Disney is seen around the world as a source of wholesome entertainment for children, but is there a darker side to its productions hidden in plain sight? This article investigates occult references in Disney productions, how society’s values and perception of good and evil are under threat, and the effect this could have on the future of spirituality.
Question for you: What has black wings, black horns and is associated with darkness? If the first thing that comes to mind is a demon you’re not alone – they’ve been represented like that for centuries. But if you are one of the 35 million or so people who have recently seen Disney’s latest movie Maleficent, you might be feeling a bit confused, or your answer might even be quite different.
Maleficent’s Disney Origins
In the credits of Maleficent is the following text:
“Maleficent” is inspired by the original Disney Sleeping Beauty character
To make sense of the film then let’s take a quick look at the origins of Disney’s most infamous villain in the 1959 animated movie Sleeping Beauty.
Sleeping Beauty follows the story of Princess Aurora. At a celebration of her birth she is cursed by the “wicked witch” Maleficent to die on her 16th birthday (a number which in numerology relates to spiritual fragility and falling towards darkness) by pricking her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel. The curse is weakened by the magic of a good fairy whose intervention saves the princess from death, and instead of death the curse puts her in a deep sleep, a state she must remain in until awakened by true love’s kiss.
In Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent is the self-proclaimed mistress of all evil. She has a pet raven named Diablo (the Spanish word for “Devil”) and even her name itself means doing evil or harm or to be harmfully malicious, a word originally coming from the Latin Maleficus which means “wicked or prone to evil”.
She is said not to know anything about love, kindness, or the joy of helping others.
Maleficent has an evil looking goblin army (whom she refers to as fools, idiots, imbeciles and a disgrace to the forces of evil) and in the final battle before Aurora’s true love Prince Philip saves her from her slumber, Maleficent transforms into a giant dragon with all the powers of the abyss behind her.
Sounds like a lovely person.
Maleficent is part of a sub-franchise of Disney Villains called the Diva’s of Darkness and is included in a merchandising line called the “Villains Designer Collection” that “re-imagines the stylish wickedness of classic Disney Villains” in order to capture the essence of their evil. In later crossover appearances by Maleficent she acts as the leader of the Disney Villains and was ranked number #1 in Ultimate Disney’s top 30 Disney Villain’s countdown Source
And this is where it gets confusing, because despite being based on Sleeping Beauty’s evil villain, in Disney’s new movie Maleficent, this character is made out to be good.
But Maleficent Wasn’t Really Evil, She Was Just Misunderstood…
At the beginning of Maleficent the narrator gives a bit of back story about the child-fairy Maleficent and then triumphantly proclaims “And her name is Maleficent” (remember the meaning from before?).
As Maleficent grows she becomes strong, a protective figure for the spirit realm where she lives which is composed mostly of good and innocent elementals. When “evil” humans come to invade her kingdom she calls on those who “live in the shadows” to “arise” and stand with her, causing a series of demon-looking figures to emerge from the ground and the forest. Interestingly one of them looks very similar to another movie demon who lives in the shadows; the Balrog of Mordor. This “demon of the ancient world” is defeated by the magician Gandalf who represents the white side of esotericism in the Lord of the Rings saga.
Later Maleficent rules over the spirit world in darkness with the king of the demon-looking creatures forcing the innocent spirits into submission. Interestingly, the name of this demon king is Balthazar, possibly a mockery of one of the three wise magi in the story of the birth of Christ.
The good fairies, who in Sleeping Beauty weaken Maleficient’s curse and give Prince Philip the weapons and power to destroy Maleficient, are shown as ditzy and useless and we are submitted to many scenes which are surprisingly dark and violent for a film aimed at children.
But then something happens. The plot causes us to start sympathising and identifying with Maleficent. She is not so bad. She becomes Aurora’s “fairy godmother” and in the end is the hero, a saviour of the two kingdoms who defeats the evil king (who we are made to feel negative towards as he is full of obsessive hatred).
A bright light illuminates Maleficent and inspiring music plays as (looking like what most people would think of as a demon) she ascends. Darkness is upheld as virtuous and as I watched I was left feeling confused – what just happened, who was bad, who was good, did darkness win?
The film ends with Maleficent flying towards the sun, while the background music changes from inspiring to slightly creepy giving us an indication that not all may be what it seems.
People trust Disney to provide their children with wholesome entertainment, and it seems only recently that some parents are discovering there is more to what Disney is teaching our kids than what was initially thought.
