Manuscript help, book reviews and author interviews
“………Sometimes we love people without a cause. At first glance. It’s a feeling. A long buried vision which surfaces and is hard to explain or rationalise. Often, the opposite happens and we are repulsed………. In Wicca, the mind needs to be challenged and stimulated if there is to be a reason for life…….”- excerpt from Beloved Witch Returns.
The first time I heard about Wicca and Ipsita Roy Chakravarti was when her daughter Deepta sent across her debut book for reviewing. From Bhangarh to Bedlam starts with a very interesting introduction by Ipsita. I found myself lost in the world of paranormal. Each place mentioned has confirmed paranormal presence. Exhilarated, yet scared, I finished Deepta’s book in one night. The Good Book Corner featured the book and Deepta spoke candidly about her experiences (https://thegoodbookcorner.com/2015/06/27/bhangarh-to-bedlam-by-deepta-roy-chakraverti/)
Ipsita’s new book is an autobiography. Not only does she delve into her childhood and her experiences as India’s first Wiccan priestess, she also recounts various instances with very prominent personalities in politics and cinema. The names are all right there and I wonder what their reactions to Ipsita’s book are.
Wicca is a contemporary Pagan ritualistic movement, which takes on from the ancient Pagan religions from across the globe. With well documented references, Ipsita broaches the topics of life in supposedly inert objects, energy and the immortal soul. What Ipsita professes is not all that new to many of us. We have all been hearing about prana, ka, chi and various other references to the energy force that surrounds us all. “……….The outward body takes many forms; the essence is the same. The ancient Egyptians called this ka – the life-force, the spirit, which died not. It was misty in appearance and resided in the heart. After the death of the body, it remained and hovered round, to inhabit again the resurrected person in the afterlife……..”
Intriguing and left me wanting to know more about Wicca!!!!!
TGBC: What has been the reaction of the people you have so candidly written about?
IRC: Reactions have been varied and extreme. Some people I have written about, like Sarika , have called me up congratulating me and thanking me for what I have said. She specially said that she felt close to the lines where I have written , “it is strange how our lives cross those of others and maybe sometimes, footsteps from the past walk into the present to remind us…” I think Sarika was moved. On the other hand, I heard that a first family of Bollywood with a legendary figure at its head, is very angry and upset with me for writing what I did in the defence of Parveen Babi who had suffered. A former prime minister’s wife who is obsessed with potatoes and whether they are disappearing from her pantry, did not respond at all to this but kept silent. Just before the launch of this book in Delhi in November, a prominent director of the Jaipur Lit Fest, phoned me to ask when my book would be released and that she would love to be in conversation with me about it. However, after she had read the book, she was so shaken and scared about what her political mentors would say if she joined me on the dias, that she asked me to leave out those passages when we discussed the book. She was afraid of what her well wishers would say. I refused to compromise the book in this way and told her it was better if she stepped out. Such are some people’s fears when they hear the truth. The Wiccan motto of “I have nothing to gain, I have nothing to lose” can be put into application by a very few. A constitutional head of the country however, phoned me and jovially asked me to see him. I wonder why !
TGBC: How has your Wiccan Brigade and Wiccan work impacted lives in India?
IRC: I think my work with women accused of “witchcraft” in villages and even urban areas of India has brought a measure of empowerment. Through the last few decades, thousands of women have come to me to relate their tales of abuse and torture at the hands of the system. The word “daayan” is used mainly as an excuse or a handle because in our society, women are mistreated in so many ways. The introduction of Wicca in India has brought a measure of confidence and new hope into these women. The word “daayan” has been used to propagate superstition even by film producers and directors. I have spoken out against this and carried protests to Presidents as well as to the National Commission for Women. Some laws and rules to protect the status of women on screen have been brought into effect. I have spoken at various forums and I feel that today, the intelligentsia may be better informed about the true meaning of Wicca. However, personal motives and agendas will always prevail in all stratas. Still, through my Wiccan Brigade I have helped both the battered and those who wish to speak out. Strength is what I have given by trying to set an example myself.
TGBC: What next?
IRC: Further research into the unexplained. I am also writing a book which I have long held close to my heart, called “Every Strong Woman is a Witch”. It is for all the women of India who want to break the shackles which still bind them down.
In our country everything is becoming commercialised and tainted, even book festivals. I am starting the first ever literary book conference based on the supernatural in India. I have called it the Beloved Witch Supernatural Literary Festival and it will be held this year on 4th, 5th and 6th March in Kolkata. I want genuine talent to find a voice and not fall prey to commercialism. I also want the true supernatural and psychic to come forth and be understood. We must leave superstition behind.