Showing posts with label witchcraft. Show all posts
Showing posts with label witchcraft. Show all posts

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Silicon Valley Hiring Witches to Cast out Computer Demons

For several years in university I considered myself a Wiccan and did all sorts of spells and rituals and things. I even went to a school to learn about Wicca put on by the local witch shop. During that time, I was a programmer at a software company - just cuz you know computers, doesn't mean you don't fall for superstition.

That's why it comes as no surprise that rich Silicon Valley geek types are spending big bucks hiring witches and other magick doers to help them with their business.
“I don’t know anything about electronics, but I got the spirit out. I really like dealing with demons.”
That's San Francisco Wiccan Reverend Jo Ellen Michelle Talley. She's making up to $200 an hour helping high tech companies deal with some serious problems.
Talley says that when companies are threatened with litigation, she can cast spells to “divert” (one of her pet words) the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s attorney. It’s all child’s play for her, no more taxing than donning the floppy hats that announce her professional uniform.”
I'm not sure how to react to this. I guess, if it's private corporations, they're welcome to use any means at their disposal to divert legal action.

I mean, I can't blame them. I was there - I was a tech professional who was deep into all of this stuff and had my own athames and cauldrons and swords and chalices - did the bonfire leaping at Pagan fests - I was decked out.

While my IT team might make us plunk around with virus scanners and firewalls, Talley uses a crystal to perform most of her OS repair.
However, if a device is already compromised, or if office equipment isn’t acting right, the witch uses Jet, a stone that is said to alter energy waves. If all else fails, witch Talley says she casts a spell over an entire office to protect against annoying spirits.
All I can add is that it was fun being Wiccan in my 20s.

(Image source)

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Practical Advice on How to Deal With Spellcasters in Your Prayer Room

You know what can really put a damper on prayer room calls? Spellcasting witches and wizards and generic satanic sorts leaving their ghoulish spam mail all over the place, that's what. So learned Jennifer Leclaire, senior editor of Charisma.
Earlier this year, we started our Mornings With the Holy Spirit devotion and prayer calls at 6 a.m. One of my intercessors felt strongly there were unbelievers on the line one morning and some days there is clearly enemy resistance to our prayers. Of course, we always press through and God brings refreshing, inspiration and revelation despite what the devil has in mind.

On the call each morning, I encourage the listeners to leave a prayer request at Every day, we get a number of prayer requests for healing, reconciliation in marriages, financial breakthrough and more. Recently, though, the spell casters have invaded the site. Indeed, the prince of the power of the air has reared his ugly head at Thankfully, none of the requests go live since everything is monitored.
It seems that Jennifer is talking about spam comments on boards about (usually African) witch doctors. I know all about it because this blog gets them a lot.

I've gotten comments about doctors Aziza, Sambola, Shekiri, Adesuwa, Oga, Iyare, Ogidigan... etc... it goes on and on. I have gotten hundreds. They're all powerful spellcasters who will be able to solve any issue for you. I picked up a card from one in the Metro a couple of weeks ago as well.

Here's one of the shorter ones this blog received a couple of weeks ago.
Hey are you crying that your lover has left you and the kids for another woman, you don't have to cry anymore because i was in the same position till i heard about Dr. Ekpen of Ekpen Temple how he has help so many people in there are relationship, today i can boldly recommend Dr. Ekpen Of Ekpen Temple to someone for help. He did not fail me i also believe he can not fail you too contact him at ...
As expected, I only take these seriously by feeling mighty sorry for anyone being duped into believing these witch doctors are doing anything other than pilfering their money. While I'm not so sure about Leclaire and the folks over at Charisma. They really do seem to believe there is something more going on here than mere charlatanism.

Not necessarily a belief that these spells actually do something, but rather that they are a distraction from the true religion brought on by the devil.
Many others with fake names rave about this "powerful spell caster." But it seems there's some competition in the witchcraft camp because others who try to work their way onto the site are praising Dr. Benedict as the ultimate spell caster, who successfully casts love spells. Still others point to a man named Ezzia, the "very good love spell caster" and Dr. Ekaka. Oh, and let's not forget about Dr. Aisabu. All of these witches are trying to advertise their services at and the volume has increased over the last few weeks. Again, none of these ever make it on to the site because we moderate the comments. But the devil sure is persistent.
Although, Leclair has written recently about a revival and uptick of witchcraft -- a practice which can apparently lead to infirmities and hellfire.
As you may know, I've written a book dealing with spiritual witchcraft called Satan's Deadly Trio: Defeating the Deceptions of Jezebel, Witchcraft and Religion. Many times, infirmities are rooted in the devil's witchcraft—and sometimes it comes from the spirit of Jezebel. The Bible talks about Jezebel and her witchcrafts (2 Kin. 9:22). Witchcraft can't heal you, but it can release confusion, sickness and disease, depression and other ailments. At our recent women's conference, Jesus healed 23 ladies—and several of them were afflicted with witchcraft.
I nearly forgot the practical advice. If you have spell casters in your prayer room or church or city or whatever, you're supposed to drive them out. 

What's most amusing here, I guess, are the two sole comments to her post about these charlatan sorcerer spammers:

That's right. Two spams about "Dr ovia" who will use magic spells to solve all your problems.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Ten Saudi Government Agencies & One University Tackle Sorcery & Magic

Picture of Haia tweeter at @PvGovSa
Things have been so busy lately that I just haven't had time to truly get into blogging. My days have been reduced to reading email alerts from Google about some of my favourite topics. Here's an update from the folks over at the Haia, the Saudi Arabian Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. Let's see what they're up to.
The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Haia) said most of the magicians it caught came from the African continent, adding that the number of Saudis who practice magic is small. 
Well that's a relief! The news was divulged at a university awareness conference, where ten government agencies took part! That's right, ten government agencies along with a major university are being charged with this all important task.
Haia officials displayed different models of magic works it said the commission confiscated from certain sorcerers and quacks who fell into Haia’s net. It also displayed different metal items designed to keep the evil eye away, and other items to create a rift between man and wife. The infamous magician’s book in Arabic, “Shams Al-Maarif,” was on display. This book is for teaching sorcery.
I'm interested in these items to create a rift between man and wife. 
The Haia pavilion also had on display various liquids it confiscated from one of the "wizards" including mixed herbs in a large mold with “Drink chilled after meals in three large cups daily” written on it.

