Brussels's caring bureaucracy has opened up new vistas for the witches of the Balkans by giving their ancient skills professional status.

In its keenness to embrace European Union legislation and liberalise the country's out-of-date health laws, Bucharest has legalised alternative medicine - with unexpected consequences. Romania has become the land of opportunity for "healers" - herbalists, white witches and back-street quacks. With the old national health service, inherited from the communist era, in its death throes, the people are flocking to the "healer" white witches.

Despite outraged protests from the medical council in Bucharest and from poorly paid and overworked practitioners of orthodox traditional medicine, self-professed witches registering as "alternative practitioners" can now get a licence from the ministry of health legalising their "healing trade".

Far from relying on village whispers or old gossips' network, the Romanian white witches now use websites, blogs, texting, email and chatrooms to communicate with clients. These are New Age practitioners.

According to the claims on her website, Rodica Gheorghe is the leading "white witch healer" of Romania. Her website,, and her blog,, offer an insight into the nether world of the newly empowered Balkan witches.

The website boasts that her credentials are based on her unique pedigree, and her family's long tradition of witchcraft. She is the daughter of the witch Mama Omida and grand-daughter of the witch Sabina. These are names you can conjure with in Balkan white witch assemblies. It apparently assures Gheorghe certain advantages in the cut-throat competition of the Brussels-blessed witch market.

Elena Ceausescu was one of the many secret clients of Mama Omida during the years of Stalinist terror during the rule of her husband, the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. This, of course, further burnishes Gheorghe's credentials in the eyes of the credulous, the needy and the superstitious.

Her healing craft extends well beyond the confines of traditional medicine. As Gheorghe claims, and her followers are ready to testify at the drop of a fur hat, with her "powerful traditional magic" she can heal ailments that traditional medicine cannot reach.

She can heal, she claims, sexual failure, infertility, impotence, frigidity, alcoholism and a variety of modern anxieties. She can also turn bad luck to good; unfaithful lovers into loving partners; restore family harmony and make failing businesses into thriving EU enterprises. With a bit of extra magic, if you don't mind the cost, she can also counter maladies inflicted by the "evil eye", both on humans and animals.

Small wonder that superstitious Romanians, and apparently even some Western sufferers from the commonplace complaints of modern life, are beating a path to her Bucharest surgery.

It must be reassuring that payment can be made with methods more advanced than banknotes from under the mattress - Gheorghe now accepts payment via Western Union.

There is no standard fee for Gheorghe's potent medication. "The honorarium," as she delicately puts it, "differs from case to case. Some need more of my magic than others to right their troubled lives." And she adds: "People always know when it's time to turn to a witch, as they knew in the past when they had to see an ordinary doctor or go to church."

The wily practitioners of witchcraft are not the only beneficiaries of the liberalisation of Romania's health laws. Herbal sorcery from the high Carpathian mountains, driven underground in the 20th century, is enjoying a modest renaissance.

The uses of plants and herbs, the basis of the discredited village healers' cures, are gaining new respectability. Their herbal remedies, passed down through generations, have stood the test of time. In Transylvania, they are once again gathering the blooms of Hypericum Perforatum on the day of the summer solstice, as required by an ancient mixture of pagan and Christian lore. And raw cabbage juice, foxglove tea and a whole host of other herb-based salves, syrups, teas, poultices and powders are used for healing purposes again.

Herbal healing, long considered part of white witchcraft by the churches, has come in from the cold as an unexpected by-product of the harmonisation of EU health laws.