November 15th, 2011 | No Comments »

A short excerpt from the Inter Press Service:

Of the 45 [sentenced to death] in Saudi Arabia, most were charged over illegal sexual activity and alleged black magic practices.

 

In Saudi Arabia, black magic is considered “haram” or prohibited. Meanwhile, black magic is a booming business in Indonesia, where people seek the help of witch doctors to address a range of problems, from personal to political.

 

“A lot of times what’s called witchcraft is the remnant of religious magical and healing traditions. In Indonesia, there’s a very rich culture that is ancient that understands the powers of human mind on a very deep level… of people who are healers who you go to in the village if you are sick, who are kind of like the lay psychologists,” Starhawk, a U.S.-based author of numerous books on contemporary earth- based spirituality, told IPS.

 

She argued that the powerful people in Saudi Arabia use the threat of people who practice witchcraft as a way to distract common people from “the real problems… See, here’s these people who are so scary and awful.”

 

“It’s part of a way for a dominant religion to denigrate an indigenous religion,” Sara Amis, an Occupy Atlanta spokeswoman who practices Wicca, told IPS.

 

“My basic opinion is that it’s religious intolerance. The same way I would view someone being put to death for being homosexual – it’s bigotry,” Amis said.

Posted in history, Spells
November 15th, 2011 | No Comments »

I just found a great blog – the Caribbean History Archives – with this fascinating tale: An Obeah Story at Christmas Time. This is a work of literature and very ethnocentric. It definitely does not represent what Obeah is to the tens of thousands of practitioners in the Caribbean and Africa. But it does show a perspective of Obeah from the point of view of a French Roman Catholic Priest in the mid 19th century.

My companion, a genial French Roman Catholic priest, rides a few paces ahead, his bathing towel slung round his neck, and in his mouth a never missing cigarette. An “Obeah bottle” hanging to a mango-tree draws my attention to the subject which interests me so much, and riding up, I ask my companion what he can tell me about the superstitions of the country.

 
“Ah, my dear fellow, I can’t remember half I hear and notice on these ever-present superstitions of the people, but I assure you that it is one of the greatest obstacles I meet with in my work among the parishioners; these foolish but so deeply rooted beliefs of their in the power of Obeah and witchcraft meet me at every turn, and after talking for hours, and trying to prove to them how ridiculous and senseless all these ideas are, I only obtain a seeming acquiescence, and make no lasting impression.
I have tried everything to combat the baneful influence, and endeavoured to make them ashamed of their ignorance and credulity, but with precious little effect. I have even adopted the Japanese custom of punishing a whole street for the misdeeds of one criminal living in it, by refusing the sacraments for a time to a whole family, if a member of it be known to be dabbling in Obeah – all to small purpose.

 
This reminds me that, only the other day, I was riding to see a sick person living on the other side of the parish, when I happened to pass a small wooden house, before which a number of people were congregated, all talking together and evidently much excited in their minds about something inexplicable. On asking what was the matter, I was told that the owner of the house was lying dead, and that he was an Obeah man who had lived quite alone in the place for many years, and that there was consequently no one willing to undertake the job of looking after the corpse and burying it.

 
In fact, no one would go inside the hut at all, as it was affirmed that this his Satanic Majesty was there in person looking after the body of the Obeah man, which now undoubtedly belonged to him.

 
To allay their alarm, I got off my horse, and with the assistance of a couple of men broke open the door and entered the hut. Lying on a wooden stretcher was the body of the unfortunate individual, whose death must have occurred a good many hours before, and the body was in urgent need of burial, so after scolding the people for their cowardice I prevailed on them to see about a coffin and other details as quickly as possible. It was, however, only in evident fear and trembling that any of them would enter the room, and the slightest noise would make them start and look towards the door, in the expectation of seeing le diable en personne coming to claim is property.