One Haia officer said these liquids which are used by wizards are prescribed as a kind of medicine for people who search for such illusions.
You might ask, though, how does this differ from government organizations shutting down quacks here in Canada? I mean, there is benefit in shutting down people who con gullible customers into buying useless or even harmful concoctions.

Well, I believe government officials and the university scholars actually believe in this stuff and they behead for it (here, here, here, etc.)

I was looking for something funny to wrap this post up with, but just couldn't find anything at all.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Malaysian 'Standard Operating Procedure' Against Witchcraft In Marriages & Divorces

Getting married is stressful and I hear divorces are absolute hell. Both involve dealing with legal gobbledygook, photographers, wedding hall people, cake people and, worst of all: two families. That last bit practically killed Romeo and Juliet. And as if that's not enough to make you stab yourself in the heart, you also have to deal with black magic. What a pain!
As an example, Mahyuddin cited the case of a woman who had sought divorce because she was not in a ‘rational thinking mode’ when she married her husband, whom she claimed had ‘charmed’ her into marrying him.

The wife only realised that the husband had used black magic to marry her after her mother had taken her to a witch doctor, who had later healed her.
I know several single people who question if anyone is in 'rational thinking mode' when getting married. Still, when you're a woman living in a Muslim dominated country like Malaysia, going to a witch doctor to get proof of witchcraft could be your best bet if your husband is unwilling to allow you to leave.

You've got to convince some Sharia court that your husband is either impotent or is abusing your somehow -- and even then, it's got to be a rough situation. Apparently, back in 2011, one woman tried to make the whole witchcraft argument but didn't get an annulment because the judge didn't take sorcery into account. Maybe he thought it was all a load of hooey.
However, he said the same argument could not be used to grant divorce to Yani Yuhana Mohd Zambri who had sought the Syariah Court to end her marriage to Pakistani, Muhammad Kamran Babar Nazir Khan on June 2011.

“Many times, judges are often at crossroads – should they use the claims of black magic and withcraft or simply reject them. That is what the SOP aims to address,” he added.
According to Dr Mahyuddin Ismail from the Committee for Advanced Studies in Witchcraft Law, judges like this ought to be following his university's new Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to combat the use of witchcraft. I wrote about this earlier. It was the result of a multidisciplinary team of researchers at the Universiti Malaysia Pahang and cost taxpayers $65,000 CDN.
The committee’s chairman, Dr Mahyuddin Ismail said the claims of black magic and withcraft were often brought to the Syariah Courts when couples seek divorce.

“But, since there is no legal provision or procedure to consider the use of black magic and witchcraft in marriages and divorces, such claims are often dismissed,” he said in an exclusive interview with Astro AWANI.

“The SOP is to address this issue,” he said.
This would insert another layer of law -- based, apparently on Sharia law -- on top of their existing laws which take actual crimes into account rather than superstitious nonsense. The goal, it would seem, is to begin prosecuting and punishing people using laws based entirely on hysteria inducing immaterial metaphysical beliefs.

Notice that this is not a procedure to combat belief in witchcraft. It is apparent that everyone, including the police and the university researchers in the country firmly believe in sorcery. So, now dreadful processes are being devised to fight a non-existent enemy. We all know where that lead Europe.

What a bold step back into the middle ages -- all thanks to blind superstition.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Malaysian State University Develops 'Standard Operating Procedure' For Detecting Witches

The Universiti Malaysia Pahang is a state-run public University in Malaysia with some 15,000 undergraduates and postgraduates. It began as a technical engineering and technology -- sort of like MIT, I guess.

Well, after a publicly-funded RM 189,000 ($65,000 Cdn) study, this university is well on its way to becoming one of the true intellectual powerhouses of the 15th century!
Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP) Committee for Advanced Studies in Witchcraft Law chairman Dr Mahyuddin Ismail says after careful study, he and his team have come up with a standard operating procedure to determine if one is practising witchcraft.
Rest assured that this operating procedure is more sophisticated than simply comparing the person's weight with a duck like in Monty Python. That would be silly! No, this new SOP uses a questionnaire just like the 15th century witchhunter's manual Malleus Maleficarum
He said team had come up with several methods and questions to handle such cases.
After a person claims that he or she has been bewitched, several questions will be asked to prove whether the person has been put under a spell, or is just a schizophrenic.
If there are any Catholic readers, don't put these people down too much. This would be similar protocol as what the Catholic Church probably still uses to determine whether or not a person is possessed.
He said as soon as they have found a suspect, they would gather the evidence and materials used in performing the rituals before making an arrest.
I wonder if they'll check of moles and other spots too on the skin, like witch hunters in Europe.

The proposed protocol also suggests that law enforcement must be equipped with knowledge on sorcery and how to avoid being another victim. Apparently, police officers have been bewitched by the perps they are arresting. In fact, their whole families must be ready and have emergency religious treatment on hand should it be required!

The motivation behind all this is an implementation problem: how to properly enforce a law against witchcraft. Astoundingly, a university study recommends the enactment of an anti-witchcraft law across the country.

If you're not superstitious and fearful of witchcraft to begin with -- e.g. in touch with reality -- this won't make any sense whatsoever. The idea seems to be that it is unacceptable just to punish people for real crimes, these people also need to be punished for supernatural crimes as well. Naturally, it's up to whoever administers these questionnaires -- witch hunter -- to determine whether there are any supernatural crimes because they're invisible... and don't exist.
Speaking to The Rakyat Post, Mahyuddin said several cases involving witchcraft had no legal standing in court as most cases involving witchcraft and murder saw the suspects being convicted on murder charges alone, not for witchcraft.
Good! As it should be. Let's not charge people for superstitious mumbo jumbo.
“As an example, there was a case in Temerloh, Pahang where a bomoh told a man to bring him a man’s head to perform a ritual, and so the man beheaded a Bangladeshi. He was then charged in court for murder, but the mastermind behind the case, which was the bomoh, was not convicted.
Please consult this Wikipedia article on encouraging or assisting in a crime. No need to charge someone with witchcraft or whatever other bizarre belief might have lead to inciting a crime.
“This is why the Witchcraft Law is important. Take for example the Mona Fendi case. She was sentenced to death for murder, but what about all the sorceries she had carried out?
Even if the sorceries existed, only the harm should be punished.