“My children love Disney,” she said. “You know you can bring your kids to a Disney film.” – Angelina Jolie; star of Maleficent
If the US ticket earnings for Sleeping Beauty are adjusted for inflation, then it earned the equivalent of $578.5 million dollars at the box office by today’s standards, making it one of the top 40 highest-earning films of all time. This is significant – it’s a film most parents would have seen and would be likely to take their children too. It’s unsurprising then that Maleficent has grossed almost $756.5 million worldwide – that’s a whole lot of people who might now be looking at evil in a different light.
Despite what Angelina said about Disney films above, it’s hard to imagine that a film as dark as this would not leave an imprint on the people who saw it, especially the impressionable minds of kids.
Personally some of my most horrific and recurring nightmares as a child came from the scarier aspects of Disney films, but in the olden days good and evil were clearly defined, whereas nowadays the lines are blurred – are we being shown that darkness is not so bad, that we should embrace and support it?
Some possible clues come in an article from Entertainment Weekly. Angelina (who was also an executive producer for the film) talks about how when she was growing up she identified with Maleficent.
“Since I was a little girl, Maleficent was always my favorite. I was terrified of her, but I was so drawn to her. I wanted to know more about her, know what she was like and who she was,” Jolie said. “She had this elegance and grace, and yet she was so cruel, Just wonderfully and deliciously cruel.” – Angelina Jolie
Angelina knew the film needed to be beautiful but also “a little sexy and [a] little darker” because it was made from the point of view of the villain. Angelina’s costume was so dark in fact that her daughter had to be cast for a minor role as young Aurora because all the other child actors were afraid of her eyes, claws and horns.
Studio production chief Sean Bailey also chimed in saying that while the earlier film would be referred to in many ways, “We’ll see the epic battle with the dragon, but this time, just maybe, we may find ourselves rooting for the other side”.
After watching the film we are encouraged to indulge our interest in the dark side, as a whole range of merchandise has sprung up as a result of the movie. There are Maleficent dolls similar to Barbies, Maleficent make up, Maleficent jewellery – even a line of dress up Maleficent costumes for kids.
On the Disney Facebook page we see a suggestion for parents to “help [their] kids channel their inner Maleficent with horn craft”, a sentiment that is repeated on the Perez Hilton website in promoting the Maleficent clothing line “for the little ones that would like to channel their bad side”.
Do we really want our kids channeling anything, let alone things which are knowingly dark?
It’s clear that the Disney Corporation understands the workings of the human psyche.
The buildings in the Disney parks are built with a forced perspective; the upper floors are to a smaller scale, thus making them appear taller. This has a subtle psychological on guests who are leaving the park. Standing at the end of a street, it appears that buildings are closer than they are, and guests naturally walk more slowly. Tests have confirmed that most people walk to the right. When facing towards the exit of the Disney parks, gift shops are to the right of streets, and food shops and camera film shops to the left. This way, designers have ensured visitors spend as much money as possible, gravitating to food shops and film shops upon first entering the park, and lingering at gift shops on the way home. On Main Street you may also feel uncommonly peckish – vents in the street pump out the hunger-inducing scent of Vanilla and Cinnamon. Source
It would seem unlikely that they are unaware of the effect that statements and productions like this would have on kids.
Occult Symbolism in Maleficent
If you’ve been studying the occult in popular culture it’s hard to watch Maleficent without being reminded of a few things.
There are several instances in Maleficent where one of her eyes is highlighted, brief references to the all-seeing eye which has become so prevalent in popular culture nowadays.
Of course this might just be a coincidence, but let’s look at some images that might indicate otherwise of Angelina Jolie (Maleficent), Elle Fanning (Princess Aurora) and Lana Del Ray who’s hypnotic-sounding remake of the original Sleeping Beauty song “Once Upon a Dream” has been used for the Maleficent trailer and credits.
Maleficent’s costume, while appearing demonic, also bears a striking resemblance to the symbol of Baphomet drawn by Eliphas Levi in his book “Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie” in 1897, a symbol which has come to represent the powers of darkness, and is often depicted by celebrities in the music and film industries.
Angelina Jolie states that an inspiration for Maleficent‘s make up was Lady Gaga who also appears to have a fascination with Baphomet symbolism and the all-seeing eye, along with other dark occult symbolism.
Other stars who have either been Mouseketeers, or appeared in Disney movies or on the Disney channel, are often shown using negative occult symbols – and those who have gone on to produce music videos often have much dark symbolism in their video clips.
