Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review

Volume 12, Issue 1, 2021

Ethan Doyle White
Pages 75-102

“She Comes from a Cursed Lineage:” Portrayals of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Satanism in The X-Files

One of the most iconic television series of the 1990s, The X-Files drew on religious and folkloric traditions regarding supernatural phenomena for many of its plotlines. Among the themes that the show’s writers turned to repeatedly was witchcraft, using it as a major plot device in six episodes over the course of the series’ eleven season run. While drawing on longstanding ideas about witchcraft arising from European and European-American culture(s), these writers also had to contend with a social environment in which fears of witchcraft had resurfaced in the form of the Satanic ritual abuse hysteria and where various forms of modern religious witchcraft had arisen, often claiming proprietorship of the concept of the witch itself. How the show’s writers chose to portray this topic and navigate around the social issues it posed offers insight into the nature of beliefs about witchcraft present in American culture, especially at the close of the twentieth century.