October 30, 2020



I bet you didn’t know that Asheville had its own coven of witches! Oldenwilde, a traditional Wiccan Coven, was founded on Samhain (Halloween) in 1994. They describe themselves as a group of witches who use ancient magical principles for the betterment of life, the continuance of the Universe, and the glorification of the gods. They apparently recognize many gods, but the two primary deities are Hecate, the Lady of the Night, and Herne, the Lord of the Hunt and they celebrate their own set of holidays, Halloween being the favorite:

  • Samhain (Halloween) on Oct. 31
  • Yule (Winter Solstice) around Dec. 21
  • Imbolc (Candlemas) on Feb. 2
  • Ostara (Spring Equinox) around Mar. 21
  • Beltane (May Day) on May 1
  • Litha (Summer Solstice) around Jun. 21
  • Lughnasadh (Lammas) on Aug. 1
  • Mabon (Fall Equinox) around Sep. 21

The Coven states that its members specialize in different magical talents, contributing to rituals, elements such as spells, chants, songs, and dances. But they view as an important role forewarning of the future. To do this they draw from prophecy, divination, astral planes, and past-life regression. They rose to prominence in Asheville over the county’s plans to cut down an ancient magnolia tree in front of the Asheville City hall. Witches consider the tree to be a living soul. The magnolia tree now called the Witches Tree was targeted for destruction to clear the way for condominiums.

Lady Passion led a sit-down protest through rain, shine, and even snow and ice to save the tree from death by a developer’s chain saw. The land that was home to the Tree was deeded in perpetuity for public use more than a century ago by philanthropist, George Willis Pack. She voiced outrage over the officials’ secret sale of public parkland to a developer (Stewart Coleman), who intended to sacrifice the living beings (trees) and erect a concrete condo to shelter rich people. The attention triggered a lawsuit from Pack’s heirs contending that the deal breached their ancestor’s deed, and it gathered the support of citizens of every faith and background. The protest became rituals with Pagans, Wiccans and others encircling the tree and chanting spells to protect it, and according to Lady Passion chanting, “Barbarous Words of Power to thwart the developer.” WITCHES TREE, The Applewood Manor
Eventually, the Witches Tree won and remains “undaunted” in front of City Hall to this day. The developer abandoned his condo project and instead restored the adjacent historic Hayes and Hopson building which now serves Asheville as Pack’s Tavern. The Hayes and Hopson property was built in 1907 by a local lumber supply company and is one of the oldest buildings in Asheville. It was rumored at one time to have been the distribution center for moonshine using the lumber supply front and a little underground tunnel across Eagle Street. Asheville won on several levels thanks to its Witches. The Tree was saved. Another historic building was saved and restored, and Asheville got a great people’s tavern named after one of the city’s great benefactors, George Willis Pack.

Asheville has been called many things—weirdest, happiest, quirkiest place in America, Santa Fe of the East, New Age Capital of the World, Paris of the South, Beer City USA, Most Haunted, Sky City and others. It has many secrets, mysteries, and legends—some factual, some alleged, some exaggerated and some just plain lies.


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WITCHES TREE, The Applewood Manor

62 Cumberland Circle, Asheville, NC 28801 | 828-254-2244 | contact@applewoodmanor.com

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