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.
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.
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.