Interestingly, the 2014 Grammy awards which were used to push an anti-spiritual agenda through Katy Perry’s performance of Dark Horse were also used to promote Maleficent.
Disney’s Links to the Dark Side of the Occult
Maleficent is not the only Disney film to contain occult symbolism. There are many references in the movie The Princess and the Frog for instance that relate to voodoo and the dark arts. A recent Disney cartoon Gravity Falls is also full of occult symbolism.
These references are not just recent. In Disney’s Fantasia the sorcerer to whom Mickey is apprenticed was named Yen Sid (Disney backwards) by the animators and was modelled after Walt Disney. In the film the sorcerer conjures a demonic-looking being from a vial, and then gives it the illusion of a butterfly. In the same film there is a scene called Night on Bald Mountain which has very dark undertones and shows depictions of demons and ghosts.
This dark occult connection can be taken even further. It appears that Walt Disney had an ongoing relationship with Anton LaVey, the founder of the Satanic church who’s symbol is an upside down pentagram (representing a person heading towards the abyss). Anton LaVey suggested in one of his books regarding satanic rituals:
“The tiny bells typical of Russian liturgical ceremony should be used wherever appropriate to the rite, and played in the rhythm associated with the Obikhod. If in doubt, Modeste Mussorgsky or Walt Disney can be your guides.”
Modeste Mussorgsky happened to compose the music which was used as the backing track for Night on Bald Mountain in Fantasia.
Another book from the church of Satan was dedicated:
The book is dedicated to “Ben Hecht, Robert E. Howard, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Knox Hammersly, and Walt Disney, who made their Pacts.”
The same book suggests that Fantasia and Bambi were recommended viewing for “Satanic education”.
To top this off, Roy Disney, Walt’s nephew and Vice Chairman of the Walt Disney company, is a Bilderberg attendee. Bilderberg is a secretive group many consider to be against spirituality and linked to the occult.
Indoctrinating the Youth?
A huge amount of the media we consume is in one way or another owned or influenced by the Disney Corporation. Television and movies can negatively influence our spiritual awakening, and we are likely to imitate the things that we see on screen.
Are we being increasingly shown that it is good to “channel our dark side” and even worship darkness, while being desensitised to dark esoteric symbols through repeated exposure? What is the end goal and agenda?
When so much of Disney programming is aimed at children, could it be that our kids (not to mention their parents) are being indoctrinated into the dark side of the occult in order that they begin incorporating it in their lives, turning themselves away from the light before they’re even old enough to know what they’re doing?
The use or linking to of Disney material in this article is in accordance with fair use and fair dealing principles. The videos and resources linked to were not produced by the author of this article, nor for him, nor have any payments been made for providing this information. The resources linked to have been created by others who are in no way connected with this website, and are only showcased here for your consideration.
Is it just me here or is everyone missing the bigger picture. A night on Bald Moutian was a short story that Disney found and put chcovsky to, the idea behind it was that on Halloween all the bad spits would roam the earth but that God’s light shown through to dispatch all the bad back where it came from. Also almost every major movie Disney has ever made came from a story already written. Little Mermaid, Ariel kills Eric to become queen of his kingdom. ELSA actually kills Anna. These were all stories that had some horrific ending to them and Disney flipped around to make them more family friendly. Now I have also read that Disney was a painfully shy man and I do have a bit of a hard time thinking that this man would call a Satanism his friend but again who knows. The point is maybe we should be teaching our kids to think for themselves instead of allowing anything else to do it for us, instead of all this conspiring bull. As far as the park goes all of them do the subliminal scents and set up vending so you spend more money….that’s marketing. Six flags does the exact same thing. But by all means keep looking for the devil around corners, I will teach my kids to use their heads.
Disney has a long tradition of making evil things look good and nice. from fairies to genies (djinn), to mermaids giants dragons elves and so on. ok dragons are not good or evil because they are animals and have no conscience, but even so.
I just read this article on “Waking Times” and was not surprised that the film stars Miss Jolie, the Council on Foreign Relations Hollywood representative. For 70 years Disney has programmed children’s psyches with dark, powerful female characters, from the Evil Queen to Cruella Deville, to the Sea Witch. This fascination with destruction in the form of Kali serves to make acceptable what is normally unthinkable. Unending wars lead to the collapse of the biosphere and with it our civilization. With this film Disney Studios enter Dick Cheney’s 21st century of Evil Triumphant! Great to see everything is on course to complete social destruction. Maleficent, Monsanto, what’s the difference? The elite are prepared to withdraw to their caverns when the rest of us go down.
