Meet Britain’s first official WITCH who was given unique permission to declare the job on her TAX forms – even claiming spells and potions on expenses.
Cassandra Latham-Jones, 71, was the first person allowed to use the term ‘village witch’ when she filed her returns with the inland revenue.
The self-employed witch could even write off certain expenses as tax deductible – including ingredients for her magical brews.
Cassandra has been a witch and official wise-woman for the village of St Buryan in Cornwall for over 30 years.
She offers traditional witching services such as tarot card reading, rituals, sea magic, Dark Arts, spells – and wart charming.
But Ms Latham-Jones, a trained nurse and qualified counsellor, also carries out other ‘witching’ duties such as counselling and community services.
She says she is “no different from anyone else in the service industry – but my expenses are slightly unusual”.
Ms Latham-Jones said it became official work with the authorities when she became the first person who registered her occupation as village witch in 1996.
It is thought other witches can now use it with the Inland Revenue – but Cassandra was the first.
She said: ”It was as simple as walking into the office one day, asking for a form, and in the occupation box just writing ‘Village Witch’ – and no one has ever said anything.
“If you put aside all the propaganda and the glitz and the glamour, and other paraphernalia that surrounds it, bottom line is – you’re there to help people and aid your community.
“You can’t get NVQs in it, or GCSEs or even work experience to a certain degree because it’s not recognised as a valid profession by the powers that be.”
Cassandra said her initial journey into the practices of witchcraft was all about “being in the right place at the right time.
She said: “Meeting a couple of witches was what first gave me an insight into these people and pathways actually existing in reality, and not just in films and books.
“I’m a very down-to-earth, pragmatic person. So it just made a lot of sense to me. I saw a lot of potential here to help people, so I utilised it.”
Cassandra did not become Britain’s first and only official witch until later on in her 50s.
She said: “I had a car crash and I wasn’t able to continue nursing because it affected my back.
“So I had to look around for how to earn my living for the rest of my life.
“It was then that I was sent on one of these business start up courses – led by the benefits system – thinking I would try to make the best of unideal circumstances.
“I was thinking well, I know what I can do, but can I set it up as a business? And then I thought why not!
“I’m the same as a counsellor or a healer, and I’m qualified to do it.
“They told me I needed to register with the Inland Revenue – so that’s what I did.
“It turns out I was a bit of a pioneer because no one has done it before.
”My expenses are slightly unusual – I need all the different materials, and the odd bottle of mead – if I’m doing a particular act of magic or ritual.
“But one thing I will say is that if you’re going to become a village witch, don’t expect to make a lot of money – it’s not a good career move if you want to be well-off.
“People like myself were in the community hundreds of years ago, certainly down in West Cornwall, it’s a principle that has never really gone away – they have always believed in folk magic, folk law and people like myself.
“This role is sometimes called a cunning woman – not because they’re nasty, suspicious people but you have to use a certain cunning sometimes to help people.
“A spell is a kind of kickstart that gets the unconscious’ attention – things like archetypes, symbolism, candles, incense – they provoke an emotional response.”
Cassandra is now officially retired but helps her partner, Laetitia, who hosts practical workshops to help people learn folk magic and wisewoman skills.
Cassandra describes her full story in her book ‘Village Witch – Life as a village Wisewoman in the wilds of West Cornwall’.
You can read more about Cassandra and Laetitia’s work on their website: www.villagewisewoman.co.uk and her blog: www.grumpyoldwitchcraft.com