Witches’ coven claims religious persecution after church hall ban
A coven of witches is accusing the Roman Catholic church of religious persecution after being banned from using a parish social centre for a Halloween gathering.
Sandra Davis, the “high priestess” of Crystal Cauldron group in Stockport, Greater Manchester, said she was shocked to be told that the pagan group was not considered to be compatible with the church’s “ethos”.
Mrs Davis, 61, booked Our Lady’s Social Club in Shaw Heath, Stockport, for the group’s annual “Witches Ball” due to be held in October.
She hoped to attract up to 150 people to the social evening offering a buffet dinner and music from an Abba tribute band and selected the hall because it had disabled access.
But when she went to pay for the booking she was told by the manager that the Diocese of Shrewsbury, which owns the centre, had refused permission for the group to use it.
“It makes you think that there is still a little bit of that attitude from the past of the Catholics wanting to burn witches,” she said.
“I thought we had made progress, tat we could accept other people’s religious paths.”
Mrs Davis, who has 11 grandchildren, gave up her former job in a forklift truck company to set up the Crystal Cauldron, where she is known as “Amethyst Selmeselene”.
Based in a former post office, the 30-strong group runs a new age bookshop and sells cloaks, jewellery and medieval costumes on the internet as well as organising a children’s group called “Little Crystals”.
It also supports a local cat sanctuary as its designated charity.
Mrs Davis has since secured a new venue for the ball which she hopes will become an annual fixture in the town.
“It is a full family thing and it is a posh do too,” she said. “It is evening dress or fancy dress, last year most of us went in medieval costumes.”
The Reverend John Joyce, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic diocese of Shrewsbury, said that it was out of the question for a pagan group to use its facilities.
“Parish centres under our auspices let their premises on the understanding users and their organisations are compatible with the ethos and teachings of the Catholic church,” he said.
“In this instance, we aren’t satisfied such requirements are met.”