Witch gets state grant

A witch has won subsidies from the Norwegian state to run a business of potions, fortune-telling and magic.

Lena Skarning, 33, won the unprecedented start-up grant of 53,000 crowns (4,500 pounds) after promising not to try out harmful spells with her business, Forest Witch Magic Consulting.

Skarning, who owns a white cat and says she has been practising witchcraft for 13 years, said the runaway success of JK Rowling's Harry Potter books about a boy wizard may have made society more tolerant of sorcery.

"But Harry Potter is a fairy tale and I'm not," she told Reuters on Tuesday. "I'm the real thing. And now I'm Norway's only state-backed witch."

She said the government subsidy would help her tell fortunes from Tarot cards, teach magic tricks at corporate seminars and develop products like magical bath oil, water potions or face creams meant to help users have clearer dreams at night.

"The ingredients are mostly herbs -- nothing scary," she said of her products.

Skarning said Harry Potter was unrealistic. "He rides his broom backwards. Real witches ride with the brush part in front," she said.