The study author even points out some of the stellar examples of places with witchcraft laws on the books.
Mahyuddin said that from the time of the Mesopotamia civilization, witchcraft had existed, and it had continued on through the Roman Empire, where witches were burned to death.

“Even in the Bible, it is stated that those who perform sorcery should be killed. In South Africa, there is a law on witchcraft called as The Witchcraft Suppression Act, 1957.

“In Saudi Arabia, those who are found guilty of practising witchcraft will be beheaded, but there is no written law on it,” Mahyuddin added. 
You know things are bad when you're using people being burned to death and people getting their heads chopped off in Saudi Arabia as a positive template for your own country. Indeed, these seems to be a bold step back into the dark ages.

Of course, all of Europe and Salem, Massachusetts, have learned that witchcraft laws only lead to death and hysteria. And why not also add Papua New Guinea and Ghana to the list of witchcraft law human rights disasters?

Interestingly, places like Saudi Arabia seem to have no problem finding witches everywhere. The same is true for a number of places in Africa. It would seem to me like the problem isn't with witchcraft, but rather the belief in supernatural nonsense like witchcraft -- something that government officials and university researchers are clearly guilty of! Until they begin to think critically and stop believing in nonsense, is there any hope for the poorer classes in the country?

They really need to be talking to people like Leo Igwe, who is working to champion the rights of supposed witches in Ghana. They could also speak with Malawi's George Thindwa who is working to help educate people about the myth that witchcraft and advancing secular humanist ideals.

As I mentioned, this cost the public over $65,000 in tax money. It also employed Islamic medical practitioners -- whatever sort of alternative medicine they must practice.
The SOP on the Witchcraft Law was a result of a two-year study, which began in February 2013, involving individuals from various fields, including Islamic medical practitioners, Islamic scholars, judges and psychiatrists.
Isn't it interesting how it's always the very superstitious countries which have such a huge problem with witchcraft and sorcery?

Yes, this is 15th century mentality with 21st century technology. It would be hilarious if it weren't so tragic and have the potential to cause so much misery.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Nigerian Child Witch Hunter Threatens British Humanist Association With £500,000,000 Lawsuit

Back in April, I wrote about how the British Humanist Association (BHA) and the Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN) successfully petitioned the British Home Office to revoke child-witch-finder Helen Ukpabio's visa.

Read Leo Igwe's post, Nigerian witch hunter Helen Ukpabio bringing “gospel of hate” to the US, over at IHEU for more background on Ukpabio:
Helen Ukpabio’s gospel of hate — promoted through her publications, films (like the End of the Wicked) and sermons — fuels witchcraft accusations against children in the region. The witch hunts in Nigeria and other parts of Africa in recent years have resulted in discrimination, violence, torture and death.
Well, it seems like now the self-professed Lady Apostle 'witch-finder' has come back swinging with a FIVE HUNDRED MILLION POUND lawsuit against the BHA and WHRIN. This is being described as 'libel tourism.' It's actually a very real thing in the UK and could turn out to be a whole lot less funny than it sounds.

Libel tourist and Nigerian ‘witch hunter’ (the self styled) ‘Lady Apostle’ Helen Ukpabio attempts to stifle critics by suing BHA for half a billion pounds

The utter absurdity of this may make you laugh out loud at first -- I did, but there could be a deadly serious legal side to this as well. Ukpabio is a wealthy woman in charge of a multinational ministry. She has the clout to launch this case and potentially push it high in the courts if they'll let her. I had started this story out as a comedic view of the situation, but a somber BHA infographic over at their Facebook feed brought me back down to Earth.

The BHA press release I linked to above gives more detail. She's suing for libel against these organizations. Here's what she's basing this claim for half a billion pounds on.
Her legal case against the BHA is based on Mrs Ukpabio’s stating that she wrote that a child ‘under the age of two’ who is ‘possessed with black, red and vampire witchcraft spirits’ can be identified by features such as s/he ‘screams at night, cries, is always feverish, suddenly deteriorates in health, puts up an attitude of fear, and may not feed very well.’ Her teachings are to the effect that babies under the age of two who exhibit signs of illness or standard, entirely normal childhood behaviour (such as crying, not feeding well, screaming at night, having a fever) may be possessed by vampire witchcraft spirits. She also teaches that children who stamp their feet may be ‘trying to make signs… to communicate with gnomes, the witchcraft spirit in charge of the earth.’ Ukpabio claims that the BHA misrepresented her by saying that she ascribed these symptoms to Satanic possession and hence has damaged her reputation and livelihood to the sum of half a billion pounds.
This is so ridiculous that I cannot help but say: No, not Satan! That would be ridiculous, of course. It's 'black, red and vampire witchcraft spirits.' It's this distinction that Ukpabio claims smeared her ministry and cost her reputation and visa into the UK. And this is apparently worth half a billion pounds in damages. In reality, this case appears to be the latest in a number of legal actions to silence her critics.
Gary Foxcroft, Executive Director of WHRIN, commented, ‘This court case is the latest in a long line of unsuccessful legal actions that Helen Ukpabio has pursued against me and other human rights activists. Previous cases were thrown out of court in Nigeria but this time she is looking to take action in a UK court. I have no doubt that a judge in the UK will reach the same conclusion as those in Nigeria.
Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association, commented:
‘Given her baseless identification of features of “possessed children” and her dangerous and irresponsible teachings we feel a strong moral duty to point this out and will not be deflected by libel suits from wealthy “witch-finders”.

