Awe in the Family

Krinner even laughs about spells that don't quite work, like the one she cast just after becoming a witch. She'd wanted a new car. But years passed before she got one.

The family has yet to cast a spell as a trio, and the magick they work individually can be as mundane as adding a blessing to household chores like cleaning windows. "You can actually empower your cleaning supplies for different things," she says. "May it wipe off negativity as it wipes off the dirt from my stuff."

With her apple-pie face and long blond hair, the 28-year-old Krinner, who works in retail, resembles no one so much as Jan Brady. But when she dons her ceremonial robes and calls to order her coven of Wiccans, this girl next door is transformed. If that makes her seem scary, don't worry. Krinner says her religion is not about casting weird spells or manipulating wayward lovers. "The main law in witchcraft is do as you will but harm none," she says. "That covers a lot of ground."

Krinner became a witch five years ago, after learning about the practice of Wicca through books. The more she studied the ancient Celtic religion, with its belief in a god and a goddess and its respect for the natural world, the more she realized she already followed many of those principles. As her interest grew, other people began looking to Krinner and her roommate, Mark Lyons, for information about spells and rituals.

"All of a sudden, people would come out of the woodwork, going, 'Oh, you do that? I'm kind of interested in that too,' " she recalls. "Before we knew it, we realized we had a coven, without even trying to have one."

The Solitaries of the Silver Broom meet at the boathouse on Watchogue Creek where Krinner and Lyons live. The grounds are semi-private, bound by a chain-link fence, set back from the street and tucked behind another home. The hardscrabble yard where the Wiccans practice their magick is big enough for a garden, a few parking spots, a couple of dogs and a passel of cats.

The Solitaries consider themselves a teaching coven, which means outsiders are welcome to take part in holiday rituals. Some of those visitors come only a few times, but others stick around. Seven months ago, Krinner's mother, Kathleen Torres, joined the 40-member group. Krinner's sister, Jennifer Moss, a college student who lives in Hauppauge, joined this fall.

Even their combined powers haven't warded off all the bigots. Krinner says one man disrupted a guest lecture she gave at a bookstore, accusing her of calling in "demonic spirits." The pentacle Moss wears drew fire from a zealous Christian at the video store where she works. He wasn't even a customer, Moss says, just a guy who needed to use the john. "I saw his eyes went right to this," the 25-year-old says, lifting her amulet. "Then, he called me dirty." The man came back with two friends and the group preached to her for an hour.

And as open as the witches are with their husbands, brothers, coworkers and friends, there are still some people they'd rather not tell. Torres says that on a trip to see her parents last year, Krinner tried to cover the hexagram tattoo on her thigh with a Band-Aid. "I didn't want to give my grandma a heart attack," Krinner says. The camouflage failed, and Torres ended up confessing that her daughter is a witch.

Torres, who works as a security guard, wasn't as forthcoming about her own beliefs. Though her Sayville home is a virtual shrine to Native American shamanism—with a living room full of collectibles like medicine sticks and skulls, and with a huge white crystal on the coffee table—Torres doesn't let her mom and dad know she's a witch. "As crazy as it sounds," she says, "I'm 54 years old and I'm afraid to tell my parents."

 
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