India’s Beloved Witch

A Wiccan Priestess

Wiccan Priestess Ipsita Roy-Chakraverti

India’s Beloved Witch, Ipsita Roy-Chakraverti and I met for an interview in early-1977 in (then Calcutta) Kolkata. A slim, strikingly attractive, affable 27-year-old with alluring hazel eyes, she related exciting experiences – and anticipation of an uncertain future in her country. Returning home after four-years of training, which inducted her as the first Indian and 75th member at the Society for the Study of Ancient Cultures and Civilizations in Canada, her article appeared in the erstwhile foremost women’s magazine, Eve’s Weekly.

Now 45 years later I contacted her again – her prompt, encouraging response resulted in Ipsita telling me her story – till where she is standing tall in her profession today.

The Beginning:

“Very few people get to be legends in their lifetimes. It was my destiny to be one,” she introduces, and continues, “thinking back to the Chalet in the Laurentians in Quebec, Canada where it all began, I marvel at my life’s journey. Fate’s pattern was woven into my life perhaps even before I can consciously remember. Carlotta, my own Teacher, Karen, Margaret, the others who taught me at the Chalet, they were from another time, another life.”

In the 1980s Ipsita introduced the knowledge and reality of Wicca to India due to “a burning need. The scenario was of innocent women being called ‘daayans’ and killed. Abuse of women, illicit activities and barbaric practices ruthlessly carried out in the garb of magic makers, the supernatural and even religion, preying on the superstition of our masses. Another lobby was politicians hand-in-hand with goons and mafia.”

The other ‘victim’ was the supernatural craft of Wicca being misused for lucrative business by vested lobbies. It benefited them to perpetuate the dark and false myths around the subject. Taking on both lobbies, Ipsita brought forth an understanding of the superstition around Wicca and shattered misconceptions by improving the work environment in public services.

“Seeing through the flim-flam colouring their perception, women challenged their tormentors. Today, when I speak, the world listens – simply, because it has to, and I have no false modesty about it,” she stresses.

Working with the People

“Simultaneously, I presented alternate Wiccan healing. Using non-invasive techniques, healing for a range of physical and psychological cases came by my touch upon pulse points and my gaze. Soon my weekly ‘clinics’ drew kilometre-long queues. People needed to experience this maligned craft and helped to enhance my Wiccan experience. Not looking to continue as a healer, I discontinued after three years,” she relates.

In 2000 this Wiccan’s pathbreaking autobiographical ‘The Beloved Witch’ was released, revealing witchcraft’s beauty and its mystery. “Witches are generally perceived as ugly old hags shunned by society. I was a total antithesis – a highly educated, good looking aristocrat from Bengal, with one foot abroad and one here. Despite having penned other books like ‘Beloved Witch Returns’ and ‘The Voice of the Priestess’, my first book earned me the title of India’s Beloved Witch.”

Numerous candid talks at UN establishments, embassies, corporate organisations and colleges in India, garnered further admiration. Among praise from abroad was the pre-pandemic London Senate House’s conference on ‘Ipsita, the Beloved Witch and the Wiccan Movement in India’.

Many stories from two of her books, ‘Sacred Evil’ and ‘Spirits I Have Known’ have been featured as successful series on the supernatural in ETV Bangla. For the big screen, Sahara One made a feature film ‘Sacred Evil – A True Story with hazel-eyed actor Sarika playing Ipsita. Reveals the Wiccan, “I taught Sarika some of the Wiccan ways, and affirm she is the only actress who has done justice to a portrayal of an onscreen Wiccan.”

Exploring an old church in London

The Wiccan Brigade

“Wicca was institutionalised in 2006 and Wiccan Brigade born. A clamour of people joined Wicca, the first feminist movement in history breaking this taboo subject to understand the supernatural – and to be ‘Ipsita’ – to get my strength, my looks– and yes, my arrogance! Having been a torchbearer myself, understandably Wiccan Brigade is a trailblazer. We were the first in India to delve into serious study of the esoteric and start psychic investigations and bring to light the Orb phenomenon – a form of spirit manifestation. My teams visited haunted and spooky places with our own senses and the aid of magnetometers and compasses. During expeditions to the 16th century Bhangarh Fort in Rajasthan, and similarly, at an old hotel in Orissa, and a megalith site in Meghalaya, among others, we captured startling results on multiple cameras,” she details.

Ipsita follows a gurukul system where Wiccan Brigade students absorb knowledge beyond their books, and from the attitude and the presence of the Wiccan Teacher. “I inculcated questing minds to observe both sides of an argument and values and ethics of an older time. It’s imperative to be versed in the orthodox and the unorthodox to comprehend the unexplained. In each student, I look for an inherent sensitivity, a spark, that indefinable quality. Moreover, Wiccans are acknowledged for their dignity and elegance”

And Now…

“After the pandemic, I have become more reclusive, only doing online programs and teaching virtually. However, success has a flip side. Having personally experienced that, I look upon it with a pinch of humour. Increasingly everyone wants to meet me, even willing to sit silently before me, believing my presence can solve their problems. Tarot readers, reiki healers, angel therapists and New Agers claim to be Wiccans, and to my utter horror, “Ma’am’s students”. Because of verification calls about my ‘students’, I discovered the extent of the “Ma’am’s student” syndrome!” she laughs and asserts, “Wicca stands alone by itself.”

