Chilling Adventures of Sabrina dabbles in satanic worship, possession, visions, plagues, and blood curses — and that’s just the first episode. The creators of Netflix’s spookiest new show really meant it when they said this was going to be a dark adaptation of the original Archie comic, and didn’t cut corners when it came to bringing that magic to screen. The characters in the series chant real spells and battle dark forces drawn from actual history, to the point that the castmembers themselves were often fearful that something otherworldly would follow them off screen.
When a group of reporters visited the Vancouver set back in September, production designer Lisa Soper said they “take very careful care and consideration to the specific items that we bring in” when speaking about the many props that are tucked away all over the set. Soper herself is Pagan, an umbrella term for religions that fall outside of the main world religions, so it includes Neo-Pagan religions like Wicca.
Even when the witchcraft isn’t happening on screen, the background of scenes contains nods to the occult, including real spells carved over doorways and into walls.
This type of authenticity is what makes the show stand out, but once the cameras stopped rolling, an eerie feeling pervaded the set. Tati Gabrielle, who plays Prudence, one of the Weird Sisters, was raised Baptist Christian. She doesn’t partake in some of the set's inside jokes, such as saying “Hail Satan” instead of “Bless You” when someone sneezes. It’s hard for her to convince herself they’re all playing pretend when the spells they’re saying are real.
“I do smudging just to keep my energy clear when we step off,” she laughs. “Like, let’s leave that behind.
“We did this ritual for Agatha’s sacrifice...that was the one time that I was like, ‘Okay, guys, this is really not okay,’” she said. “We’re calling on some really dark stuff here, and we’ve even done spells that are real spells...I’ve looked up everything...and of course I do it with full conviction.”
To try to reverse any potential damage, Gabrielle keeps sage and palo santo in her dressing room.
The aura of witchcraft followed the cast for the entirety of filming, even when they ventured beyond the Vancouver set. Lucy Davis, who plays Aunt Hilda, has always had experiences with the supernatural, and has even channeled her ability to communicate with energies and spirits into a practice called reconnective healing. She’s had a number of clients who hope the exposure can elicit physical, mental, and emotional changes in their health. She told reporters a story about an unnamed castmember who, along with a few other castmembers, sought out a psychic during filming and was given an uncanny message.
“[The psychic] was giving readings, and she said to one of the cast...‘You need healing from Hilda,’” Davis remembered. “I was fascinated. We’ve never done it, but we still need to.”
The cast is currently filming the second season of the show, which was ordered by Netflix along with the first, and have had no break from the day-to-day witchiness that is haunting them. It seems the only person who isn’t affected by it all is Sabrina Spellman herself.
“I’m notoriously pretty hard to scare,” Kiernan Shipka said with a smile. But, just remember, this is only the beginning of Sabrina’s story.
Travel and accommodations for the author were provided by Netflix for the purpose of writing this story.