Witches be Warned: spoilers ahead for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
Where a witch draws her power from is important. For witches outside of Greendale and the world of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, that source of power could be anything from crystals to chakras, ancestors to the celestial, totems to prayer. The witches of The Church of Night, however, have always drawn their power from a singular source: Lucifer Morningstar (Luke Cook).
After the witches rebelled against the Dark Lord and his chauvinistic followers, they found themselves in an uncomfortable crossroad and losing power fast. As fate would have it, that loss of power kicked off right about the time some new players rolled into town. Those players being Pagans, a group that doesn’t make very friendly with witches of the Satanic variety. It’s unlikely you need a full recap of the Season if you’re reading a breakdown of its ending, so let’s just hop on into the ingredients that made up its spellbinding finish.
Zelda Spellman (Miranda Otto) was shot. The rightfully beloved Mambo Marie (Skye P. Marshall) manages to save her body, but her soul finds itself trapped between two worlds. While there, Zelda must navigate between her past and future in order to find a way to save her flock. With her late brother Edward (Georgie Daburas) as her guide, Zelda sees three scenes from her life: as a child at the academy, the day the sisters took in baby Sabrina, and her deathbed. These three visions act as Zelda’s eureka moment, thrusting her back into the land of the living where Faustus Blackwood (Richard Coyle) immediately stabs her back to death. It was a very bad day for Zelda Spellman, you see.
Fortunately, Sabrina saves the day (for now) with some timey-wimey heroics. A mysterious future-Sabrina arrives in the 9th circle of Hell to set our current-timeline Sabrina free from Caliban’s trap; but she does so with a warning — once she saves the world from the Pagan-brought apocalypse, she has to come back and change places with future-Sabrina again, condemning herself to hell. Of course, Sabrina doesn’t do that.
Instead, she uses the power from the Infernal Artifacts to jump back in time to the ideal moment, just before Zelda’s death(s), and while past-Sabrina is off on the hunt for the Infernal Artifacts, she sticks around to save the world. When it’s all said and done, Sabrina stops past-Sabrina from falling for Caliban’s trick, leaving him trapped in hell forever and suddenly, there’s a time paradox; there are two Sabrinas living in the same timeline. 1) “Past-Sabrina,” who’s ambitious and power-hungry, the ideal queen of hell, and 2) Our Sabrina, who has seen the world where everyone she loves dies and just wants to live a quiet life in the human world. Which brings us back to Zelda.
Just before Faustus stabbed her, Zelda proclaimed that she had the answer to all of their problems. Her death is used to build up tension before the finale, but the visions gave us all we needed to know, long before the goddess’ name is uttered in the spell circle to revive Hilda Spellman (Lucy Davis). The Triple Goddess plays quite the important role in modern Paganism. As we see the moons reveal themselves in Zelda’s mind, it becomes clear that the maiden, the mother, and the crone aren’t arbitrary moments in the matriarch’s story. They’re the coven’s salvation.
Though the Triple Goddess is often exactly what it says – a symbol of three separate goddesses – Chilling Adventures of Sabrina understandably chooses to focus on just one: Hecate. Artemis (goddess of the hunt) and Selene (goddess of the moon) have a strong chance of coming into play in the future, but it’s hard to compete with the goddess of magic herself. Not to mention the fact that prattling off three names in the middle of a spell can get a bit dodgy.
Because the series has been known to pull from multiple churches of witchcraft, as well as additional areas of theology and mythology alike, it’s quite within reason that we see other iconography than just the Triple Goddess come into play. The number three comes up often in modern paganism, as well in ancient mythology. Hecate herself is even commonly depicted in triplicity in what’s known as the hekataia. While the hekataia is quite different from the Triple Goddess that the Church of Night evokes, it does still have ties to the overall narrative. As a matter of fact, Hecate in triplicity is meant to represent the entire theme of the Season: crossroads. There’s no way that was an accident. All witchcraft is, after all, powered by intent. Even screenwriting!
Now, all of that might come off a bit droll. Theology isn’t for everyone! With that in mind, let’s take a look at what this means not just for The Church of Night, but for the future of the series. Though there’s no doubt that the show will remain as spooky and gorgeous as it’s always been, the way the coven prays, worships, and learns is all about to change in a major way. They might have broken from Foustus Blackwood’s tyranny last Season, but the witches still very much found themselves trapped in some sort of weird patriarchal loop as they struggled to find new footing in Part 3. Whether it was the elitism that led to Zelda wanting to exclude Mambo Marie, the fear that gave them pause when they knew they needed to reach out to the exiled witches, or the idea that they were literally powerless without a male figure, this chapter’s narrative focuses very heavily on the effects of that patriarchal rule.
No longer will they allow their former ties to drive a wedge between themselves and their sisters and brothers. There will still be disagreements, to be sure. This is a teen drama after all. But woven into that drama are many important themes. Hopefully, a real bond within the coven will be next. We’ve seen a lot of what Madam Satan (Michelle Gomez) described as the women being “petty bitches” in the first three parts of this series. Shifting from Satan to Hecate brings in a hope that there will be a new togetherness as the coven moves forward.
That hope doesn’t just spark from the fact that they’ve shifted from matriarchal to patriarchal rule. Women fight! Everybody fights. It does, however, root itself in the idea that toxic or otherwise negative sources can cause strife, no matter how strong the power. Because, as mentioned, where witches draw their power from matters. Perhaps with this new era of The Church of Night, we’ll even see the formerly exiled witches step in to help teach. Thankfully it appears that, at the very least, Mambo Marie will be sticking around for the foreseeable future now that she’s struck up a relationship with Zelda.
Hope for that togetherness doesn’t just come from a desire to see the coven make strong strides on its own. It also sparks from the fact that they’re literally about to deal with a formerly tiny creature that may or may not turn out to be Cthulhu. Eldritch terrors, whether The Great Old One or not, don’t really go down easy. In fact, they usually just go to sleep for a little bit. Then there’s Lilith and Lucifer’s future sone to consider, and whatever the fallout to come from Sabrina unleashing her dark dopplegänger via time paradox. No matter how the coven chooses to take down these new threats, they’re not going to get anywhere alone.