God remains a major presence in the mist-swathed hills of West Wales. Most towns and villages, however small, are still dominated by a handsome chapel or Anglican church. But dark forces are at work. The 2012 census suggested that Wales is ‘the witch capital’ of the United Kingdom, revealing it is home to 83 self-described witches and 93 Satanists. ‘It’s an alarming figure, and there are indications that there are a lot more who wouldn’t confess to being witches,’ says the Reverend Dr Felix Aubel, 52, a Congregational minister for five chapels. In a new memoir, Dr Aubel says that during his 19 years as a minister in Cardiganshire and Carmarthenshire, he has seen many cases of witchcraft ‘in the high dozens’ and tells how terrified locals have gone to him for help after being cursed by witches who blackmail victims for money. Dr Aubel says he has evidence that the witches promise spiritual help then cast spells on people if they don’t pay for the ‘service’ a sort of Satanic protection racket. Others apparently use effigies or ‘poppets’, as they are known locally in an attempt to put spells on enemies. Made out of fruit, paper, wax, potato or grain, ‘poppets’ are pierced in the heart with sharp needles, in the hope that the same pain will be visited on the victims. Impossible to credit? Not according to Dr Aubel. One of his chapel members in Aberaeron was victimised in this way after falling out with another worshipper. A witch was asked by a former church member to create a ‘poppet’ of someone. The reason one woman was targeted was because of a row between the two women. The case pre-dated Dr Aubel’s ministry, but he witnessed its evil effects. ‘The motivation was envy that had turned into jealousy envy then evolved into paranoid hatred,’ says Dr Aubel.