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Self-professed witch Amy Koban has been a member of the Wiccan community since 1991. She uses her background, combined with her studies in psychology, to help those who come to her, using both problem solving and spirituality.

Koban opened her own business, Amy K's Mystick Boutique, on Center Street on Halloween in 2002. She said she has found mostly acceptance in the community.

She said she tries to dispel misinformation about witchcraft.

What do you think of Halloween?

It's a time for remembrance of our passed-away loved ones and our ancestors. It's also a time when the veil between the worlds was thin and, because it's the end of the summer, it's about death and rebirth. It's a very psychic time of the year. It's easier to pick up information.

How do you deal with the label of witch or psychic? I'd imagine it's pretty unbelievable and even negative to some people?

I am completely honest with (the messages) I get, whether it's good or bad. I like to tell people if there's something good coming their way to take advantage of it and if there's something not good coming their way, how to avoid it, perhaps, or lessen it's impact.

You consider Wicca a belief. What does it mean?

Wicca meant someone who performs magic, a wise person. Witta is another variation and what it means is to bend or twist, which is where "witch" came from. We try to bend and twist our thinking, our visualizations, in order to help people.

We are all familiar with Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Samantha from "Bewitched" twitching her nose. It's instantaneous. Is magic really like that?

I call that Hollywood magic. It's very different from religious magic. It's good in a sense that it has opened up doors of curiosity. They may find it exciting or enchanting, but it also raises expectations that are just not true.

What are some of the traditions of Halloween we celebrate that can be traced back to the pagan past?

Dressing up. Witches dress for what they want to become in the year ahead. If you want to be more powerful you could dress as a queen. To be more intelligent, you could be a teacher. To be more relaxed or have fun, you could dress like a fairy.

How about trick or treating?

Trick or treating was actually brought about by the Boy Scouts, which is a wonderful thing. I have no complaints about it.

Any other symbols from the past?

The jack-o'-lantern. We use pumpkins here in America, but I believe in Europe they used turnips. It was a way to show that there was still life within the darkness. By bringing that light into the vegetable, it shows no matter what the darkness, there is always life, that (the) cycle will continue.

How about when people dress up as ugly witches?

I still see it and I just let it go over my head. It doesn't bother me as much as it does some people who are offended, unless it's intentionally done to aggravate me, which some people will do. But that's their decision, their prerogative. I try to encourage positive images. You won't see any green witches hanging in my store.

Do you dress up?

I put on my witch hat for trick or treating with my son. This (pointy, black) hat right here with the feathers. I make it pretty and stylish. Some people call it my pimp hat. I try to be pretty. I wear black and purple for spirituality and crow's feathers for wisdom. I've been dressing as a witch for years, and it's working. I'm getting more known for what I do and more accepted.

It's customary to imagine witches flying on broomsticks. Do you fly on a broomstick?

No, no. If I could, it would be great because we're down to one car. I really wish the broom thing would work. The broomstick is actually a custom, a way of the witches to ensure the fertility of the crop in the coming year. They would get on a broom and sort of dance around with the broom between their legs.

What do you think of cities or schools who decide to change the date or not celebrate Halloween?

I think in today's busy world witches need to be more flexible. After all, that's the meaning of the word witch. It means to be flexible, to twist and bend. I think the holidays should be honored, however, I'm not one for mixing religion with school.

Should people be scared of Halloween?

It is a scary holiday because it gives a lot of mentally unstable people a chance to play on those fears, and everyone should be cautious on Halloween. It's not because of spiritual reasons, but because of silly human reasons.

Should people be scared of witches?

We are trying to reclaim the word witch, to help overcome the negative connotation that it has had for hundreds of years and make it a positive image. Not be afraid to call ourselves a witch. We are normal people. So if we could just get a more positive image out there, that would help a great deal and help eliminate the fear of the unknown. I am always open to questions.

For information contact: Amy K's Boutique, 700 Center S., Lewiston, call 754-1015 or go on the Web at www.AmyK'

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