Tonight's guest, Dr. Evelyn Paglini, was born into a centuries old family of practitioners of the Occult, and at an early age received training in Natural Magic. Back when I was living in New York City, I had occasion to interview a Manhattan witch. It was the summer of 1999, and Blair Witch Project had just come out and the hype was making some people dredge up very negative associations with witchcraft. At an occult shop called Enchantments, I met with Lexa Roséan, the stores' longtime manager and resident witch.
Lexa was truly a witch for the modern era, complete with her own publicist. (She's the author of a series of popular magical spell books published under the banner of The Supermarket Sorceress(1).) In recent years, she told me, many have been more informed about Wicca, such as knowing that it's related to goddess worship, "but since Blair Witch Project came out, they are back to this sort of stupid mentality."
Explaining why witches get such a bad rap, Lexa said "there is the tradition of the old lady in the woods who had the knowledge of the herbs. People would come to her when they had problems. She could give them potions to heal their child or heal their cattle. But by the same token, whenever anything went wrong she was the first person they'd point a finger at." But, certainly the power of magic can be used with good or bad intent. "You have the force of wind or air; that wind could be a really wonderful summer breeze to cool you off or be a tornado that will blow your house down," Lexa said.