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Still of Alyssa Milano, Rose McGowan and Holly Marie Combs in Charmed.

Stormy weather abounds and Starbucks have started selling their Pumpkin Spice Latte again; it can only be Halloween.

It’s a fitting time for American TV network CBS to announce that it intends to reboot one of its most beloved series, Charmed. The show was about three sisters, The Charmed Ones, the most powerful witches in existence who struggle to save the world and lead normal lives.

Whether you’re excited about the reboot or, like the original cast members, believe that it’s too soon after the original, it’s another clear sign that the media is falling back in love with witches. Other recent witchy TV successes include The Originals, American Horror Story: Coven, and Witches of East End; what is it about witches that is so fascinating?

Of all the creatures in the horror genre, I think witches resonate most strongly with women, particularly young girls. Being young can make you feel powerless, and even just the idea of going through puberty can be terrifying. All these changes suddenly happen to you without you even wanting them to–urgh, it’s a nightmare! It’s easy to see how the idea of being a witch who can take control of her environment using magic is so attractive to teenagers.

The best teen witch film I’ve ever seen is The Craft, the story of a coven of teenage witches who use magic to solve their problems before things start to turn dark. I love this movie. This, and Clueless always transport me back to being a teenager (I’m not sure what that says about me).

Like a lot of my favourite witchy stories, The Craft focuses on a group of girls who are lost and scared and so turn to witchcraft to solve their problems. Inevitably, this soon takes a turn for the worst, and they find themselves battling demons–literally and figuratively.

This basic narrative can be seen in many teen witch stories, including Willow Rosenberg from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Tiffany Aching from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. Both Willow and Tiffany struggle with discovering and then nurturing their powers, learning that with great power comes great responsibility. These characters resonate with girls because we also struggle with growing up and discovering the person we want to be.

Witches are not just about wish fulfilment; they are about growing up and discovering your own personal power and the kind of person you want to be. In the past, this was portrayed negatively–see The Weird Sisters in Macbeth or any fairy tale with an evil witch. As always, Lisa Simpson sums it up nicely: “Why is it that whenever a woman is strong and powerful, they call her a witch?”

Nowadays, witches are also portrayed as good–or at least, struggling to be good. It’s the struggle that makes them so interesting and relatable.

(If you’re in the UK you can watch The Craft AND Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix right now! I can hardly believe I’m doing anything but watching them.)

Who are your favourite fictional witches? Leave a comment and let us know!

-Sarah Jackson
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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