From the Good Witch of the North in The Wizard of Oz to TV's favorite domestic enchantress in "Bewitched," the subtle influence of witches in pop culture has existed for years. Now fast-forward to the 21st century where witchcraft has become more pervasive and oftentimes darker. From movies like The Craft to television shows such as "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" and "Merlin," today's culture is saturated with witchcraft.
The influence of pop culture has made witches and witchcraft appealing to today's teens. Growing up on Harry Potter books and movies has further opened doors for teens to experience both a curiosity and a familiarity with witchcraft. Increasingly, towns in the heartland of America, once known for their strong Christian heritage, are becoming hotbeds for Wicca, a pagan religion that emphasizes the worship of nature.
Pop culture's obsession with the occult has motivated families to discuss what the Bible has to say about witchcraft, as well as why religions like Wicca are growing in popularity. Why are so many young people attracted to witchcraft and Wicca, and how should parents respond when their teens express curiosity?
What attracts teens
Christian author Steve Russo has written extensively on this topic and says that understanding why teens are drawn to witchcraft is the first key to addressing this. "Young people are looking for power, and Wicca is a belief that promises supernatural power over their environment. Too often they see Christians around them who are leading powerless lives," Russo says. "Films are also marketed and packaged very effectively."
Marla Alupoaicei, another Christian author on this topic, agrees. "Wicca holds special appeal for women because it emphasizes the sacred feminine combined with a passion for caring for the earth and our environment. Women are highly valued and even worshiped in some instances." The Wiccan religion is attracting men and women of all ages, and Alupoaicei claims that Wicca is the fastest growing religion in America.
Modern Wiccans often present themselves and their beliefs as benign, stating that they don't worship Satan or sacrifice animals. They claim to be seeking to harness the natural forces of the earth and use them for good. Alupoaicei disagrees. "Kids need to know the Bible specifically condemns the practice of witchcraft," she says. "Wicca and the practice of magic or spells are not harmless fun." (Biblical references to witchcraft can be found in Deuteronomy 18:10 and Galatians 5:19-21.)
Engage in the conversation
Christian parents may have a limited understanding concerning the world of witchcraft, but a growing familiarity among teenagers begs for parents to engage in the conversation. Russo says that some parents are uncomfortable addressing their teens' questions because of their own fears and lack of information. Parents have a "no fly zone" where they don't want their children to go when questioning their faith or discussing other religions. To avoid this communication barrier, Russo offers three suggestions:
Listen, really listen
Don't be afraid of questions that need answers. Answer your teen's questions without condemning her curiosity. When you don't know the answer to a question, help her search for it.
Some parents have no clue what's on their kids' iPods or iPhones. Carefully research the books, movies, music and religions such as Wicca that define your teen's generation.
Talk about the why
Ask your teen why he's interested in certain books, movies, music, and so on. Have him write out a list of the possible benefits and harmful effects. Encourage him to find Scripture that supports his point of view. Many teens will figure things out on their own if you show them how to reason.
An ongoing line of communication will also help you gauge the influence of peers and social gatherings that may encourage your teen to play with a Ouija board or participate in a séance. Talk with your teen to determine how she is being influenced by others.
While keeping the dialogue open is important, it's equally important not to downplay the serious consequences of dabbling with witchcraft, Alupoaicei says. "If parents see warning signs or discover that their child possesses witchcraft-related paraphernalia (such as Wicca books, spell books, tarot cards, crystals, etc.), they need to discuss the matter with their son or daughter right away."
Although Christian parents need to talk with their teens about witchcraft and culture, they need not fear. The Bible reminds us, "The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). As the parent, you still have the privilege and responsibility of praying for protection and understanding in your teen's life.