Witchcraft as a metaphor for psychopathy
In the film, Bell, Book and Candle, witches are sexy, charming and in possession of inscrutable powers the rest of the world can only envy. But they have emotional deficits. They cannot love or cry. Emotionally “flat” like psychopaths allegedly are. These witches and warlocks are confined to a ghetto of hip, trendy existence where it is always Halloween and never Christmas even when it is. The story begins when a new neighbor, Shepherd Henderson (James Stewart), moves into the apartment house of Gillian Holroyd (Kim Novak). Gillian sets her sights on him because that’s her thing. She is especially keen when she finds out that he’s engaged to Gillian’s old enemy from her college days. She casts a love spell on him but loses her powers when she genuinely falls in love with him.
Just like psychopaths, witches (in the film) are alien from the rest of the world and have to keep their true nature a secret. The title, Bell, Book and Candle, is a genuine method of excommunication by anathema, imposed on a person who had committed an exceptionally grievous sin. Evidently introduced by Pope Zachary around the middle of the 8th century, the rite was once used by the Roman Catholic Church. Although the film is comic and witchcraft is shown as cute, it’s still forbidden and something that keeps practitioners from partaking in the true life of humanity.