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.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?