She held up the cookie, carefully crafted in the shape of a small ring. “This is made from the milk of a mother and daughter,” she told her young, hopeful client. “If you look through it at the person whom you love, he will begin to long for you just as an infant craves his mother’s milk.”
Born in 1935, Anica was a famous Roma witch, schooled in the art by her mother, who had attended a “witch school” in impoverished southern Romania. Her family was desperately poor, living in makeshift plastic tents or a kind of mud house built by digging a hole in the ground and building up the mud walls around the hole.
“Did you believe in the witchcraft?” I asked, looking into a face cascading in layers of wrinkles, searching for all the hidden the stories it held.
“No, I always knew they were just tricks I was doing.” In fact, even the alleged “breast milk” from a mother and daughter was merely cow’s milk.
“I traveled by donkey to different villages with other women, and we would spread out and try to earn some money.” Her husband made knitting needles and combs for her to sell—when she arrived at a house, she would try to sell her products and perhaps be invited into the house to tell some fortunes.
“I would display my cards or wheat seeds, and then read them to tell the people something true about their lives to gain their trust. I would tell them whether someone was sick or had enemies or if a husband was beating the wife.” Sometimes, she would do a spell to block a curse or do a curse herself—and she would request some items, combining them with holy water from an Orthodox Church, in order to concoct the spell.
“I would usually request the items that I needed in my own house—a towel, a piece of soap, a chicken. It was another way of surviving.” But she also had another trick up her sleeve.
“And when I was doing this witchcraft I was also stealing from the people so I could make a living—necklaces, hens, etc. I would not steal everywhere…only if it was easy.”
But the stealing stopped the first time she went to church. “In the summer we would go make bricks in Timisoara (a major city that is 380 km northwest)—and that is where we found out that there is a God. On Sunday, we would be begging and looking for food for the children. I was curious about what happened in church, and when I went there and listened to the Word of God, it somehow touched my soul. I told my husband I didn’t want to steal anymore because of this.”
But the road towards God proved to be a long journey. Anica first met the Lord in 1970, when she was 35 years old. But she continued doing witchcraft even as she continued to go to church. Finally, in 1996, her son and daughter-in-law were baptized. After that, Anica encountered several life-changing experiences.
“We used to do a rain dance to invite the rain. We would dress the children up in green leaves, and they would dance, and people would throw water at them. But all of a sudden I realized God helped us when we prayed, not when we danced. So I gave up witchcraft—I denied my old lifestyle and started to live a brand new life.”
But still, she was not baptized for another two years. “One night, I had a dream. I heard a voice that said, “You are going to be a daughter of the Lord. I saw a white dove coming down and sitting on my shoulders. I went to church to see what the dream meant, and a woman told me that God was asking for me.”
After this dream, in 1998, she stood before the church and confessed her lying, stealing, witchcraft, and deception—and she encountered God’s forgiveness and was finally baptized.
“Although I had been going to church, after that I felt like God was filling my soul. Since then, I have been walking with the Lord and have left witchcraft forever.”