There are several lessons, both magickal and mundane, to be learned from the 2012 film ‘Paranorman’. The setting, Blithe Hollows, MA, is clearly based off of Salem, MA, with the witch trials and subsequent unjust executions as a central theme. The story follows a boy, Norman, who is ostracized from his community for his interest in the paranormal and his ability to communicate with spirits. The people of his town, along with his own family, bully him relentlessly for being ‘weird’. Like so many in the real world, they are simply afraid of what they do not understand. It is not until he uses his abilities to save the town that people finally celebrate him and his gift.
For those who are deemed ‘normal’ by mainstream society, Paranorman teaches acceptance and respect for those who are deemed ‘weird’. For the purposes of this article, however, I will focus on lessons that can be learned for those who are themselves the ‘weird’ ones.
First, Paranorman teaches self-acceptance. Unique abilities, style, and worldview are gifts that should be embraced. They may even be used to serve the community as a whole by doing something no one else is able to. You should have confidence in yourself and not allow others to dictate how you think or act.
This brings us to the next lesson, forgiveness and understanding. It is important to understand that those who act in a hostile manner toward you because of your differences are doing so only because they are fearful of what they don’t understand. By understanding this, we realize that their actions are often a reflection of their own insecurities, rather than a reflection on you. This understanding can lead to forgiveness. It is important to remember that forgiveness is best when it is done for your benefit. When you forgive, you are releasing negative feelings that do not serve you, such as anger and hatred. In this way, forgiveness is in your best interest, not only in the interest of the other party.
Finally, we learn that it is best to act kindly to others, even if they act unkindly to you. When you treat someone poorly, you are only giving them further reasons to treat you badly. However, when we treat others with unconditional love and kindness, we show them that even though we are ‘weird’, we are not bad people. This is especially important for those of us in the magickal community. There are still many people under the unfortunate and false idea that we are evil devil worshippers. By treating these people kindly, we are showing them that we are good people. We are taking fuel from their fire; their accusations of us being evil become even less reputable when we display acts of love and kindness.
Others, while perhaps not considering us evil, will still consider us weird. It is our job to show them that being ‘weird’ is not a bad thing. It just means that we have our own styles, ways of thinking, abilities, or spiritual practices. Showing these people that while we are different in some ways, we are not dangerous or threatening. We may look and believe differently, but we are still humans who treat others with kindness, and there is no reason to fear us.
This is not to say that we should be pushovers and not stand up for ourselves, quite the contrary. We must remember to be proud of who we are and continue to be ourselves. However, when confronted with hostility, we must combat it with love. Understand that these people are only attacking us because they are afraid of what they don’t understand. Prove to them that you are not a bad person. Fighting fire with fire only burns the whole world; fighting fire with water will eliminate the destructive force and bring peace. Be the water and extinguish the hate with love. And above all, never be afraid to be who you are.