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 Thursday, February 3, 2005
7 News Features
Festival of Fire

Air Date: 02/03/2005
Reported By: Louis Aguirre
Producer: Dan Schwab
 7 News Features
 Festival of Fire
 Online version
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It is a growing subculture in South Florida. Men and women - young and old - being ordained as witches. Not the kind you would see riding on broomsticks. But witches who look like regular people with so-called supernatural powers. Here's Louis Aguirre with more in tonight's special assignment report.

WSVN -- They say they can see dead people... Talk to the spirits... And foresee the future. This past weekend, 7 news was given exclusive access into a witches' ceremony never seen before on camera. For the first time ever, we were able to witness the festival of fire.

Witches do exist. They are everywhere -- all around us...Even here in South Florida.

Practicing Witch: "It is a spiritual path. It's becoming a full person, a better person, a stronger person."

Practicing witch: "We see the light, we see the darkness. Sometimes, you have to be merciful. Sometimes, you have to set restrictions and boundaries."

Boundaries into a world most of us never knew existed.

Last Saturday night, the witches dawned their gowns for Imbolc - the festival of fire. Nearly 150 of them prayed to the god and goddess of the spring harvest. Our cameras - the first ever to be invited in.

During the ceremony they say a prayer..."From darkness comes darkness, from light comes light, truth is eternal day/night."

The witches believe they have a power...A power that comes from nature.

Practicing Witch: "We celebrate life on planet earth."

Practicing witch: "We see divinity within everything."

No black cats, no magic potions. The pentagram they wear represents spirit, earth, air, fire and water.

But behind the festivities is another side...A spiritual side, a secretive side. During the ceremony the ring a bell and chant.

This is a second, more traditional service attended by many of those same witches. This one held by a coven called "The Circle of Isis Rising in South Miami."

The ceremony includes a baptism of two children into witchcraft, and a prayer is said for the children.

Baptism Prayer: "May the blessings of our unity be before your blessings"

And the cleansing of all negative energy.

Cleansing Prayer: "By the power of the spirit, you are healed of all negativity"

Spirits and ghosts play a major role with the witches. They believe they have a power to communicate with the dead. This is one photo taken by a witch inside her house. They claim that smoke you see on the right is a spirit actually captured on film.

Sandra Richardson is a High Priestess. We followed her to a local cemetery to really see if she could talk to the other side.

High Priestess Sandra Richardson: "I'm feeling something maybe in this area...I'm hearing to go into this area."

Using a barometer, Sandra senses the spirits by detecting slight changes in the climate.

However, they cannot be seen or heard. They can only talk to Sandra through a deep meditative state.

Sandra: "I'm not sensing any anguish or longing, its more like their adjusting to the afterlife."

But one spirit did express anguish. Sandra says she hears from a young man killed in a car accident.

Sandra: "I't feels like it involved a red vehicle, kind of a sports car, a younger man."

Then another spirit called for her. An older man recently buried.

Sandra: "I feel more of a masculine presence. It feels like this person was a little older, but it was from natural causes."

Skeptical...So is Bill Schnoeblen. He served as a high priest in Milwaukee before writing a book entitled Wicca: Satan's Little White Lie.

Former High Priest Bill Schnoeblen: "For the history of spiritualism even way back in the 1840, there's always been a lot of fraud. A lot of people who come around and say they can communicate with the dead."

Schnoebelen, who you see here was married in a Wiccan service, maintains he got out because he felt the religion was deep-rooted with the devil.

Bill Schnoebelen: "If you get into any religion, you want to get deeper and more involved, and as we did that we started getting involved with the church of Satan and


Sandra however says nothing could be further from the truth. She says Wiccan has no connection to Satan.

Sandra: "This is a way of living life because it embraces the joy of life."

She also says her powers are completely legit. And to prove it, she gave me a psychic reading.

Sandra: "As far as your life is concerned you've got good self esteem definitely enjoy what you do."

According to the cards, Sandra warned me to be weary of any new projects. She foresees potential conflict in my near future.

Sandra: "I also feel there's going to be release of people or situations that aren't positive for you."

But is witchcraft positive - that depends on who you ask and who you believe.

Sandra: "We were not put here to kill babies and do all the sacrifices and stuff."

Louis: "Will you put a spell on this report?"

Sandra: "Already done."

Now, most of the witches we talked to say they only use their powers for good not evil. Sandra says in the most extreme cases, she's even needed to use her powers to perform an exorcism.




Circle of Isis Rising 


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