‘The fact that she is threatening to launch a legal claim for half a billion pounds over an alleged distinction between being accused of exorcising “Satan” or “Vampires” tells you all you need to know about Mrs Ukpabio. Threats of legal action like this are blatant attempts to silence critics of the harms done by these religious and superstitious beliefs and rituals. Rather than entertaining her vexatious claims in the courts, we believe the UK should be ensuring that Mrs Ukpabio and her ilk are denied entry to our country to protect children from their degrading practices.’
A story over at The Independant, sheds a little more light on the charge against the BHA and reveals the law firm that's willing to take on such an extraordinary suit.
In a letter sent to the BHA’s lawyers last Thursday, solicitors acting for the controversial preacher accused the charity of causing “members of the public to regard our client as an evil woman” with the damage to her reputation resulting in a “huge loss of incomes to her churches”. The letter, from London-based Graceland Solicitors, claims Mrs Ukpadio is “a Christian leader of international repute known and respected in many countries of the world”.
Five hundred million pounds sure does looks like a pretty big case for one tiny solicitor firm in London.

Graceland Solicitors. (source)
It's ridiculous yet there is still potential for her to make a lot of trouble, potentially damaging financial costs and time inconvenience for the BHA and WHRIN with these legal shenanigans. I ask you to spread the word about this and follow the British Humanist Association Facebook page for more ways to help.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Nigerian Witchcraft Story So Outlandish It's Not Even Funny

This story would be funny if it wasn't for the fact that it's not April 1st and the report seems to be perfectly serious without a single hint of sarcasm or skepticism. Because of this, I can't even bring myself to laugh, I just feel sorry for people trapped in such soul sucking superstition.

Witchcraft: Boys allegedly transforming into cats caught by Police in Rivers state
Detectives at the Rumuolumeni Divisional Police Station in Port Harcourt, Rivers State are investigating a case involving three persons who allegedly transformed to cats.

One of the suspects is a twelve-year-old boy simply identified as John who had transformed to a cat and was caught by policemen at the Rumuolumeni Division.
When the police believe they've seen children turn into cats you know that anything goes as far as outlandish accusations and crimes.

It's possible that this dire situation might be in part the result of the horrid films portraying cannibal child witches put out by Christian evangelist and self-styled witch hunter Helen Ukpabio. Belief in child witches is common in Nigeria and has been the cause of immense abuse.

It's a problem common in Nigeria and pastors are often part of the problem. Afterall, the Bible acknowledges witchcraft.
Much more could be achieved if we could succeed in changing the minds of pastors. But many pastors are not about being spiritual shepherds. They are about getting rich. The wealth of some popular pastors and evangelists in Nigeria could compare with the wealth of some of the wealthiest mega evangelists and pastors in the U.S. This is obscene when placed against the culture of extreme poverty in Nigeria. I've often asked Nigerian pastors, "Why don't you do something to stop the superstition that leads to so many deaths of innocent children?" I asked one of them if he believed that children in Nigeria were witches. He said, "If Jesus would cast demons into pigs, why couldn't demons go into children too?" And he is the pastor of a huge church; when he walks behind the pulpit to preach, he enters as if he were a rock-star. Unfortunately, I have not yet seen any church in Nigeria with any program that addresses the issue of children falsely accused as witches.
Back to the original story. What led them to suspect something was odd?
DailyPost reporter who visited the scene of the incident reports that the policemen became curious after noticing that a particular cat was always running across the police station and decided to lay ambush for the animal.
A cat running across the police station, therefore child witches. What the hell. Then, apparently the cat turned into a boy. The local government also believes this nonsense.
The paramount ruler of Rumuolumeni in Oibio-Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, Eze Ndubueze Wobo confirmed the transformation of three members of his community into cats.

Eze Wobo told Dailypost that one of the men, who is popularly called PAPA, confessed to him at the police station that he initiated the people to suck human blood and inflict their victims with diseases.

Wobo said the victim listed some items which would be used to cleanse initiated children, some which include native alligator pepper, Local gin, Local kola nut and so on.

Some of the residents of the community, including the security operatives who captured the cat before it changed into a human being said that the man confessed that he used packaged beef roll and other things to initiate the victims, who are mainly schoolchildren.
So, so sad.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Witchcraft Belief, Superstition & Mistrust Of Science-Based Medicine Hampering Fight Against Ebola

This 1976 photograph shows two nurses standing in front of Ebola case #3, who was treated, and later died at Ngaliema Hospital, in Kinshasa, Zaire. (source)
There's an interesting story at Liberty Voice about how ignorance and distrust of modern science in Ebola-stricken Western African countries is seriously hampering efforts to contain the disease, according to the World Health Organization and other sources.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released a report which blames the outbreak of the unnamed capricious ebola virus strain  on a severe lack of cooperation on the part of the local population,  own ignorance regarding the nature of both the deadly Ebola virus and its proper medical treatment combined with a widespread distrust of modern medicine, both its practitioners and its methods, have aided the continued existence of the nearly five month long Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 400 people in West Africa. These findings echo complaints made by many doctors and observers who have worked or are currently working in the area to resolve the crisis. These accounts accuse the locals of actively preventing the work of doctors and other medical personnel out of irrational suspicions, beliefs and customs.
Things are very bad and getting worse in the region. The disease is showing no signs of being properly contained and the death and infection rate is now growing exponentially. It's hard for me to imagine a more unpleasant way to go, so this is thoroughly frightening. This also appears to already have the highest number of cases and deaths of any previously recorded epidemic.

