Meet the witch of Barkingside
PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 October 2018 | UPDATED: 07:20 29 October 2018
By day he works in the city crunching numbers in the world of finance, but at night he shrugs off his suit and goes down to the woods to practise magic.
Just in time for Halloween, the Recorder spoke to a real witch from Barkingside, to sort the hocus from the pocus and find out what really happens in covens in east London.
The spell caster, who is in his 30s but wants to remain anonymous due to the nature of his office job, first became interested in magic after going through “unusual experiences” that fed his curiosity when he was younger.
However while others grew out of it, the finance worker admitted he “never stopped”.
“It’s not about waving a stick around and turning people into frogs,” he said.
“It’s not Charmed or Harry Potter, it is a craft and an art, it’s about listening to your blood and the sap in the trees and the whispers of the wind. It’s hard work.”
After years of developing and practising witchcraft, he decided he wanted to try “group work” and join a coven.
He already knew some people in the community through research, and as soon as he made inquiries everything fell into place.
“Rituals are extremely varied but generally speaking you would start with marking your space, some might spiritually cleanse it with salt water and/or incense and some will draw a circle in the space where they are working,” he added.
“You can then draw in powers you want to work with - these might be ancestral, elemental or deities.
“The purposes are as varied as the means, you might perform rituals for specific spellwork such as healing or you might perform a ritual to honour the powers of the earth and moving of the seasons.”
He said different witches use different materials in their spells but some of the more well-used apparatus are knives (which cannot be used to shed blood), candles, herbs and incense.
“The colour of a candle often lets you know the kind of the spell that’s being done, so red is commonly used in love spells for example,” he explained.
“Some witches use little to nothing and like to keep it simple whilst some use wands and cups and stones and feathers all with their own magical attributes to complement the practices. This is used in various religions and many Catholic churches use incense and cups for communion.”
The man said there are a fair few witches practising locally, with even more across London and Essex and he likes to go to Epping Forest.
But he stresses that both the home and the outdoors are important to witches and as most of nature has a “liminal feeling” he can encounter spirits in the open as well as harvesting plants and herbs.
“White and black magic are terms people use to distinguish good or bad but I don’t like to colour code many things – including magic,” he added.
“Electricity powers your lights but can also kill you, gravity keeps you walking on the earth but if you fall from a height it will kill you and magic to a witch is the same - it’s part of nature and simply is.
“You can use it to heal or harm so it’s really more about the person’s character than the magic.
“Care is, of course, needed and we make mistakes and learn. It’s no different to stepping out your door or driving, you could cause or be involved in an accident, does that mean you will not step outside? It means you take lessons, you learn, you correct yourself.”
According to him, there are many misconceptions about his practices and he said pagans and witches differ in theology much like different strands of Christianity and Judaism.
Despite what many think he claims, coven members are not neww age hippies wearing “crushed velvet like a tribe”.
“The best things about being a witch for me is that it’s my calling, it’s part of what and who I am,” he said.
“I have always been one so it’s an intrinsic part of my identity.”