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A night out with Anchorage witches

Victoria Barber
The Wiccans of Alaska held their first-ever Witches Ball Nov. 2
Kerry Tasker
The Wiccans of Alaska held their first-ever Witches Ball Nov. 2
Kerry Tasker
The Wiccans of Alaska held their first-ever Witches Ball Nov. 2
Kerry Tasker
The Wiccans of Alaska held their first-ever Witches Ball Nov. 2
Kerry Tasker

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When Halloween falls midweek it creates an awkward split – do you direct your full costume-getting and party-going energy at the weekend before or after the actual day? I get reeeally excited about dressing up for the first through third party, but by this year’s last hurrah (Saturday, Nov. 2) I couldn’t even get myself to bother putting on cat ears before going to one. last. party.

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I manned up because this was the only Halloween party in town being hosted by ACTUAL WITCHES (that is, the Wiccans of Alaska). And it was held at the American Legion Hall. Journalism, people.

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As it turns out, witches get down for Halloween the way most people do. With costumes, drinks and dancing awkwardly to “Thriller” and “Monster Mash” (less awkwardly than average, I would note).

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There were some differences. A higher concentration of pointy witch hats, naturally. Also, there were not one but three fortune tellers (runes, tarot AND palm). The Wiccans were clearly having fun with the whole wicked witch thing – there was a cackling contest and at various points in the night they’d put someone in a large “cauldron” and make them do a little dance. The silent auction featured more frankincense, myrrh and wands than you'd normally see.  

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The Legion Hall is a large room divided in half by a long bar. On one half the witches (and druids, shamans and other neo-pagans) partied, and in the other half legionnaires went about their normal Saturday night business of karaoke and bingo.

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There was a little table of votive candles “for our ancestors” by the door, but otherwise this was a determinedly non-religious party (Wiccans already did their religious thing on Oct. 31).

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Everyone said they were having a great time, but most of the people I spoke with were adamant about one thing: They did not want their names to be published anywhere.

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These witches, druids, atheists, etc felt that going public with their beliefs might cause trouble at work. 

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“I’m out, but I’m not OUT out,” one gentleman said.

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Denise Buckelew is one witch who didn’t mind talking openly. She’s practiced Wicca for about 20 years. She moved to Alaska from Alabama.

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“I’m the type of person that doesn’t care what people think, and I have plenty of holy rollers in my family,” she said.

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Buckelew discovered the local Wicca community through her drum circle and through meetup.com. She’s in a seminary studying Wicca now.

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Amberle Wright, High Priestess of the Light and Shadows coven in Anchorage, started the Wiccan meetup group about a year ago. There are now 144 members. This was their first public event. Wright said it sold out and they’re planning to do it again next year.

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- You can reach Victoria Barber at vbarber@adn.com or 257-4556


Victoria Barber
Anchorage