Moving to her personal life, she reveals, “my husband Joyanta, passed away in 2008. My daughter Deepta, now 43, and I live together, dividing our time between London and Kolkata. A qualified Mathematics Honours from Delhi and a lawyer from King’s College, London, I am happy to see she is following the Wiccan path too”.

“Progressively, I want my own time and space for research and study. I cherish my privacy. Today, I am Wicca and Wicca is me,” concludes India’s Beloved Witch.”

L – Ipsita with her portrait of Ratnawati, the queen of magic of the 16th century mystical Bhangarh Fort in Rajasthan,
also mentioned in ‘Beloved Witch Returns’
C – With Deepta, her daughter, who has also followed Ipsita’s way of life as a Wiccan
R – Holding the crystal star of Wicca which tells that the manifestations of the goddess are many but the power is one.
Also seen is Ipsita’s portrait of 16th century Wiccan prophetess, Luciana, mentioned in ‘Beloved Witch’

Amita Sarwal
Amita Sarwal

After studying and practicing homeopathy for 10 years, Amita Sarwal changed career paths. Since 1973 she has been writing on lifestyle, personalities, architecture, interiors and travel.
While in Singapore, with Editions Didier Millet she was Editor for pictorial encyclopedias, books and magazines.
Her personal milestone continues to be The Spirit of SKV  Chronicle of a Girls’ School, written to mark the Golden Jubilee (2006) of her alma mater, Scindia Kanya Vidyalaya, Gwalior.
To showcase the exemplary work being done by Changemakers / Unsung Heroes, Amita now focuses on writing about how they are elevating lives of the underprivileged.

Read more by Amita Sarwal

19 thoughts on “India’s Beloved Witch”

  1. Very well written. Easy to read.I like your style Amita. You’ve handle the absence of the details of Wicca very well by focusing more on Ipshita the Individual.Obviously it is a secret held tightly to their chests by Wiccans. Wishing you the very best for your future literary works. Thank you

  2. Very interesting. I used to be fascinated by Ipsita, her beauty and her craft. Always had a desire to meet her. Great reading your article Amita. Looking forward to more like this.
    All the very best

  3. Fascinating! I wish there was more to read. I am inspired to read her books. You have connected the past n present so smoothly in the 2 interviews! Very well written as usual.
    All the very best for all your future endeavors. Best wishes, Kirti

  4. Really a great read. It was very interesting and has inspired me to read some of Ipshita’s work.
    All the very best.

  5. Very interesting read, the Wicca is new to me and after reading this article I am keen to read more about this subject and Ipsitas work.

  6. Very interesting “Read” especially because “Wicca” was something new for me. So thanks for introducing me to this new religion. Now I wish to know more about this.

    Thanks Amitaji, I look forward to reading more of your write-ups.

  7. Very interesting read Amita.
    So many fascinating and unexplored facets of life. Always educational. Thanks for sharing

  8. Enjoyed reading this article. As always ,I appreciate your wonderful writing skills. Look forward for more!

  9. Extremely well presented article.
    My Father was a well known Journalist and Author of many books, hence I can appreciate this very well written article full of information, and knowledge.
    Amitaji is a dear personal friend of mine, what attracted me towards her personality, was the very frank opinions she presented, and very down to Earth conclusions.One can see the very intelligent lady in her, with a heart of gold for the helpless, and down trodden. My very best to her. Fleur

  10. A fascinating read on a topic that we don’t often hear about and a protagonist who is equal parts mysterious and glamorous !

  11. Further to my earlier comments, I feel I have not mentioned enough about the Heroien of the moment,
    MS.Ipsita Roy Chakraverti,!!! This is my first glimpse into such a topic, images my reaction when I read A WICCAN PRIESTESS, & THE BELOVED witch, well I always believed witches were evil, but looking at the photograph of Ipsita, I am convinced that a Nobel looking lady like her can only do good. Wiccan Healing is new to me, I would surely like to experience this myself, I have full intention of reading a “a burning need” & “The beloved Witch” if I can get hold of these books. I would like to convey my best wishes to Ipdita and her good work, we need more of this in our World today. With Kind Regards. Fleur.

  12. Very interesting read Amita.Thoroughly enjoyed learning about Wicca & Ipsita.Fascinating & intriguing.How well the 45 years gap has been woven together .The article is very well written,as usual.
    Best wishes,Purnima

  13. Wonderful article about the facinating Ipshita and Wicca ! Would have liked to know about her work in greater detail. I wonder where the word “ witch “ originated. One does know that these are the good witches known for their powers of healing.
    Thank you for sharing,
    Warm regards

  14. Quite facinating!! Never heard about this before. Very well presented too. Interesting read. Thanks Amrita.

  15. Very well written article on Wicca,though it is totally a new topic for me.Very nicely joined two interviews with a gap of 45 years showing the change in people thinking.
    Thanks for sharing Amita

  16. A real fascinating write up. Learnt about Wicca, from this and your earlier article. I am now inspired to read her books; maybe one of those days I will do that. Quite agree that witches are always perceived as ugly and mean,so it’s nice to see this beautiful lady being called as India’s beloved witch.
    Amita, It must have been quite thrilling for you to interview her twice with a gap of 45 years😄

  17. Interesting article. I’ve no idea about Wicca but this well written piece piques one’s interest to learn more about this ancient practice. That is the hallmark of a good writing surely.

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