As of July 2nd. (source)

And apparently, the incubation period is 2 to 21 days, so who knows how many people are unknowingly carrying this. Lack of education and supernatural belief coupled with a denial of medical science is compounding the problem.
Another form of ignorance has been noted by observers and those who tend to the sick report tales of increasing belief in superstition and extreme denial of medical science, especially among the inhabitants of rural areas, many of whom refuse to believe that Ebola exists at all, instead blaming witchcraft and other supernatural causes for the disease’s symptoms. Others, falsely believing that there is no chance of surviving the disease will often refuse to seek out treatment, and yet because they are not isolated they can still spread the disease, even after dying their body can still transmit the virus. In fact the high mortality rate among the infected has even fueled rumors that doctors working in the treatment centers, and not the pathogens that they are trying to help the afflicted defeat, are actually executing their patients via lethal injection instead of treating them.
There are also cases of hoarding of sick people and forceful prevention of any WHO workers from entering the sites. This sort of homegrown quarantine fails though, because there is still flow of people to and from these enclaves. This is because there is no underlying understanding and recognition of the true, microbial cause of this sickness.

A story in the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies news site features Red Cross volunteer, Konneh, who calmly recounts how his uncle, his uncle's wife and his cousin all died from the disease. His aunt was a nurse treating the sick.

He tells of how superstitious beliefs in Sierra Leone are hampering efforts to deal with the disaster. The first has to do with an intense stigma against anyone who has the disease. They often flee the scene as soon as they suspect they are infected -- thus potentially spreading the disease further still.
“I’m scared. Ebola, it’s dangerous. People are saying Ebola does not exist but I’ve seen it. I believe it exists,” Konneh says. There is a lot of fear, denial and stigma attached to the highly contagious disease, as it is the first time it has appeared in Sierra Leone. Some communities are not letting authorities or humanitarian actors enter, while many of those who may have come into contact with the virus and need to be watched, disappear and are, therefore, unable to be traced. 
Furthermore, even those who recover from the disease often still carry the stigma and are ostracized, presumably due to misunderstanding that the disease is due to physical causes, not witchcraft.

There is also this bizarre story related to a witch and a snake being the cause for the sickness which is dangerously obscuring the real situation - which requires stringent quarantine and aggressive personal hygiene habits.
One of the most widespread stories related to the Ebola outbreak is this: A woman in a village went on a journey and left at home a box, instructing her husband not to open it. The husband opens the box and finds a snake inside, which informs the husband not to reveal his presence or else the snake will kill everyone in the village. The husband does not heed the warning and spreads the word about the snake’s presence. The snake goes on a killing spree.
In some cases, traditional religious burial rituals are the cause of infection.
"Some villages have refused to allow anyone in - including Ministry of Health officials. In one tragic case a family brought three bodies home that had been prepared for burial by the Ministry of Health. They opened one of the body bags to check no body parts had been removed: all the family now have Ebola."
The risk does not stop after death. Traditional methods of burial, involving the manual washing of the body, has been identified as one of the key factors in passing on the disease. One specific ethnicity at risk is the Kissi - who live across all three countries. Bodies of the dead are traditionally kept at home before burial, and mourners touch the head of the corpse.
And then there's this miracle cure that's been apparently circulating via mobile SMS across Guinea.
"It's sad because people really do want some sort of magic potion or cure but unfortunately all we can tell them to do is wash their hands," Watson-Stryker said.

SMS messages circulating in the country claimed that a Guinean medical researcher in Senegal has found the cure for Ebola - hot chocolate, Nescafe, milk, sugar and raw onions taken once a day for three days. In nearby Macenta, an angry mob attacked an MSF clinic, accusing the Organization of bringing the deadly virus to their town, forcing it to shut down.
All of this is either getting in the way of proper quarantine and treatment or - even worse - is helping the spread of the disease. The best bet in all of this is education and abandoning old superstitious ideas unsupported by evidence. I only hope there's time.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

The Darker Side of The Vatican's Latest Funny

A couple of days ago, I wrote about the goofy Vatican and their whacky endorsement of over 250 exorcists around the world. It was amazing how 16th century they are and we all had a chuckle.

Well, it's not all jokes and fun times. There are real consequences to such a profoundly backward and medieval view of reality. Leo Igwe just wrote about how the Vatican's endorsement of exorcisms will make things harder to fight witch hunts and witchcraft superstition in Africa.
The recent approval by Pope Francis of the practice of exorcism has dealt a heavy blow to efforts to combat witch hunting in Africa. At a time the UN and the international community are exploring ways of tackling horrific abuses related to belief in witchcraft, the papal recognition of the association of exorcists comprising 250 priests in 30 countries is a huge set back. It dims the prospects of making witch-hunting history in Africa. In fact, Vatican's approval of exorcism will end up legitimizing this abusive process.
Up to now, it has mainly been the Pentecostal churches that have encouraged belief in witches and witchcraft which has fueled fires against anyone accused of sorcery. With this endorsement, witch hunting priests who have been on the fringes will be able to come out into the mainstream.

Check out the full article.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Leo Igwe On The US-Ghana Witch Camp Initiative

A few days ago, I posted about my concerns regarding the Ghana government accepting US money to improve the human rights situation in their country - namely the environment of superstition that has lead to the formation of witch camps in the northern part of the country. It seemed to me that the government was more interested in getting rid of witch camps because they might be a bit of a national embarrassment rather than dealing with the underlying cultural causes.

I sent my post to Leo Igwe, an expert in the matter who has been researching the witch camps for years. Well, he's written an excellent article over at Sahara Reporters in which he more elegantly expresses many of the same concerns, namely: American Embassy Should Tackle Witchcraft Accusations, Not The Witch Camps.

He commends the US Embassy for taking an active part in curbing human rights abuses in Ghana. He also points out a key factor that I perhaps downplayed in my article due to my ignorance in this matter; direct interfacing and education of the chiefs is essential.
Partnering with Ghana's Ministry for Chieftaincy and Culture is a strategic initiative in the campaign against witchcraft related abuses. Chiefs are the main actors in the field of accusation in Ghana. Chiefs are the custodians of culture and traditions. Witchcraft is a cultural belief. The banishment of witches is a traditional practice in the communities. Chiefs play a major role in the production, processing and negotiation of accusations. So, any move to address this cultural problem must include the chiefs. It must involve the chieftaincy institutions. Many Ghanaians who suspect their neighbours of witchcraft go to the chiefs, not to the police to report the matter. They consult the chiefs and seek their approval before going to a soothsayer(Bagha), a shrine priest(Buiglana) or an earth priest (Tingdana) for divination or confirmation of their suspicion. Members of the witch finding movement cannot operate in a village without the permission of the chief.

