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Witchcraft. The ability of a person to cause harm by means of a personal power that resides within the body of the witch. Witchcraft in Pop Culture. Has become a bit distorted from traditional views of witchcraft: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N14Ho-VVPgA (from Disney ’ s Snow White)

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The ability of a person to cause harm by means of a personal power that resides within the body of the witch

Witchcraft in pop culture
Witchcraft in Pop Culture

  • Has become a bit distorted from traditional views of witchcraft:

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N14Ho-VVPgA (from Disney’s Snow White)

      • The concept of “Witch” has taken on a less-intimidating/romanticized more “story-book-monster” type of quality like Zombies, Vampires, Ghosts, Frankenstein, etc.

Azande witchcraft
Azande Witchcraft

  • (1937) Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azandeby Evans-Pritchard.

    • This publication put the Azande (southern Sudan and northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo) “on the map” Anthropology-wise and made Evans-Pritchard famous.

  • Witchcraft or mangu exists within the body of an individual. Passed down from parent to child of the same sex (fatherson, motherdaughter).

  • Important to the Azande is whether or not a person is consciously (or unconsciously) directing their mangu to harm someone else.

    • Witches are never strangers or those in a superior social position.

    • If someone is sick, various oracles are consulted. If the oracles point to witchcraft as the source of the sickness, authorities confront the accused witch.

      • In order to reverse the harmful affects of his/her mangu the individual will perform a ritual that involves taking water into his/her mouth and then spitting it out, therefore cooling the mangu.

    • Mangu is blamed when an unexpected calamity occurs. The afflicted person must be the object of a witch’s hatred/jealousy/etc. in some way.

Navaho witchcraft
Navaho Witchcraft

  • Unlike Azande Witchcraft, this is a taboo subject not discussed in public. Witchcraft must be learned, it is not inherent.

  • Initiation into Navaho Witchcraft, is known as initiation intoWitchery Way

    • Like the Azande, Navaho witchcraft is an anti-social and amoral behavior

    • Witches thought to congregate in caves at night, practicing incest and cannibalism, having sexual relations with corpses and perform ritualistic killings.

    • Learn Witchery Way from a relative, and it often involves killing a close relative like a sibling. Male witches are more common, as are old women.

    • Corpse Powder(made from bones and flesh of a corpse) is used to kill their victims. Often blown into the mouth and nose of a victim while sleeping or during a ceremonial.

    • Witches able to transform themselves and travel fast over land, usually by night.

  • Identifying a witch:

    • Follow unusual animal tracks to someone’s home.

    • An unexplained gunshot wound, when, during the previous day, an animal had been shot fleeing the scene of the crime.

    • If a witch is caught or captured, he or she is made to confess. If confession is not forthcoming, he or she is killed on the spot or later (presumably) by lightning.

  • Witchcraft beliefs here function to:

    • Provide a culturally acceptable manifestation of bad/amoral behavior

    • Defines what is “bad,” which consequently defines what is “good.”

    • Accumulation/hoarding of possessions usually indicates wealth, so encourages people to share/be modest in their possessions.

Witchcraft other ethnographic examples
Witchcraft Other Ethnographic Examples

  • Gnani village (Ghana). Witchraft as anti-social. Similar to Azande’s concept of mangu. Also, divination by Ordeal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtK0gxdiX5w

  • Similar example from Zimbabwe: http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/player/places/culture-places/work/zimbabwe_witchdoctor.html

  • The Sonora witches’ market (Mexico). Witchcraft as anti-social. Similar to Navajo culture’s idea of purposeful witchcraft: http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/player/places/culture-places/work/mexico_blackmagic.html

Euro american witchcraft timeline
Euro-American WitchcraftTimeline

  • 0-300 C.E., Pre-Christian Roman empire:

    • Sorcery as involving the manipulation of evil spirits

    • “miracles” of Jesus may have been taken as a form of sorcery

  • 273-337 C.E.Constantine I converts to Christianity, which officially ended the persecution of Christians made famous under the previous emperor Diocletian.

  • 313 C.E.Edict of Milan, a decree from the emperors Constantine and Licinius that proclaimed religious tolerance in the Roman Empire.

    • With Christianity now sanctioned by, and slowly becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire, those who performed “magic” outside of that performed by Jesus or his followers were termed heretics and said to practice…

      • Heresy:Crimes against God

        • All other forms of magic now labeled “sorcery” and the work of the Devil. Other, non-Christian groups “Pagans” were thought of as worshippers of Satan – the embodiment of everything amoral and indecent.

  • Middle Ages (5th-13th centuries) Roman Law: Crimes against God punishable by death

    • Unrepenting heretics and witches were burned. Heretics were brought to attention of authorities only if an accusation was made against them.