That was indeed a confusing film, although it’s hard to say if there is any agenda behind it or not. The fillm is portraying the positive characteristics of Malefecient, and later on her full repentance. It’s also her “true love’s kiss” that awakened the princess from the curse. The princess grown on her and clearly opened up her heart. Showing the repantance of a villain is a recuring theme in many movies.
Perhaps one thing by which this movie stands out more than other movies on the same theme is that here the dark aspect is beautified, in the same way as it is beautified in the famous 90’s movie Interview with a Vampire. This could have negative consequence as Disney movie is meant to be a family movie.
I think the notion of the repentant villain is a deception, sure evil people sometimes repent, but the idea of someone finally winning the love of some cold hearted person or there is some good in there that can be
reached by your human efforts or human love is a recurring theme that in my experience is mostly false, and plays to hopes and dreams of children who have worthless parents they blame themselves for not
being loved by.
this in turn promotes the slavery of those who would otherwise just leave, and throws the focus on “love” as something magical in itself, and a kind of self worship disguised and idolatry of feelings and following the imagination of one’s own heart that God warns against. Disney is evil. that pixie dust is demonic.
As a child I used to love Disney movies. They always felt kinda special compared to other movies. I could relate to them more.
Reading your article David along with others I have read about the story of Walt Disney, his connections with underground and dark clubs and especially the hidden messages that are found in almost all his movies makes me feel deceived in a way.
The people behind the scenes definitely know how to ”speak” to a child’s psychology and capture their attention which might not be wrong by default. However, when this knowledge is misused in order to influence children negatively then it is definitely a knowledge of darkness.
I think your article could be eye-opening for many parents out there that care for the future of their children.
Before reading this article, I didn’t consider much what the aftermath of the movie would be for the public- especially the youth. I saw that the movie was very questionable but, as you pointed out, the frenzy around the merchandise of Maleficent look-a-likes spread quite soon following the movie’s release. Sadly, society and culture encourages embracing whatever new movie is taking over the media (Twilight, Hunger Games, and the like) and bringing them to life. It really dramatizes them and steals attention from valuable topics. Very soon after, this fanatic movement seems to make the movie so much bigger than itself- elements of it are ingrained in people’s lives. It’s creepy to think that little girls are ‘playing evil’.
Also, I liked that you pointed out some possible angles in the movie…like the masses “being desensitised to dark esoteric symbols through repeated exposure”. In hopes of making them normal? Accepted? Light-hearted? Interesting things to consider. Thanks, David!
Thanks a whole lot for exposing some of the darkness behind Disney.
As a Mom, I feel pretty sickened by what’s out there. It seems so innocent and happy, all for families and the like, but almost every time I watch a movie with my daughter I am shocked at the sinister agenda beneath it all.
Not to mention the amount of violence and sexual overtones that are pushed, leaving a lot of awful impressions on the consciousness which shapes perception of reality inevitably.
To make matters worse, Disney seems to want to take esoteric and sacred spiritual symbols and sites and confuse them with darkness and evil, causing a lot of confusing associations for people.
My daughter had nightmares watching some old scooby doo cartoons – I can’t imagine what she’d be dreaming of if she saw some of the scenes in this movie.
Great article David. Thanks for the time and research. Lots to to take in.
It’s pretty shocking that Anton levay dedicated his book in that way to Disney.
Not long ago I watched sleeping beauty and was really impressed by the deep spiritual messages in the story (a monster transformed into a man through death and love), and I feel there are similar qualities to many Disney movies, but… I can also see how the true love fairy tale has created big problems for kids growing up with unrealistic expectations, and coupled with other cultural influences, this has led to a very lust-oriented culture, which has recently started developing into a more openly negative/evil thing in pop culture. You can very clearly see how this lust works together with the dark imagery, and looking back I can see a bit how the road has been paved.
Just to clarify, the dedication came from a book detailing the history of the Church of Satan by an administrator of the church, not from Anton LaVey himself like the first quote.
