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Daughter dons mother mantle
- THE LEGACY OF THE WICCA

A wiccan who heals the mind or a witch who casts a spell'

Ipsita Roy Chakraverti's identity has swung between the two extremes ever since she went public about her special powers in 1987. Standing at the crossroads two decades later, the wiccan head priestess of the Indian subcontinent is ready to pass on the mantle of a spiritual healer to daughter Deepta.

'There are certain aspects of wicca that you can't teach; they have to be absorbed. Something that I am not consciously passing on, something that has to be taken from me. I felt Deepta had the potential and I would have never forced her had she not been so keen. This is not necessarily through a mother-daughter bonding, it can be guru-shishya, or any form of relationship where there is a guiding force,' clarifies Ipsita.

In the mellow light of the May evening that filters through their south Calcutta sitting room, the mother-daughter duo looks striking in trademark wiccan black dress and crystal chains.

Deepta, who studied law at King's College in London before registering with Delhi High Court, has been initiated into wicca with a crystal chain. The 20-something feels she can 'hold the energy' that would be passed on to her, having imbibed a lot from a wiccan ambience since childhood.

'I was born into this environment of studying older religions and cultures, and rituals. So, taking up wicca was only normal for me,' says the mathematics graduate from St Jesus and Mary College, Delhi, who doesn't think her mother's practice is antithetical to the sciences.

Unlike Ipsita, who learnt the craft at a chalet in the Laurentian Mountains of Canada from five teachers, Deepta will be trained by her mother. Currently, her wicca regimen involves meditation, physical exercises, studying old religions and a brush with the implements used by her mother.

Like her mother, Deepta wants to take up spiritual healing ' the ultimate practice of wicca ' at some point. 'The West does not have as many problems as we have in India. So, there is a lot of scope to practice healing which I can do by balancing my work as a lawyer and living in the midst of everyone and everything else,' insists Deepta. She also wants to continue the research on wicca started by her mother.

But Deepta would require a decade or so to become a healer, stresses Ipsita. 'That is the ultimate practice and she has a long way to go. Before that Deepta will have to prove herself to the organisation,' smiles the mother.

Currently penning her third book Every Strong Woman is a Witch ' after her autobiography Beloved Witch and Sacred Evil ' Ipsita feels a lot of doubts need to be cleared about this ancient branch of knowledge that worships the Mother Goddess.

'I have spoken to my colleagues across the world and we have decided that we need to disclose the true face of wicca, to remove some of the distortions,' she says. 'I have done it my way through lecturing, writing or making a film like Sacred Evil. But the time has come to institutionalise wicca.'

While there are more than three lakh students of wicca around the world, Ipsita's peers would make up roughly a thousand.

To further disseminate information and pass on some of her legacy, Ipsita intends to set up an academy in Bengal and teach parts of the pagan branch of wicca. 'The training will help hone one's self-defence, confidence and physical strength' I have seen a lot of interest among the youth to learn about wicca during my lectures at several places in Delhi, like at IIT, St Stephen's College, Lady Shriram College, and at UN and CII meets,' says Ipsita.

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