Evangelical filmmaker Caryl Matrisciana was a reported influence on Laura Mallory’s decision to challenge Harry Potter in Gwinnett County. Matrisciana released her third completed project, Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged, Making Evil Look Innocent in 2001. Today, the film continues to be sold on various evangelical websites. Matrisciana herself was considered to be a very credible figure in the Religious Right, owing in part to her cosmopolitan background and reputation as a professional “occult expert.”
The timeline below outlines Matrisciana’s early life and career, leading up to the publication of Witchcraft Repackaged in 2001.
Matrisciana’s primary objective in Witchcraft Repackaged was to demonstrate that J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, was an expert on “occult symbolism.” By portraying Rowling as an expert with advanced knowledge of Paganism, rather than as a fantasy author borrowing from her own imagination, Matrisciana was attempting to provide evidence for her belief that a powerful group of Wiccans were using different forms of media to secretly indoctrinate Christian children.
In order to accomplish this goal, Matrisciana applied very specific concepts from Pagan mythology to non-specific parts of Rowling’s books. This gave the impression that Rowling may have intentionally included Wiccan themes in Harry Potter, when in reality any similarities between the two were coincidental. The chart below provides three examples from the film.
Understanding the context behind Witchcraft Repackaged is essential to understanding the structure and focus of Laura Mallory’s challenge. The film’s insistence on the danger witchcraft posed to Christian children likely contributed to Mallory’s preoccupation with her own children during the case.
It is worth noting that for many evangelical parents who did not have a personal connection to Wicca or to franchises like Harry Potter, sources like Matrisciana provided their only frame of reference. An eight minute trailer for the film, included below, was made available on Matrisciana’s YouTube page prior to her death in 2016. It demonstrates the film’s overwhelmingly negative attitude towards Wicca, and highlights some of its most outlandish points. Caryl Productions, the company associated with the film at “caryltv.com,” is currently inactive.
Matrisciana, Caryl. “Caryl Productions.” https://web.archive.org/web/20070629100101/http://www.carylmatrisciana.com/. Archived 2007. Accessed 2019.
Matrisciana, Caryl. Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged, Making Evil Look Innocent. DVD. Produced by Caryl Matrisciana. Menifee: California, 2001.
Matrisciana, Caryl. [CarylTV]. “HARRY POTTER: Witchcraft Repackaged: Making Evil Look Innocent.” YouTube Video, 08:19. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SWr0T0o9E0&t=36s Originally published July 4th, 2009. Accessed 2019.