Ipsita Roy Chakraverti is a Wiccan priestess based in India. She is the author of two books, Beloved Witch and Sacred Evil:Encounters with the Unknown. The latter was made into a film. She also started the Wiccan Brigade, a platform for those interested in studying Wicca. She travels extensively, even to remote villages, administering the Wiccan ways of healing and dispelling myths about “witchcraft”.
In an exclusive email interview with Voices,The Statesman she discusses magic,shares childhood memories and tells us what it is to be a witch in the 21st century.
Archita: When did you first decide to become a witch? Was it out of curiosity or some epiphanic moment in your life? Were there any particular influences?
Ipsita: I don’t think it was a conscious decision. I was a young student in Montreal at the time….perhaps more intelligent than most. I was living abroad with my parents, my father being a prominent diplomat and representing India at the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization at the UN. Amongst our family friends was an erudite French Canadian writer by the name of Corinne Lemont. She knew of my interest in old cultures and civilizations and of my capacity to read and analyse. She invited me to a meeting of this exclusive group, consisting of women from various walks of life, about twelve in number, who were researching ancient wisdom of different countries. Wicca was one of the subjects. Though I was pretty young at the time, they invited me to join after the normal screening by the head teacher, Carlotta—a lawyer by profession. Oh yes, they were an exceptionally qualified and select group of women. Celebrities, some of them. I was extremely interested and wondered if I could live up to their scholarship. I obviously could. We would have our meetings at her house in Lachine by the river, or in the chalet, a beautiful, monastic place in the Laurentians.
A: Stories of “black magic” and mysterious deaths still abound, especially in rural areas. Your comments on that?
I: We in India, are still swayed by superstition. As in medieval Europe the gender issue also plays a huge and tragic part. The dayan and her craft are used as handles to perpetrate crime. I do not know when our women will get a better deal.
A: The word “witch” still has a lot of dubious and negative connotations attached. How can such myths be dispelled?
I: Education and general awareness are needed. Films portraying sensational nonsense must be trashed. I fought a massive fight against ‘Ek Thi Dayan’ and took the case up to the President of India. The National Commission for Women took up the cause at his behest. I was triumphant. It was a Wiccan win.
A: You once commented that “A witch is the total woman. Strong daring women who have dared to live their own life, whatever it is.”. Does that mean, those with no association with “witchcraft” or even non-believers can count as witches?
A: Do you think that magic and science are completely separate branches of study, or are they interlinked? Why?
I: Magic is the thought. The Instinct, which we all possess. Science is what follows. One cannot survive or work without the other. There is no quarrel between the two.
A: What is the most bizarre experience that has happened to you?
I: Nothing is bizarre. Everything is a part of this wonderful life.
A:What is your take on
a.Ghosts—Wow. Come again.
b.Past-life and reincarnation-See you next time, if I miss you in this.
c.Festivities such as Halloween-Whooooo
d.Dreams?-Relax and enjoy them.
A: Does one need to be a Wiccan to protect oneself from evil influences and “black magic”?
I: No. The Higher Power is for all.
A: What do you think “magic “means to the youth?
I: Harry Potter? Ipsita Roy Chakraverti?
A: The study of witchcraft is still considered taboo. What advice do you have for those interested or curious towards such practices?
I: The Path will appear. Magic will call you if it’s meant for you.
A: You have written books, made movies and serials and travelled extensively to promote “Wicca”. How successful do you think you have been in conveying your message to the world?
I: I’m happy.
A: What legacy would you like to leave behind?
I: People will say, ‘She was unforgettable’. And I’ll still be there, you know.
(Previously published in Voices, The Statesman)