Things I Learned About Wicca From “Wife Swap”

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  March 7, 2006

There are good reasons I normally don’t watch television. “Wife Swap” on ABC is one of those very good reasons. It was only because the episode promised to feature a Wiccan High Priestess that I sat down to watch it. The plot is pretty typical, get two very different women, swap their lives, and after some hardship (and tears) everyone learns an important lesson about life. So instead of re-hashing the highly edited conflicts and resolutions why don’t we talk about what I (and the millions of viewers who watched last night) learned about Wicca and Paganism from the show.

Donna Thompson aka Lady Belladonna 'Bella' LaVeau

Donna Thompson aka Lady Belladonna ‘Bella’ LaVeau

The witchy star of this weeks “Wife Swap” was Bella Thompson. Here are some things about her that the show doesn’t tell you. She runs the WISE Seminary “a Religious College for Esoteric, Metaphysical, and Pagan practitioners to gain the necessary education to function as a proficient cleric to today’s educated seekers.” The school is run out of her home in Conyers, GA and is affiliated with The Aquarian Tabernacle Church. Thompson was a Hospital Corpsman during the Gulf War, and was a successful businesswoman in the mortgage industry before becoming a full-time Witch.

So you would think that with all these qualifications a somewhat accurate portrait of Wicca would be shown (within the confines of reality television of course). Instead here are the top ten things I learned about Wicca from “Wife Swap”.

1. It seems that fire-spinning is a sacrament of Wicca.

2. Wiccans believe that invisible house-elves help them with their chores.

3. Wiccan home-schooling programs don’t include math.

4. It is the 1000-pound dragon on the roof that causes the leaks.

5. Having the last name “Gardner” may make you quite good at magic.

6. Awful lot of astral projection going on.

7. Wiccan kids write on the walls.

8. The High Priest’s job is to worship (and pamper) the High Priestess.

9. High Priestesses of Wicca are tattooed just like the priestesses in “Mists of Avalon”.

10. If unhappy with your coven’s behavior smashing ritual items (instead of calling a meeting to explain the situation) seems to be the way to go.

All talk of goddess worship and actual Wiccan belief seemed to get buried in talk about faeries and elves and dragons. Most of the time the viewer uneducated in the ways of Wicca would think that by “goddess” they mean “the high priestess should be treated like the goddess”. I’m wondering if the Thompson family will be happy with the show after they actually see it. I’m wondering what the folks from The Aquarian Tabernacle Church will think of this inadvertent profile of their seminary.

Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Pandora

    Well, you know.Invisible house elves DO help me with the housework, doncha know, though they seem to do this mostly by throwing glitter in the corners, which doesn’t damn help MUCH…..

  • Cynthia

    What did you expect? What kind of person participates in one of these cheap shows anyway? Certainly not someone with their act together! And of course, the editors would make sure that Wicca was not portrayed in a favorable or at least believable light. Thank you for taking the time to post your 10 items – but I didn’t waste my time watching the show – and I guess you won’t be doing so in the future either!

  • sihaya09

    Right on. Aside from the fluffyism that was rampant on that show, the fact that the HP smashed the coven plate really pissed me off.As I said in my LJ– I agree that the coven needs a whole separate place to function. It’s an energy thing– you find a place that can be completely marked by the group’s energy, because the group’s energy and the family’s energies were clearly not playing nice in this situation. The logical solution is to find a new place for group workings/hanging out, then move the coven’s belongings to that place. It is not any one member’s right to damage group property. That altar plate symbolized the group, and breaking it without consulting the others was a serious abuse of power and transgression of trust. Period.And I have to note that I totally said “YES! THAT’S IT!” when the more traditional dad said something about as long as there’s one foot still in the real world, there is something great about adding a little magic to life. I thought that was a really astute observation on his part, particularly because he was so far outside his comfort zone.Anyway, is it sad that with reality TV being what it is– that is, blatantly sensationalist crap– I’m just happy that they didn’t equate Wicca with the devil?

  • Corwin of Amber

    If Wiccans had said the harsh truth from the very beginning, i.e. that Wicca is not a millenia-old Celtic religion, that the Burning Times is the fruit of sensationalism and bad historical research, that the Goddess civilization never existed, or that the godfather of Wicca is Aleister Crowley and the grandparents were Moina and Samuel Mathers of the Golden Dawn, there wouldn’t be now so many fluffy bunnies talking about elves in the kitchen and dragons on the roof. It was stuff for the tabloids 50 years ago and it continues to be now.