Chiefs authorize the banishment of alleged witches, sometimes without consulting the Bagha, the Buiglana or the Tingdana. So we cannot win the fight against witch hunts in Ghana without winning over the chiefs. We cannot stop the human rights abuses in the name of witchcraft unless we get the chieftaincy institution to join the fight. The research project should not focus exclusively on the chiefs or on the chieftaincy institutions. It should include other traditional actors and institutions like the Bagha, the Jinwaraba, the Buiglana and the Tingdana. They all cooperate with the chiefs in processing accusations. Chiefs rely on their verdict when adjudicating cases of accusations.
Living in Canada, I underestimated the importance of chiefs in these communities. They seem to provide a valuable judicial component alongside soothsayers and priests. Although I'm sure everyone knows that I think of mixing superstition with matters of law and ultimately life or death, the first step could very well be to at least prevent human suffering due to witchcraft accusations. One must take what they can realistically get. Baby steps.

I think Leo does share my concern that perhaps the focus of the program is either way too optimistic or else it really has the wrong immediate focus. The camps are not the problem - the belief in witchcraft and... to put it bluntly... the witch hunts have resulted in the camps, which are areas of final desperate refuge and protection.
Witch camps are not the problem but the consequence of a problem- the allegations of sorcery in communities. The existence of the witch camps is not a human rights abuse. These camps are indeed a mechanism- though an imperfect one- to contain these abuses. At best, witch camps are a symptom but witchcraft accusation is the disease. The research project should aim to address the disease not the symptom.
Go take a look at the rest of Leo's article. It gives some advice as to how he believes the problem should be tackled in order to stop the persecution so the camps will someday not be required and disappear on their own.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

U.S. To Help 'Disband' Ghana Witch Camps?

Last December, I wrote about Ghana's plans to close down their witch camps.  I asked Leo Igwe who researches this problem and will be speaking about it at the upcoming Humanism at Work conference in Chicago next month, what he thought. He responded to me on Facebook.
The statement from Ghana's  government minister which implied that victims of witchcraft accusation living in makeshift camps in the country's northern region is disappointing. It is an indication that Ghana still has a long way to go before it can eradicate the savage act of witch hunting ravaging the country. The government official in her statement pledged to put in place programs that would get these victims to flee from the "the act" of witchcraft amount to double indictment and victimization of innocent persons, and a clear case of state witch hunt.
So, in my post, I followed it up with:
As you can see, he also found this flee from the act to be dodgy. It's as if the government sees them as under the influence of witchcraft. It suggests to me that we have here a government that may believe in witchcraft, that further propagates that label onto them, and is offering to deliver them somehow (with a LEAP of faith?) from its clutches. They are missing the real problem here. This is sad! The government should really be working to eradicate silly witchcraft superstitions in Ghana society as a whole!
Leo later published a more lengthy piece addressing how the government is completely missing the point of the camps. They are not the problem. The problem is superstitious belief in malignant magic and witchcraft that motivates people to ostracize women and children forcing them to seek refuge at these camps, the only safe places for them. Covering up the camps is sweeping a very grave problem under the rug.
Witch camp is the consequence of a problem, not the cause of it. In fact witch camps are mechanisms for containing the problem of witchcraft accusation. Without these 'sanctuaries', the women would be dead by now. Witchcraft is traditionally a capital offence in Ghana. Before the introduction of the camps, those accused of witchcraft in Northern Ghana are taken to the evil forest and killed. But since the creation of the camps, things have changed. Persons accused or 'convicted' of witchcraft are banished from the communities. Alleged witches could be killed if they refuse to leave the community. So many of them find their way to any of the camps, sometimes trekking long distances. Others are brought to these camps by family members.
Well, now, apparently, the US government is promising to help Ghana eliminate these camps -- or so the Ghana government through the lens of the media apparently says. Take a look at the first two paragraphs of this story.
The United States government has tasked Ghana’s Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture to conduct research into human right abuses which culminate into the labeling of aged women as alleged witches and expelling them from their original communities.

With one million cedis grant from the US government, the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture is expected to come out with recommendations which could lead to the disbandment of alleged witch camps located in various parts of the Northern Region.
Notice the US government is funding 'research into human rights abuses.' This seems like a fairly noble first step -- although they could also talk to Leo Igwe and save some money. Now take a look at what the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture plans to do with the money: 'come out with recommendations which could lead to the disbandment of alleged witch camps.' 

I'm sorry, that doesn't quite seem to be the same thing! The first is asking to investigate the matter with a focus on human rights violations while the latter seems to be focused on fulfilling the government's original intent, above: closing these 'embarrassing' camps.

In his defence, perhaps, the Minister did admonish local chieftains to eliminate outmoded customs and practices such as Female Genital Mutilation, child betrothal, elopement and witchcraft which he said were inimical to human development. However, surely this along with an intense focus on elimination of superstitious thinking, education and development of critical thinking skills should come first way way before any thought could be given whatsoever to the elimination of these refugee camps. 

And one million cedis ($360,000 CDN) is a drop in the bucket when it comes to the kind of shift in thinking required to move an entire country of people away from persecution of women due to a superstitious belief in witchcraft.

Incidentally, an example of such an ambitious project at work is George Thindwa's work to drag his country of Malawi out of the mire of superstition witchcraft beliefs. Nobody there believes this will be an easy battle. As far as I've heard, nobody is even entertaining the thought of tearing down support structures for those stigmatized by accusations witchcraft practice.

In another article over at SpyGhana, 'Witchcraft In Modern Day Ghana', whose title even seems to miss the point, the primary thrust is also the closing of the camps.
Mr Gene Cretz, United States Ambassador in Ghana, has pledged that his country would collaborate with government to disband the witches’ camps in the Northern Region.

