A friend asked me what my favorite Pagan movies are. I asked whether he meant documentaries about Paganism, or fictional movies about content that would inspire Pagans. He said both, so I decided to make a list and share it on my blog! There are some movies that didn’t quite make my list because they either didn’t feel Pagan/animistic/Earth-Centered enough, because they cast such characters or religions as evil, or because the elements were not developed enough to be meaningful. There are probably many more films I could have included, but I simply haven’t seem them yet! I’m sure I’ll need to do a part 2 down the road. I’m already plotting a list of favorite Pagan and Pagan-inspired television shows!
American Mystic – Focusing on a variety of minority spiritual practices in the US, “American Mystic” examines how individuals in the modern US explore, maintain, and strengthen bonds with the spirit realm. Included is Morpheus Ravenna, a well-known practitioner of witchcraft and founder of the Coru Cathubodua Priesthood, which is dedicated to An Morrigan and her sisters. Currently, you can stream this movie via Amazon Prime.
Glenafooka – If you’re interested in the living spiritual tradition of Ireland and authentic Irish folk belief in fairies, definitely watch this film! Included are interviews with people of various ages as they discuss their experiences and traditions. Click the name of the film, and the link will allow you to stream on your computer.
I Am – This documentary follows one person’s search for the purpose of life despite all the suffering and hardships. I chose this because, in light of the various environmental problems we face, this film advocates taking responsibility and embracing optimism in doing so. It felt very spiritual without being religious, and could be part of a bridge building, inter-religious workshop or discussion group. “I Am” is available to stream on Netflix.
Modern Druids – Since I’m listing documentaries, I might as well include this 20-minute introduction to ADF Druidism. Made by Buccaneer Pictures, it explains some of the history and practice of my Druidic tradition. It’s really a must for anyone interested in exploring ADF and modern Druidism. If you click the title, it will take you right to youtube!
When the Iron Bird Flies – I’ve talked about this documentary before, and I highly recommend it if you are interested in Buddhism as well as Paganism. While the focus is entirely on Tibetan Buddhism in the West, I couldn’t help but notice some parallels between my spirituality and theirs, particularly the emphasis on respecting nature and study. It gave me much to contemplate.
Agora – Based on real events, this film depicts the famous female astronomer Hypatia in Roman-ruled Egypt. In particular, it shows the conflict between Christianity and the older beliefs. It can be hard to watch at times, but history isn’t always pretty. Best save this for when the kids visit the grandparents! If you’re like me and will cry at what was lost, keep the tissues handy. Available for streaming on Amazon Prime.
A Letter to Momo – I reviewed this film before, so check that out for a more detailed description. This is an anime and the focus is on Shintoism and how the spirit world interacts with the human realm. In particular, it explores how we can commune with the beloved dead. Although there are cultural differences, I’ve noticed many similarities between my modern Druidic practices and Shinto beliefs. Films like this inspire me. Set in modern Japan, I can’t help but imagine what Western countries would be like if Paganism hadn’t been so interrupted by Christianity. You can stream this through Amazon Prime. A great film for the whole family!
Avatar -Yes, I’m talking about James Cameron’s science fiction movie with blue cat people. Although many chuckle about it now, when I first saw it, portions of the movie had me in tears because it just captured the deep adoration many of us have for nature, right down to communing with a sacred tree.
Brave – Although this Pixar animation doesn’t delve deeply into Scottish lore, it is a child-appropriate introduction to magical ethics as well as transformation stories which appear in many cultural myths. Also – will-of-the-wisps!
Labyrinth -Classic Jim Henson, a deliciously whimsical David Bowie, and goblins inspired by Froud – this movie was an influential part of my childhood. It was probably my first exposure to traditional fairy tale elements such as helpful and trickster spirits, a journey through the underworld/fairy realm that symbolizes growth, overcoming the goblin/fairy ruler, confronting our shadow selves, etc. If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and fix that! Although it can be a little scary, it’s a muppet picture most can enjoy!
Pan’s Labyrinth – Directed by the talented Guillermo del Toro, this modern fairy tail embraces the darkness so often abandoned by other contemporary works inspired by older tales. A girl must confront a shadowy realm to save her mother and herself. Pan is a difficult teacher, and the lessons are hard, but such is life! Malevolent and helpful spirits, screaming mandrakes, and spectacular visuals will surely inspire but have you looking over your shoulder the next time you pray at night. Unlike the previously discussed “Labyrinth,” this is definitely not a family film due to some gore and violence.
The Lion King King – Another childhood favorite, it would take me several years to realize how deeply this movie influenced my belief system in regards to revering our ancestors. It’s an excellent introduction for little ones.
My Neighbor Totoro – A must-see for little ones in a Pagan family as well as anime nerds! Studio Ghibli’s “Totoro” is a heartfelt exploration of how the magic of nature can help people weather life’s difficulties. More Shinto and Japanese mythology will delight you and warm your heart as soot spirits float through the air and Totoros make trees grow in our hearts and minds.
Practical Magic – Sure, this isn’t an entirely accurate portrayal of witchcraft, but I feel like Hollywood got really close here. A lot of the philosophy behind what the aunts teach their nieces will be recognizable to most Pagans. Unlike many films that show witches and folk magic in a more negative light (like “Wicker Man” which, despite the amazing music, I really don’t like very much), it depicts a town accepting their hometown witches.
Princess Mononoke – Another anime and another classic Studio Ghibli film – this is among one of my favorite movies ever. Once more, it is greatly influenced by Shinto beliefs and the intersection between the human and spirit realms. Of interest to many who follow an Earth-centered path, “Princess Mononoke” explores what happens when humans throw off the balance of the natural world. Tree spirits, talking wolves, a heroic wild woman, and a honored guardian of the forest -what’s not to love?
Song of the Sea – Made by an Irish animation studio, this beautiful, moving family film incorporates many themes and spirits that adult Pagans who follow Irish-inspired traditions will recognize. It’s a story about siblings, love, and selkies. It’s available for streaming on Amazon Prime.
Do you have any suggestions? What should I watch and consider for a future list?