It seems all this insanity in the movies and especially cartoons started longer time ago than we think. Here is an interesting link with some old cartoons that are plain dark:
I’m not too up to date on my Disney cartoons these days 😉 , but here I thought Disney films were already disturbing enough and now I can’t believe this Maleficent movie! I agree with you on the concept of blurring the lines between good and bad and teaching the young that embracing darkness is ok too — seems pretty prevalent. I remember having fond memories of Fantasia, but when I tried to re-watch it some years ago I was in utter shock at how over-sexualized it was. Same goes for most other Disney cartoons I was glued to as a child. I can’t imagine the impact watching a film like Maleficent would have had on me, and see this as a real concern.
I also wanted to thank you for highlighting the relationship between Walt Disney and Anton LaVey and the church of Satanism. I think it’s really important to call these things out and raise awareness about them. These subtle (and sometimes not to subtle!) dark influences coming from the entertainment industry are certainly not a coincidence and should be revealed for what they are.
Thanks for posting this article David. It makes me wonder about the real motivation behind these Disney-produced films and tv shows and why it seems that so many famous Disney child actors (such as Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera) had suddenly gone from wholesome to disturbingly inappropriate in a matter of a short time? The blurring of the lines between good and bad seems to be commonly found in many Disney-based products.
That’s a good point Patricia, there does seem to be a pattern of Disney stars developing large followings and then starting to model behaviour which is not appropriate for kids to be imitating.
As a parent, I found this information quite disturbing and I’ll certainly explain these wrong actions to my children.
In my opinion we need to expose this evil and spread the truth to all parts of our world.
Thanks for writing about this David. “Evil” is becoming more and more socially acceptable. What message are we trying to send to kids?
Thank you David for looking into this. There is certainly a huge agenda going on nowadays to indoctrinate and desensitize the Youth, it is sickening to watch it. Just seeing my niece playing with all the Monster High dolls make me feel like the Darkness is parading right in front of my eyes and there is no way I could take them from her. When I am trying to point out their nasty appearance, she says “Of course she has these ears, she is a werewolf”. Or “of course she has these teeth, she is a vampire”, etc. I really like the approach of the mother from this post though, the thoughtful and loving way she explained her daughter why these types of dolls are NOT ok:
Very interesting article. I recall when first seeing the large ads of this film I was surprised to see that the costume was so blatantly demonic looking, particularly for a Disney film, which we all seem to associate with young children. It did make me wonder what this was all about as it is clear that the whole movie is dedicated to this character due to the name. After reading this article I went to youtube to look at the trailer and I can see exactly what you are talking about. It appears that everything we seem to think about ‘evil’ is not what it seems in this film and that in reality, perhaps, it is misunderstood. What an crafty way of making darkness and evil seem friendly and even good!
I also wonder what this constant manipulating of basic principles will end up doing to the impressionable minds of today’s children – will they become so confused with these mixed messages that they will not know what is right from wrong anymore? Ordinarily, we would think that the home is where strong principles and morals are taught and inculcated, but with the overwhelming amount of information obtained from mainstream media these days you can be forgiven for thinking that many children and young adults have fewer and fewer stories about basic human principles such as love, understanding, virtues, etc., taught to them like before.
Your references to Fantasia were very interesting. This was one of my very favourite Disney movies as a child, not least because of the prancing hippos in tutus! However, I remember night on Bald Mountain and yet it did not feel so scary as it actually looks. I think what I found most entrancing and a bit freakish as a child was the story about the Scorcerer’s apprentice – where the your apprentice breaks the ultimate rule of not playing with fire and ends up getting more than he had bargained for.
I also found the information on the connections between Walt Disney and ocultists a bit disconcerting – he certainly managed to use his major international brand to push through certain images and messages about good and evil very effectively.
Thanks very much for making this information clear and available for all to read.
It’s interesting to see how the forces of darkness take evil & try to make it seem good. Thanks for the breakdown.
Celebration of Evil…. This is really what it feels like..
I came across some weird dolls a few months ago “Monster High Dolls” and I just could not believe it.. There were also dolls and animals which had sown buttons instead of eyes. But they were black eyes, with the stitchings crossed like an X – making them looked like dead.
It was so so so creepy to be surrounded in a ‘dark alley’ with monsters and demons, and dead looking toys looking at me.. Was this a nightmare? No, simply a walk-about in a toy store…
This is not right, there is no justification for it, it’s just plain wrong.. There are definitely people behind the scenes manipulating and making this world and the people, and children, endoctrinated into darkness and selling it as pleasure / entertainment.
I hope more people and parent become aware of this and explain to the children why this is so wrong, and the worship ends there..