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Mega lottery winner to open school for witches (well, not quite)

After the Big WinAfter the Big Win: Mega lottery winner to open school for witches (well, not quite)

Believes 'gods' want him to 'take the bull by the horns'

Ellwood "Bunky" Bartlett — Mega Millions lottery winner, Wiccafn high priest, recently retired accountant — would like to clear up a few misconceptions about his plans for a "witch school."

Yes, he'd like to start a pagan seminary. But no, it's not going to be some sort of Hogwarts-on-the-Patapsco, with precocious adolescents running around in wizard hats and casting spells.

Bartlett instead envisions the place as sort of a yeshiva for all faiths, a "church" that's less about God — or gods, if you prefer — and more about spirituality, nature and healing.

The future Willow Springs Sanctuary and Community Center — likely to be somewhere in Baltimore County, but Bartlett doesn't yet know where — will teach classes about all religions, offer technology courses for those seeking better jobs and counseling for those seeking to make sense of their lives. And, the $33 million winner hopes, it will help demystify a religion that for most of the public remains shrouded in myth — a fast-growing faith that millions of Americans share, even if they're not always open about it.

"When I won, I had a choice. I could have stayed quiet or I could take the bull by the horns and use this as an opportunity to educate," Bartlett said. "I chose to educate. I believe that's what the gods wanted."

It doesn't really seem in Bartlett's nature to be quiet. His monthly coffee klatch yesterday at Mystickal Voyage, a New Age shop across from the Food Lion in a White Marsh shopping center, went long past the noon hour when it was supposed to end.

Wearing a polo shirt, black jeans and white sneakers, his fingers decked out in gold rings, Bartlett answered all kinds of questions from the dozen or so seekers who showed up.

Asked his opinion on drug use, he said, "If you can't get there on your own, you aren't supposed to be there."

On spirituality: "People ask me, 'How long does it take to become a Wiccan or whatever?' And the answer is, 'It takes a lifetime.'"

And upon realizing that he had spent the past 10 minutes talking with his arm leaning on his chocolate muffin?

"Move the muffin," Bartlett bellowed. "It's all good!"

One woman told the group how Bartlett had helped her cleanse her house of bad energy — energy that was streaming in from certain items her ex-husband had left behind that she didn't realize were there. Others asked serious questions about Summerland, the Wiccan equivalent of heaven, and what it feels like to have a transformational experience.

Though the Wiccan religion has several major holidays and festivals, it has very little doctrine. The faith is, in a lot of ways, what the practitioner wants it to be.

That's one reason pagan practitioners like Sherry Marts are excited about Bartlett's plans. Few training opportunities exist for pagan clergy, and what is available is mostly through the Internet.

"Folks who have wanted to serve in a leadership capacity have managed to cobble together an education through Christian divinity schools, counseling programs, and the Unitarian Church," said Marts, a practicing witch and spokeswoman for the Open Hearth Foundation, a pagan community center in the Washington area. "It's been kind of a piecemeal. It would be great to have a pagan seminary."

Practitioners like Marts say the Harry Potter books have made more people curious about Wicca. But they have also helped to spread misconceptions that the religion is all about magic spells and pointy hats. Indeed, after he won the lottery, many people stopped by Bartlett's coffee klatch at Mystickal Voyage, hoping he would reveal the spell he cast to win the lottery.

Some religious experts say the number of people practicing Wicca is around 200,000. But Ed Hubbard, founder of the Witch School International in Rossville, Ill., said the number is closer to several million. The truth is, nobody really knows because so many practitioners keep their beliefs to themselves.

The Witch School International offers weekend workshops and plans to open a campus in Salem, Mass., next year. There is also a pagan seminary in Vermont. But Hubbard thinks there is a need for a prominent college-type institution.

"If he's really serious about investing real money, he'd have the first Wicca university, easily, with 10,000 students in the first five years," said Hubbard. "It could be the first of its kind in modern times."

Starting a pagan worship and education center isn't easy, he added. The Witch School International, for example, hasn't always been warmly welcomed by those who live near its headquarters in Illinois.

It might help, then, that Bartlett wants to incorporate other religions into the center, and that he and his fellow devotees seem so, well, normal.

On a Sunday morning, they sit around sipping coffee, occasionally checking cell phones and BlackBerries. They drive regular cars and wear Sunday morning dress-down clothes. And they have a sense of humor — one woman sported a T-shirt that said "Abercrombie and Witch, 666."

Like any normal guy who just won $33 million, Bartlett is also doing a little spending — he's become a regular at a certain Ford dealer. But ask him if he knows about the "lottery curse" — the bad luck that seems to befall those who become multimillionaires overnight — and Bartlett the witch just smiles his Cheshire-like grin.

"Oh, I don't believe in curses," he said, then paused. "No, I have the ability to deflect the curses that come my way."

Ellwood "Bunky" Bartlett, a Wiccan and $33 million Mega Millions winner, says his notions about using his windfall to develop a "witch school" might have been misconstrued.

Baltimore Sun

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12 comments. Last comment 9 years ago by ThatScaryChick.
Page 1 of 1
JackpotWanna's avatar - squiz

United States
Member #4121
March 23, 2004
817 Posts
Offline
Posted: November 6, 2007, 11:08 am - IP Logged

Do whatever you wish my friend!!! It's your mola!!!

