To be or not to be?

It was London in the 70s and I was attracting warlocks, witches and Satanists. I recognized them immediately as their eyes had a special glazed look. They recognized me as being a potential white witch too. I was never wrong.

One day a friend introduced me to an unattractive skinny long haired individual called Denis. He worked as a cancer radiographer at Hammersmith hospital which must have been a depressing job. Denis had a degree in Geology but had diverse interests including a valuable collection of American cowboy memorabilia. Denis was an active white witch belonging to a coven in London with weekly gatherings. In the coming years, he would be become a male prostitute before the days of the internet. Had I missed something? We had, bien sur, a platonic friendship!

Being an antique collectables dealer and specializing in eccentric objects, I had bought an animal skull with horns in Camden Passage market early one morning for twenty pounds. It had cabalistic emblems engraved in the bone, Hebrew letters and a big sparkling stone in the centre of the skull. How could I resist buying an object like that even though I had no special client for it?. Little was I to know that buying this skull and in a quest to identify its properties, would lead me to a white witch and a Satanist amongst other weirdos over the years to come.

The first thing I did was to go to an occult bookshop in central London and tell them about the skull. The owner was very unfriendly and said she knew nothing of covens and ushered me quickly out of the shop. Once in the street a man followed me as he had overheard me in the shop and told me I must meet Madame X who would know and identify the skull and its vibrations. Could he take my telephone number? I was frightened and refused.

So I had to go back to Denis who offered to speed off on his motorbike into the night to his coven with the skull in a box on the back of his bike. He returned a week later to tell me that it had been used in ceremonies and had energy. I then decided to take the skull down Portobello Road market where I had a stall and visit Jonathan, another weirdo who dealt in bottled medical parts. animal skins and scientific instruments, amongst other oddities. He examined the skull and announced that I must meet the Satanist Ron Adams. He would give me an introduction.

I never knew how Ron got into my West Hampstead flat filled with ventriloquist dummies, but there he was with my skull on his lap with long hair tied back in a ponytail and an interesting face. I later found out he was of Cypriot heritage and had a Jewish wife. He was very friendly and I agreed to introduce him to Denis. One day the three of us got together at Ron's altar hidden in his living room in North London.  Ron was to turn up later in my life as a reclusive conjurer and professional hypnotherapist who eventually became friends with my magician husband. That of course is another story.

Back to Denis. Denis wanted to initiate me into becoming a white witch. He had "seen" my potential. He thus visited my atmospheric flat in a mansion block in West Hampstead, drew the heavy red curtains and lit the candles he had brought for the initiation. He had also brought his Athame, a ceremonial double-edged dagger which was a magical tool. This magical dagger is used to connect the sources of energy from infinity above (the stars and the air) with the source of energy below (Mother Earth) in a leather sheath. His Athame had a Greek theme. The handle bore a Greek statue with flowing robes and was embellished with a red tassel. Then he began to touch my right shoulder with the sword murmuring mumbo jumbo. Suddenly without warning, he got an uncontrollable fit of coughing, so bad, that he had to rush out of the living room. While doing so, tripped over the telephone cable and disconnected the phone as he rushed into the kitchen to get a glass of water.

That for me was a definite sign that I was not destined to be a witch. I switched on the light. Blew out the candles. His coughing stopped as quickly as it had started. We never discussed what had happened. I was no longer bewitched.  I made a decision not to go down that path and never did.


The animal skull languished for at least twenty years in a cupboard, hidden away and forgotten. One fine day, as I still had the stand at Portobello Road market where I sold antique collectables up to the year 2,001. I decided to put it out on the stand in all its Kabalistic glory. It was snapped up immediately by an eccentric Milanese collectables dealer for £80. I was glad to get rid of it. a Kabalistic skull in a Catholic country! 

As for Denis. He had a bad motor bike accident and nearly got his arm ripped off crashing into a railing. He was saved because he was wearing a leather jacket. Convinced he was cursed by Ron, he broke off contact with him and gave up being a white witch forever. He became a male prostitute part time instead! I saw his little black book and could not believe how booked up he was by women. He divorced and the last I heard was that he was making death masks for corpses at the hospital. I declined his offer of creating mine!

Ron came back into my life because we accidentally met up at an social event. His wife was a cousin of a business contact of mine. Although a recluse, unknown to me he had become a magician, an inventor of magic tricks, an NLP practitioner and hypnotherapist. He instantly got on with my conjurer husband Martin and they became close friends. They would speak for hours on the phone. Ron was up all night and slept during the day while his adoring wife went out with their beloved dogs and played bowls. They were happily married but would play mental games including Ron ‘playing dead’ so when she got home, she thought he was dead in front of the TV. One morning she came downstairs to find the TV still on and Ron really dead at just over sixty from a heart attack. A tragic end to a lovely talented man who denied ever having been a real Satanist in the 70s. Just a practical joker!

Jilliana Ranicar-Breese Chania March 2013.