BULEMBU PASS – February 2016 -We have all heard of Cockney Liz and the little historic town of Barberton, once the bustling hub of a gold rush in the 1800’s, and our journey to meet another of South Africa’s real Witches started when we headed out in that direction and then past it into the Bulembu Pass that winds its way through some of the oldest mountains on Earth. It is here that Lady Amberstorm, one of South Africa’s best-kept secrets, lives and practices her Craft.
The spectacular Bulembu Pass road is scenic, but very, very steep and slippery in the torrential rain. We stopped the 4×4 vehicle at one of the lay-bys and looked across the mountains, mist rising, blocking our view of the hairpin bends that appeared to wind endlessly across this bit of rare earth, the Saddle Back Mountains.
We had bypassed mountain streams and I knew, from our conversation, that we would still cross rivers before stopping to walk the forest where Lady Amberstorm worships and works her magick out in the open. We sipped warm coffee from the flask and gnawed at the rusks she had baked in her kitchen, watching the rain drops plop loudly in the potholes that punctuated the roadway like dots of brail on a piece of rough cardboard paper. A curious group of meerkats stood by looking at us, whilst a rainbow framed the scenery with the returning Sun.
Lady Amberstorm explained that although her religious rights are guaranteed by the Constitution, out here in deep country, where the Christian foothold is still strong and hearts are still full of fear and prejudice, raising children and earning a living was a daunting task. One of her children rebelled and took her to court, accusing her of being a Witch. When questioned by the judge, she admitted that she practiced the Religion of Witchcraft and mentioned to those present “I am a member of the South African Pagan Council and we are a client of the Lawyers for Human Rights and this organization will step in my defence, should I experience prejudice at the hands of the Court.” Nothing came of it, but it was a turning point in my life. I had stood up for what I believed and things would never be the same again. I had put my right to religious freedom to the test, and it found that I was indeed free to worship and walk the ancient ways.
Years have passed and her children and grandchildren now accept her path. She does not hide, but remains in the shadows where those who seek her for readings and spiritual advice know where to find her. “I talk to all those who care to listen, or who are curious enough to question me. I’m not hidden, but also not in your face.” Her wooden floored cottage is filled with her delicate handiwork; quilts and crocheted blankets, wedding cakes and sugar roses so fine they look real. It becomes evident that Lady Amberstorm likes to help people. She was trained in the Lunaguardia Tradition and served as its High Priestess for almost two years. She affirms that it is vitally important that we reclaim our freedom and essence, as well as the beauty, power and heritage of the word Witch. Out here in the forests and mountains she has learned to be true to her nature and to connect with the Great Mother, restoring her surroundings to their former wild beauty, and co-existing with all the creatures of Mother Nature as equals and equally deserving of a place in the Sun.
“We must align ourselves with the cycles of our Lady and with the phases of the Moon, and live out the philosophy of ‘live and let live’ without harming ourselves or others. Everything is interconnected and the energy we put out, is the energy which returns to us. Let everything you do be positive and in accordance to the laws of Nature. We need to realise that what we do to the earth, we do to ourselves.”
Before leaving I asked Lady Amberstorm if she had a message for the readers?
“My message to aspiring and existing Witches is, reclaim yourself through a relationship with the Great Mother and do everything in your power to remove the stigma from this word. Do not allow that crimes and horrible allegations be attached to it. Be an exemplary citizen. Be good and fair in all your dealings. If someone asks me if I am a Witch, my immediate response is a big, bright, YES! You go ahead and try it too.”
PART TWO of Real South African Witches.