The other day my thirteen year old asked if witches were real. It’s a good question. In our society its difficult to discern between fact and fiction. Special effects in movies make the mot fantastic creatures seem very real indeed. Meanwhile, most of the media conspires to shield us from reality as effectively as possible.

Are witches real or are they just the stuff of Harry Potter books, Wizard of Oz and Narnia? Are witches just ‘pretend’ like fauns and fairies and elves and dwarves?

Not in my experience. In my experience witches are very real indeed. I’ve never met one with green skin, a pointed nose with a wart on the end, nor have I seen them fly on a broom or heard them cackle like a demented crow.

However, when I was an Anglican priest in England I served in a parish that was home to a witches coven, and not just any witches coven. The witches in our coven were the successors of the famous diabolist, Alasteir Crowley who died in the next parish to ours. The ‘King of the Witches’ was well known in the town. He was a dirty, bald headed little man who lived as the head of a commune. Despite his smell and repugnant attitudes he had an amazing hold over women and was known to seduce anything in skirts with great success.

There was a negative feeling in the town and a string of unexplained tragedies and scandals within the church community. As a priest I was called out to a surprising number of low level hauntings, pyschic disturbances and disturbed personalities. Once I learned who actually lived in the parish I was concerned. I was also concerned that the other clergy in the town simply laughed at the King of the Witches and dismissed the whole thing as so much nonsense.

I wondered what I could do about it. I couldn’t engage in any head on confrontation, but some friends and I decided that we would fast on Fridays for the removal of the witches. We took the spiritual battle seriously and did what we could. Within a few months the witches had moved out of the parish. By the end of the year they had moved out of the town altogether.

On this Halloween we must not underestimate the presence of evil in our midst. The devil is like a roaring lion prowling about seeking whom he may devour. We must not be mistaken. The moral battles we fight are spiritual battles. The evil one is real. He has devotees under many disguises. In the midst of trick or treating and dressing up in spooky fun costumes, do not forget that Satan is real. If you are a follower of Christ he hates you and wants to destroy you utterly; but also do not forget that he who has called you has already overcome the evil one and has given us the power to tread underfoot the lion and the dragon.