15 Most Enchanting on Screen Witches and Covens
Let's explore the most spellbinding magical women of TV and film...
Over the last few years there has been a massive resurgence in people holding pagan beliefs and practising witchcraft.
Historically 'witch' was a derogatory term and a deadly accusation. Now, powerful women and men are reclaiming the term and reviving the practice, taking back control of their spirituality and power.
Of course, there have been active pagans for many years but now more than ever it is safe to practise witchcraft in the western world, and to do it outwardly with pride.
In celebration of the modern witchcraft revival I want to reflect on the most captivating representations of witches in TV and film.
15. The Sanderson Sisters
The iconic trio from the 1993 movie Hocus Pocus. Winifred, Sarah and Mary were executed in the 17th century for being practitioners of black magic. After accidentally being revived by a young boy, they only have one night to cement their return and gain immortal life. The sisters are definitely three of the most hilarious witches on this list but what is the most iconic thing about the Sanderson Sisters? Their rendition of I Put A Spell On You, of course.
14. The Grand High Witch
1990's movie The Witches is an adaptation of the Roald Dahl book of the same name. On screen, Anjelica Huston plays the Grand High Witch. Most known and celebrated for her role in The Addams Family as Morticia, she plays her part in The Witches perfectly. Not the most impressive movie on the list, but Anjelica's compatibility with the role is on point and the scene where she pulls her face off to reveal her true form is wonderfully cheesy in the same way that low budget 80's horrors are.
13. Sabrina Spellman
Sabrina Spellman is a character that appears in one form in the 90's TV show Sabrina The Teenage Witch, and in a more modern and darker form in Netflix's The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Which one am I referring to with this entry on the list? Well, both.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is an impressive and dark fantasy that is excellent for the more mature fans of Sabrina, that want a more serious story.
However, Sabrina The Teenage Witch is nostalgic for a lot of us, funny and lighthearted. Let's not forget about some of the absolutely sarcastic and witty comments that Salem the cat graced us with. Long live Sabrina The Teenage Witch.
12. The Wicked Witch of the West
The wicked witch from The Wizard of Oz is most likely the earliest memory of a witch on film that a lot of us have. She embodies the stereotypical Halloween-decoration style hag with the pointed nose, evil cackle and typical black hat attire. She first appeared on screens in 1939 and remains one of the most recognisable witches even today.
11. Nancy Downs
Featuring in 90's cult classic, The Craft, Nancy is the perfect representation of why you shouldn't let power get to your head. Despite her being a malevolent character, she captured hearts of fans everywhere and is still an icon for weirdos.
You may not remember her by name but Lamia is the witch in Stardust that covets the fallen stars heart to grant herself and her sisters eternal youth and life. To do this, she needs to cut out the heart of the 'star' and eat it. Stardust is one of my favourite movies to watch when I need a pick-me-up and Michelle Pfeiffer is excellent in the role.
9. Bellatrix Lestrange
Played by the marvellous and eccentric Helena Bonham-Carter, Lestrange first appears in Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix but her character really shines through in later movies. Another deeply malevolent entry for the list, but evil or not she is one of the most captivating witches I have ever seen in a film.
8. Hermione Granger
Of course we can't include Bellatrix without a mention of Hermione Granger. The intelligent, well-spoken and assertive young witch was a beacon of inspiration for young girls all over the world. Emma Watson brought the beloved character from the books to life in a magical way.
7. Yennefer of Vengerberg
The troubled sorceress from The Witcher who captured Geralt of Rivia's heart. She evolves from a hunchbacked peasant who was unsure of herself and her power into a beautiful and powerful sorceress, sure of herself and her ability. She is magnificent and challenges usual stereotypes presented by similar characters in film.
The first but not the last entry from the TV show Salem. The show aired between 2014-2017 and it was a fantasy re-imagining of the Salem witch trials. Tituba was handmaiden to Mary Sibley and a powerful witch who later also becomes a seer. She was determined and would stop at nothing to achieve her desired outcome, even if that outcome was dark.
5. Mary Sibley
Mary Sibley becomes a witch after sacrificing her unborn child to Satan, under the direction of the aforementioned Tituba. She becomes the most powerful witch in the town and seems to have total control, until she doesn't. Her old lover returns to the town and eventually she has a change of heart and turns her back on the malevolent goals of her sisters.
4. Mercy Lewis
The penultimate entry that features in Salem, Mercy was a poor young girl that suffered disturbing afflictions appearing possessed. These afflictions turned out to be the doing of Mary. When she becomes a witch she admires Mary and her great power for a while, before breaking away from her and seeking revenge. Mercy's power becomes very strong and her character development throughout the show is drastic.
3. Anne Hale
The final entry from Salem (can you tell I'm a fan?) Anne is an innocent and bright young woman that despises the events of the witch trials and has little interest in the talk of witches in the town, preferring to spend her time charitably. Later she finds out that she is a witch herself, having inherited it from her father. Despite this realisation, she still tries to do good. In a shocking development, Anne gets darker and darker until she is the most powerful and malevolent witch of them all.
2. American Horror Story's Coven
I was considering choosing a couple of witches from the Coven to focus on for the purpose of this list but it is impossible. All of the witches are so different and so impressive to watch for varying reasons. Even the nasty ex-supreme Fiona was fascinating to watch. Coven varies from a lot of the other entries on this list because the witches are modern and their stories take place in the present or thereabouts. A lot of them evolve from typical young girls and have the values and interests of current young women which makes all of them exponentially easier to relate to. Bonus points for getting Stevie Nicks on board. Coven is certainly one of the best seasons of American Horror Story so far.
1. Madam Mim
Can anyone name a more iconic witch than the marvellous, mad Madam Mim? Absolutely not. She is the antagonist in the animated movie The Sword In The Stone and she is absolutely bat-shit crazy in the best way. Icon.
There have been a number of representations of witches in TV and film over the years and you can see them evolving as public opinion and perceptions change and become more positive and accepting towards practitioners of witchcraft. These are just a few of my favourite fictional conjurers.
I would love to know who your favourite on screen witches are! Who would you have included on this list? Let me know @curiouslycreepy on Twitter and @creepyandcurious on Instagram.
Stay creepy and curious, ghouls.