 
The dirty little room was littered with the Obeah man’s stock in trade. A number of vials containing some sort of unholy liquor were lying ready to be handed over to some foolish negro in exchange for their weight in silver. In every corner were found the implements of his trade, rags, feathers, bones of cats, parrots’ beaks, dogs’ teeth, broken bottles, grave dirt, rum, and egg-shells. Examining further, we found under the bed a large conarie or earthen jar, containing an immense number of round balls of earth or clay f various dimensions, large and small, whitened on the outside and fearfully and wonderfully compounded. Some seemed to contain hair and rags and were strongly bound round with twine,; others were made with skulls of cats, stuck round with human of dogs’ teeth and glass beads, there were also a lot of egg-shells and numbers of little bags filled with a farrago of rubbish.

 
In a little tin canister I found the most valuable of the sorcerer’s stock, namely, seven bones belonging to a rattlesnake’s tail – these I have known sell for five dollars each, so highly valued are they as amulets or charms – in the same box was about a yard of rope, no doubt intended to be old for hangman’s cord, which is highly prized by the negroes, the owner of a piece being supposed to be able to defy bad luck.

 

Rummaging further, I puled out from under the thatch of the roof an old preserved-salmon tin, the contents of which showed how profitable was the trade of the Obeah man. It was stuffed full of five-dollar bank-notes, besides a number of handsome twenty-dollar gold pieces, the whole amounting to a considerable sum, which I confess I felt very reluctant to seal up and hand over to the Government, the Obeah man not being known to have heirs. I then ordered the people to gather up all the rubbish, which was soon kindled and blazing away merrily in front of the hut, to the evident satisfaction of the bystanders, who could hardly be persuaded to handle the mysterious tools of Obeah.

 
The man, I heard, had a great reputation for sorcery, and I was assured that even persons who would never be suspected of encouraging witchcraft had been known to come from a distance to consult him or purchase some love-spell.

 
The secret of their reputation and frequent success in finding out robberies, which is also a part of their profession, is most likely due to a good memory and a system of cross-questioning all those who come to consult them, and it is also very probable that they possess a knowledge of numerous tricks and deceits handed down to them by their African progenitors, with which they astonish even educated persons and perform wonders which would almost convert one to a belief in magic.”

The common Euro-centric beliefs of African religion being “Satantic” or evil in some fashion are of course reflected in this story. It does not relate the fact that these are the traditions and cultures of a people who not only managed to survive a horrible trans-Atlantic slave trade, but also had culture and civilization that far surpassed that of Europe long before the birth of Jesus Christ.

But even these distortions of African history do shed a bit of light on the practices of Obeah, the beliefs and the feelings of those who held the religion and spirituality dear.

Today we know better. For the most part, Western culture at worst has come to learn that Obeah is a respectable tradition and at best has noticed that it is on par with – or far surpasses – many of the rituals of Roman Catholicism.

Posted in history, Spells, Vodou
October 20th, 2011 | 1 Comment »

Stay Out of Jail SpellIn the American South at any Botanica, or Magic Shoppe, you always find an assortment of powders and oils. Some of the more common have names such as “Law Stay Away” or “Win A Court Case.” The intent is, of course, to help people avoid legal trouble and to beat any court case that they are already a part of. This has been an integral part of Vodou and, in the examples above, Hoodoo. In fact it is found all over the world. An example from the English version of Ennahar Onilne:

Do not be surprised if you ever come across a Herz (talisman or amulets), a tuft of hair or pieces of sugar in a court. These are only the remains of some strange rituals practiced by some Algerian women in order to avoid prison for their relatives.

All means are good for the poor mothers who want to avoid the hole for their children, who face prison for a particular crime or offense. As if the lawyer is not enough, they want to increase the chances that their children benefit from the release, return to the heat of the home instead of going rot in a cold cell.

She gives a Harz (talisman) to her son so that he leaves prison in Bab El Oued

Believing firmly that it works, some women resort to all sorts of magic to save their offspring from the tentacles of justice, even the African voodoo if necessary, provided that their beloved sons do not go to jail.

Candle for Beating Court CasesMany may question the ethics behind this. Is it wrong to use Vodou to free a person from the grasp of justice? This central question revolves around the assumption that in a court case it is truly justice that is being served. Recall that in Haiti, Vodou was used to protect black slaves from the justice of their abusive white masters. If they broke a rule, they would be subjected to a trial and punishment often involving the torture of a whip. In the example above, in the prisons of Algeria, it may be safe to assume that we are looking at exactly the same type of justice.

