- The Pagan Federation has appointed an Essex comprehensive
school media studies teacher as its first youth manager - to educate teenagers
- Ralph Morse, a 44-year-old "witch" from Colchester
and member of the local Silver Wheel coven, is producing an information
pack about paganism and witchcraft for distribution to inquiring youngsters.
- His appointment has caused anger among Christian groups
who describe Mr Morse's role as "dangerous". The local MP will
raise the matter this week with education bosses.
- Mr Morse freely admits to participating in naked initiation
ceremonies and to casting spells. He believes that all humans possess untapped
psychic powers, which can be unleashed through worship. He says all spells
cast by Pagan Federation members are used only for good. He will use his
position as youth manager to counter the "misleading" information
about pagans and to steer youngsters away from unscrupulous internet sites
which may, he says, be luring them into satanic cults and devil worship.
- Pagans, who predate Christians by several thousand years,
worship a multitude of deities, based mainly on the seasons and harvests.
Paganism is enjoying a modern-day revival some 500 years after the witchfinder
general first began killing suspected witches. There are an estimated 100,000
pagans currently practising in the UK.
- Kate West, a 42-year-old witch and vice president of
the Pagan Federation, has just received an advance from publishers HarperCollins
to write The Young Witches Handbook. Television programmes such as Buffy
the Vampire Slayer and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, with viewing figures
often topping two million, have fuelled its increasing popularity.
- Mr Morse, whose wife Carole is a high priestess, was
appointed following a surge in inquiries to the Pagan Federation which
represents the interests of its 7,000 members.
- He will not distribute information to children under
16 without parental permission first. "This is not about indoctrination,"
said Mr Morse, who teaches at the 1,300-pupil Shenfield High School in
Essex. "We are being reactive to the needs of society and its young
- "Over the last couple of years the number of inquiries
from young people has increased dramatically. As a teacher I am already
concerned with the protection of minors. There are thousands of internet
sites out there but there is unfortunately a lot of misinformation and
- He denies he will preach, convert or recruit youngsters
and has discussed his new role with his school bosses. But local MP Eric
Pickles has promised to raise the matter this week with Shenfield High's
- "If he is a youth manager but his job isn't about
attracting youths [to paganism], then what on earth is he doing?"
said Mr Pickles, a Conservative frontbench spokesman on social security.
"He is obviously a person children are in regular contact with and
therefore I am going to take the sensible precaution of raising this with
the head teacher to see if we can lay some guide rules down."
- Father Leslie Knight, the local Roman Catholic parish
priest, will hold a meeting with parishioners next week. "We should
be promoting Christianity and not things which go into witchcraft and magic,"
- Doug Harris, spokesman for the Reach Out Trust, a Christian
group which helps people involved with the occult, said: "Paganism
opens you up to a supernatural power that cannot be controlled. It's dangerous
to encourage young people."
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