The knack: How to be a witch

"A witch can be male or female (males are not called warlocks or wizards or anything else out of popular fiction), and they work on their own or within a group, sometimes called a coven. The first step is to find a teacher. The Pagan Foundation will help you, as will a group called Artemis. Watch out for those which try to charge for training, are unsympathetic to your natural caution, use inverted crucifixes, or talk about blood sacrifices and the devil - they are not witches, they are probably disillusioned Christians. The devil is an invention of the Christian church, and witches do not worship or even believe in him. Instead, you will subscribe to the three guiding principals of witchcraft and paganism: belief that the deity is both male and female, equally and in balance; respect for nature; and the Wiccan Rede (or rule), `An it harm none, do what thou will.'

Once through your first degree initiation, you can take part in the rituals. These celebrate the eight Sabbats (festivals), and are used for healing purposes, for scrying (predicting), or to influence people and events. Finally, with regards to attire, you can work robed, in your everyday clothes, or skyclad (naked). Working skyclad should not, of course, be confused with a prurient interest in sex." Interview by Fiona McClymont

Kate West is co-author of `Born in Albion', a book about witchcraft, available from Pagan Media, part of the Pagan Foundation (01928 770909 or e-mail kate@pagmedia.demon.co.uk). Artemis can be contacted at BM Artemis, London WC1N 3XX. Pagans will be celebrating the Sabbat of Samhain (Hallowe'en) tonight.

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