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Paganism in the Australian Media

Girls Charmed by Occult Cool

February 29, 2000 by Nick Miller (The West Australian)

The real thing: The Lady Tamara Von Forslun, arch-priestess of the Church of Wicca, is unimpressed by TV witches.

IT'S, like, so cool to be a witch. Forget the old robe-and-broomstick hags. The new teen witches of film and TV are feisty grrls with magic powers, designer crop-tops and the latest Hollywood dialogue.

As a result, teen occult is very groovy, baby. Australian teenagers are spending their pocket money on witchy books, posters and paraphernalia - much to the delight of publishers, the annoyance of serious Wiccans and the bemusement of Father Luke Joseph.

Last week Father Joseph, a Catholic priest, drew attention to the rise in occult worship in his home town of Wagga Wagga.

"There's a shop here in Wagga alone that has 10 shelves to astrology and witchcraft," he said. "For whatever the reason the level of interest in witchcraft is on the rise . . . it's in the shops and on television."

Teen witches are all over popular culture like a rash, in the TV series Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Hollywood films The Craft and Practical Magic.

Jamie Martinovich, program director of Channel 7 Perth, said the teen occult genre was still growing.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer was loved by 13 to 17-year-olds despite its late-night timeslot, attracting 70,000 Perth viewers each week.

The Buffy spin-off Angel was watched by about 40,000 people and Sabrina the Teenage Witch was seen by 190,000 Perth people each week.

"This sort of genre program is building and we are going to see more spin-offs," Mr Martinovich said.

The past six to eight months has seen a big boom in witchy publishing, according to Elizabeth Kelly, manager of the Down To Earth alternative bookshop.

"We have seen a big increase in sales of these books," she said. "Also the publishers are changing, bringing out little spell books and not just the big heavy books of occult history."

Young girls were driving the sales, Ms Kelly said - though there was also a rise in orders from young men. The girls generally liked the self-empowering philosophy of the books.

One such book is Teen Witch - Wicca for a New Generation. It translates Wiccan beliefs into "teen speak", covers basic rituals and spells such as an exam spell and love spells.

But the trend has not impressed the Lady Tamara Von Forslun, arch-priestess of the Church of Wicca Inc.

"I hate it," she said. In the Wiccan religion, a witch is the equivalent of a Christian priest. Becoming a witch requires years of study.

"I've seen these movies, The Craft, Practical Magic and the TV series Charmed with all these demons and ghoulies and I think, my God, what a load of codswallop," she said.

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