Modern-day witches ‘still facing endless abuse’

Four hundred years after they were burned at the stake, modern-day witches say they are still facing persecution.

Toni Hunt says she and her fellow witches face “endless” abuse for their beliefs – including threats of murder.

She owns a witching shop in Gloucester and runs witchcraft courses.

“We have had somebody come into the shop and threaten to burn it down with the people in it, we have had very intimidating people stand outside and prevent customers coming in and accost the customers outside with their Christian leaflets,” she said.

“We have had eggs pelted at the windows, I’ve had my car keyed – it’s endless.”

Witchcraft has its origins in pre-Christian Britain. Followers worship the planet, use herbal remedies for healing and believe in the power of positive energy to cast spells.

Ms Hunt and other witches will appear on BBC Inside Out West on Monday night.

“Witchcraft isn’t worshipping the devil, it’s not cursing people, it’s not black magic,” she told the BBC.

“It’s a belief in the planet, it’s a respect for everything, it’s positive thinking, cosmic ordering.

“Lots of people don’t know they are witches – they’ll be into holistic therapies, they’ll be into crystals for remedial stuff.

BBC Inside Out West
BBC Inside Out West

“They’ll see spirits or they may have a high intuition that means that they can think of a person and they turn up or they know who’s on the end of the phone, so they have all these different abilities but they have never been able to speak about because it would have been still so controversial.

“People like me would probably have been sectioned years ago because if I admitted that I was psychic they wouldn’t have seen it as psychic, they’d have seen it as mad.”

Meanwhile Roz, who asked not to give her second name, keeps the DNA of her, her husband and their dogs in bottles to ward away “negativity”.

She has a special room in her house where she keeps her herbs and spices and says her spells have even helped her parents earn a little extra cash.

“I made some witch bottles for my neighbours to help sort of protect them,” Roz told the BBC.

“I’ve done a number of things for my parents, and they believe now because I have done money spells for them and they’ve had a few wins at bingo and things like that.”

– BBC Inside Out West will air on BBC One West at 7.30pm on Monday. It will be available on iPlayer afterwards.