First Person: 'I am a modern-day witch'

Lucya Starza, 49

I was raised a Catholic, but had a variety of spiritual influences as a child. My grandmother was a follower of "Theosophy" and my father was into UFO spotting, so I was always aware of other belief systems. For many years, I didn't have my own faith. I didn't feel that Catholicism was the right spiritual path for me, as it is too male-dominated, and I couldn't find a more appealing alternative.

Then, in my twenties, I met a pagan. He described his as a nature religion, which honours old gods and goddesses equally, and pays repent to the spirits of the place. When he talked about the central tenets of paganism, it instantly made sense. After that, I found my interest in alternative spiritual beliefs growing and took a course at the House of the Goddess. Here, an experienced witch – a high priestess – taught me about circle work. This involves defining protective spaces in the ground, which you sit or stand in while performing rituals.

I didn't become a witch myself until, a few years later, I went to an open ritual at a pagan federation; a good place to observe what goes on. This particular event was a spring ritual, and I befriended several witches there who later invited me to join their Wicca coven of 10 witches, led by a high priestess. This was a particularly large coven by usual standards. With this group, I trained for a year to become a witch.

Wicca is the most common form of witchcraft in Britain. It draws on ancient sources, but most of the literature was written by Gerald Gardner and his high priestess in the mid-20th century. In training to become a Wiccan witch, I attended coven meetings once a week to learn about making incense and to become familiar with the essence of witchcraft – a nature religion that respects both the male and the female. In practice, much of a witch's work is about honouring the changing seasons, as well as doing magic.

During my training, I was educated about specific festivals, and how they are celebrated. Halloween, for example, is a time to remember the dead, to honour their spirits.

There is a big difference between working on your own as a witch and practising with a coven. The process of conducting a group ceremony is different every time. Generally, we'll meet up somewhere outdoors, and start by preparing the space for the ritual. We sweep the ground with traditional brooms and light candles to represent the different elements: earth, wind, fire and water. Then we inscribe the circle, using a ritual knife, before stepping into the circle.

To begin the ritual, we say various words to honour the time of year and the relevant gods and goddesses. We might also bring along a healing list and add chants to help heal people. At the end of the ceremony, we thank the spirits who were present. Only then can we open up the circle again.

Working on my own is not as complex. I spend time contemplating the moon, and practising candle magic, mainly for healing. For this, I write what I am hoping for on a candle splashed with various scented oils and pass my wishes through the candle as it burns.

I spend a lot of time reading literature. At the moment I'm looking at Grimoires: A History of Magic Books by Owen Davies, which talks about a range of subjects from the history of Jewish traditions to the destruction of old magic books by the Christian church. I've also started to write my own blog – badwitch.co.uk – about life as a modern-day witch. My friends all know I'm a witch but I haven't told my work colleagues – it would be easy to be teased. I don't dress like a witch and I have a regular job. I'm also a normal person.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Recruitment Genius: Project Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This privately-owned company designs and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Officer

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen at th...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - London - £40,000 + Bonus

£36000 - £40000 per annum + Bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own