The high priest of British witchcraft enchants us with charm and spells out secrets of the occult
In the lead-up to Halloween, Dazed Digital is running a Dark Arts season inspired by our November Dark Arts issue. Among other things, we've walked the path of darkness via the Hollywood Walk of Death and talked to Don Mancini, the creator of Chucky. Check back on our Dark Arts section for a journey to hell and back.
Taken from the November issue of Dazed & Confused:
Kevin Carlyon aka Kev the Witch is the self-proclaimed high priest of British witches. His interest in the occult was kickstarted at the age of five when his school’s vicar and headmistress said he had “the devil inside him”. We visited him at home in St Leonards-on-Sea, a seaside town steeped in occult history – Aleister Crowley’s ghost is rumoured to occasionally materialise opposite the Robert De Mortain pub in nearby Hastings. “Magic is all around us,” Carlyon says, “but just like electricity, you can cook with it or kill with it.”
“From age 16, the force began to get stronger and stronger, and I knew it was going to control me if I didn’t control it. In the past I’ve run a couple of covens and they can be good if you’ve got the right people. If not, it’s like an episode of Eastenders with everybody telling lies. I don’t work naked, or ‘sky clad’ as it’s known, because there is nothing funnier than seeing a bunch of people nude, especially when you’ve got the bloke standing up on end looking at someone’s breasts. In the 60s and 70s it was all about sex. To join a coven meant having sex with the high priest or priestess. But that has nothing to do with magic – magic comes from the mind, not the body.
My first spell as a teenager was to find a missing cat. I did my ‘hocus pocus’ and three days later (it always works in threes) the owner said, ‘You better take a look at this.’ I went down to her basement and there were eight cats, including her missing one. All the others were strays. She couldn’t get rid of them after that. I thought, ‘Oops, overdone that one.’
I don’t work naked, or ‘sky clad’ as it’s known, because there is nothing funnier than seeing a bunch of people nude
The Ouija board
Witchcraft can be very beneficial, but in the wrong hands it’s like giving a child a hand grenade and teaching it to pull the pin out. For example, the Ouija board is a bit like a mobile phone. If you know who’s calling it’s fine, but when you start getting strange phone calls and you don’t know who they’re from, it gets scary. It can bring things through, not like green goo and head-spinning, but into people. Suddenly they have the devil inside them and that can lead to bad things.
By popular demand
The most requested spells surround killing people and love. I get involved in coincidences, such as when a man comes to talk about his problems and then a woman comes not long after, and it transpires that they’re husband and wife. One time I thought, ‘This doesn’t need witchcraft,’ so I invited them both and said ‘this is the person you need’ because they had everything in common, and now they’re happy together. The most popular spells are for fertility. A couple wrote to me back in 1997 from Dorset and I went to see them. Ten months later, out popped a baby. At school his nickname is ‘Harry Potter’ because they all know where he comes from...
The Ouija board is a bit like a mobile phone. If you know who’s calling it’s fine, but when you start getting strange phone calls and you don’t know who they’re from, it gets scary
The dark side
In the late 1980s Thatcher was in government, and we did an anti-poll-tax spell aimed at her, members of Eastbourne Council and the MP Ian Gow. Thatcher was booted out of government, Gow was blown up by the IRA and one of Eastbourne Council died in a car crash. That could be one I’m not proud of – basically, we could be seen to have caused that.
Scare in the community
People come and see me more as a social worker than a witch, they feel more comfortable talking about their problems with me than with a doctor or psychiatrist. I call my belief ‘earth magic’. I am not a Jedi, but I do believe in the idea of this latent force. I don’t use the word ‘religion’ – the minute you mention that word I think of war. I always say to people, ‘Follow your instincts.’ Whether you get the creeps from somebody, or get this feeling about not crossing the road now...I believe a god and goddess are inside us all. The answers to what people are looking for in the universe are already here (points to head). There’s no such thing as black or white magic. It’s all the same energy – it’s about which way you sway it.”