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Playing with paganism: A review of season three of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

By in Culture

Season two of Sa­brina left viewers with several new promising plo­tlines being set up. However, with new plotlines comes new prob­lems.

The newest sea­son brings us even more crazy stories, spooky scenes and a new host of characters. New charac­ters bring new antagonists, in­cluding anoth­er main villain for the series — pagans.

A small band of pagan witches wan­der into Greendale with their own agenda, and they threaten Sabrina’s already weakened Satanic co­ven.

The pagans want to resurrect the ‘Green Man’ — a promi­nent symbol in Celtic paganism — and return the Earth to the religions of the old world that existed before the rise of new belief systems like Christianity. Or in Sabrina’s case, Satanism.

Right off the bat, paganism is a slightly problematic term to be using as it is an umbrella term for religions that are based on beliefs like naturalism and an­imism, have a feminine figure­head or are polytheistic.

The word ‘pagan’ originates from the Latin word paganus, which was used by the Romans to refer to people living in rural areas.

As more people converted to Christianity, especially those liv­ing in cities, “pagan” became the term for the rural folk who still believed in the old ways. How­ever, the term came to be used for many different cultures, no matter how different they were.

Lumping several belief sys­tems together like this is a com­mon way people mishandle paganism, and it is a shame that the series has to perpetuate it.

Additionally, when it comes to ideas about paganism, the series writers seem to pick and choose what they want to be pagan. Lumping together Greek mythology and Celtic mythol­ogy together under the guise of ‘paganism’ is an artistic li­cence taken a little too far. The mythologies are far too unique and different to have that done to them.

One of the pagan charac­ters goes by the name of Circe, who is no doubt based on the sorceress and goddess Circe from Greek mythology and Ho­mer’s famed character from The Odyssey. She even turns men into pigs at one point: an obvi­ous homage to the goddess.

Circe is portrayed as cunning and malevolent and even dras­tically harms one of the series’ most beloved witches, Hilda. The leader of the pagan witches is another hoof-footed figure­head from Greek mythology, portrayed as the obvious bad guy.

Despite all this villainization of the pagans, in the hour of their greatest need, a group of witches led by Zelda call on the help of the triple goddess Hecate. She is another figurehead from Greek mythology, who is somehow good and better than the other pagan figures in the series.

The pagans are portrayed as bad, but when the coven is in trouble, they decide to call on a pagan goddess because she is the only one powerful enough to help. This constant switch feels like the writers didn’t do their homework and were just pick­ing names out of a hat that they vaguely recognized.

Despite the mishandling of paganism, season three was action-packed. It felt like an analogy for Sabrina’s own pen­chant to stretch herself too thin by doing too much, and things going haywire because of it.

The series, like Sabrina herself, needs to slow things down a bit and work on doing fewer things really well, rather than trying to do too much with the end result being only half as good.

Trying to lump Greek mythol­ogy and paganism while enter­taining numerous other subplots makes the show feel rushed and sloppy. One can only hope that the next season is an improve­ment.

The end of season three fore­bodes an even bigger, darker threat that Greendale will face in season four, but who knows what that danger will be this time around? With Sabrina liv­ing a double life between hell and Earth, one can only imag­ine what sort of brouhaha the next season will bring. Hopeful­ly, there isn’t more impromptu singing.

Gabriella Fourie

Graphic: Shawna Langer / Graphics Editor

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