For most of you who have watched her on episodes of The Chair, a supernatural reality show which airs on UTV Bindass, you’re probably wondering how she does it — not jump out of her skin when in the vicinity of all those haunted locations, that is. For Swati Prakash, one of the anchors of the show, the answer is simple – Wicca. “These places I visited were definitely haunted and though I sensed and saw spirits like that of the little boy in the hospital, I wasn’t horrified. I felt pity. If anything the experience made me more sensitive,” says Prakash, a wiccan, tarot therapist, energy healer and founder of the Tarot India Network and the Magick store in Bandra.
So what exactly is wicca? “Wiccan is a spiritual system. It’s an alternate religion complete with beliefs and ceremonies. You need wands to perform spells. It’s about releasing any negative energy and bringing about healing,” explains Prakash. Prakash developed an interest in the occult when she went into a trance that helped her overcome her poor performance in math while at school. “I went into a dream-like state and began to draw a circle around myself. I wrote down spells and muttered incantations. They just came to me,” says the 30-year-old Prakash. Since then, she has had several such experiences. “I often write down spells and my father would buy me books on all subjects including wicca, so it helped hone my interest.” Prakash also explored the worlds of dream-working, past life therapy, energy healing, astrology and tarot. Today, she is also the assistant dean mentoring of Witchschool International looking after the students and mentors of Witchschool in India.
According to wicca, there are several spells and tools that can help you improve your life. “For example, if someone has a broken heart, they can wear some witchhazel in a bottle around their neck. This will help heal your heart,” says Prakash, whose store, Magik, sells everything from cauldrons to daggers to evil eye pendants to books on witchcraft. Though most of the wiccans who come to Prakash to learn the craft are still at the beginner’s stage, they make up for their lack of wisdom, with enthusiasm. “I’m enjoying the class thoroughly and have advanced to learning spell crafting now,” says Savleen Lamba, an 18-year-old BMM student, one of Prakash’s 20-odd students, who made a documentary on wicca for college. But then there are others like 24-year-old Rutu Sharma, for whom, learning wicca was a natural extension of her interest in tarot and reiki. Today she is a wiccan priestess. “It’s all about worshipping nature. Witchcraft is only a part of wicca,” says Sharma, a Sion resident who also spearheads the wicca Go Green earth healing campaign.
The wiccans are laid back about people having any apprehension about their craft since everything is above board. And no, neither do they walk around in flowing gowns, brooms and pointy hats, unless they are undergoing a ritual or a ceremony. Nandini Hate-Mane, a wiccan, looks like any other homemaker. “No, we don’t move around on brooms,” she says. But what this wiccan does brandish is positive healing and energy, which she often uses to heal people who approach her. Most people who approach wiccans have problems with relationships, land deals, family fights etc.
But contrary to belief, there is no secrecy to the groups meetings and rituals. “We don’t do anything secretly, the information is there for everyone to grasp and understand. It’s about positive energy and helping people,” avers Prakash.
This is also probably why Lamba didn’t have any problems with her family. “They are very supportive. The concept of a ‘witch’ just appears to be bad but once I explain it to people, their doubts are cleared,” says Lamba. Sharma too says that her family is very supportive. “We are Brahmins but they didn’t have any objections to my practising wicca.” In fact, her family and extended family all recently participated in a Go green earth-healing event on World Environment Day. At the other end of the spectrum is Hate-Mane’s son, who got excited when he learnt about what she was doing. “Especially since he was reading Harry Potter at the time. I had to explain that it doesn’t work that way,” she says laughing. So what’s next on the witches’ agenda? Preparing for ‘Samhain’ – festival of the dead and witches’ new year, where the wiccans will celebrate Halloween, perform a ritual to honour their ancestors and invite spirit beings on October 31st.
Books on WitchCraft
Book of Shadows, Real Witches Craft, Raising Witches, Wicaa, Witch Schools
Available at: Magick, Tarot India Network, Shop2, Sai Pooja, 16th Road, Bandra West, Mumbai 40005