It would not be ethical to use Vodou to free a rapist or murderer. I think we all agree on this. But in countries where the justice system is a complete mockery I sympathize with those who find ways to fight against the odds. Even in countries such as the Untied States, where due process is promised and courts considered reasonably fair, we see new people every day being set free based on DNA evidence –  from death row nonetheless – for crimes they did not commit.

Law Stay Away IncenseIs it fair to use Vodou to win a court case? Every situation has to be evaluated differently. No two are the same. I cannot say for certainty that this is always wrong nor can I say that it is always right.

But one thing is for sure – it does work. If it did not, the police officer in the above example would not have been so quick to arrest the woman for slipping her son a lucky talisman.

Posted in Spells, Vodou
October 20th, 2011 | No Comments »

 

Palm Islands in DubaiFrom themedialine.org “Black Magic Widespread in the Middle East”:

When Tara Umm Omar was a young bride in her first marriage, she and her Moroccan husband took into their home the youngest sister of a family friend. On the day the young Moroccan woman arrived, she gave Umm Omar a doll, which Umm Omar promptly placed in a dresser drawer.

When Umm Omar told a friend of the doll, the friend suspected it was an item for black magic and suggested the doll be destroyed. Instead, Umm Omar tossed it in the garbage. That’s when household items disappeared, the family dog barked incessantly, Umm Omar started fighting with her husband and she began seeing strange insects in the house. When the guest finally moved out, the couple found their bed sheets and an identical doll to Umm Omar’s among the woman’s discarded belongings.

This is a case that is all too common. I am contacted every day with requests on how to properly destroy a Vodou doll or a break a curse placed by a jealous wife or lover. In the majority of cases where it is not the actual wife or husband placing a curse, it is a close family friend just as in this article. If events take a sudden turn for the negative after receiving a special “gift” – especially a doll – you should be very wary.Dubai Cityscape

Remember that Vodou is active all over the world. It can be found in Dubai just as easily as Kansas or the heart of Haiti. Many people underestimate the roll of Vodou in “civilized” countries – or those with Islamic leanings – but in reality Vodou may be more widely practiced than any mainstream religion.

The only thing I take exception to is the sensationalistic nature of this article. Vodou is not inherently negative. You can curse people with Vodou. In fact, Vodou can even kill people. But Vodou is much more commonly used for beneficial purposes. It is to heal, to protect, to bring love and to repair families. And most importantly Vodou is to fortify our own spirituality and our relationships with God.

Posted in curses, Spells, Vodou
September 23rd, 2011 | No Comments »

This was a question that was asked of me just today. I responded and also asked if I could explain the answer here for the benefits of the readers at Bondye.com. Animals are specially susceptible to spiritual influence. They can see both the spirit world and the world of the living. In Africa they are said to “live in the city and in the jungle” because of this. They walk between the realms of the living and the dead.

But more often than not, a curse will not be placed on a pet. Sudden sicknesses in animals and even sudden deaths in animals can be signs of spirits that are angry. This is especially the case if the animal has a specific significance to a spirit, for example a dog to Lebga or a rooster to Kalfu. The issue may rest upon you rather than upon the animal.

The good news is that an animal can also save you from being attacked by spirits. Many people have kept animals to both help develop spiritual ability and bring spiritual protection. To the Native Americans, the eagle was a symbol of spiritual protection, as was the owl. In Africa it has been the serpent, who in Vodou we know as Danballah. Dogs are said to be ‘man’s best friend’ because they protect us against what is not man – but the spirit world. They are able to interact with it and actually drive spirits away.

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Posted in Uncategorized
August 7th, 2011 | No Comments »

African Magick in Football (YouTube)

A fascinating video by the Wall Street Journal describing the use of traditional healing and magic in Johannesburg, South Africa, known locally as muti. Muti is used for healing and good fortune, as well as revenge and bringing bad luck upon enemies. During the World Cup in South Africa, local markets containing magical elements, including animal parts and special powders, are crowded by fans. Muti is common even at the youth level in football and is used by players, coaches and fans alike.

Posted in Spells, Vodou