Published: 00:01, 12 October 2017
They used to put witches in Canterbury’s famous ducking stool at the Weavers in Canterbury.
No such fate awaits Caroline Hardinges who says times, and practices, have changed over the centuries.
As she tells Gerry Warren it is even a potential career, leading her to launch a scheme for real-life sorcerers' apprentices.
Caroline Hardinges answers the door of her unassuming home on a Canterbury housing estate in a floral top, jeans and fluffy pink slippers.
There is not a hint of witch about the tall, blonde 37-year-old single mum who rejects the traditional image so often portrayed in films and books.
“I don’t even like crushed black velvet and you certainly won’t find me running around a field naked or carrying a broomstick,” she says.
She leads me to her ‘nook’, a candle-lit spooky space converted from part of a garage at the end of her garden in Hales Place where I find red-painted chicken feet, voodoo dolls, cauldrons, tarot cards and endless bottles of potions with names like dragon’s blood, mugwort, devil’s dung and viper’s bugloss.
It’s a far cry from her former ‘office’ as a successful media key account manager.
But the breakdown of her marriage led to Caroline re-assessing her life and re-kindling her teenage interest in witchcraft.
VIDEO: KMTV reporter Josie Hannett went to meet Caroline
She met a witchcraft mentor last year and began studying the ancient form of the practice which she is now teaching and offering apprenticeships in.
“It’s important to differentiate between what I practise and the more modern ‘wiccan’ form of witchery, created in the 1950s,” she said.
“What I do pre-dates Christianity and would have been practised in most towns and villages and has survived despite persecution.”
Caroline, a clairvoyant, says she can cast spells, read tarot cards and even conjure up curses.
“Some people ask me for spells to make someone fall in love with them or to get rich, but I don’t do that.
"I can offer spells which attracts love to them and open routes to them having better prosperity,” she said.
She can also cast curses but says they are used sparingly and never against a third party.
“There are always two sides to a story and it’s not for me to judge,” she said.
“I don’t go around cursing someone just because they cut me up in the traffic, for example, but if they hurt me or my family that would be a different matter.”
"Some people ask me for spells to make someone fall in love with them or to get rich, but I don't do that" - Caroline Hardinges
She says she had only used the power once against someone who “had done something quite bad”.
“Let’s just say they had a pretty miserable time,” she said.
She says the chicken feet help ward off thieves and points to the fact that her garage was the only one not targeted in a recent spate of break-ins.
But she admits her new job has had a “mixed reception” among friends and family.
“Some are sceptical but I don’t care if people don’t believe what I do.”
Caroline, who also reads tarot cards at Pure Magik in Canterbury, says her apprenticeship scheme offers candidates all the tools and knowledge they need to practise witchcraft.
It takes around 30 hours of one-to one study in 14 modules, covering everything from the history of witchcraft to its practice, for which she charges £375.
She said: “I see people of all ages and from all walks of life and already several people have signed up for the course. Some are doing it simply because they are interested in the subject and others for their own development.”