  • Tara

    I am a ex member and was shown on the wife swap, I left, as well as 2 other members, they make threat’s with the use of magic against people and if you would like to see what kind of people they are you can go to Bella’s live in lovers page (you also saw him on the show, her and her husband have been seperated for awhile but got back together just for the show) His page is http://360.yahoo.com/profile-3lXe3hAibqR7eazue.yUQKfmckgHVj8Z9g–?cq=1They are a complete disgrace to the pagan community.

  • Dusty

    What they didnt show you one the show is how we Made the mom cry by giving her a runic reading, and telling her that she wanted to have a little girl. They didnt show that the mom over here sat on the porch 95% of the time smoking cigs and freaking out. they also didnt show that we taught her candle magic, and made her a spot on the family altar. They also didnt kick Daniel and I out of the coven. That shot was taken 2 days before rule change. we were talking about a friend, and we were talking about warlocks to the mom, and they edited it up. The 3 members of the coven that left the coven, couldnt stand the fact that, after getting Bella’s teachings, they were responsible for their own reality, and they freaked out, and started calling the police on everyone, and blasting people all over the net, and across the pagan community. And what they dont tell about the house elf, is that it is an Energy that helps with house cleaning. not an actual elf. And the Dragons are the wards put up to protect the house. Not living breathing dragons. Obviously. Anyone who takes these shows as documentaries, needs to remember that Television is made up. It was the shows perogative to take down all the magic in the house. and they Held a contract up to Kennys face and told him he had to do it. The plate smashing was a direct result of all of the hell that, the 3 people who left the coven fed into Kenny while the show was going on. He smashed the plate due to their maliciousness. And banned them from the covenstedAnd this statement:”And I have to note that I totally said “YES! THAT’S IT!” when the more traditional dad said something about as long as there’s one foot still in the real world, there is something great about adding a little magic to life.”Is a direct result of Bella being a Damn Good Witch. A crappy hack witch never would have gotten this response. so yes it was sensationalized, but its television. And we could have had a “72nd degree, arch templar in the Draconian religion” who would have REALLY been a hack. Instead we have sacrificed one of our real priestess’ to the media, and now everyone is talking smack about her. But The head of the ATC watched the show, and called us post haste to give his approval. And is also in discussion to merge his seminary with Bella’s. They also dont show Kyle proclaiming that Bella did real magic in his house, because they refused to show all of the magic they did. Luaxanna has a full workload at school. It would be illegal if she didnt. So think what you will, but these are the facts. I wass there.

  • Tara

    no I didn’t leave the coven cause I freaked out. I left because I saw that you guys don’t live in the real world. It is all magical to you, There is no balance. Someone would get a hang nail or a headahce and it is somekind of attack. Now I can not speak as to why the other members left but I never once called the police or any authorities for that matter. And Kenny never banned me from the covenstead lol. Your right I am responsiable for my own reality, I saw what went on in that coven and that is why I left. Yes I agree they spoofed a whole bunch a crap, people were called to come over there and then when you did it was made to look like you always show up there to hang around. Like the husband said you have to have 1 foot in reality, maybe things would get better if you came back down to earth.

  • Anonymous

    I THINK THE WHOLE REASON WHY THIS WOMAN WENT ON THE SHOW IN THE FIRST PLACE WAS TO EDUCATE THOSE WHO ARE IGNORANT OF OUR BELIEF SYSTEM, NOT PUTTING PAST THE PRODUCERS OF THE SHOW TO MESS IT UP. SO DON’T BLAME HER FOR WANTING TO EDUCATE AND PUT SOME PEOPLE’S MIND AT EASE WHAT IT IS WE DO BELIEVE IN? AREN’T YOU BEIN A BIT JUDGEMENTAL AND PESSIMISTIC? WHAT DO YOU KNOW OF HER INTENTIONS?

  • Anonymous

    Regardless of her intentions, the telling fact is that she lied to get on the show. Everyone in this community knows that her loving, doting husband had been kicked out of the house months ago, and her boy-lover (the astral projection “guru”) moved in. It’s sad – how could you possibly hope to show Wicca in a good light, if you’re basing your entire premise (and desire for $20,000) on a lie?

  • yarstruly

    http://blog.myspace.com/yarstruleeIt made for good TV, but not an accurate pcture of the pagan community…Dusty….don’t you ever get tired of being Bell’s mouthpiece?

