August 2015 By Punya Srivastava Daughter of the well-known Wiccan, Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, Deepta Roy Chakraverti discusses her life, learnings and her to-be-released book, Bhangarh to Bedlam in an interview with Punya Srivastava The word ‘witch’ usually conjures up an image of a hag with an elongated crooked nose, ready to ascend her broomstick, when not bubbling up vicious potions in a cauldron! Or, for some of us, the word might bring up news flashes of poor tribal women from West Bengal, Jharkhand, or Orissa being burnt to death for covertly practising witchcraft. Like mother, like daughter: Ipsita and Deepta Deepta Roy Chakraverti, who signs her blog posts as a witch, however, doesn’t fulfil any of these criteria, and I seriously doubt she has any sort of cauldron-brewed potions stacked under her bed! Deepta is a corporate lawyer with Reliance Industries, and a mathematician by interest. However, she identifies herself as a Wiccan, which doesn’t come as a surprise given that her mother is the famous and most prominent Wiccan priestess in the country, Ipsita Roy Chakraverti. Deepta, a law degree holder from King’s College, London, is also the General Secretary of the Wiccan Brigade which was founded by her mother in 2006 as a platform to teach Wicca to serious seekers of this ancient religion. Wicca is regarded as one of the earliest religions of the world, while some also hail it as a tenet of Paganism. Life Positive interviewed Deepta a few days before the launch of her maiden book, Bhangarh to Bedlam – Haunted Encounters, published under the banner of Life Positive Books. The book is a compilation of Deepta’s experiences with a world beyond our perception. Here is a tête-à-tête with the debutant author where she talks about the book and the world of Wicca in detail. What prompted you to come up with Bhangarh to Bedlam? Honestly, I have no idea what made me do it; must be something from beyond. How easy or difficult was the journey of writing this book? The journey was an adventure; for the reason that each incident is a true-life experience garnered from either a psychic investigation with Ipsita and the Wiccan Brigade, or a spirit encounter I have had. The book talks about a number of places which pulsate with the energies of the elements. Is it beyond an average person to discern whether certain energies are malevolent or benevolent? I think we all are sensitive to forces around us. Perhaps some to a lesser degree, and some to a greater one. Why else would we, for example, like or dislike a place, or even people? Why would we know some things by instinct? While conditioning has made us afraid to acknowledge the possibility that there may be invisible forces around us, today, more and more people are breaking through and speaking out about their experiences. When and how was your first encounter with the supernatural? I remember the orbs of light floating in through the windows and playfully nudging my cheeks and resting on my arms. I must have been around five or six at that time. I would wait for them in the mornings, because that’s when I would see them more. They would feel soft and shimmery as they glided and played around me. I remember how I would convey thoughts to them, and they would respond. They were nurturing friends who would bring with them feelings of love and happiness and I could sometimes hear softly muted laughter and voices around them. It was many, many years later, that I read about the path-breaking research being done in the West, led by Dr Klaus Heinemann, a physicist who has worked with NASA, UCLA and Stanford, and Dr Michael Ledwith, Professor of Systemic Theology and member of the International Theological Commission. They had photographed glowing orbs of spirit manifestation, which would respond to communication, and could be photographed as well. They looked just like those I had started seeing all those years ago. You are a lawyer and a mathematician. According to you, where does the line blur between science and mysticism? In the Wiccan tradition, as I have learnt from Ipsita, science and mysticism go hand in hand. There is no quarrel between the two. Perhaps that realisation was there in olden times, and is there even today in the Western world. Great scientists like Thomas Edison were reputed to have built a Spirit Machine, to communicate with the other world. Even as recently as 2014, major universities in the US, UK and in Germany have been doing path-breaking research into the survival of the soul, and are coming forth with new evidence. In August last year, a team of scientists from Berlin announced results of clinical experiments which showed the existence of some form of life after death. However, when it comes to India, everything goes down the drain. There is no scope for thought. Perhaps this is why our best minds leave the country and go to the West. You have two extremes. On one side, there are those who are ‘rational’ and refuse to even think that there may be something beyond the very obvious. And on the other hand, you have those who make everything the domain of the unexplained, bringing in religion, and faith, and fear, exploiting those who are gullible and vulnerable. Lobbies with vested interests and commercial interests try and create a divide between science and mysticism. It would not suit them or perhaps their pockets, to have our people understand that the two walk together. Indeed. Indian society has a biased perception which is apparent from the still prevalent witch-hunting in certain states of the country. It is an irony that even while we are in the midst of a very rational and go-getting time, we are still mired in superstition. We claim to be logical and clear thinking and yet we see a woman we cannot handle, and immediately call her a witch, or a bitch. Perhaps she doesn’t kow-tow to her in-laws, or massage her boss’s ego, or sleep with the local Casanova. That in our society is enough to call her the W- word, or the B- word! What role does the Wiccan Brigade play in changing that perception? When Ipsita took up the cause of women branded daayans in our country and came forward about 35 years ago, the word ‘witch’ was considered dirty. Her path was a lonely one. Today, she has single-handedly brought Wicca onto the national platform where people from the orthodox sectors are associated with it and have joined hands to be part of her movement. She has over the past decades shown the true face of Wicca, and the ancient knowledge which it encompasses. Today, it is part of mainstream literature, films and television shows are made on it, and people apply in large numbers, wanting to be a part of the Wiccan Brigade and learn the ancient tradition from her. Was your mother the reason behind your movement into the world of Wicca? Ipsita always says, “You don’t choose Wicca. Wicca chooses you.” I believe the bigger things in life are ruled by destiny. Just as it was Ipsita’s destiny to take up Wicca so many years ago while studying ancient civilisations in a chalet in the Laurentians, so was it my destiny to be born to her and to be a part of the Wiccan way. How long have you been following Wicca? I started on this journey many years ago, when I was a very young child even without realising it. I remember Ipsita’s study with silken drapes, lamplight, sparkling crystal and red roses. Amidst that, she would be at her roll-top desk or in an armchair, with parchment-like scrolls of paper next to her, and piles of books and diaries. I would run in there, and sometimes try to read and understand the books. She would look at me and smile softly, as if aware of something which I couldn’t fathom. And as long as I was quiet, I could stay in that room. There were books, as well as handwritten journals; old paper, faded ink, and an atmosphere of something very ancient and sacred. As if here was a secret well of knowledge, and to sip from its waters would be the greatest adventure ever. There was something sacred, something hidden from the world, something ascetic; and something beautiful and sensuous. How do people react when you tell them you are a Wiccan? There are all sorts of reactions, starting from “Oh, my God!” to “Wow”, but every reaction has the same last line, “Can I meet your mother?” Which incident in your book stirred you the most? Bhangarh. It was, and will always be unforgettable. I know it is a place which does not respond to all, but for us (she and her team of psychic investigators from the Wiccan Brigade) it came alive. The hauntingly inviting cover of Deepta’s book, published by Life Positive Books Bhangarh to Bedlam – Haunted Encounters is a compilation of 12 sites in India and England where this world and the next seem to come together. The author has delved into esoteric lore, history, science and her own experiences to relate these startling happenings.
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