"The bird is dead, it died instead of you. Now you're safe." That's what Romanian witch Mihaela Minca told her shivering client after sacrificing a bird to supposedly save the possessed woman's soul. We filmed the exorcism ritual for our documentary Casting Curses and Love Spells with the Most Powerful Witches in Romania, which came out exactly a year ago on Halloween.
During our time with Minca and her witch clan family in the town of Mogoșoaia on the outskirts of Bucharest, we learned how to cook up love potions and curses, discovering that some people are prepared to pay hefty sums in the hope of curing their emotional, physical or financial ailments. In a country where witches are even feared by people in the Romanian parliament, a few practitioners of witchcraft are getting so rich that they live in castles and simply hex any politician threatening to tax them.
When we found out that Minca and her clan actually spent most of the past year in California at the request of some clients, we knew we had to find out more. We caught up with her on her return to Romania to find out what it was like to be a Romanian witch in Donald Trump's America.
Watch: Casting Curses and Love Spells with the Most Powerful Witches in Romania
BROADLY: Hi Mihaela. How are you feeling? Are you jetlagged?
MIHAELA MINCA: Yes. I'm tired from the long flight but it feels very good to be back.
What did you guys think of the film?
We all liked it!
Phew! I was worried you'd hex us. How come you went to California?
It's always been a dream of mine to go there. We loved the observatory and walking along Hollywood Boulevard, and we saw the Hollywood sign. We wanted to see more things like Paramount Studios, but we didn't really have time because I was working so much—I was called there to resolve some cases. I met a lot of international witches, from Russia, Cuba, the Middle East, India. Central America is also full witches and they all came to the US.
Read more: A Teen Witch's Guide to Staying Alive
In the US they are free to practice witchcraft without having to explain anything to anyone, and it doesn't matter where they come from or what language they speak. They're appreciated for their true value. I was surprised that they were so free to practice, like the Mexican witches doing palm readings on Hollywood Boulevard. Here in Romania, you can't do that. We can't even have ads on TV.
A lot of witches around the world, especially in America, came together earlier this year to hex Donald Trump. Did you know about this?
Yes. He tried to pass legislation that would affect all the immigrants in the US, and witches didn't like that. Like always, witches want to help people in need. The US is a country of migrants and many witches are immigrants and want to be able to stay in the US where they can perform their witchcraft.
So did the hex work?
It did, because he couldn't go through with his plans and the government didn't allow him to build the wall—they didn't fund him. The witches in the US, if they would all gather and do something to stop him, they will succeed. But they can't do anything for the normal people. It has to be their choice to oust the president.
Did you take part in the Donald Trump hexing?
Yes, I did, with a group of witches in LA. There is a big witch community there. There are a lot of celebrities, like Hollywood movie stars and singers, who use witches. I worked for some of the celebrities but they don't want the press to know who they are.
Come on, who did you meet?
I can tell you I met Arnold Schwarzenegger. He didn't want anything to do with magic so we just talked.
What kind of services do celebrities ask for?
Most of them want help in matters of love. There was a male actor who wanted help with another man. It wasn't the first case of that type for me. At first in 2006 I was scared of this and felt a bit awkward and I didn't have any spells for two males getting together, but since then I've changed my rituals to accommodate that. So now any LGBT relationships can be treated with magic. For example, I can change the wax dolls I use for bringing people together to two males instead of a male and a female.
How can people find out about these witch gatherings you attend?
It's very private, even some of the witches don't make it there. You're only allowed to go if you know the location and no one knows the location until the day of the meeting.
OK… So it's a secret witch society?
Is American witchcraft different from Romanian?
American and Romanian witchcraft is similar. The only witches I met who are different are the Cubans because they practice voodou, mainly black magic, and they have very different rituals.
Did you learn anything from the American witches?
I learned a lot of new rituals. I can tell you about one that removes bad spirits from a person's heart. The heart is the center of the body, the spirits get nested in there, so you have to pull the bad spirits from the human's heart and transfer them into a buffalo's heart.
So it's like an exorcism? A bit like what we saw in the film with the chicken?
Yes. You need a buffalo's heart, four claws from a black chicken, a red candle, and black string. You cut the heart in half and make a cavity in it, and there you place the claws and the candle. Then you put the heart back together and tie it very tight with black string. After that, you put it in a jar and seal it tight. After you put the heart in the jar, over the heart you melt nine black candles so that the wax covers the heart.
But the red candle is intact?
Yes. So after all of this practical work, you start saying the magic words that unfortunately are forbidden to say like this out loud without doing the ritual, because the words in the ritual are the essence of it. A ritual is nothing without the words.
You mean that you can't tell us the words without doing the ritual?
What happens if you would say the words?
Nothing bad will happen, it's just that I'm not allowed to do that. I can only say the words during the ritual.
So people reading this know what ingredients they need but what do they have to do if they want to learn the words to make the ritual?
The thing is, no one can really just learn the ritual. They have to have the gift and to practice witchcraft from childhood.