  • Dusty

    Possitive or Negative, the energy you feed into us is Worship.And Arwin nightstar, after 7 years you still worship Bella.

  • Anonymous

    It seems as Wiccans we take 1 step forward and 10 back when people like this use our religion in some idiotic public display. WE try to gain the respect of our peers and some freak that calls themselves wiccan, screws everything up. I think the producers of this show can spot these people a mile away. Back to the broom closet for the rest of us.Thanks Bella

  • Dusty

    Possitive or Negative, the energy you feed into us is Worship.

  • Anonymous

    what is this shit about sexual preditor husband? What ‘s the proof???????????/

  • Dusty

    ABC has asked that all material pertaining to Bella and WifeSwap be taken down, and yes Tara, the waiver you signed is legaly binding to the contract. I have taken down everything that I have the ability to remove, and have petitioned everyone else, so my liability is null. I would hope you would do the same.

  • Anonymous

    Regarding the show, I know nothing of it because I was not there and I agree that TV people will jump at the chance to make a mockery of anything.Also, Dusty I don’t know you either and from what I have read of your posts here and there, you seem like a very loving and loyal person. However, I HAVE had the very unfortunate chance to get to know Bella in the past. She told me directly of her questionable training. What she told me really didn’t make any sense. I know several legitimately trained HPS’s and not one of them are self-proclaimed after only one year (if even that)of formal training.Furthermore, being an HPS involves a certain shedding of self focus (rather than the opposite). This woman is WAY too self involved to truly take on the responsibilties of the growth and transformation of other souls. Perhaps it is all the badly aspected leo qualities she posesses.More times than I can count, I watched her scheme and switch faces in order to feed on whatever attention she could steal (no matter the cost to others).It has been a long time since I have been anywhere near her outright disregard to others. So, perhaps she has grown out of that infantile state of hers. However, the fact still remains that as far as anyone can really see, she is still running a “coven” based upon a lie.When you put yourself in the public eye like she did (for money no less) you only accelerate the return of all of the energy you caused or help create in the past. In other words, you reap what you sow.Bella has burned many personal bridges over the years in order to advance her status. I’m sure there are some positive things she has done in the past. So, may they also come back to her as well. Personally, I’m quite enjoying seeing all of this Bella-bashing all over the place. Perhaps it will make a dent or two in her oversized ego and bring her back down to earth.In some wierd demented way, I think she means well, but she has a lot of greed and self issues; and she is definitely one of the last people I would choose to represent our community.She probably DID intend to help further public opinion towards wicca or paganism in a positive way. But by mixing that in with greed she amplified some of her greed issues from the past as well.It’s understandable that you are trying to defend her honor. But you should keep in mind that there is only so much honor to defend.

  • Lupa

    Well, I was upset and speachless at the show, and I do know Bella, Kenny, and Dusty. Bella actually isn’t that flakey, but do not take that as a defense against her character. I have seen her in action, although never directed at me. Bella is Bella, as the plant is deadly, so can she be, if so minded. I have heard her claim her lineage before, but personally I stopped listening, I don’t care if you are a direct descendant of so and so, and had formal training from suchity such, if you don’t know the Craft of the Wise, then you don’t know it, and no amount of name dropping is going to change that. I have only to talk to a person to know. Listen to the words they dont’ say.But I digress, what I wanted to say is this, tv is never accurate, not in reality shows, and not even in the news. There are always three sides to every story, yours, theirs, and the truth. For ratings, and sensationalism, tv producers will spice things up. It is to be expected, and unfortunalty they took a beautiful religion and way of life, and made it look like a joke. But, I am comforted in the knowledge that the truly interested will seek out the truth, and that the Wiccan’s and Pagans who truly walk the path, will continue to do so, ethically, morally, and with with both feet firmly planted in reality, and their heart free to chase the mystical. That is the best advocation for our Craft that we can have. Just by living, and living to the best we can be.Thank you,LupaFormerly of DragonLadys Lair.I was more annoyed at

  • Anonymous

    *ahem* What credentials? She’s got a fake Gard/Lexie claim that she’s still blathering about, an online seminary (gee, doesn’t everyone these days? makes you sing “Oh, I’m a wiccan/shaman/druid, doesn’t it?) and an affiliation through an eclectic “wiccan” organization that’s known for shoddy training (if any), founded a guy who got kicked out of a traditional group after his first degree.

