Nottingham Pagan fears faith’s ‘bad press’ is behind spike in witchcraft reports

Video: Ashley Mortimer, director of Nottingham Pagan Network

A Nottingham Pagan says a ‘bad press’ surrounding witchcraft could be leading people to report innocent local practices to police.

Figures released last week show one area of Nottinghamshire has seen 125 reports of witchcraft in two years.

The statistics show there were 87 calls mentioning witches or witchcraft in Ashfield North to Notts Police in 2016 and 38 last year.

This is compared to just a handful of reports in other areas across the county.

Local paranormal experts and believers say some of the reports could be ghostly activity which relates to, or has been caused, by witchcraft carried out in the past.

But followers of the Pagan faith say the calls are unhelpful – as many practices branded as witchcraft and assumed to be sinister are actually part of their religion and are no threat to the public.

“Thirty eight reports out of 44 [paranormal incidents in Ashfield North] says more to me about the level of reporting than necessarily does about the level of witchcraft activity,” said Ashley Mortimer, a director of Nottingham Pagan Network.

“I think people’s understanding of witchcraft is misconstrued and has been for centuries – we’ve actually had a bad press for a long time.”

He added: “Witchcraft is a modern-day interpretation of ancient Pagan beliefs. We are the sixth biggest faith group in Nottinghamshire, as per the 2011 census, it’s about believing in nature, and having the divine imminent in nature, personified and recognised as a lunar goddess and a solar god.

“But witchcraft is only one small part of modern-day Paganism.

“If you were to see someone don’t be alarmed – we’re quite happy to explain to people. But I don’t like them being seen as sinister, because it isn’t sinister.”

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