White witch casts bad weather spell on Cromwell celebrations

PUBLISHED: 12:30 27 August 2008 | UPDATED: 10:32 04 May 2010

Kevin Carlyon is picture in the red robes at a previous cursing ceremony.

Kevin Carlyon is picture in the red robes at a previous cursing ceremony.

A WHITE witch is about to cast a bad weather spell on Ely s Oliver Cromwell celebrations due to take place next month. And perhaps even more controversially, the witch has told the Ely Standard that he was contacted by an Ely councillor and asked to cast a spell

Performing a spell

A WHITE witch is about to cast a bad weather spell on Ely's Oliver Cromwell celebrations due to take place next month. And perhaps even more controversially, the witch has told the Ely Standard that he was contacted by an Ely councillor and asked to cast a spell on the event.

Plans to mark the 350th anniversary of the Lord Protector's death on September 6 will have a spell put on tomorrow by Kevin Carlyon, a broomstick-riding chat show regular who proclaims himself high priest of the British White Witches and guru to stars such as Ruby Wax.

Mr Carlyon, who will cast the spell from woods near his home in East Sussex, said Cromwell failed to stop witchcraft trials during the 17th century, which saw women from Sutton and Haddenham executed and people of both sexes from all over the country imprisoned and hanged.

"I didn't know anything about this until one of your councillors, who I said I wouldn't name, contacted me, feeling guilty about the role their ancestors played in the Cambridgeshire witchcraft trials," he told the Ely Standard. In response to the anonymous councillor's wishes, Mr Carlyon and 12 followers will cast a spell on the event by invoking the four elements - earth, wind, fire and water - in a candlelit ceremony on Thursday.

"It's more along the lines of bad weather than making the guy who plays Oliver Cromwell fall off his horse," said Mr Carlyon. "One of my specialities is weather."

Tracey Harding, tourism team leader at Oliver Cromwell House's and the event's organiser, said she was seeking advice on whether to undo the hex, and insisted Oliver Cromwell's controversial role in history was not being swept under the carpet.

"We get people to vote 'hero' or 'villain' at the end of their tour here," she said, "and it comes out about 50-50. We know there is divided opinion about him and it is for our visitors to make their own mind up. Like it or not, Cromwell was an important figure in British history and a very important person in the history of Ely. We're certainly not going to cancel the event."

More than 300 English 'witches' died during a two-year reign of terror between 1645 and 1647, orchestrated by Cromwell's self-titled Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins. Twenty people of both sexes were imprisoned in Ely Gaol (now Ely Museum on Market Street), accused of witchcraft.

Records survive documenting a woman from Sutton known only as Moore, was reported to the authorities for "bewitchings" by two male villagers, but historians speculate the men, who were related to the lord of the manor, were involved in a dispute over common land and the woman was in fact, innocent.

More than 800 people from the pagan and heathen community have signed a online petition to dethrone Mr Carlyon from his place as King of the White Witches, saying he does not speak for them, but so far just one email of complaint has arrived in his inbox: "The lady didn't agree with what I was doing but she expressed herself in such a loony manner you couldn't take her seriously."

At the date of the last census in 2001, 7,000 people declared themselves Wiccan, and 31,000 pagans - Mr Carlyon said he was pleased that so many people had started to take his belief system seriously. "Witches are as much a part of the 20th Century as any other belief system - the average man on the street accepts what I do."

* Oliver Cromwell celebrations will take place on Cathedral Green, from 10am-4pm on Saturday, September 6. Military re-enactments and Oliver Cromwell on horseback will be part of proceedings. Come prepared for bad weather!

Cambridge-based pagan Derek Wood spoke to the Ely Standard said: "My personal opinion is that Kevin Carlyon may claim to be the high priest of white witches, but I am a Regional Coordinator for the national Pagan Federation and have never heard of him. We occasionally get people like this, usually with no affiliation to serious minded pagans, people with an ego looking for a cult to worship it.

"Such people give paganism a bad press because they are outspoken and usually define themselves by some perceived injustice hey must rebel against."

I have been 'cursed' before by such people and my life continues in contented health. Need I say more?”

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