TOP STORIES OF 2023: Taylor Swift Promotes Witchcraft On Tour in ‘Willow’ Performance

Photo courtesy of Taylor Swift Instagram

TOP STORIES OF 2023: Taylor Swift Promotes Witchcraft On Tour in ‘Willow’ Performance

By Movieguide® Contributor

Editor’s note: What a marvelous, miraculous and incredible year this has been! To recap, we’re reviewing our top stories of 2023 based on the number of page views. Celebrate with us and enjoy this last week of 2023. 

In Taylor Swift’s “Willow” music video, she includes occult worship, a troubling practice being normalized in culture across numerous forms of media. 

The “Willow” music video follows Swift as she tries to connect with her lover. Something always stands in their way, and they are forced to escape to different time periods where they attempt to connect again. The scenes for the first two verses find Swift in a forest and a 1920s bar before the third scene takes place during cult worship around a campfire.

This cult worship scene has no relevance to the song, nor does it tie into the scenes from the previous verses. Swift observes the occult ritual taking it in for a few moments before taking her place and joining the dance for the second half of the verse. After, she leaves to travel through time again and continue looking for her lover, whom she eventually convenes with during the final chorus of the song.

The inclusion of the campfire witchcraft scene is confusing, as it was unnecessarily added onto lyrics it has zero relevance to. Nonetheless, it provides another worrying example of the way witchcraft and pagan worship are being pushed into pop culture and becoming normalized. 

Swift has continued to tie witchcraft to this song during her Eras Tour, donning ritualistic garb while performing the song, and having her backup dancers wear capes. 

Another example of occultism appearing in pop culture comes from Disney’s TURNING RED from 2022. A portion of Movieguide®’s review reads: 

TURNING RED sadly includes references to Chinese ancestor worship. At one point, for example, in Mei’s narration, Mei says that her family doesn’t worship any gods, but they do worship their ancestors, especially the family’s grand matriarch. Also, at another point, Mei says that the family’s grand matriarch prayed to “the gods” during a time of war that the gods imbue her with the power of the red panda so she could defend her family.

Ultimately, therefore, TURNING RED has a mixed worldview with pro-family elements and false religion. TURNING RED also has about two overt references to being Zen-like to help her remain cool and control the red panda within her. These moments are references to the Buddhist sect of Zen Buddhism, where the practitioner seeks to clarify the mind, pacify the mind, unite mind and body, and realize the interconnectedness of all things. As with all major Buddhist sexts, Zen Buddhism’s ultimate goal is to recognize “impurities,” such as greed, anger and ignorance, letting them go, and achieving “enlightenment,” which involves a kind of emptiness, purity of desire and action, calmness of mind, perfect discernment of what is true and false and what is harmful and not harmful, and emotional “balance.” As the most recent of many Rimboches said in terms of another sect of Buddhism: “life is a cesspool, so let go.” As I responded to one of his disciples from Harvard, who came to Jesus Christ, “it is a fallen world, but Jesus is reaching out to you to pull you out of the cesspool so you will have a more abundant eternal life.”

The Inclusion of these themes in animated movies and pop music videos is especially concerning, as the target audiences of these forms of media are on the younger side. Disney’s TURNING RED was created for a child audience, and Swift’s fanbase consists of mainly young, teenage girls.

The ideas pushed in pop culture tend to take root in the younger generation and it should concern parents that witchcraft and occult worship are being normalized in the media their children are consuming. 

The Bible takes a strong stance against any practice of witchcraft or sorcery and cautions against taking any interest in them. 

Movieguide® has previously reported on the dangers of occultism appearing in children’s media, including research from Movieguide®’s founder Dr. Ted Baehr: 

In Deut. 18:10-13, for example, Moses clearly says, “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God.” Also, in Rev. 21:8, Jesus Himself says, “The cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” Furthermore, in Galatians 5:19-21, the Apostle Paul says, “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” 

All of these biblical passages – and more besides – show us, beyond all reasonable doubt, that God wants us to avoid completely witchcraft and sorcery. 

Swift’s “Willow” music video and TURNING RED are just a couple of examples of witchcraft and occult worship being pushed toward younger audiences. Another example is Disney’s HOCUS POCUS 2. 

Movieguide® previously reported: 

Disney released HOCUS POCUS 2, a sequel to the 1993 Halloween movie, updating the movie’s story to normalize the occult, as well as pagan beliefs.  

HOCUS POCUS tells the story of children who must fight the Sanderson sisters, a trio of witches who want to sacrifice children for their magic spells. A portion of Movieguide®’s review reads

HOCUS POCUS takes places in Salem, Massachusetts. A scary house in the town has been abandoned for about three hundred years. It was the home of the infamous Sorenson sisters, who, according to legend, had been hung for their evil witchcraft and sorcery. An iron fence surrounds the grounds, where many believe that hundreds of sacrificed children lie. Max Dennison, a transplanted California teenager, is new to Salem and scoffs at the tales. However, Max soon becomes intrigued with the Salem witches after reading about “A SPELL BOOK given by the Devil himself” that’s bound in human skin. Later, Max conjures up the witches by following the book’s instructions. 

HOCUS POCUS goes downhill after Max performs the occult ritual to conjure up the witches. Although it has some humorous, redemptive moments, it’s marred by too many scenes with strong occult content. Thus, it contains positive references to witchcraft, casting spells and occult rituals. Some of the memorable songs, “I will put a spell on you,” and “Children, I Smell Children, Come Out My Children Wherever You Are — Why Don’t You Stay for Supper?,” reveal the movie’s objectionable, abhorrent content. 

In Deuteronomy 18:10-12, God warns us to have nothing whatsoever to do with witchcraft, consulting dead people, casting spells, or interpreting omens. “Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD [to Yahweh],” Moses says. 

HOCUS POCUS 2 uses these same occult themes, and adds new ones, like references to crystals, herbs, moon spells, and sacred woods.  

Parents are already complaining about the movie, with one mother saying the movie “unleashes hell on your kids and in your home. The whole movie is based on witches harvesting children for blood sacrifices.” 

Parents should beware of the normalizing of the occult in children’s programming. 

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