The witch report on chunnel safety

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The Independent Online
It was reassuring to discover that the High Priest of British witches drives a Volvo, but slightly less comforting to see his broomstick on the back seat.

"Nah," said Kevin Carlyon. "It doesn't fly - well, not unless you've had a few ciders too many."

Mr Carlyon, 37, High Priest of the 576 witches of the Covenant of Earth Magic, was in Dover planning his latest piece of white magic in a career spanning a couple of decades. This time, it was not the exorcism of a stately home or the casting of a spell on a bad road or rail scheme.

It was a ceremony to ensure the safety of Channel tunnel travellers today, the winter solstice, when history has shown that accidents have a sad tendency to happen. He and his partner, Sandy Jeffery, 44, his High Priestess, decided two weeks ago that they would cast a good spell on the tunnel after experiencing bad omens about 21 December, the anniversary of, among other tragedies, the Lockerbie air disaster.

"The winter solstice has a four-year cycle in which the forces of earth, air, fire and water are invoked. This year it is fire and we had a horrible feeling about a fire in the tunnel. But now we have performed our ceremony, everything will be alright," he said.

Thirteen witches, dressed in robes, climbed up Shakespeare Cliff outside Dover at midnight and stood in a circle around an altar chanting: "We summon forth the forces of nature to save and protect those who wish to travel to foreign lands."