craft! She was the beautiful ethereal witch who owned the witchcraft supply shop that Sarah’s friends took her to (and stole from). Lirio was a big believer in the balance of magick. Her character debunks the myth of having to pick between being a “lightworker” or a “shadow worker”, being a white witch or practicing “black magick”. She tells the four young witches, “True magick is neither black nor white—it’s both, because nature is both. Loving and cruel, all at the same time.” Man! Did this resonate with 14-year-old me! It’s an analogy that has stuck with me through the ages and had a profound impact on how I practice and perceive witchcraft.
In the 1990s we saw a surge of witchcraft and people who identified as witches, similar to the surge we are seeing today. I was blessed to be part of that wave of witches. It was a different time then. Without the internet to help us find each other, we had to connect in person and share our books and knowledge with each other. I remember trading my Gerina Dunwich Wicca Craft book to a friend so that I could borrow her copy of Scott Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. One thing in those books that never resonated with me was an adherence to witchcraft as it relates to Wicca. Try as I did, I never felt truly called to practice Wicca. I attempted to learn and practice it due to not knowing of any other forms of witchcraft, but it always felt off. It felt just as foreign to me as my Christian upbringing did. When Lirio acknowledged the power of embracing the darkness, that both dark and light are a part of nature, it gave me the magickal reassurance I needed at the time.
There were not very many pop culture icons representing witchcraft to look up to in those days, and Lirio’s character was a breath of fresh air compared to the other costumey and campy witch characters in mainstream movies and television. That is not to discredit or downplay characters like the Sanderson sisters of Hocus Pocus, however I never felt like they represented true witchcraft. Lirio was the first fictional character I had seen in the media who used the same verbiage used in the books I was reading, used the same tools I was using and held the same belief systems that I did. Over 24 years later, Lirio is still just as relevant to modern witches as she was in the 90s. A large portion of the witchcraft community this day in age was influenced highly by the movie The Craft, and ultimately Lirio’s character. We are those witches between the ages of 30-40, a mix of Xennials and Millennials, and we are quite staggering in numbers. I think it would be a huge miscalculation to assume that The Craft didn’t have a direct link to the number of witches in existence now. Of course, there were other influences such as Charmed and the original Sabrina the Teenage Witch. I enjoyed those shows, but never saw myself echoed in those characters the way I did with Lirio.
I still see myself reflected in Lirio. Now that I am in my late 30s and have moved from the Maiden stage of life into the Mother stage, I resonate with her maternal energy. I also regard myself as a teacher which is another inherent Lirio quality. When Sarah’s coven mates turn on her and begin to hex her, she turns to Lirio as a protective source of assistance and guidance. Lirio not only helps Sarah in her time of need, she also reveals to her that she is a natural witch, just like her mother before her. This was another concept I felt drawn to. I have always felt deep in my soul and in my bones that I had witches in my ancestral line. I think many of us feel this way. With expansive theological conversions and immigration over the last few centuries, confirming this theory has proven to be a challenge. Although I may not be able to positively identify witches from my ancestral lineage, I vow to channel my inner Lirio and become a source of hope and guidance and act as a mentor to the witches that come after me.
Thank you, Lirio for being a constant source of inspiration to myself and many other witches. Your influence has spanned beyond a quarter of a century and shows no signs of ceasing. Also thank you to the writers, producers and directors of the Craft, Andrew Fleming, Peter Filardi and Douglas Wick for creating a realistic representation of the craft which has traversed widely across the witchcraft community. Myself, and many other witches, are eternally grateful.
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