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A Real Salem Witch Tells Us What Pop Culture Gets Wrong (And Right)

Teri Kalgren educates the public about what it's like to be a modern witch.

By Noor Tagouri | October 17, 2016

Halloween is just around the corner, and what better way to spend the holiday than in Salem, Massachusetts, with an actual witch? 

TERI KALGREN: My name is Teri Kalgren. I'm a witch.

I was always fascinated by the witches. They seemed to be stronger than Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. It was always very interesting to me, and I didn't realize that it was probably because I was going to grow up to be a feminist. And I went, "Oh my God, I'm a witch. How did that happen?"

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NEWSY'S NOOR TAGOURI: The term Wiccan — what's the difference?

KALGREN: That's more of a New Age term. We are an Earth-based religion, very much like Native Americans. When families come here in October, they usually put their kids on the sofa in front of the television and let them see the witches, "Hocus Pocus" and all of those. And what do the witches do to the little children? Eat them. We don't eat children. You'd be surprised — now, kids, because of "Harry Potter," are asking a lot more intelligent questions.

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They'll ask things like, "Were you born a witch?" And I'll say, "Some people are."

TAGOURI: What was the association with witches and the devil, and what is it today?

KALGREN: They were the handmaidens of the devil back then. Witches don't have a devil. We figure we can screw things up well enough on our own. We do not need a devil. We have two rules. Instead of 10 commandments, we have two: Doeth thy will and harm none.

TAGOURI: What about being a witch drew you to the religion?

KALGREN: I liked the empowerment. I liked the freedom. A lot of the times, you get to the point where you just want to embrace who you are, and the word doesn't matter. You're not going to change your name and stand in fear. I think at some point, you have to stand up for something and who you are. I'm a witch.

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