Hollywood has been presenting witchcraft in a breezy packaging with an attractive female lead at least since Elizabeth Montgomery famously portrayed Samantha Stephens in Bewitched. It’s a great way to sanitize a concept that has long been stigmatized in folklore and history. You know it’s an idea in which Hollywood is deeply invested because they keep repackaging it and selling it to you over and over as though it’s something totally new. Whether it’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Once Upon a Time or Charmed, Hollywood serves up variations on the theme every few years. While Samantha Stephens’ nose twinkle cast a spell on the American public for a respectable eight seasons, America’s most beloved teenage thaumaturge is arguably Sabrina Spellman. Beginning as a spinoff character from the Archie comics world of Riverdale High, Sabrina is a half-witch with dead parents who simultaneously tries to harness her power for good while keeping her necromantic pedigree on the down low. It’s an idea that would eventually make JK Rowling mountains of cash, but like most pop culture phenomena, the soil had already been tilled by some other archetype. In this case, it is quite likely Ms. Spellman. Never allowing a good property to go to waste, Hollywood’s deep state coterie over at Netflix have brought Sabrina back for a second time in the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
Though I am unfamiliar with the Melissa Joan Hart version of the show which ran from 1996 to 2002, it’s pretty obvious that this is a much darker take on the character and story. Like way, way darker. Honestly, if I had a daughter who was at the age for whom this show is presumably targeted, I’d feel a bit reticent to allow her to watch.
The series portrays the days leading up to Sabrina’s 16th birthday which also happens to be her Dark Baptism. This ceremony would officially initiate her into the Church of the Night and allow her to begin her studies at the Academy of Unseen Arts. The problem is that she’d be required to forsake her life as a normal teenager and follow the path of witchcraft for eternity. This includes ditching beta retard boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle, her annoying black SJW friend, Rosalind Sinclair, and her equally annoying non-binary friend, Susie Putnam. If this already sounds like the makings of another Hollywood SJW shit sandwich, you’d be correct. It’s not pure cringe, but when it goes there, it’s pretty bad.
Did you put something in my soymilk, Brina?
Read The Bluest Eye and get #WOKE, bigots.
Use my correct pronouns or get hexed, bigots.
Rounding out the Spellman family are Miranda Otto’s aristocratic Aunt Zelda. She is offset by fat and quirky Aunt Hilda played by Lucy Davis. The Spellman clan also includes the warlock mortician cousin, Ambrose. Because it’s the Current Year, he’s been reinvented as a black pansexual. Other than providing a reason to craft storylines that involve racism, an excuse to throw in some gratuitous Crowleyan butt sex scenes, and make a veiled reference to Pan in every news story, this reinvention makes no sense. Granted, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is himself gay, but it doesn’t make me any less cynical about the character rewrite.
Sabrina is also tracked by the formerly dowdy and bookish, Miss Wardwell. She’s possessed by an entity in the first episode and transforms into a vampy Elvira knockoff who’s initially presented as a Church of the Night excommunicate charged with guiding Sabrina towards the coven life. We’ve also got a trio of bitchy Mean Girl witches who exist to taunt and torment Sabrina at the Academy of Unseen Arts. Tati Gabrielle plays the alpha queen and she’s accompanied by her subservient drones, Agatha and Dorcas.
Naturally, Sabrina rebels against her witch aunts, Hilda and Zelda, because she feels that Father Blackwood was disingenuous when he assured her that she’d be able to exercise her free will after swearing allegiance to the Dark Lord and signing the Book of the Beast. Essentially, the show is presenting a bizarre inversion of the standard coming of age morality tale. Instead of the stifling strictures of conventional Christianity and Western traditionalism, you are presented with a plucky teenager bucking the conventions of Satanic Orthodoxy. Sabrina’s “rebellion” consists of taking up her dead father’s mantle of Satanic Protestantism and finding a Third Way that will eventually culminate in a confrontation with Satan himself. She is allowed to continue her dual citizenship in the world of witchcraft and mortality on the condition that she attend the Academy of Unseen Arts. With her allegiances pulled in opposite directions, which way will our brave heroine turn?
Needless to say, the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is very heavy on the occultism. Very heavy. Admittedly, it is nearly impossible to find anything in the fantasy, horror or sci-fi realm which doesn’t feature occult themes and symbolism, but this one piles it on pretty thick. There’s nothing particularly occulted or hidden about it either. It’s as plain as it can be. Cannibalism, necromancy, blood sacrifice, sex magick, demonic possession, ritual abuse, Crowleyanism. The show’s acronym is itself a reference to chaos magick. You name it, this show has it. In terms of imagery, you’ve got the now ubiquitous Baphomet statue, tons of inverted crosses and pentagrams galore. Even the Latin incantations are 100% authentic. And remember, Marina Abramović said that occult magic wasn’t art when it was portrayed on television. So basically, you’re exposing yourself to true blue occultic invocations when watching CAOS. Fun for the whole family!
What’s especially insidious about CAOS is the manner in which it plays the wholesome source material against the dark themes and subject matter. As the titular character, Kiernan Shipka is likeable and attractive. Her affections for her boyfriend Harvey and her annoying SJW friends are convincing and endearing. She displays the requisite level of smarts and independence that make her a sympathetic lead for a youth oriented series. Conversely, the occultism is played with a comparably breezy tone while being pretty depraved.
