When I was a child the world was so much richer than today. In my life then I had many friends populating my world. There were leprechauns and dragons, there were the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. There were elves and fairies, and then there were witches. How I admired them. They could mount their broom and fly through the air. I often wondered which exotic countries I would fly to if I were a witch.
But as I grew older all my friends died, one after the other, and my world became poorer and less colourful. Except for one day in the year when many of my former friends materialize. They come to my door asking for a treat. I was so glad to meet them again on Halloween.
The one I most enjoyed was a five or six year old. She came as a witch, complete with a black conical hat, carrying a small kettle. Her eyes were coal black it seemed, almost compelling. She knew who she was, and she was proud.
I greeted her and complimented her on her costume, complete with a witch’s kettle. “No, no,” she corrected me, “this is a cauldron, not a kettle. You have a lot to learn about witches.” Slightly bowing my head I apologized. “I am glad you corrected me. You see, I have never met a real witch.”
“I am not a real witch,” she replied. “But my Mom is.” Her mother just smiled at me, took her daughter’s hand and slowly walked off. But I did catch her admonition to her child, “you shouldn’t tell people. It makes them uncomfortable.”
The next morning my dear friend Emily came to return the book she had borrowed. And as we talked I mentioned having been visited by a witch the night before. But when I told her about mother’s admonition not to tell, I noticed Emily’s eyes growing wider. And I wondered if my story offended her. “Oh no,” she said, and sat still and stiff for a short moment. “I might as well tell you,” she continued. “I am sure that mother was a witch. There are many witches around. I am a witch. We just don’t tell.” Did I dare believe what I had just heard? Was sane and sensible Emily flipping? I needed some answers. They came after I prodded her for a while. I learned about a religion I did not know existed. A religion that knows no devil, or Original Sin, or ‘you must believe or else…’.
She told me that her religion is called Wicca and that there is only one tenet or commandment – ‘DO NO HARM’ - to anyone, anything, or yourself. Otherwise you are free to believe what you want. After she left I felt as if a huge burden was taken from me. The world is not completely lost. Some of my friends are still around. I only wish they did not have to hide.