I've been 'out of the broom closet', so to speak, living openly and learning consciously with my chosen path for more than 21 years now.
When I was younger, witchcraft was my label of choice (and I trained for many years in a Trad Wiccan coven), though these days I prefer to refer to my Native Irish Spirituality, and if I need a title, it's just Bean Draoí - which translates as 'female user of magic'.
I didn't go looking for the video or radio archives (though if anyone can find a clip of the Nationwide show where I ritually re-enacted as the Goddess Tailtiu, post it in the comments!), but the national paper of record, the Irish Times, has featured me 3 times that I can find and (mostly) remember.
While I am a CONSTANT let down to press photographers and videographers who ask, nay beg me for a swirling velvet cloak or a sparkly crystal ball and broomstick, I do like to be able to provide a wee down to earth voice of reason. No frills, no fucks given.
One self-described witch who'll be celebrating is Lora O'Brien, a 26-year-old Dublin-born mother of two who has just written Irish Witchcraft From An Irish Witch. "Samhain," she explains - using the Irish name for this most important of ancient festivals, which is often referred to as the pagan or witches' new year - "is the main 'time between times'. This means that it's especially a time for divination, magical activity and communing with spirits".
"Did she threaten to curse her?" asks Lora O'Brien, author of Irish Witchcraft From An Irish Witch, who hasn't actually seen Big Brother yet. "That's the kind of thing I'd be worried about. People fighting in a stressful situation is one thing, but I'd be afraid the witchcraft would be made an angle. That's not what it's about or what it's for, and I'd hate to think that your average Big Brother watcher is getting that impression.
It’s an unusual life choice, one which some people would find bizarre. But O’Brien says such scepticism is unjustified: “A lot of pagan people are involved in the caring professions or in community work, putting their spiritual ethos into their professions. There’s a lot of altruistic work going on out there under the radar.”
She adds that once people know more about paganism, it becomes less threatening. “In 2005 I published a book about my experiences and the publishers insisted on a headline-grabbing title. So it was called Irish Witchcraft from an Irish Witch. People reacted negatively to the title, and when my granny wanted to read it, members of my family tried to discourage her, they thought she’d be shocked. But granny said it was just like listening to stories that her own granny told her. And I think that’s true. Whatever label you put on it, it’s just the stuff that’s always been here in Ireland – things like cures for warts and so on. It’s actually very familiar.”