Set Visit Interview with Aerin Fogel, Real Witch & Witchcraft Consultant for THE CRAFT: LEGACY
Blumhouse and director Zoe Lister-Jones’ The Craft sequel, The Craft: Legacy, with Cailee Spaeny, Gideon Adlon, Lovie Simone, Zoey Luna, Nicholas Galitzine, David Duchovny, and Michelle Monaghan hits VOD platforms today (October 28th). In the lead-up to the film’s release, we’ve been sharing a series of interviews from our set visit in 2019.
Today, for our final interview, we’re talking to real witch and witchcraft consultant Aerin Fogel! Give the interview a read below the trailer and synopsis.
In Blumhouse’s continuation of the cult hit The Craft, an eclectic foursome of aspiring teenage witches get more than they bargained for as they lean into their newfound powers.
We heard about ab incident on set. What happened?
Aerin Fogel: So there was another location that they were working on for some scenes that I wasn’t directly a part of, I wasn’t going to be on that location. I think two or three days after they were on set there I got a call from Dan Bekerman saying, “I don’t really know how this works but can you come and help us do something in this space?” I was like, “What do you mean?” and he said people had been experiencing some very strange energy there, including a lot of people on the crew who don’t tend to consider themselves as people who are open to feeling energy or spirits, But everyone had been having a pretty mutual experience, just feeling like the energy in that space was a lot. They essentially asked me to come and do a space clearing ritual at the location, which I came and did the next morning. And I learned it used to be a hospice for many years, so I knew that going into it but also the night before I got there I had a dream about the space and when I got there it looked exactly the same as I had in my dream. So I felt like I could already tell it was going to be intense before I got there. So I did a little bit of a ritual and a cleansing ceremony around the physical space and left some protective objects and that was pretty much it. It took me about an hour and then I checked in with Dan and Zoey [Luna] later in the day and they said it felt a lot better and it seemed like things progressed from there. People described having sort of a heavy feeling on their chest or wanting to weep or just having a strong visceral reaction, so it was pretty intense.
So what do you do? I guess your title is “Witch consultant”, so what kind of work do you do here?
AF: My role here with the film is to make sure that anything that pertains to something that might be occult is accurate. Any of the spaces the girls are practicing magic, where they are experimenting with ritual and starting to open up their power a little bit, those are all things I’ve been consulting on to make sure they are accurate to the way that someone who practices ritual, who has interest in the occult, who works in the esoteric realm, that’s authentic to the way we would actually practice in our day to day lives. As well as making sure that things are cared for energetically with the film as well, because if we are doing spells and rituals, all kind of practices that are part of the film, magic doesn’t know you’re acting. So I’ve also been doing some work in my own time and with the cast and crew just to make sure that they feel supported and any energetic spaces that are opened through the practice in the film are also closed at the end of it.
Have you worked on any other films prior to this one?
AF: Not as an occult consultant, no, but I do that in my regular life everyday with clients predominately and with groups of people. I wouldn’t say the film world is part of my normal reality but everything else is.
What were some of the misconceptions about witchcraft that needed to be worked on for this movie?
AF: I think there is still a huge misconception of witchcraft that still exists, prominently in Western culture. I don’t think that’s the case in some other places in the world, although in other places in the world I think there is even more prejudice than there is in North America. I also think that a lot of that mentality is kind of like a hangover from colonial culture which has often failed to respect older and more indigenous practices; that have been in connection with the earth and with nature and with the natural rhythms and cycles around us and ultimately being in a relationship with the natural world and with rhythms and cycles of life is at the heart of witchcraft. I think that there was colonialism as a first step and then there was the church as the second step that began actually persecuting, mostly women, but anyone practicing witchcraft, from a place of real misunderstanding of what’s at the heart of it because ultimately it’s about healing and connection and somewhere along the way that became perceived as something that can be somehow harmful or detrimental and in fact it’s actually the opposite.
You are Canadian-based and there’s been a lot of tension between how indigenous peoples’ practices and cultures are treated in Canada. And so on a film that is basically going through different religious practices, I just wondered how you, we talked about intersectional feminism, how are you being intersectional, and sort of which team on this film, being intersectional and they’re approach to the way the witch practices are?