He said Ghana has a very good human rights record on the African continent, but the existence of the witches’ camps is not good for the country since it is against the human rights of the alleged witches.
Indeed the existence of the camps is not good because it outlines a terrible culture of accusation and ostracization based on flawed irrational supernatural beliefs which are often completely subjective. Until the dangerous situation for women and children accused of witchcraft is removed, razing these camps (or whatever they plan to do) will surely be the end for many of the refugees. 

I'm no expert, but the point here seems to be missed completely in this sample of media story at least.  The camps are not are human rights abuse they are the results of systemic cultural human rights abuses.

You know, using the words of the US Ambassador in this way all seems a little too convenient a way to justify an early elimination of these camps to me. It gives me a bad feeling.

Addendum 2014-06-19: After some reflection and a little discussion with Leo Igwe, I'm beginning to think I may have been a little too critical. Regardless of the focus the government may have, working with the chiefs to improve the situation is an improvement still -- and the final goal would be to make these camps unnecessary so they could be closed. Furthermore, this is seen through the lens of the media which could itself be biased. So, perhaps I was a little hard there. To a degree, this is certainly good news.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Christian "Prophetess" Sets Her Daughter On Fire to Drive Out "Witchcraft"

Bose Oluwole (source)
Things don't seem to be going particularly well in parts of Nigeria. In one region we have a band of insane militants, the Boko Haram, who are kidnapping girls, 'converting' them to Islam and selling them off to be married.

This piles on top of their recent anti-homosexual laws that prescribe jail sentences to anyone who dares love someone of the same gender. All of this is, of course, calculated to pander to certain religious elements in the country. Nevermind the north of the country where, thanks to Sharia Law, you can be stoned to death for being gay.

There seem to be many problems here that have one common root: strong, fundamentalist and mostly blind religious belief grounding in anything at all but fact. Otherwise known as too much religion and not enough education and critical thinking.

Oh, and don't forget Helen Ukpabio, who runs her odious Liberty Gospel Church where she pumps out ghastly films that portray children and babies as being possessed by the devil.

This last point leads me directly into this horrific story, which could be a snapshot of a much broader problem in a country that itself seems to be possessed by irrational belief.

Police nab ‘prophetess’ for setting 9-yr-old daughter ablaze

She's a prophetess and member of the Celestial Church, which seems to be an uber fundamentalist ascetic Christian sect that have a whole whack of prohibitions.

One day, while praying, she had a vision her daughter was a witch.
She told the police during interrogation: “I was only obeying God’s instruction. I had a vision while praying that my daughter is from the witchcraft world. When I prayed to God over it, I received an instruction through the Holy Spirit to burn my daughter’s body in order to deliver her from the evil society.”
This woman is clearly mentally ill - I suppose much like Abraham was before he nearly killed Isaac, I mean, who can really tell the difference, right? I'm guessing she truly must believe that Biblical story.
The girl identified as Damilola was said to have thereafter been rushed to Epe General Hospital by the policemen, where she is currently receiving treatment for what doctors described as first degree burns.
I suppose we should be thankful it's only first degree burns. This brave girl bolted out of the house and cried out for help in the street. Youths, who were visibly angry and frustrated by this insanity, put out the fires and saved her from life-threatening injuries.

Oh, and the girl's mother, who admitted to doing this, is pleading not guilty.

More education. More critical thinking schools. Less groundless belief in stories exalting the irrational, the dangerous.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Mission Accomplished! Nigerian Witch Hunter Deported From UK

For Helen Ukpabio Spiritual Attacks can come from innocent little babies or mermaids.
Good news from across the pond! Remember when the Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN) and several other human rights groups petitioned the UK Home Office to kick dangerous Nigerian (child!) witch-hunter out of Britain so she doesn't brainwash other parents into abusing or abandoning their children?

Well, news is slowly coming out that she has indeed been barred reentry into the country.

Helen Ukpabio Deported From UK
The British Homeland Security has deported Mrs. Helen Ukpabio, the President and Founder of one of Nigeria’s largest Pentecostal churches believed to be leading the spread of witch-hunting in the country. A United Kingdom based human right activist and charity worker, Ms. Modupe Debbie Ariyo announced this in a one paragraph sentence via her Facebook page on Friday, April 18, 2015. “Helen Ukpabio deported from UK…hurray!!!” Ariyo said. Ariyo, who’s the Executive Director of Africa Unite Against Child Abuse (AFRUCA) in furtherance of her terse release sent as a confirmatory note of the deportation, said that the British Home Secretary, Ms Theresa May was pressured by human right activists and the UK press to act. “Theresa May was under pressure from charities to act…the evidence was overwhelming too” she stated. Ms Ariyo called on her Nigerian counterparts and the press to borrow a leaf from their action which led to the deportation of Ms Ukpabio.

“Now, it is up to our Nigerian colleagues to learn from our example. These people can be challenged. They are ordinary human beings like you and I.” Ariyo maintained.
We need more stands like this against preachers who spread hate against children not only in Nigeria but also in places like Ghana where they need special witch camps to protect those who are accused of being witches. 

Friday, 18 April 2014

Keep Nigerian Child Witch Hunter Out: Human Rights Groups Petition UK Home Office

For Helen Ukpabio Spiritual Attacks can come from innocent little babies or mermaids.

I've written about her before and now I'll write about her again. The fact that witch hunter Helen Ukpabio is a menace to her fellow Nigerians is well-known, but now she's travelled to London to spread her vile and harmful superstitions into the United Kingdom.

