In The Land Of Dracula, Witches Work As 'Life Coaches' Of The Supernatural In the U.S., we tend to only hear about witches on Halloween, but in Romania, they have year-round work. Mihaela Minca, who has been practicing magic since age 7, is a third-generation witch.
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In The Land Of Dracula, Witches Work As 'Life Coaches' Of The Supernatural

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In The Land Of Dracula, Witches Work As 'Life Coaches' Of The Supernatural

In The Land Of Dracula, Witches Work As 'Life Coaches' Of The Supernatural

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/660294590/660294591" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

When you open your door to trick-or-treaters next week, odds are you will see a witch or two. In Romania, you do not have to wait for Halloween, but the witches there are all about the trick, not the treat. Joanna Kakissis reports.

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JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: It's impossible to miss this witch's house in the village of Mogosoaia. For starters, there's a big poster of her right outside. It reads, the most powerful witch from Europe, Mihaela Minca. She walks through a beaded curtain and introduces herself.

MIHAELA MINCA: (Through interpreter) I'm a very strong witch. Magic is very powerful in my family. I can solve any kind of problem in life - with love, success, anything.

KAKISSIS: She's in a floor-length dress - black with bright flowers. Her hair, also black, is tied by a sparkly baby blue scarf.

MINCA: (Through interpreter) What I do is beautiful and dangerous. It is a fight between good and evil.

KAKISSIS: She cuts tomatoes and cheese for what she calls an interview snack. We sit in her dining room on gold-painted chairs that resemble thrones. Her phone buzzes with clients.

MINCA: (Through interpreter) There are customers who ask me to split up couples. They ask me to destroy people. And there are several spells I can do with black magic. But I learned from my grandmother that too many evil spells will always turn against a powerful witch.

KAKISSIS: And some Romanians do believe in the power of witches. Sociologist Dani Sandu cites a 2014 survey.

DANI SANDU: About two-thirds of Romanians believe in demons, curses, enchantments and spirits.

KAKISSIS: He says these beliefs come from the Eastern European tendency toward fatalism. This is where witches find their niche.

SANDU: It's probably the equivalent of the modern-day life coach. They commercialize the feeling of being in control of one's life and of one's destiny.

KAKISSIS: Witches are controversial. A few were sued for blackmailing their clients. And seven years ago, Romanian witches made international headlines for cursing politicians who tried to tax them.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Foreign language spoken).

KAKISSIS: That's Mihaela Minca's own mother-in-law on video making a potion out of cat poop. After that, the politicians dropped the tax. Surprisingly, Minca wishes they hadn't.

MINCA: (Through interpreter) Being taxed would prove that this is a respectable profession. My daughter is finished high school. I'd love it if they could open their witches' offices in Bucharest.

KAKISSIS: Like most witches here, Minca is Roma, a stigmatized minority in Europe. Most of her clients are not. Her work in magic supports her husband and kids. It's allowed them to build a house in Romania and live for a time in Los Angeles, where she says she has many clients.

We walk to her backyard office, where chickens strut past a table filled with crystals, scythes and dried herbs. She raises a bell, pours water into a bowl and chants.

MINCA: (Through interpreter) Let there be luck. Let there be peace. Let there be happiness. God bless. Let it be so.

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KAKISSIS: I'm relieved she doesn't charge for this good-luck spell because her spells are not cheap. I ask her, how much would it cost to put a curse on my editor? Six-hundred dollars, U.S., she said. And the witch Mihaela Minca is careful to say that she gives no guarantees. For NPR News, I'm Joanna Kakissis in Mogosoaia, Romania.

(SOUNDBITE OF GOBLIN'S "SUSPIRIA")

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