January 26, 2023 9.00 am This story is over 15 months old

Magic or myth? Inside the unique world of Horncastle witchcraft

How Horncastle’s witches are dispelling myths and promoting positivity

By Local Democracy Reporter

What does being a witch entail? Do you need a pointy hat and green skin like the movies would tell you?

Well, the owners at Horncastle’s only witchcraft shop are looking to educate the masses on an often misunderstood way of life.

Flange & Prong opened on West Street in Horncastle in March 2017 after owner Shelley Mayes decided to turn her hobby and lifestyle into a business post-retirement.

Shelley used to work as a children’s author and had her own interior design business before she retired, but witchcraft is something that has remained a constant in her life.

Flange & Prong opened on West Street in 2017 and hasn’t looked back since. | Photo: Ellis Karran for The Lincolnite

Since the humble beginnings of 2017, which Shelley herself admitted was initially a hobby, the business has grown exponentially and now has 11 staff working at the shop.

As well as selling a host of popular favourites, including potions, crystals, dreamcatchers, ouija boards, literature, broomsticks, wands, cauldrons and more – the business also offers palm readings, spell workshops, past life regression talks and mediumship.

It is a journey that Shelley describes as “a tiny little seed growing to become a wonderful emporium” – celebrating all things witchcraft in this unique and often complex world.

Step inside the world of witchcraft, with an eclectic mix of items on display. | Photo: Ellis Karran for The Lincolnite

Shelley told The Lincolnite: “I’ve always been a witch and my lifestyle has aligned with that, I just saw this as a hobby that I knew lots about. I wasn’t expecting this level of growth at all.

“We move into slightly more spiritual elements with the crystals, but we stay true to our witchcraft roots, and there’s plenty of Harry Potter items for people to check out!”

The popular reading section of the shop, with Harry Potter memorabilia and textbooks on the history of witchcraft. | Photo: Ellis Karran for The Lincolnite

Everywhere you look inside the store there is something else weird and wonderful to explore.

There are even fine details such as a Blessing Tree, where people can write contemplative notes and hang them up, ahead of the group’s next ritual where they will send healing thoughts.

The best sellers in the store are the various books on display, including ancient literature to help educate you further on witchcraft, plus a “book of shadows” which is a diary so secret that nobody can open it.

| Photo: Ellis Karran for The Lincolnite

The shop has an LGBTQ+ section decorated with rainbow flags, highlighting the inclusive message behind witchcraft and ensuring that as many people as possible can access it with confidence that they will be welcomed into the community.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Shelley and the team found a boost in footfall as more and more people turned to spirituality during the difficulty of lockdown.

There has been a steady rise of people identifying as witches in the United Kingdom, over 70,000 in fact according to data from the 2011 Census.

Lynette Epton works at the shop, selling jewellery on a commission basis. | Photo: Ellis Karran for The Lincolnite

Negative connotations follow witchcraft around everywhere you look. The Oxford Dictionary definition of the term is “the practice of magic, especially for evil purposes; the use of spells” – but evil is not the MO, according to Flange & Prong.

Horncastle’s witches are trying to dispel any myths and rumours about the practice of witchcraft, many of which were formed by character depiction in popular media such as Disney films.

Shelley said: “There’s no devil worship in witchcraft, contrary to belief, this is about a positive lifestyle for all. Modern witchcraft also does not endorse animal sacrifice, that is another myth thrown at us.

“Being labelled a witch is now seen as a derogatory term, but there is nothing bad about it. We are open to ridicule and know witchcraft isn’t taken seriously enough.

“Media see us as either whimsical or childish, either that or evil and green-skinned! When in actual fact, it is a very peaceful way of life.”

| Photo: Ellis Karran for The Lincolnite

The business has developed a strong TikTok following as well, earning over 30,000 followers thanks to informative and interesting videos on the practices of witchcraft – which is an emerging trend on the social media platform.

Shelley and her business partner Tessa Lowe are currently in the process of writing a new degree system for witchcraft, saying traditional Wicca practices do not align with their views and beliefs.

Of course we had to end our visit with a palm reading! | Photo: Ellis Karran for The Lincolnite

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