  • 13th Century Europe: Inquisitions: Formal investigations whereby a unit of the Roman Catholic Church would convene to judge cases of heresy.

    • 1227-1235: Establishment of the Papal Inquisition: Official regulation of Inquisition activities by Roman Catholicism and the Pope.

      • 1252 the papal bull Ad Extirpandais introduced by Pope Innocent IV authorizing the imprisonment, torture, execution and property seizure of heretics.

    • Most areas in Continental Europe contained Inquisitors (mostly of the Franciscan and Dominican order)

    • At first punishment was mild (wear a crucifix or go on a pilgrimage). The goal was to get heretics/witches back on the Christian track.

    • Execution only reserved for those who steadfastly would not repent.

  • Witchcraft

    Extent of the Roman Empire at its peak in ~120 C.E.Towards the end of the Dark Ages and into the Renaissance (the time of the Witchcraze), the “Holy Roman Empire” encompassed the areas on the map below of Galia (France) Italia (Italy) Brittania (British Isles) upper parts of Hispania (Spain) and eastern parts of Germania (Germany)

    Euro american witchcraft timeline cont

    ~1450-1650:Witchcraze in Continental Europe

    In which many people (anywhere from 1,000 to many millions of people) were accused, convicted, and executed as witches

    1486: Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer against Witches). A book put out by the Catholic Church that classified witches as:

    Those who renounced the Catholic faith and devoted themselves, body and soul to the service of evil.

    Engaging in orgies that included the Devil.

    Shape-shifters that could fly and make magical ointments.

    Mostly women, due to their weaker, stupider, more superstitious and sensual nature.

    1640s-early 1700s:Witchcraze in England

    On the outskirts of the Roman Empire, England had no Roman Law, no Inquisitors, no English translation of the Malleus Maleficarum until modern times, and a weak tradition of heresy.

    Witches seen not so much as heretics, but instead as those who harmed livestock, caused diseases and hurt infants and children.

    If found, they were tried under a Civil, not Religious authority. That is, until…

    1640sKing James I (Scotland) was a big proponent of the Continental European Witchcraze and opened the door for its occurrence in the British Isles.

    Euro-American Witchcraft Timeline cont.

    Euro american witchcraft timeline cont1

    1640s-early 1700s: Witchcraze in the United States

    1692Salem:A farming society at the edge of the settled world where accusations of witchcraft erupted resulting in the jailing of over 100 people and the execution of 19.

    2 young girls (ages 9, 11) experimenting w/ divination techniques, apparently scared themselves and started acting strangely…

    Trashing around, contorting themselves in odd ways, constantly jumpy/nervous

    Other girls and women began acting the same.

    All medical explanations were ruled out, so…

    Witchcraft was suspected

    Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne and Tituba (a West Indian Slave) were accused

    All were individuals living on the fringe of society.

    Once accusations were made, screaming howling, visions and mysterious tooth marks appeared on those afflicted.

    Why? Boredom? Attention? Divination did not work/things don’t go our way so someone must be to blame?

    Euro-American Witchcraft Timeline cont.

    The evil eye

    Similar concept to Witchcraft

    Found primarily in India, the Near East, parts of Europe and Mexico, the belief that a person is able to cause illness or some other type of misfortune simply by looking at or praising something or someone.

    Power of the Evil Eye, like that of witchcraft, lies within the body of the individual. No spells, sorcery, chants, etc. are necessary to gain this power. It is innate.

    If someone with the Evil Eye is jealous, the individual who is the object of that jealously may encounter misfortune, so…

    In some cultures it is recommended not to show off one’s wealth/happiness in public for fear of this very occurrence.

    The Evil Eye


    • Worship the concept of Satan/Lucifer (not the Devil of Christianity) who represents power, virility and sexuality. Do not believe in Heaven/Hell/Angels/Demons/Human Sacrifice, etc. Everyone responsible for their own actions. Lust, greed, selfishness are things to be embraced as the normal state of a human being.

    • Church of SatanFounded in 1966 by Anton Szandor La Vey based on the principle that:

      • “human beings are inherently selfish, violent creatures.” from the forward to the The Satanic Bible (1969). The Church of Satan is a form of hedonism

        • The pursuit of or devotion to pleasure as a matter of principle

        • Believe in indulgence over abstinence, vengeance over forgiveness, love only to those who deserve it.

        • Catholic “sin” as virtuous, but within Satanism, “sin” still exists in the form of:

          • Stupidity, pretentiousness, self-deceit, conformity

      • Magic used to help friends and family, but also to destroy the enemy.

      • Sigil of Baphoment: Symbol for the church of Satan