There is, of course, the predictable bevy of progressive SJW clichés. The main difference between this and your standard issue Hollywood bullshit is that CAOS gives you a clear window into the hidden metaphysics of the SJW worldview. This may seem like a political agenda arbitrarily grafted onto an occult themed teenage drama, but these ideas are, in fact, tightly interwoven. The show is replete with what’s now a standard hostility toward men. The majority of the male characters are either beta retards like Harvey, abusive, insecure bullies or lecherous dolts. The seemingly rote anti-male bigotry makes more sense when it’s linked to colonial era witchhunters who were Harvey’s ancestors. Subsequently, Sabrina’s romance with him is even more heretical because she’s consorting with the progeny of witch killers. Bloodlines matter in the occult worldview, and the weight of genetic determinism weighs just as heavily on Harvey’s fate as it does Sabrina. Even the current push for veganism and animal rights is tied back to a pagan veneration of animals as familiars and spirit guides.
Susie Putnam’s presence in the story feels at first like another checkbox ticked on the #DIVERSITY list, but her androgyny makes more sense when seen through the lens of hermetic metaphysics. Susie is a living Baphomet. As Eliphas Lévi points out in Transcendental Magic, the Baphomet is the alchemical union of the male and female divine principle.
Moreover, the sign of occultism is made with both hands, pointing upward to the white moon of Chesed, and downward to the black moon of Geburah. This sign expresses the perfect concord between mercy and justice. One of the arms is feminine and other masculine, as in the Androgyne of Khunrath, whose attributes we have combined with those of our goat, since they are one and the same symbol.
All of this pales in comparison to the epic cringe of the social justice club formed by Sabrina and her friends early in the series, WICCA. Formed as a group whose ostensible goal is fighting the omnipresent scourge of bullying, WICCA stands for Women’s Intersectional Cultural and Creative Association. You don’t have to look very hard to find all the standard SJW pet issues championed by pagan organizations. You’d think the #WOKE intelligentsia would be happy that this show was merging paganism with social justice, but NOPE. It’s just not good enough. Never is, really. Mass media MUST ALWAYS redouble its efforts to push culture towards the singularity of mass wokegnosis.
The conclusion of the series was every bit as nonsensical and incoherent as the staged row between The Satanic Temple and the producers of the show over their usage of the Baphomet statue. In other words, there’s no real conflict at all. The reason you’re sympathetic to Sabrina is because she refuses to sell her soul to Satan by signing the Book of the Beast. Her devotion to her friends and her apparent instincts for a set of supposedly higher virtues created a necessary tension to propel the story. But if you think about it for two seconds, there’s no real growth arc at all. Despite her initial refusal of the Dark Baptism, she attends the Academy of Unseen Arts and deploys the most powerful magical incantations in witchcraft as an expression of her devotion to Harvey. After it all backfires, she ends up capitulating to the Dark Lord, but only so she can summon even more powerful magic to ward off the threat to Harvey and the citizens of Riverdale. So she becomes a sort of Satanic Savior, but she ends up ditching the life she initially wanted to keep. While we surely haven’t seen the last of Sabrina’s mortal friends, the writers have set up a future confrontation between her and Madam Satan and Father Blackwood’s antichrist progeny. As she does her triumphant slo-mo march through the lobby of the Academy of Unseen Arts with her Mean Girl witches at her side, we’re supposed to cheer the fulfillment of her Satanic destiny. After all, she’s decked out in her Rosemary’s Baby miniskirt and she looks soooo cute in her new platinum blonde bob. YYYAAASSSSS. SLAY KWEEN.
Do you even Left Hand Path, bro?
All of which brings us to a couple of key questions. For whom was this show intended and what did its writers intend to convey? It’s seemingly targeted at the 10 to 25 year old set. Sure, you could argue that the 18+ crowd will regard it as just another confection in the endless digital feeding tube of Hollywood degeneracy. But what about the ongoing coverage of witches in the media? If this is just harmless entertainment, why are we seeing witchcraft being covered so sympathetically in the media with increasing frequency? And what about the younger set that will surely gravitate towards it? Satanism and witchcraft is cool as long as you “do the right thing” and avoid the Crowleyan sex orgies and ritual cannibalism? Be super careful when engaging in necromancy? Being a Wiccan is totes #WOKE if you believe in #SocialJustice?
I’d be disingenuous if I claimed that I didn’t find the Satanic posturing and iconography of Slayer, Mötley Crüe and Venom wildly transgressive when I was a youth. I perceived it as an act though. I didn’t think they were really serious about any of it. It was an affectation meant to rankle the Tipper Gores and Pat Robertsons of the world. CAOS feels different. This is a bildungsroman. This is the story of a teenager forming the value system she’ll carry into adulthood. The message seems to be that Satanism and witchcraft is cool because it helps you to #RESIST and smash the patriarchy. Listen, I enjoyed my delusions of teenage rebellion when I listened to Dio, too. I get it. I’d like to think there’s room for that kind of thing in the adolescent pop culture diet. But there’s a reason conservatives and progressives have struggled for cultural supremacy. Politics are downstream from culture, and you need a set of metaphysics to make sense of the progressive civic religion. So you smuggle them into the arts and pass it off as cultural transgression despite the fact that there are no real standards or barriers that remain to be broken. The culture is already sufficiently debased so any bubbles of outrage can be played up as evidence of the stranglehold of the demiurge over the minds of the population. And CAOS is here to tear it all down! The problem with the orthodoxy of progressivism is that the transgression threshold must be routinely demolished in order to even register on anyone’s outrage meter. Subsequently, the inverted cross on Ozzy Osbourne’s Diary of a Madman album cover is just a quaint memory that dads like to bring up when they romanticize their youthful rebellion. Call me old fashioned, but I see a difference between a metal song about Aleister Crowley and a vivid portrait of ritualistic cannibalism that’s linked to Thelemic scripture. Since that’s the new threshold for transgression, can we really be certain that everyone watching will empathize with Sabrina’s revulsion? Especially since outlets like Vice are promoting the idea that cannibalism is edgy and cool. If this represents the the new standard for teenage rebellion, I’m not sure I want to see where this leads.
Help! I can’t keep track of my MK alters!