Mara Carter, 52, from Hornsby, NSW, told that's life! what it's like to be a modern-day suburban witch.
I￼’m having some trouble at work,’ my husband, Bruce, 52, sighed one evening. As he told me about it, I realised his colleague had treated him unfairly.
‘Don’t worry,’ I said. ‘I know what to do.’ But I didn’t simply give him a sympathetic ear.
‘I’ve got just the spell for that!’ I told him.
On weekdays, I work for a beauty company at an airport, but there’s more to me than meets the eye. That’s because I’m a real-life witch.
I grew up in a Catholic family in Argentina, but I’ve always loved the supernatural. Once, when I was 10, my sisters and I played with a ouija board.
‘Give us a sign you’re here,’ we asked the spirit world, huddled around a table. Suddenly, the light bulb above us started to swing.
My heart leapt into my mouth. We all raced to our bedrooms, hiding under the sheets.
In Australia, I could explore my supernatural interests
Moving to Australia in 1983, aged 18, I could explore my interests more freely. I learned about tarot reading, reiki healing and studied crystals.
Then, I read an article about something called Wicca in a magazine. Wiccan is a modern pagan religion, it explained.
Followers were called witches and they cast spells. They were also very in tune with nature, and worked with the phases of the moon.
This is perfect for me! I realised.
The witches were in England, and I wasn’t sure where to start on my own. Then one day at Manly market in Sydney, I saw a sign for spiritual lessons.
This is my chance, I thought, signing up. Through the class, I was introduced to Carole, a well-known Wiccan High Priestess.
She agreed to be my mentor and helped me study meditation, astrology, and of course, spell casting. After two years of hard work, I was ready to become a junior, or first degree, witch.
I needed a cloak for the initiation, so I dug out my sewing kit and whipped one up myself. It’s a bit big, I thought, laughing at my reflection in the mirror.
I fixed it up with a ceremonial rope around my waist. These days my outfits are a lot more stylish! I have a shiny gold cape, and a black and purple one too.
It’s not all about looks though – I wear my ‘magic clothes’ to help create the right energy. Now, 13 years later, I’m a high priestess myself.
I even have a black cat called Merlin
Like all witches, I have my book of spells, and I have a black cat called Merlin. He used to be Carole’s cat, but when she sadly passed away six years ago, I took him in.
There’s definitely something bewitching about him. When he eats, he always uses his paw like a spoon, and when I chat to him, I swear he listens.
And no witch would be complete without a wand. Mine is made from a branch I found on a bushwalk. I’ve decorated it with feathers and crystals.
In my spare time, I teach children how to make wands. ‘Do some magic!’ they say.
But it’s not like Harry Potter! I do my spells in my ‘witch room’ at home. To help my hubby out, I took a photo of his colleague, wrapped some string around it and popped it in the freezer.
‘They’re harming you, and damaging their own reputation too,’ I told him. ‘This’ll bind the negativity.’ Sure enough, within days, his co-worker was much nicer.
Before I do a spell, it’s important everything is cleansed. I’ll take a shower and burn incense to clear the space. Then I draw a magic circle and call on the four elements – earth, air, fire and water – to assist me.
Sometimes, I write down a message and cast it into a flame. Other times, I’ll use herbs in my cauldron and wave my wand. Some spells even include a dance.
I put a curse on my ex!
In fact, sometimes just the intention can be enough if you’re magically inclined. Years ago, an ex-boyfriend broke my heart.
‘I hope he never meets anyone else!’ I cried in a moment of anger. When I bumped into him years later, we had a quick catch up.
‘I’ve been single ever since,’ he told me sadly. I must have cursed him accidentally! I realised, feeling a little guilty.
I would never have done it on purpose. I called on the universe to break the spell but I haven’t seen him for years so I don’t know if it worked!
Witches have gotten a bad reputation over the years. That’s because when Christianity reached Europe, anyone who didn’t want to convert from paganism was branded as evil. Some were even burnt at the stake.
Wiccans certainly don’t dabble in black magic or conjure evil spirits. In fact, most of my spells are for healing.
I also perform Wiccan baptisms, and wedding and funeral services too.
When my daughters, Lauren, 29, Emily 22, and Sofia, 13, were growing up, they were fascinated by my magic. Sofia is particularly interested in learning more about Wicca.
I think that’s because I was pregnant with her when I became a witch.
'You were born to be magical!’ I laugh. And as a tarot card expert, Bruce is very spiritual himself.
I just like to help people with my powers – any witch way I can!
21st Century Witchcraft
Wicca, also known as pagan witchcraft, is based on European beliefs from before Christianity.
It was developed in the UK in the first part of the 20th century.
There are different forms of Wicca, but all believe in magic.
In the 2011 Australian census, 8413 people identified as Wiccan, while in the 2013 New Zealand census there were 1452 Wiccans.