Real witches cry foul at portrayal on "True Blood"

Fri Aug 12, 2011 2:53pm EDT
 
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By Coeli Carr

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Critics of bloody violence and excessive sex on TV have long had HBO's vampire drama "True Blood" in their cross hairs, but now the popular series has another group of wary citizens -- witches, real ones.

The series' fourth season has focused on Marnie Stonebrook (Fiona Shaw), a seemingly harmless medium and leader of a Wiccan group who becomes the physical conduit for Antonia, a long dead witch who is hellbent on vengeance against vampires who persecuted and burned her at the stake.

Marnie winds up as the mouthpiece for Antonia's spell to drive the bloodsuckers of fictional "True Blood" town Bon Temps into the daylight. And that sort of deadly revenge, say some modern-day witches, is what gives witchcraft a bad name.

"I'm absolutely disappointed with the portrayal of Marnie," said one witch -- and professor of biology at a college in New England -- who goes by the magickal name Taarna RavenHawk.

"When Marnie gives up her 'power within,' which is a witch's ability to practice the craft without harming others, it allows possession by Antonia who becomes the controlling entity. Marnie lets it happen. It's unconscionable a witch would act this way."

Elaanie Stormbender, a witch and mother of five who lives in Jackson, Mississippi, said all the members of the small community of witches to which she belongs are displeased with Marnie's behavior. "When witches invoke a spirit, they take precautions and retain full control to banish," she said. "Marnie didn't stay in control, so she's entirely to blame for giving herself over to being possessed."

Marnie's behavior also feeds into some people's fears about witches tampering with forces beyond their control, and the character's recklessness only reinforces this fear, said Stormbender.

Christopher Penczak, co-founder and president of The Temple of Witchcraft, a religious nonprofit organization based in southern New Hampshire that teaches witchcraft to students worldwide, also had concerns about Marnie's negative impact on the overall reputation of witches.   Continued...