With the latest Harry Potter movie - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 - being released in this country this week, I'm expecting a bit of a surge in people visiting A Bad Witch's Blog.
I normally get a few more readers than usual at around the time movies featuring witches, wizards and magic reach the cinemas, and any new Harry Potter film is likely to be a bigger blockbuster than most.
Over the years I have faced a few critics of modern witchcraft who say that people are only drawn to such pagan paths because they are mixing up fantasy and reality. And some people - particularly kids - might just do that.
In an interview with Newsweek's Malcolm Jones, Harry Potter author author J.K. Rowling said: "I get letters from children addressed to Professor Dumbledore [Hogwarts' headmaster], and it’s not a joke, begging to be let into Hogwarts, and some of them are really sad. Because they want it to be true so badly they’ve convinced themselves it’s true."
But, let's face it, kids develop huge fads about all sorts of things. When I was a kid I dreamt of being an astronaut who explored far-off worlds - and that was mostly due to watching Star Trek and the Apollo missions on telly. While America had really sent men to the moon, realistically I never had a chance of getting there myself - let alone a chance of boldly going where no man - or woman - had gone before.
Although kids born today have a far better chance of travelling into space than I had, yearning to be a witch when they grow up is still a more realisable dream. The emphasis, of course, should be on "when they grow up". No reputable coven - or any other group of witches or pagans - would train a child as a witch. Most have a strict over-18 policy.
Of course families are allowed to bring children along to open rituals to celebrate the seasons. There are many family-friendly pagan festivals that take place around the country throughout the year. There are also some very good books around for teenage wannabe witches, my personal recommendation would be Kate West's The Real Witches' Handbook: A Complete Introduction to the Craft.A good book for teenage boys who are interested in paganism is The Way of the Horned God: A Young Man's Guide to Modern Paganism,by Dancing Rabbit.
But children who dream of casting spells like Harry Potter and flying on a broomstick will soon realise that there is a huge difference between the worlds in fantasy books and the real world. Real witchcraft is rarely about high drama and spectacular spellcasting - it is more about quietly honouring nature and maybe doing a little gentle healing magic.
Most will discover that real-world witchcraft is not for them. A few, however, when they are old enough, will find paganism to be a spiritual path that enriches their life in a way that is completely different from anything in fantasy books and movies.
The Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I Poster,Kate West's The Real Witches' Handbook: A Complete Introduction to the Craftand Dancing Rabbit's The Way of the Horned God: A Young Man's Guide to Modern Paganismare available through Amazon.
You can read about Wicca and witchcraft - finding out the basics here: http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2009/01/wicca-witchcraft-finding-out-basics.html
My review of The Way of the Horned God is here: http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2010/02/review-way-of-horned-god.html
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I Poster Movie B 11 x 17 In - 28cm x 44cm Emma Watson Daniel Radcliffe Ralph Fiennes Helena Bonham Carter Tom Felton Alan Rickman