When I was a teenager I was reading the copy of The Fifth Sacred Thing that my uncle gave me. I told him about it the next time I saw him, and he said, "Oh, you like Witchcraft? I have a movie you're going to love!" He popped The Craft into the VCR and we watched it together. He was mistaken. Far from loving The Craft, I hated The Craft with the passion of a thousand suns! I thought it was every bad stereotype and every bad fantasy Witch cliche combined into a dumb teen movie. Lots of Neo-Pagans agree with me. But I was shocked to see that some people have a very different idea. Some cite this movie as "life changing" and the reason that they first immersed themselves into this lifestyle. What is also surprising is that the girl that plays the bad teenage witch is an real life Witch herself. Her name is Fairuza Balk.
But first, let's analyze why this movie made such an impression. Out of all the Neo-Pagan women reading this, how many of you became interested in all things witchy when you were teenagers? Good. Now, were you interested in these things, at least in part, because you knew it would be intimidating to certain people? It's okay, you can be honest.
Regular American society does not allow women to express aggression. According to Pink Brain, Blue Brain by Lise Eliot, mothers tend to ignore their infant sons expressions of pain and their infant daughters expressions of anger. From the beginning they are given subtle cues that being submissive is feminine. This causes all sorts of problems for girls in the high school years, like depression and more covert forms of bullying. So when some of those girls saw teenage girls taking matters into their own hands when The Craft came out in 1996, I'm sure they saw it as empowering. Besides, the heroine is a witch too.
But back to Fairuza Balk. Fairuza (I can't find a pronunciation) is the feminine variant of Fairuz, an Arabic name or an Iranian name depending on who you ask. It's derived from the Persian name Piruzeh, meaning "turquoise, precious one," or "successful." As the child of a Middle Eastern dance teacher and a folk musician who lived in Turkey for a few years, her name is a product of the parent's shared interest in Arabian lands. It was also inspired by their child's blue eyes. Born Fairuza Alejandra Feldthouse, she has Romani, Cherokee, and Blackfoot ancestry. It is unclear when she became interested in the occult.
The Craft is not the only film she's known for. One of her first roles was as Dorothy in Return to Oz. She was awarded the Independent Spirit Award for best actress for her performance in Gas Food Lodging. She also appeared in The Island of Dr. Moreau, American History X, and The Waterboy. She also does voice work for cartoons and video games, and records her own music. She once owned an occult store in Hollywood called Panpipes Magickal Marketplace, but has not been associated with it for ten years.
Fairuza would be quite the head-turner in the United States. Variant forms include Firuzeh, Firuza, and Firouzeh. For boys there's Firuz and Firoz. Fay or Fairy could make good nicknames. Balk isn't so famous that she's taken over her unusual name, so it's still relatively association free. However, I'm not so sure that it would appeal to everyone familiar with the movie.
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