Kolkata: Swathed in a black velvet robe with golden trimmings, enveloped by dimmed lights and chantings that create an aura of mysticism, renowned Wiccan exponent Ipsita Roy Chakraverti feels that every strong woman is a witch.

In the wake of the Delhi gang-rape incident, Wicca could empower and enable women to speak out, she believes.

“The Delhi gang-rape was a turning point. Women need to speak out and after the incident, we have seen how they have spoken up. In a small way, Wicca can give women that confidence and ability to speak out. It is a strong woman’s craft. Every strong woman is a witch,” said Chakraverti at a media conference.

A practitioner of Wicca, a modern pagan and witchcraft religion, Chakraverti clarifies that Wicca has evolved from a religion to a way of life.

“It is the oldest known pagan religion. It was a matriarchal religion and also the first branch of learning that defines the Mother God.

“Over time it became less of a religion and more of a way of life,” said Chakraverti.

Debunking the myth that it is black magic, Chakraverti said Wicca, like any other subject, needs serious study and research.

“It is not black magic. There is so much happening abroad in terms of serious lectures and research, but not much in India.

“It includes a lot of disciplines like psychology, mysticism etc. It needs serious study and can be incorporated in curriculums,” said Chakraverti, who also lectures on the subject.

According to her, though Wicca is seen as taboo, it has progressed a lot.

“Previously, it was a dirty word. However, it has progressed a lot,” she said.

In 2006, Chakraverti launched the Wiccan Brigade as a platform for those interested in studying Wicca and using the branch of knowledge to holistic effect. Though Wicca was predominantly practised by women, the Wiccan Brigade welcomes men also.