Sunday, January 20, 2013

Forever Charmed (Part Two: The Magic)

While the magic in charmed is often referred to as "Powers" or simply "Magic" in the show, there are sometimes mentions of the words 'Pagan' and 'Wiccan' in the show. I know a little bit about Wicca due to a book called 'Pop Goes The Witch' by Fiona Horn that had read early on in high-school and am quite pleased (and surprised) by some of the accuracies of 'Charmed'.  Wicca is a religion that is often mistaken as voodoo or satanism. It's actually a form of witchcraft and many Wiccans or Pagans refer to themselves as white witches.

Obviously, Wiccan people don't have active powers. They do cast spells and burn candles and mix herbs together, but they call on the power of nature and the elements to help them. Really, these spells are more like saying prayers and making wishes except the people of this particular religion call upon a different god/goddess to help them. The people of this religion are also encouraged to celebrate powerful dates on the calendar and they often get together with others (usually members of their coven) to do this. I'm not going to pretend to know everything about the religion, because I don't, but I thought I'd just give people a vague Idea.

 The way the girls practice magic in 'Charmed' is actually very similar to some of the practices of Wicca. The major differences are that the girls actually have powers (though, in the show they have had non-magical witch characters) and demons don't have much to do with Wicca at all. The similarities are that real life witches do keep a book of shadows, they do use a lot of natural herbs and oils and they often do gather in groups (some of the Covens shown earlier in the series for example). The rule with magic in charmed is that you can't practice magic for personal gain. In real life a similar rule exists where any bad magick cast comes back on the witch who cast it threefold; three times as bad. Real life witches can cast spells for personal gain, just not ones that will hurt other people. 

In the show the witches meet different members of the Magical Community. Fairies, Elves, Giants, Gnomes, Dwarfs, Mermaids, seers....etc. While some versions of Wicca (yes, just like Christianity there are different versions of the religion) do believe in the existence of some of these beings, none of them actually get to meet. While some of these creatures do exist in or are based on Mythology/Legends, there are some characters that are quite obviously made-up.

One of my favourite things about this show is the personal aspect of the characters lives. Compared to some themed shows (whether they be about murder investigations or musicals) 'Charmed' has a fair bit of personal stuff in the show. The three women in the show  have the same personal dramas as many women out there (part of the reason the show attracted so many fans), things like finding love, the fear of losing love, losing someone who is important to you, work dramas and family dramas. It's also interesting to see how the current demon problem relates to the issues they are having in their personal lives.

The Magical aspect of the Halliwell sisters' lives affects their personal lives in a big way. Their personal dramas are somewhat magnified because a demon can strike at any time. The sisters' romances, jobs and friendships are often put on the line because of a "family emergency" (AKA there was a demon in the house again) and then there are more problems; the possibility of someone discovering magic and the constant legal dramas- "How come they are always hanging out at crime scenes?". There are a few times during the show when the witches consider giving up their powers to lead normal lives, but they decide that no, being "Charmed" is their destiny.

The show explores the ideas of what it means to be good and what it means to be evil many times throughout the series. Sometimes the Charmed ones become influenced by evil and have to learn to resist it. Sometimes the demons disguise themselves as "good" people; whether it be a date, a doctor, a little kid or a teacher. And, then there are innocents that think the witches evil, simply because they have powers or because of their preconceived ideas of witchcraft. I like how this aspect of the show really makes its audience think. It makes you question each character and their motive as well as asking "What Exactly is "The Greater Good" ?"

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