Pagan Paths

Hellenismos, otherwise known as Greek Reconstructionist Paganism, is the traditional, polytheistic religion of ancient Greece, reconstructed in and adapted to the modern world. It's a vibrant religion which can draw on a surprising amount of ancient sources. Baring the Aegis blogger Elani Temperance blogs about her experiences within this Tradition.

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Introducing Switch (UK Series)

Before I start, allow me to take a moment for some blatant promotion of fellow blogger Star Foster's radical experiment: getting money for a blogging day job. She's absolutely worth it, so please check out her plea and IndieGoGo campaign!

Alright, on to the post!

Because I'm both a lesbian and a Pagan, I get send a lot of things people think I may find interesting. I love it when people do this; most of the stuff is really good, poignant, or simply hilarious. One of the things that got send to me a lot is the new UK series Switch. I guess this is because I blogged about Pagan characters we would like to see, and Pagan webseries

 
This post contains spoilers.  


Switch is a television series about a group of four girls who live in London, deal with boy/girl trouble, jobs, and friendship. Most of that dealing is done through magick, because all of them are witches. A few days ago, I caught up with the series, of which three episodes have aired. I didn't have high hopes for it, and most of my fears were realized, but I have found I like the girls, and the stereotypes aren't offensive.

 

This series is a bit like Sex and the City but with less sex, less high fashion and more witchcraft. It features (from left to right) Stella (Lacey Turner), Jude (Nina Toussaint-White), Grace (Phoebe Fox), and Hannah (Hannah Tointon).

Stella is responsible for the 'Earth' element. When we meet her, she works a steady job, is the coven's mother, has spare keys, emergency packages and any other type of preparation one could possibly need. She's also a lesbian but hasn't been with anyone for five years. There's a magickal reason for that.

Jude is the 'Fire' girl. She's passionate about anything she does; be it boys, fashion or friendship. She works at a clothing store but wants to be a fashion designer. True to her fiery nature, she's like the Samantha of the group, just not as explicitly.

Grace is the 'Water' type and the coven's leader--at least according to her mother, who's very upset the girls 'didn't make solstice'. Grace is in love with Jude's sort-of-boyfriend, unhappy about the coven's progress, and continuously struggling with herself and her emotions. The Book of Spells the coven uses is hers, and seems to contain spells passed down her family line. Grace is also the homemaker of the four.

Hannah--obviously--is the 'Air' girl; she has traveled all over the world, finds it very hard to stay put anywhere, and has no idea where her mother--assumingly also an air-type--is. Hannah is sweet but naive, and manages to get herself in a lot of trouble by not thinking things through.

These girls stay true-to-element throughout the episodes so far, without going overboard on them. It makes for pleasant watching. Switch is not about being a witch, it's not about being Pagan, it's not about the Wheel of Year or anything else. The Rede has no place there (although that's not a requirement for witchcraft at all). This is a show about four girls who try to make it through life and have the dubious fortune to be witches, so they can create shortcuts through magick.

Only Grace seems to have a little bit of the Pagan spirit. She's an hereditary witch, grew up in a household where get-togethers with other witches and covens was normal and eventually started her own coven when leaving for London. The others seem to be less invested in witchcraft as a way of life, seeing it more as something that can quickly change their lives for the better; a new boss when the old one threatens to fire you, a love spell when the boy you like doesn't love you back, a resurrection spell when you have accidentally killed your boss' cat, etcetera.

There is lots of spellwork in Switch. The girls are powerful and usually complete the spell successfully; the results tend to be a little less well thought out, though, either because they didn't prepare well enough or because some things simply don't work nearly as well when you charm them into being. A memory loss of twenty years instead of two hours, for example, or turning a gay boy straight (unintentionally, I might add). Problems that are fixed without magick tend to be the problems that stay fixed, all the others go hilariously wrong some way.

The fact that they just improvise all the spells makes for dangerous situations as well, and it's shown that the way they practice--through magickal ingredients and other aids--isn't necessary for magick to happen. Yet, because they don't work on their magick enough, it is nessesary for them. I suspect this will become a 'thing' as episodes progress.

Switch is not a slapstick comedy. It's not about the laugh. There is a lot of humor in it, though, and I do love the UK so very much for spell casting with a vibrator, inappropriate marijuana use, LG(B)(T) inclusion and witches who are just normal people with powers. Of course the series does go overboard on occasion; a remote control to freeze the lives of two people? No one noticing all the spell-work or abrupt changes in the lives of these girls? No questions asked after you've been charmed and done and said things very much out of character? I don't think so.

The title of the series, by the way, is a bit of a mystery to me. The girls send each other a 'witchtext' with the word 'switch' in it when they're in trouble and need magick done (they can only practice witchcraft when the whole coven is complete). Then, there is a weird tilting thing with the camera, and all the girls drop whatever they are doing and rush over--and yes, that includes Hannah who jumps on an eleven hour flight for a 'switch emergency'. I'm assuming that they use the word 'switch' to indicate a shift in the fabric of reality--undoing something by switching the events about. Plus, it has the word 'witch' in it, so that is always a bonus.

I'll probably keep Switch on my to-watch list for a while. It's funny, and there are a few story lines which interest me (including the overarching 'plot', but interpret that plot very loosely, please). There's Stella's love life, Grace's relationship with her mother and possible proper witchy history, the friendship of the girls and the hilarity that is their spell-casting. Whomever came up with those spells should get an award. An example:

"Spirit wise, spirit fair, help our friend heal back her hair."


To me, that's comedy gold, right there. All in all, I would encourage people to try the first episode. If you're not put off by the way witches are portrayed, you're going to have a lot of fun. Is it a good show? Well, I guess that depends on what you're looking for. Switch is light entertainment with good actors, fleeting story lines and witchcraft performed with pretty effects. It's worth the watch, but if episode one does not do it for you, you're not going to like the rest of it either.

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Elani Temperance is a twenty-seven year old woman, who lives with her partner in The Netherlands. She has been Pagan for a little over twelve years and has explored Neo-Wicca, Technopaganism, Hedge Witchery and Eclectic Religious Witchcraft before progressing to Hellenismos. Although her home practice is fully Hellenic, she has an online Neo-Pagan magazine called 'Little Witch magazine' (www.littlewitchmagazine.com) in which she and several co-writers try to cover the whole gamut of Neo-Paganism. Baring the Aegis is also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BaringTheAegis

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