With witches across American up in arms over the portrayal of witches in the film, “The Witches of Eastwick,” Oprah talks to two witches; a former high Satanic priest; Whitley Strieber, author of “Cat Magic,” who says that witches are good and simply practicing a religion; and Bob Larson, host of a daily national Christian radio program, who says that witchcraft is not harmless but actually based on beliefs that are dangerous to society.
Oprah talks to three witches — Laurie Cabot, the official witch of Salem, Massachusetts; Dora Ruffner, a white witch who practices Shamanic healing; and Joseph Marquis, a former high Satanic priest who says the only way to stop the madness is to be killed or find salvation through Jesus Christ — about what they say is an untrue and unflattering portrayal of witches in the film, “The Witches of Eastwick.” Laurie and Dora defend witches, and talk briefly about the Celtic origins of their people. Joseph says that witches really worship the devil, can control demons, and can send demons after anyone they want. Laurie denies that witches can control demons.
Whitley Strieber, author of “Cat Magic,” and Bob Larson, host of a daily national Christian radio program, join the panel. Whitley says that witches are good and simply practicing a religion, but Bob says that witchcraft is not harmless and is actually based on beliefs that are dangerous to society. They debate if witchcraft can count as a religion since it has no real church and funds no hospital. Oprah interjects; asks them to talk one at a time; and says that funding a hospital it not part of America’s freedom of religion.
The panel continues to debate the religious aspects of witchcraft and if it counts as a religion. Laurie says that witches worship a god and a goddess, and Whitley says that the witches he met love it with their blood. A caller says that her husband left her and their children to join a witchcraft cult, and that witches bring nothing but pain and misery. The panel shifts gears and starts talking about animal and human sacrifice. Whitley says witches don’t kill cats, and Joseph says to forget about cats and think instead of the four holy days that require human sacrifice, and he admits that Sharon Tate was a witch and that the Illuminati hired Charles Manson to kill her. He admits that he watched fellow witches slash the throats of victims and kill them.
The panel debates the differences between witchcraft and satanism, with Bob Larson arguing that there is no difference. He says that Laurie is only there — and dressed as she is — for publicity, and Laurie says that if she never talks to anyone again, she will look as she looks and practice what she practices and live how she lives. The panel also talks about witches who have hidden their powers for fear of persecution; that witches don’t fear death but believe in reincarnation; and that witches have the same sex-based values as God-fearing Christians — though Bob Larson vehemently disagrees with all of this.
Bob Larson says that the only way to be saved — and practice a true religion — is by accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and savior. When Oprah asks about practitioners of other religions, like Judaism or Buddhism, Bob says that the Bible makes very clear that you have to be believe in the Christian God in order to get into Heaven. Joseph talks about being born-again and the role Catholicism plays in his life. He says that Laurie Cabot is a misinformed witch who doesn’t know what’s really going on, but if the Illuminate ever got to her — and she interrupts and asks for an address or a phone number for the Illuminate. Oprah then goes to commercial.
The panel talks about the possibility that witches perform human sacrifice and burn bodies to get rid of the evidence, and Oprah brings up a previous episode during which a child who had been indoctrinated into a cult spoke of horrible, wicked things. Joseph Marquis talks further about the Illuminati and what it can do — including using its squad of hit men to kill wayward witches. Laurie asks who he is talking about, and Whitley, perhaps the only one who heard her, says, “I don’t know what he’s talking about — he’s crazy.” Later, Joseph talks about how the Illuminati have tried — but failed — on six occasions to kill him, to which Laurie remarks, “they’re very bad at their magic.”
The panel talks about how witches use spells and hexes, with Laurie, Dora, and Whitley saying that this is good magic and mostly used to heal people, and Bob arguing that these “powers” can only be used for evil purposes. Laurie tells him that she isn’t evil and has never used her powers for evil, and Bob says that he is glad to hear that. “You should be glad,” she says, “because if I were a black witch, you’d probably be in trouble right now.” Bob laughs and says that Jesus would protect him. Whitley asks Oprah if she could take back control of the show, and Oprah says that she doesn’t even know why she came in today. The panel continues arguing about what witches actually worship and where their origins lie. Oprah asks them to talk one at a time and then says to forget it before cutting to commercial.
Bob and Joseph talk about how witchcraft is basically the worship of a fallen angel, and Joseph says he and his pastor are going to develop a program to help witches who realize that witchcraft is a threat and want safe harbor out. Laurie Cabot says that witches are loving people; are not a threat; don’t believe in Satan; and that they just want to be understood.
Though just one of the nearly 1,000 episodes of The Oprah Show I’ve watched in the last few months, this one is one of my favorites from her early years — and likely an episode she’s forgotten or wishes she could.