AF: That’s been a big part of I guess my role, as well as Pam Grossman, the Hood Witch who has also been consulting on the script. First of all, in our kind of conversation in my group and with the cast and production team. We’ve talked a little bit about the communities that are indigenous to this piece of land, which is mostly Anashoby and Matee and Mississauga’s of the New Credit. Those are the sort of First Nation tribes of this area, so we talked a lot about that. Then in the construction of the script we’ve been really careful to create language that is not specific to any kind of lineage or culture that isn’t represented by the real personal experiences; not just the characters, but the girls playing these characters as well. We’ve allowed the language to be more broad or accessible so that it’s not something that is bound to a certain lineage that we might not have any direct experience with. So that’s certainly been a big piece of it. As well, just the objects we are using, I spoke a lot with the props team about what is ok for us to use, and we haven’t used any white sage. We’re using red cedar because we’re in Ontario and that grows here and in abundance so it’s not harmful for red cedar if we’re harvesting it. That’s also been part of the consulting role, to make sure we’re able to care for that and really honor traditions that certainly not mine, personally.
They say scientists like watching movies like Armageddon to point out all the inaccuracies. Do people in your profession have like Charmed or Sabrina, that you get a kick out of?
AF: I will say actually the new Sabrina series had a really wonderful consultant and they did a very good job. It’s very historically accurate, so I was thrilled watching that because it is very unusual for someone who works in the esoteric arts to see something well represented on screen. There’s a lot of interpretation from people who might not have personal experience or background in this realm so we’re definitely watching, paying attention and noticing when things are not accurate. I think that’s a large part of the issue in the first place, is that there is such a lack of true understanding and connection to esoteric practice for the most part, in our mainstream traditional culture. But there are certainly, especially in the last decade or so, some pieces that have done a really good job with it. The original Craft had Pat Dubin, an amazing High Priestess; she’s the real deal and they did a really good job with that, too.
Did you watch the original movie, did it have any influence on you, and what do you expect this movie can do for witchcraft in popular culture?
AF: I was still pretty young when the original movie came out but when I was allowed to watch it, it was really transformative for me. I have always been into the healing arts since I was a little girl and up until I had watched that movie I wasn’t something that really spoke to me on a deep level. That felt so true and personal, and it was about girls connecting with each other, coming into their power and into their relationships as young women. So I found that film and the age which I watched it to be incredibly empowering and gave me a real sense of confidence, in my work as well as my connections with the other young women around me. So I’m hopeful that the timing of this film and the incredible amount of care that [director] Zoe [Lister-Jones] and the girls and everyone on the team has put into this is going to land really well in the world because, ultimately, witchcraft is about the empowerment of individuals and the way we react to each other in our natural environment. I think that it’s the right time in the world for something that is about a group of empowered women to merge and inspire the next generation of women, really.
Did you have to find a balance between the good side, the good aspects of witchcraft with the horror aspects that are assumingly coming into the film?
AF: That’s an interesting question. I mean to me, witchcraft is a path to healing and that involves looking at the places in our lives where we have experienced trauma and suffering and I really feel that horror films are like a way people have found to process and share trauma with one another. So I don’t think it’s anything that kind of darkens the doorway of witchcraft. It’s like when you’re doing healing work you kind of look below the hood of the car and you something horrifying there so the way the witchcraft and horror in films have intersected makes a lot of sense to me because you’re dealing with the unfathomable realms of the unconscious, so it makes sense to me in that way.
Can you talk about your work with the cast? What did that look like, the conversations you were having, the kind of workshops and ideas you were throwing around with them?
AF: Yeah. I guess that’s been very fluid, depending on what comes up with them and what they need. I originally started working with Zoe so we met a few times and talked a lot about the characters in the film and the sort of aspects of witchcraft they were going to convey with their character. Zoe and I also talked a lot about Lilith as an archetype, which is something like in every culture there is a version of this story where the divine feminine character goes into Underworld and goes through a painful, sometimes deadly experience, and then emerges transformed on the other side. So we spoke about Lilith as a version of that, an archetype of that, but there’s kind of like a story of that in every culture. so that was a really big jumping-off point for our discussion, and also with my discussion with the girls as well. What it might be like for them to take this journey because they’re acting but they are speaking real words and the experience they are going through is very real. As well as that I’ve kind of been meeting with most of the cast and the girls outside of the filming time itself to do some energy healings and some readings. That’s part of my usual day to day practice, as a means of just continuing to support their journey because there is a lot that is opening for them by being a part of it.