 

Party

    Guru101's avatar - rw6jhh
    Indiana
    United States
    Member #48725
    January 7, 2007
    1953 Posts
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    Posted: November 6, 2007, 11:26 am - IP Logged

    Good luck Bunky!

    Gonna win.Big Smile

      Guest


      Member #0
      January 1, 2000
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      Posted: November 6, 2007, 12:20 pm - IP Logged

      Just proves that anybody can win the lottery,even a person named Bunky.But you gotta play to win.

        Kidzmom's avatar - cold
        NC
        United States
        Member #11741
        February 23, 2005
        1233 Posts
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        Posted: November 7, 2007, 6:35 pm - IP Logged

        Just proves that anybody can win the lottery,even a person named Bunky.But you gotta play to win.

        I Agree!

          justxploring's avatar - villiarna
          Wandering Aimlessly
          United States
          Member #25360
          November 5, 2005
          4461 Posts
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          Posted: November 7, 2007, 7:19 pm - IP Logged

          I knew a massage therapist who insisted someone he trained with had healing powers and was able to grab energy out of the air.  I forget what the process was called, but I was very sick and he offered to pay his fees so I would try it.  I turned down his generous offer since I didn't have any faith in it.  Maybe Wicca isn't what won Bunky his millions, but his belief in its powers.  If you don't think it, it might not happen.  I've seen people healed with all sorts of techniques that seemed weird to me. 

          The forces of the Universe are very powerful.  I believe in magic.  However, the people at Publix didn't appreciate my little dance around my cards tonight and told me to blow out the candles and get the frogs out of the store.Wink

            time*treat's avatar - radar

            United States
            Member #13130
            March 30, 2005
            2171 Posts
            Offline
            Posted: November 7, 2007, 7:32 pm - IP Logged

            I knew a massage therapist who insisted someone he trained with had healing powers and was able to grab energy out of the air.  I forget what the process was called, but I was very sick and he offered to pay his fees so I would try it.  I turned down his generous offer since I didn't have any faith in it.  Maybe Wicca isn't what won Bunky his millions, but his belief in its powers.  If you don't think it, it might not happen.  I've seen people healed with all sorts of techniques that seemed weird to me. 

            The forces of the Universe are very powerful.  I believe in magic.  However, the people at Publix didn't appreciate my little dance around my cards tonight and told me to blow out the candles and get the frogs out of the store.Wink

            "and was able to grab energy out of the air.  I forget what the process was called"

            Static electricity. I experience this, mostly in winter, after walking across a carpeted floor ... and touching someone. I can't vouch for its healing properties, but it's a great way to annoy people and small pets. Clown

            In neo-conned Amerika, bank robs you.
            Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms should be the name of a convenience store, not a govnoment agency.

              justxploring's avatar - villiarna
              Wandering Aimlessly
              United States
              Member #25360
              November 5, 2005
              4461 Posts
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              Posted: November 8, 2007, 3:22 am - IP Logged

              "and was able to grab energy out of the air.  I forget what the process was called"

              Static electricity. I experience this, mostly in winter, after walking across a carpeted floor ... and touching someone. I can't vouch for its healing properties, but it's a great way to annoy people and small pets. Clown

              You are funny!  LOL

                konane's avatar - wallace
                Atlanta, GA
                United States
                Member #1265
                March 13, 2003
                3333 Posts
                Offline
                Posted: November 8, 2007, 8:41 am - IP Logged

                "and was able to grab energy out of the air.  I forget what the process was called"

                Static electricity. I experience this, mostly in winter, after walking across a carpeted floor ... and touching someone. I can't vouch for its healing properties, but it's a great way to annoy people and small pets. Clown

                Hmmm seems like more than static electricity to me ........  Maybe this is close to what Justx is talking about.

                "5 Mysterious Qigong Exercise Videos

                Good luck to everyone!

                  justxploring's avatar - villiarna
                  Wandering Aimlessly
                  United States
                  Member #25360
                  November 5, 2005
                  4461 Posts
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                  Posted: November 11, 2007, 8:06 pm - IP Logged

                  Yes, thanks Konane.  Maybe I shouldn't have been such a skeptic.  He told me this man once knocked him over from across the room and could tell what emotional conflict was causing physical conditions in the body just by placing his hands over you. 

                    nanolike's avatar - pink2
                    WorldWide
                    United States
                    Member #55215
                    September 18, 2007
                    76 Posts
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                    Posted: November 15, 2007, 7:00 am - IP Logged

                    What a bunch of crap! I'm so sick of lottery winners!

                    It's a NanoLike World!

                      Avatar
                      New Member
                      GoldenValley Arizona
                      United States
                      Member #56733
                      December 1, 2007
                      1 Posts
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                      Posted: December 1, 2007, 4:55 am - IP Logged

                      I am actually interested in the school, I wouldn't mind signing up for it, though it all depends on how much it costs to be a "student" of sorts. I have been learning about wicca/other religons and I was hoping to learn more. And when I heard about this on the news, I was over thrilled. I can't wait untill the school is built. But I would like to keep in tact with Barlett and Co. and to be notified when the school is built.

                        ThatScaryChick's avatar - x1MqPuM
                        Idaho
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                        Member #56506
                        November 21, 2007
                        6537 Posts
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                        Posted: December 10, 2007, 5:27 pm - IP Logged

                        What a bunch of crap! I'm so sick of lottery winners!

                        Can I ask why? What did he do to be consider crap? Skeptical And what have lottery winners done to you?