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The Surprising Consultant That Was Hired For The Craft

The year was 1996. The bangs were thick, the eyebrows thin, the flannels plentiful, and the movie that would cement Fairuza Balk's future status as a '90s cult classic queen, "The Craft," was the number one movie in America on its opening weekend. 

Twenty-three years before New York Times columnist Jessica Bennett declared society had officially "reached peak witch" — as evidenced in part by the rise in influencer witches, witch podcasts, and the #witchesofinstagram hashtag — director and co-writer Andrew Fleming's "The Craft" was enchanting hip, alternative teen girls everywhere. But beneath the leather jackets and "Letters to Cleo"-laced cool girl vibe of this unexpected hit lay a genuine respect and reverence for the Wicca religion. In order to imbue the film with as much authenticity as possible, Fleming relied on a consultant whose expertise on the subject he knew he could trust: an actual Witch.

She 'felt obligated to try'

"The Craft" filmmakers were eventually put in touch with then-First Officer of the Covenant of the Goddess' Southern California Local Council, High Priestess Pat Devin (via Mental Floss). In a 1998 interview with fellow Wiccan and CoG Public Information Officer John Brightshadow Yohalem, Devin spoke at length about her experience working on the film. 

"They told me a bit about the movie, that it concerned teenage girls who begin to experiment with magic as a way to attempt to gain power and control their lives," Devin explained (via Wychwood – A Castle Between the Worlds). She said that director Andrew Fleming told her, "'You'll have to remember that this is a movie. It's Hollywood. It's not intended to be a documentary about the Wiccan religion. It's intended to make money. It will, hopefully, be entertaining. Do you think you can work with that?'"

In her own words, Devin said she told Fleming she'd "certainly be willing to try" after getting to see the script, which she ultimately found "pretty encouraging for the genre" — and the rest is cult classic consultant history. 

Still, Devin was quick to affirm that, just as Fleming told her, "The Craft" isn't a documentary — it's a movie about teenage girls. Regarding her contributions to the final product, she told Yohalem, "No matter what you do, you won't be able to please everyone. I decided to try to get as much truth into what was, after all, a teenage date spooky movie, as I could. I knew the results would not be perfect, but I felt obligated to try."

Whether or not Devin displeased any of her fellow Wiccans in her necessarily pragmatic approach, "The Craft" more than pleased audiences, earning itself both cult status and a shiny new reboot in 2020. And even if it's true that we've "reached peak witch," as Jessica Bennett proposes, the irresistible and inspiring appeal of watching the ostensibly powerless (in this case, teenage girls) attempt to attain agency and tap into their own version of power is something that never goes out of style. (See: "Harry Potter," "Twilight," "Shadow and Bone," "Cursed," "Fate: The Winx Saga," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "The Umbrella Academy," and so on, and on, and on.)