Warning: Contains spoilers for the first season of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is just what it claims to be. It’s a throwback to the supernatural television shows marketed to teens that were proliferate in the late 90’s/early 2000’s, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed, which could revel in the kitschy and absurd, but also tackle dark subject matter and serious issues. It’s already stirred up controversy for multiple reasons, and not for the reasons you’d probably expect. However, those heavier themes are to be tackled here at a later time. For now, let’s set those topics aside, and get into the things every true nerd hungers for — EASTER EGGS!
1- The Names
There are many names with significance in Sabrina. Besides more obvious ones like “Spellman” and “Salem,” here are some names with more remarkable meanings:
- “Puttnam” and “Hawthorne” were the names of families involved in the Salem Witch Trials.
- Ironically, the name “Wardwell” is probably a reference to warding spells, which are used to repel evil spirits.
- “Faustus” is taken from the play Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, wherein the main character sells his soul to the Devil.
- “Scratch,” as in “Old Scratch” or “Mr. Scratch,” is a nickname for the Devil.
- The mentioned-but-never-seen “Doc Phibes” gets his name from the titular character of the 1971 horror flick The Abominable Dr. Phibes.
Of course you noticed the inclusion of Fiona Apple’s 90’s hit “Criminal” in Chapter 7: Feast of Feasts. However, if you’ve never seen the music video for the song, you might not get the connection. The video portrays the then-18-year-old Apple in her underwear, and lounging around with other teens on the floor, in what looks to be the aftermath of a party. The images are highly suggestive of some risque stuff going on, a lot like what’s taking place in Prudence’s room at the time.
3- The Weird Sisters
The term “Weird Sisters” has its origins in the Norns of Norse mythology. They were three prophetic witches who were the daughters of a seer named “Wyrd.” The term was later anglicized to “Weird” and used in Shakespeare’s MacBeth. It just goes to show, trios have always been powerful in witchcraft. The number can represent past, present, and future; the maiden, the mother, and the crone; the Rule of 3; father, mother, and child; the Furies; the Fates; and too many other examples of the power of the number three to recite here.
4- Other horror references
Besides names of characters, Sabrina contains some homages to the horror genre. Some include:
- On a couple of occasions, characters refer to the blessings of Satan as “delicious.” This most likely is pulled from a famous line in the 2015 horror film The Witch, in which (SPOILERS – highlight to read) the Devil asks the protagonist, “Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?” The scene in Chapter 10 where the Devil coaxes Sabrina to sign the Book of the Beast, he whispers in a way reminiscent of the Devil in The Witch.
- Chapter Five is titled “Dreams in a Witch House,” a slight variant on the title of the H. P. Lovecraft story Dreams in the Witch House.
- Chapter Six shows Harvey wearing the same outfit as Johnny Depp’s character during his death scene in Nightmare on Elm Street.
- The Spellman house has the same stained glass skylight as the ballet school in 1977’s witchsploitation film Suspiria.
5- The exorcism
The incantation for the exorcism in Chapter Six contains references to many significant figures in Witch/Wiccan culture. Apart from the mythological characters, there are several historical figures, including:
- Anne Boleyn, the wife of Henry VIII, who was accused of bewitching Henry to make him marry her. Her being a witch was also said to be the reason for her later miscarriage.
- Hildegard of Bingen was a German Benedictine abbess, but became respected by modern Pagans as a healer and mystic.
- Mary Bradbury and Tituba, both women who were accused during the Salem Witch Trials, but manage to avoid execution.
- Moll Dyer, a witch said to have lived in Maryland in the 1600s. Her spirit is still said to haunt the area where she was killed.
- Sybil Leek, one of the most prolific writers on the subject of modern Witchcraft.
That’s it for now, but I will certainly, in the future, dive deeper into the themes of Sabrina and possibly put a couple theories out there. So stay tuned!
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