Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Witchcraft casts its spell over a growing community in Thanet

ALTHOUGH they were almost hunted to extinction during the Middle Ages there is a growing community of witches in Thanet.
Three covens, with up to 13 witches in each one, regularly meet either behind closed doors or outside at night.
Witch and Doyle's Psychic Emporium owner Robert Doyle, 35, dabbles in what were once considered the dark arts. He said: "I have taken part in different rituals. In one, we welcome the four elements – earth, air, fire and water. Sometimes we meet in people's homes and sometimes on the beach."
Robert explained that witchcraft is deeply rooted in paganism. He added: "One ritual is called the rites of cake and ale where we say goodbye to winter and hello to summer. We pass cake and ale in a clockwise direction saying, 'May you never hunger or thirst.'"
Witch Wendy Starr, 54, who co-owns a psychic shop called Magik in Ramsgate with Serena Lowman, 58, has started her own gathering of pagans called Magik Cafe. She said: "We had our first night last week and we had 30 people come along. I started it because I wanted to bring together the pagan community and give them somewhere to go when they meet up."
The Magik Cafe meets up at 7pm above the Red Lion in Ramsgate town centre on the first Thursday of every month. Wendy said: "The pagan is an umbrella term for druids, white witches and pagans. It is not a religion – we believe in earth. I am a white witch but I am not a member of a coven. I do solitary witchcraft but I will get together for rituals like the solstice and the Sabbath."
Mr Doyle, who has his own cloak, added: "There are high priests and priestesses that lead the ceremony and there are quarter callers who call in the elements."
As in the Harry Potter films, the witches have broomsticks, wands, and cloaks and use cauldrons. They simulate the elements by burning incense for fire and rocks and stones for earth.
Mr Doyle said: "Some covens do take their clothes off but not in our area. Some witches stay up all night to experience the shortest night. Everyone who walks past is quite respectful."
Mr Doyle said there are more independent witches than covens in Thanet.

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