Halloween 2022: Meet east London’s ‘eclectic witch’ who uses crystals, herbs and candles to create spells

“Being a witch is a very modern way of being able to believe in something.”

As Halloween approaches, many Londoners are preparing for a weekend of parties, pumpkin carving and trick-or-treating.

But for one east London resident, October 31 is the date of Samhain - a historically pagan or Wiccan festival marking the start of the dark half of the year - which became All Hallows Eve.

“It’s the day the veil is thin,” Semra Haksever, 44, explains. “For me, I will create a ritual for a few people close to me who have passed, I might light a candle and leave an offering of gold paper of money. It is a special day and a powerful day.”

Born in north London, Semra is a self-described “eclectic witch” and business founder.

After a magic “obsessed” childhood, inspired by her “deeply spiritual” Polish and Turkish grandmothers, she stumbled on a spellbook at a car boot sale and delved into witchcraft. But it was when she was hiking an active volcano in Bali in 2014, that she truly put her powers to the test for the first time.

East London’s “eclectic witch” Semra Haksever. Photo: Semra Haksever/Mama Moon

Setting the intention that at the she would experience a vision of what she was going to do with her life, as she completed the “gruelling climb”, her wish was granted.

“I realised I’d been put here to spread cosmic vibes around the world,” Semra said, adding: “I literally sprinted back to my hotel room and began manifesting my ideas.”

It was the birth of her passion project, Mama Moon, a website and community of witches, offering spells for everything from love attraction, to manifesting your dream home.

From abundance potions, to protective incense and bravery crystals, anything you’re seeking, it seems, is found on its shelves, now housed in a shop in Lower Clapton, Hackney - which Semra manifested after falling in love with the former studio space.

Semra, who lives with cats, Teddy and Fonzy, in east London, draws on “a vast toolkit for magic” and hosts monthly parties for the witch community, with a fire pit, tarot and healers.

She told LondonWorld: “I don’t follow it like a religion. I use herbs, the moon, old Turkish traditions, hypnosis, fire, scent. It’s all about following your own path.

“When I’m brushing my teeth, I could be repeating an incantation or visualising what I want my energy to be. I love the old folklore around herbs and flowers and their meaning. When you burn a bay leaf and think about old stories and Greek mythology… anything can be a ritual. It’s creating space for yourself and it’s a sacred time.”

And Semra also believes witchcraft - which has historically seen practitioners drowned and burned at the stake - is about women “stepping into and standing in their power”.

“So many women connect with witchcraft,” she said. “All women are witches. It’s somebody in tune with themselves and nature, acknowledging how magical everything around us is. Magic has been my saviour. It gives me a really deep connection to the universe and myself and I feel really empowered to just trust everything will work out.”

In the aftermath of the pandemic, with economic uncertainty around us, it’s understandable to reach for magic as a way of comforting ourselves. Witchcraft, Semra says, can be an alternative form of faith.

Semra’s shop Mama Moon in east London. Photo: Semra Haksever/Mama Moon

“Religion is a little outdated and people are wise to the fact that we’ve been told to live our lives in this very singular way - to get married, get a mortgage and have babies,” she said. “It doesn’t work for people and in witchcraft there’s something about being able to pick and choose what you want to do and having faith in nature, and in yourself.

“Being a witch is a very modern way of being able to believe in something.”

Images of old women flying broomsticks and chanting over cauldrons are largely being replaced by a new, glamorous generation of modern witches. These spellcasters use Instagram and TikTok, while their potions and altars often appear indistinguishable from the wellness offerings of candles and crystals.

But the media - from Charmed and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, to Hocus Pocus and the Wizard of Oz - still has a lot to answer for.

Semra, who campaigned with the Blackpool Dungeons to pardon the Pendle Witches - a group of nine women and one man hanged in 1612 - says beliefs are still “outdated”.

“Being a witch is a real women’s issue - women still get witch hunted today,” she said.

“The word holds such power but people get caught in the fantasy of how witches are portrayed.

“There’s a false history of what a witch was. It was a name to call and persecute someone. They could be a midwife or giving herbal tinctures but as soon as something went wrong, they’d be a scapegoat.”

Witches’ famous pointy hats even evolved in the popular imagination from illicit brewers - who wore the recognisable headgear to identify themselves as makers of alcohol - while cats were kept around to scare off the mice and rats attracted by the smell of the malt.

And even in 2022, Semra still often finds people’s reactions to what she does bemusing.

A love manifestation candle from Mama Moon. Photo: Semra Haksever/Mama Moon

“People are interested and there’s a sense of childlike wonder, because it’s so fun,” she said. “Magic requires imagination and that’s an amazing place to be.

“But I am conscious of sharing what I do as I don’t want to have to convince anyone. If I’m on a date, a guy might say, ‘oh have you put a spell on me?’. I find that really insulting, it’s so obvious. Do you think I’d waste a spell on you?”

And there’s one spell she refuses to cast - which she says is the one she’s asked for the most - enticing your ex back to you.

“I never do those spells,” she said. I try to get them to do a spell to manifest someone who will worship you - who will return your calls and not ghost you. Let’s work on loving yourself.

“I don’t speak for all witches, but all the witches I know want to create spells to spread positive energy.”

Semra’s Attraction Oil Spell:

You will need:

  • 20 ml (1⁄2 fl oz) almond oil;
  • Two small cinnamon sticks; 
  • A pinch of dried rose petals;
  • Nine whole cloves;
  • Nine drops of patchouli essential oil;
  • Nine drops of rose essential oil;
  • One lodestone;
  • And a glass jar or bottle.

Blend all of the ingredients together in a jar or bottle. For superpower leave outside overnight to charge under a full moon. Bring the mixture back inside before sunrise.

This oil can be used to add super attracting power to any spell.

This oil can be used with a photo of someone you wish to attract, or use it to anoint your sigils, written down manifestations, crystals or cheques.

Semra’s Spell to get your dream home:

“This is a quick and incredibly potent spell that has been tried, tested and got myself and many people I know new homes over the years. You will need an emerald crystal, some paper and to have viewed a property that you would like or one similar to what you are looking for.

“Start with your manifesting list of everything you would like your property to have ... wooden floorboards, a garden, quiet neighbourhood, storage space, modern, Victorian, friendly neighbours etc etc ... be specific!

“As well as manifesting the aesthetics of the property, also mention how you wish to feel in your new home: safe, comfortable, peaceful, etc. When you have viewed a property, gather some dirt, or a leaf, or a stone from inside or outside the front of the property.

“Write out on a piece of paper something like:

  • ‘I will be settled in my new flat by [the date you wish to move] and my new flat is [insert desired address] or somewhere better.
  • ‘I will move in with complete ease, the process will be easy and will take half a day of my time. My rent or the price I ask for will be [insert amount] per month.
  • ‘This earth or dirt [or insert whatever you have found and taken from the property] will connect me to this property or somewhere better.’

“Don’t forget to thank the universe and sign it. Place the emerald in the centre of the paper and sprinkle in the dirt (or whatever you have collected) and fold the paper three times towards you. Keep this in a pocket or close to you for seven days.

“Also mark the date in your diary saying ‘move in date’ and write the date on a post it note. Place this on your computer or the fridge or something you look at every day - but not a mirror! Remember to keep an open mind. Don’t force anywhere. Trust that the magic is going to find you your perfect home.”