Category Archives: Reading Lists and Reconmendations

Insidious- A Witch’s Thoughts

by White Bryony

I saw this recently and thought it was actually very interesting from the perspective of someone who practises witchcraft and sprirtwork so I thought I would review and share it.

Spoiler warning: I do try to refrain from giving too heavy spoilers, and any bad ones will have a nice warning so that you can skip it if you like. I also swear a bit.

Insidious is the story of family whose kid who falls into a coma and then kinky shit starts happening. This is the kind of stuff that makes you relieved to hell and back that these kinds of spirits are seriously goddamn rare. Here’s a link to the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1YbOMDI59k

I’ll first get the technical non-witchy stuff out of way:

  • James Wan, your calling is to make/direct ghost stories. I know that you are extremely unlikely to ever read this, but dude, you are awesome at it.
  • The script is excellent as well. Great pacing, good dialogue- I cannot compliment the guys who made this thing enough. We need more of you in the (horror) film industry today.
  • The choice to have minimal soundtrack in the first act was a very good one
  •  I also applaud the sparse use of jump scares and how well those that were used were built up and designed to further the plot. Thank you guys for putting in effort.
  •  Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne were fantastic as the parents. Patrick Wilson: I will try to stop seeing you as your character in Hard Candy (though you were pretty good in that too)

 

Now for the not so good stuff:

  •  I’ve seen The Phantom Menace. If you have too then the big bad demon might be a bit difficult to take seriously. Alternatively this might be a good thing. Nightmare retardant can be so nice.
  • There was one moment with horribly conspicuous CGI. The rest of the film had been so good about CGI use that I was a little disappointed for those few seconds.
  • One of the problems in the film probably could have been solved with a decently performed exorcism in the dad’s childhood. More on that later.

Ok, now that’s all done onto why I think a review of this is relevant to this site (SPOILER): ultimately the main plot is otherworld travel. I’m pretty sure that’s what a lot of people here do.

Quite honestly, it could have uses as a warning thing for people who are being an idiots with their path. Watching this can really give a powerful message of don’t cut corners or bad shit will start happening. Sure, it might not be to this extent but sweet Mother it’ll scare you into pausing to think for a moment first. For a pgan the moral of the film could almost be “If you don’t protect yourself demons will crowd around you/start feeding off you/send you into a fucking coma.”

I would almost be enough of an asshole to say to a newbie who doesn’t seem to quite get what the otherworld can potentially entail “Ok look, fine you want to learn this stuff? Awesome. Watch this first. It’s not exactly realistic but it’ll really make you want to use protection. A lot of protection. And maybe a night light.”

If you’re not new to the crooked paths it’s a great watch too. The parts with the otherworld travel were incredibly well executed and you can have a lot of fun (and get scared) at how completely insane everything gets. At one point they call in a spiritworker of some kind whose methodology is certainly interesting and probably a good choice given her line of work… though some it might give you a laugh.

It does surprise me a little bit that I didn’t see this film get more popular among pagans who walk the crooked paths, especially given that astral travel is a huge part of the film. Ok, fine some won’t like horror but it’s so good that I would have thought I’d hear a lot more favourable word of mouth (I heard some people say good things about Paranormal Activity, after all). Is it too close to home? Are you not able to suspend your disbelief? Whatever the reason I”m going to throw a reccomendation out there if you don’t mind watching something creepy.

Now to the fear side of things. This film is very clever with its scares. In the beginning it held back where it needed to, and once shit gets real it still holds back just enough that you don’t quite know what you’re looking at. It is a very creepy film.  Insidious only needed one shot to really freak me out. It involves a creepy smiling doll. Holding a shotgun. Somehow this is a horrible combination (I was thinking of trying to find a screenshot of that but it would require me looking at it again for a prolonged period of time. I really don’t want to.) It really cleverly builds suspense and tension so the climax actually ends up being a bit of a relief. The spirits in this are terrifying at times. (Don’t like creepy smiles? There’s a whole family here to freak you out!) but their motivations are pretty believable. Some of them are pretty much just wanting a go in the empty body, a couple are just being assholes.

Ok, there is one problem I mentioned earlier and feel the need to discuss. If you don’t want a pretty major spoiler then skip this paragraph…  Why on earth did they not exorcise the dad when he was a kid? Why? Part way through the film we’re told that when he was a child he had a spirit/demon attach itself to him like a parasite because he’s been projecting himself without realising and therefore without protecting himself. They stop him projecting, fine, but they don’t kick the spirit completely off. WHY? You can’t just leave it and hope it will go away- you can see it sneaking closer to him in photos. It is clearly waiting for the chance to do something nasty. His mother goes and speak to a decent spiritworker of some kind so why didn’t they get rid of the damn thing? If anyone else has seen this did they mention why they didn’t? That’s the only major issue I have with this film.

So if anyone wants to get scared one evening watch Insidious. Sure, you might not want to do anything remotely connected to astral travel for a while (Ah. I think I might have answered a few of my questions from earlier….) but it is a really good creepy film.

 

 

I almost changed my mind and stuck a picture of the doll here. You can thank me later.

 

Book Review: Sacred Circles: A Guide To Creating Your Own Women’s Spirituality Group

Just finished reading Sacred Circles: A Guide To Creating Your Own Women’s Spirituality Group by Canes and Craig.

This is a really great book for anyone who is trying to create a small, earth centered group. The authors teach workshops on forming small groups, dynamics between people, and how to keep the focus on the spiritual and away from the drama. They have worked a lot with UU congregations, Wiccan circles, Jewish groups, and drumming and dance groups.

Since a few of us at our UU congregation are trying to formalize our pagan committee, bought the book used and found it quite useful. We will have men in our circle, but much of the advice can be translated to a men’s circle or mixed circle. I recomend this book to everyone who does group workings and rituals, and for those who participate in pagan book clubs and formal covens.

The book has a section which helps create your own rituals– it lays out a structure for rituals (similar to a Toastmaster’s speech– there is a topic or “Intention”, an introduction, a body and a closing) and offers questions for you to think about so you can better flush out your rituals. There are also some sample rituals from the groups they visited and from their own practices. They talk about what a ritual is, about an altar and how to set one up, etc.

Another group of sections is about discussion sessions. They think that each session should be led by two members of the circle, and that it should rotate periodically so everyone gets a turn. They also bring up the idea of the talking stick (we use this in RE for the kids)– where the person with the “stick” is the one who will share, and everyone else will ACTIVELY listen. They offer some sample topics for discussion– most are gender neutral (like money, death, ancestors, childhood faith, food) but some are more women focused (childbirth, menopause, women’s health concerns). For each topic, there are some sample activities (they like crafts as a way to bond the members) , questions and altar decoration.

Finally, there is a lot of discussion about interpersonal issues and conflict management.