“My curses always work! cackled Queen Witch Bratara Buzea. The 63-year-old also complained, “They want to take the nation out of a crisis using us? They should get us out of the crisis because they brought us into it.”
Of course, many of us curse the tax collector, it’s an ages old practice. The majority of us don’t use spells, curses, or magic to do so, though. That’s probably because most of us are not Romanian witches. Beliefs about witchcraft and arcane magical spells are no laughing matter in the mysterious East-Central European country. Even some modern politicians wear the auspicious color purple on days when they feel that evil spirits are near.
The real problems of economic recession and tax avoidance had reared their ugly heads in Romania by late 2010 and early 2011. It was time to enforce a new law that finally cracked down on people engaged in professions that normally escaped the tax rolls. The new legislation stated that all self-employed people would be included under the umbrella of a 16-percent income tax and contributions to the pension and healthcare systems.
Prior to 2010, several job titles hadn’t been listed in the Romanian labor codes. Some of those professions included, driving instructor, valet, and embalmer. People engaged in those professions took advantage of their non-registration to avoid their tax obligations.
Conspicuously missing from the prior listings were fortune tellers, tarot card readers, astrologers, and witches. These entrepreneurs make up a considerable share of the taxable base in Romania. Anti-tax advocates claimed the legislation would be difficult to enforce, because the fortune tellers and witches usually collect small, hard to trace cash payments from their clients.
On the other hand, Romanian officials have reason to think that the magic business is actually very lucrative. Magic practitioners and witches are commonly consulted in that country for spells to deal with money and inheritance issues. Many witches cast spells or curses over adulterers and other cheaters. Arcane supernatural cures are sought out for infertility and common health problems. Due to their popularity, the average witch brings in an annual income of around €15,000 (19,500 USD). That amount is well above the Romanian national average income.
Some unsuperstitious skeptics smiled as they remarked that not one of the astrologers, tarot readers, spiritual mediums, parapsychologists, nor witches had predicted the passage and enforcement of the new legislation that went into effect on January 1, 2011. Included within the law, was a requirement that every request for a spell or prophecy must be accompanied by a paper receipt. Each transaction is subject to official, normal service industry record keeping standards.
As an angry response to the government crackdown, a coven of witches cast a spell on the government and the then Romanian President, Traian Băsescu. In a January 6th ceremony on the banks of the Danube River, participants tossed several ingredients into the waters. The witches brew included an entire poisonous mandrake plant, a dog’s carcass, cat poo, and a secret herbal mixture. I could find no information regarding any official enforcement of anti-pollution or anti-littering laws regarding the ceremony.
Neither the new tax enforcement policies nor modernity will negatively affect the spiritual industry in Romania anytime soon. Such activity has traditionally been tolerated by the Eastern Orthodox Church. Even though witches were oppressed during the late communist era in Romania, former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena, employed a personal witch.
The Blue Jay of Happiness found a quote from practitioner Silver Ravenwolf. “The major misconception about Witchcraft today is that Witches worship Satan, which is just not so. We do not believe in Satan. That is a Christian creation. We don’t worship evil. Indeed, to give evil a name is not a real intelligent thing to do, because then you give it power.”