Witches protest mis-labelling in Mexico

APn  04/19 0620  Angry Witches

Copyright, 1989. The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

By DANA KENNEDY Associated Press Writer BOSTON (AP) --

   Massachusetts' "official witch" has begun a letter-writing
campaign to protest what she and other witches believe are
violations of their civil rights. Letters of complaint, stemming
from news reports linking a "witch" to a cult of drug smugglers
connected with the ritualistic deaths of 15 people found near the
Texas-Mexico border, have been sent to major newspapers and
television networks from Laurie Cabot's Salem-based group, Witches 
League for Self-Awareness.

"We are not satanists, we do not do
black magic or any evil magic," said Cabot, who formed the 
900-member group in 1986, shortly after the filming of "The 
Witches of Eastwick," a movie witches said made them appear 
"stupid." In group literature, the league is described as a
"national and international anti-defamation organization which is 
working to protect the civil rights, dignity and public portrayal
of over six million Witches, Pagans and Pantheists."

The witches
complained they have been "portrayed in an inaccurate, 
offensive and libelous manner which is in violation of our
constitutionally guaranteed civil right to practice religious
freedom, as well as freedom from harassment, discrimination,
persecution, or the incitement of the public to form adverse
opinions of members of a religious community." Cabot, dubbed 
the "official witch" by Gov. Michael S. Dukakis in 1975, said
Tuesday that she and other witches are part of a legally
recognized religion that is "peaceful" and devoid of the evil
doings associated with witchcraft stereotypes.

The recent
complaints sent to news organizations such as The New York
Times and NBC News stemmed from news reports about the murderous
cult of drug smugglers in Texas. Mexican police have termed Sara
Aldrete, the missing 24-year-old college student believed to be
one of the cult leaders, a "witch." She has been linked to the 15
victims of the cult, some of which were unearthed at a ranch
south of the U.S. border last week. "It's very loose terminology," 
said Cabot. "These were drug runners. What they were doing had 
nothing to do with witchcraft. Witchcraft has no evil gods."

Cabot
described witchcraft as a "nature religion" that uses a mixture
of astronomy, astrology and psychic powers to heal and make things
better. She said they use potions and cast spells to promote
well-being and general good. "We have families, we have 
children, I belong to Kiwanis and the Chamber of Commerce, you
know," said Cabot, who once owned a witchcraft store in Salem and
is now writing books. She said the group hopes to "re-educate"
people through the complaints but added that they could someday
take court action if they believe their rights have been seriously
violated.