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The witching hour 

A Cobb County witch reflects on his calling

Rhuddlwm Gawr is a retired Cobb County landscape architect with a wife, three children, a Southern Baptist upbringing and a diet mostly of meat and potatoes. He is also a witch, the head of the oldest coven in Georgia and a member of Dynion Mwyn, meaning "gentle folk," a Welsh clan of witches with a lineage traced to 1282 and a propensity for premonition. Gawr, the name given to him by Welsh elders, practices Y Tylwyth Teg, a combination of Wiccan and Pagan. With another Halloween approaching, Gawr is wrangling with the joys and shortcomings of predicting the future.

CL: What does being a witch mean in everyday life? How do you worship?

Rhuddlwm Gawr: Well, our particular church is based on certain precepts dealing with nature, magic and the deities -- the same way that a Catholic would praise a saint or a Baptist would praise a holy spirit. We have eight major rituals during the year. Halloween is our major festival. ... It's a religious holiday. It's a time to contact your ancestors, your friends, your neighbors, or whoever has died who you were close to.

What do the rituals really entail?

We've got several. One is the moon festival, where you're celebrating the moon as a goddess reflecting the light of the sun, the god. We take that energy and use it to heal someone or to get something good, like winning the lottery.

Have you won the lottery yet?

No, but we've come close. My sister down in Florida won $76,000 after doing a ritual.

What about the healing?

Ten years ago, a girl from Kennesaw State's father had fallen off the roof and fell on a tomato stake. He got gangrene. The girl came to us and said, "I need your help." There were several things the ritual entailed, and I'd rather not say what they were. But the next day, the area that had gangrene had turned to pink.

Is it to your advantage to maintain some secrecy with what you do, because you're practicing in a conservative area of Atlanta?

Yes. Because of conservatism, you have people that may like you for 20 years. They find out you're a witch and they hate you, overnight -- not for any rational reason, except that they think witches worship the devil.

Has the past month been particularly hard, considering that since the terrorist attacks there has been less acceptance for anything strange?

Not really. There's a cross-section of the political climate among those who follow witchcraft. You'll have your conservatives. You'll have your liberals. You'll have your moderates.

Are some of your traditional beliefs used as a basis for your political opinion?

Most witches would rather not bomb the hell out of anyone, because it's taking life. Even though [Osama bin Laden's followers] took life because of their religious beliefs, it doesn't necessitate us doing it. If you can help them to see the error of their ways, then you're doing the right thing.

What are some of your experiences connecting with energy?

We have a touch pad in the bathroom which controls the light. It happens every so often, when things are getting to where you need some sort of validation or some message, that the damn light comes on. ... The night before the terrible things in New York, it started flickering. Instead of just going for a couple of minutes, as it usually does, it did it all night long. And it did it until 9:45 the next morning.

This is something that would freak out most people.

We look at them as signs. ... If you can read them, they'll help you in your life. There have been things that have happened to us in the past in which we had to make a choice, based on signs. And we chose to experience unpleasant things because we also had signs of something else good coming up. For instance, we had a very, very bad time back in the early '90s because there was upheaval in the pagan community, people egotistically wanting to run the whole place, and this sort of thing -- (There is a loud, unexplained crash in the corner of the living room) -- That happens. It's OK. I was just talking about certain things, and that means I shouldn't talk about them.

Can you describe to me some [premonitions]?

Nope.

Will there be a big crash if you do?

Well ... I've seen or sensed certain things about to happen. We've actually had readings that told us something, but we didn't know what to do with it. Ten days before you have a crash into the WTC, you get a reading from someone who says there's going to be a tremendous explosion in New York and a bunch of people will be killed. It also involves airplanes. So you think it's someone dropping a bomb. You don't think in terms of somebody taking an airplane and slamming it into a large building. But that happened. We had a reading, a channeling of energy, before this disaster occurred. But we didn't even think about telling someone. Who do you tell?

Is it somewhat frustrating, then, to sense something is about to happen and be able to do nothing about it?

Yes, it is.

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