RALEIGH — When the moon is full, Diane Craft drives to an abandoned graveyard off Poole Road, clears the brush away from the stones and waves her crystal-tipped wand in a circle, asking the spirits for a favor.
With the ghosts' consent, she scoops up a handful of coffin-covering dirt and collects it in small Ziploc baggies - the main ingredient for casting love and protection spells.
She leaves a dime behind for the departed soul, along with a few berries of thanks. Then she takes her midnight pickings to a booth at the N.C. Fairgrounds, where graveyard dirt starts at $3.50 a bag.
"A lot of people mix herbs with it, but I don't," she explains. "This is pure dirt. I also have moss."
At 47, Craft has opened her own Saturday witch's bazaar outside Dorton Arena, offering homemade magic for troubled times.
She performs spells for the lovelorn and the unemployed, casting them with wands made from copper piping - an excellent conductor of spiritual energy.
"I'm doing a court spell for a girl who stole some Rottweiler puppies and got arrested," she said. "I'm also doing a spell to help her see truth instead of lying."
Her wares include a full line of enchantment supplies: copper wands, dogwood wands, quartz crystals, sacred salt, and witch's balls that either ward off evil spirits or attract fairies. To boot, Craft also sells a line for Pampered Chef kitchenware.
"Next week we're adding voodoo dolls and thieves' vinegar," she promised.
As a Wiccan and a second-degree Reiki - a Japanese healing practice - Craft stands out at the fairgrounds like a vampire bat in a cage of canaries. She named her booth Kerridwen's Crystal Cottage after the goddess who protects the cauldron of poetry.
You can find another Tarot card reader among the vendors selling antique license plates, used Grateful Dead T-shirts and back issues of Time magazine.
But Craft has pretty much cornered the graveyard dirt market. Not a lot of people will venture into a cemetery at midnight, and it's worth $3.50 just to have a kindly grandmother in a fleece pull-over do the gathering.
Business is slow, but Craft isn't worried. Saturday marked just her fourth week in business.
Meanwhile, the magic is massaging some kinks out of Craft's own troubled soul. She was unemployed, a former administrative assistant, and even worked up some depression spells to help find a new path.
While she was thinking, it occurred to her that good crystals are really hard to find, let alone a decent Sir Percival's Gothic wand equipped with a Herkimer diamond. With no shortage of evil spirits floating around, she figured she could help people bat it back.
"I only do good magic," she said. "Bad magic will come back on you."
When I stopped by for an hour, Craft had about a half-dozen customers stop by and kick a few metaphysical tires, but no sales. But in a month at the fairgrounds, she has encountered no backlash and seen no evil eyes among the passersby.
"They call me 'Witchy,' " she said.
Craft can't make somebody love you. She can't promise the job you're looking for. But with copper, crystal, dirt and the wave of a wand, she'll coax the spirits to your side.
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