  • Anonymous

    Shes a total joke and embarassed all wiccans around the world. To have no respect for your coven, to smash a sacred item was unbelievable,i was shocked. No wonder the public thinks were freaks with fake HPS running around. Its pretty evident shes vain and her karma’s going to be uglyChrissyB.C Canada

  • Anonymous

    I suppose all you people bashing Bella are perfect ,and lead perfect lives? In my study of Wicca we support and love everyone. May All Beings Be Free From Suffering!!!! I think Bella (and the rest of the gang) did the best that they could do in the T.V. world.

  • Anonymous

    Lupa, are you the same Lupa that didn’t show up to teach Intro to Totemism at Spring Mysteries?That was a bummer….

  • Anonymous

    Does anyone know what happened to the Thompsons after “Wife Swap?” Do their kids still go do cheerleading? Are Kenny and Bella back together? (I wouldn’t mind going out with Kenny. I thought he was pretty cute. : ) )

  • Anonymous

    Yes she is still screwing kenny on the side as well as her boy toy. They are still in their own fucked up little world

  • Anonymous

    She is busy now hopping between her (e)strange(d) husband, trying out for yet another t.v. show, Inked; and bastardizing the religion’s highest holy day, and piece of sacred ground, by running a festival entitled, Murder of Hooligans complete with a Death Metal Band for entertainment.

  • winter_dawn

    Any more updates? I’m finding this very interesting, too bad I missed the WifeSwap show…

  • Anonymous

    I do not in anyway pass myself off as any kind of expert in the wiccan religion, Heck for that matter, in any religion. However I have played around with a few spells and tarot readings. To say the least….. I learned my lesson. But I guess the point Iam trying to make to make is here. It now has been one year since this episode has been seen. Since this time hace any of you people involved taken your own personnal feelings aside and tried to forgive? If anything was done wrong then Karma will certainitly play a factor in that persons life. When I was beginning to learn about about spells and tarot and part of the wiccan religion I remember some people being somewhat leary or even scared of me just because they used the word “witch”. Unfortunetly still in this century, although we have come far, still some people consider the wicca religion to be weird or abnormal. When people do not understand something than no matter if the truth is told or not people will still have a reaction. I think that more people do need to be educated about the wiccan religion and come to understand that it is not all bad. Witches do not have long green noses, and eat little girls and boys. But as long as that is how witches are portrayed in books, then alot of people wil still believe that it is a bad religion to follow. A reality t.v show is not just a “reality t.v show” I like to cal it a show for entertaintaiment. what is going to bring in the audience? what is going to bring the ratings? When I watched the show I must admit I thought it a bit funny, however with the parts I did watch of it, I also thoguht it was kind of cute. But now the choice is up to you. It has been 1 yr since the show has aired. Do you leave it up to fate?Karma? or do you hold a grudge? We must live with ourselves everyday and if you can live with yourself with hate and revenge what kind of witch does that make you? What kind of witch would you like to be and become?

  • Anonymous

    Well I happen to know Bella I am one of her students and friends. When they started to do the show she was trying to portray wicca the way it really was but they edited out so much stuff you got all the pagan fluff and not what was meant to be shown. After viewing the show we were all very upset with it. But that doesn’t mean that Bella “didn’t have everything together” you have to have been there to make any assumptions and those who want to make assumptions of what they know nothing about need to be shot I think. Oh and the smashing of the “coven plate” fyi was not the actual coven plate.

  • Anonymous

    “those who want to make assumptions of what they know nothing about need to be shot I think”—– Now there is a solution, lets shoot everyone!!!A classic Bella student! LMAO

  • ~ D ~

    Without being there for absolutely every second of what they lived, none of us can really judge. TV is all about sensationalism. It's what TV was founded on. I don't defend anything, I only say that I don't know the whole story. I've been pagan my whole life, trained by a grandmother and I do paranormal research. Sadly, when TV crews follow me around to see what's involved in an investigation all they seem to 'catch' and put on air is the comments a few people make about 'feeling something' and maybe a close up of a piece of equipment. I stopped taking filming requests based on what was put on air. They never showed the hours and hours of research into the property, they never show the hours of getting base readings and finding all electrical sources, they never show how sleep inducing it can be to sit and listen to thousands of hours from multiple tape recorders static hoping for one or two words …. the point is TV shows what they feel will cause a reaction in the people watching. And judging by this board Wife Swap got the reaction they were hoping for

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  • Dusty

    Wow, What a bitch.