Nigerian 'witch-hunter' who claims any child who cries is a 'servant of Satan' could be banned from the UK over fears she is a risk to youngsters

Britain has every right to keep out dangerous criminals who incite fear of children which undeniably leads to child abuse.
She uses her sermons to incite hatred, intolerance and persecution of alleged witches and wizards. 
Her supporters, of which there are many in West Africa, believe she is a servant of God who has helped eradicate spiritual ailments from humankind. 
Her beliefs – promoted through her publications (Unveiling the Mysteries of Witchcraft), films (End of the Wicked) and sermons - fuel witchcraft accusations against children in the region.
Leo Igwe has written about her dreadful shenanigans.  She has literally convinced parents that the cause of their earthly misfortunes are their own children - who are witches and working for the devil. This has lead to the horrendous abuse and abandonment portrayed in Channel 4's Saving Africa's Witch Children.
The documentary will feature shocking stories of torture inflicted on children, including a 13-year-old who was tied up with chicken wire and starved and beaten for two weeks, and a 14-year-old girl who was burned with acid before her mother attempted to bury her alive. 
One 17-year-old was left brain-damaged after having a three-inch nail driven into her skull.
Don't think Ukpabio is part of the problem? Here's what Wikipedia has to say.
Ukpabio has published her views in several books. An example is 'Unveiling The Mysteries of Witchcraft', in which she states that: 
'If a child under the age of two screams in the night, cries and is always feverish with deteriorating health he or she is a servant of Satan.' 
A fact not mentioned in the book is that these symptoms are common in young children, especially in areas like Nigeria with poor health and high levels of malaria. 
She also produces a number of films to spread the view that children can become possessed by evil spirits through her film production company, Liberty Films, part of the Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries franchise. The most famous of these is End of The Wicked in which child actors are shown to eat human flesh and murder their parents.
Oh, and she also believes mermaids are a real problem as well!

The Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN), which I have written about in the past, is one of the groups demanding that she be banned from ever reentering the country - which I wholeheartedly support. They are petitioning Home Secretary Theresa May to deny entry into the UK based on the very sensible argument that it is not conductive for the common good. You know, because she makes films demonizing little children and claims Satan infects babies with fevers.

They mentioned something rather interesting as well:
In a letter to Ms May, the campaigners warn: ‘Whilst the Government has moved swiftly to block entry to the UK for Islamic preachers whose presence is considered as harmful to the public good, there have been no cases of Christian pastors facing such measures.’
That's interesting, too.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Saudi Arabia Facing Increase In Witchcraft!

It's tough times in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). An Arab News report just came out reporting that
KSA facing increased cases of witchcraft
It's hard to know exactly what caused this sorcerer infestation. I would guess it was something to do with rampant state-encouraged superstition and opportunists who wish to con gullible people out of money. It also so happens to work out that the majority of these evil witches are foreigners.
More than 85 percent of witchcraft-related cases registered in Makkah’s courts involve expats, according to statistics issued by the Ministry of Justice.
The Orwellian Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice started a special training program for would be witch fighters. They have brought online certain procedures and systems to deal with cases pertaining to sorcery. Dowsing rods? Spinning pendulums? Being on the lookout for candles, incense... 20-sided dice?

Well it turns out this creepy state body has gone to the Internets to fight spiritual war with witches and devils. Which just goes to show how people can embrace 21st century technology but have ideas from the middle ages.
The increase in the number of witchcraft-related cases has prompted authorities at the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (known in Arabic as the “Haia“) to use social networking sites to spread awareness and close in on sorcerers. In fact, the Haia has an exclusive section on its web site that addresses cases related to witchcraft.
They recently caught someone on Twitter trying to sell a magical stone. Now, I'm all for fraudsters being brought to justice but it's a tad creepy when the authorities wholeheartedly believe this is all true. Is this what happens when religion so completely permeates the state that it becomes a monarchical theocracy?

The story goes to on mention haunted houses and how small children seem to see the jinn (demons).

One child apparently didn't want to leave his room and would be talking and laughing to himself. The parents consulted a sheikh (meaning an always male elder) who advised them to move house rather than consult a childhood psychologist.

Speaking of sheikhs, like witches and their crazy spells, these wise men also charge hefty fees for their supernatural services.
Ahlam Hafez from Riyadh said she paid a sheikh more than SR10,000 to get rid of jinn in a neighboring flat. 
“There are believers and non-believers among jinn,” said Mohammed Mukhtar, a sheikh. “Preachers who earn their living by exorcizing spirits should charge affordable fees.”
How are we to distinguish the witches who charge people for their spells from sheikhs who run around charging SR10,000 (~$3,000) to expulse demons from people's houses? Religion, I suppose? And yes, preachers should charge affordable fees. As should the witches, I suppose.

My favourite part is the statement there are believers and non-believers among the jinn. I wonder if the believers give the non-believers a hard time and try to convert them.

In Saudi Arabia it must be Halloween everyday.

What could be causing this? I'm sure we all know the answer to that question.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

South African Government Official: Booers of Speech Must Be Working For Satan

I'm so happy the election is over with here in Quebec. The mudslinging and constant yabbering on about whether people could wear veils to government jobs was starting to get on my nerves. But I shouldn't complain too much. At least the mudslinging didn't include charges of Satanism and witchcraft and then lead to people getting killed.

Well, not so in South Africa, where their general election is still a month away and charges of witchcraft (malignant witches rather than Wiccans) and Satanism (classical Satanism not LaVeyan) are being propagated by a certain lower level government official and it's leading to people getting hurt.

Satanism and witchcraft in politics: a call for decency

Fikile Mbalula, Minister of Sport & Recration most recently accused any detractors of his party's speeches of being in league with the Prince of Darkness himself.
At the beginning of March 2014, Mbalula suggested that those who booed the party and state president were somehow working in the service of Satan or had been influenced by Satanists.  Given the moral panic around Satanism at the time – it was linked to several killings in townships, and was proposed by many to be ‘on the rise’, spreading from its usual association with lower middle class and traditionally white South African suburbs into townships of South Africa’s Black majority – it seemed a particularly craven gesture.  It seemed opportunistic and callously disregarded the pain of those who had been affected by the tragedies of the violent crimes purported to have been perpetrated as Satanic acts.
That's what happens when superstition mixes with politics. People get hurt.

Apparently no more than a month earlier he was accusing opposition of being witches.
Barely a month later, Mbalula went a step further, deploying a far more provocative trope to discredit political opponents.  Speaking at a memorial event for Solomon Mahlangu in Cape Town, the minister accused the Democratic Alliance of ‘witchcraft’.  Even a cursory familiarity with southern Africa’s indigenous belief systems allow one to realise that this is a particularly dangerous accusation to make.  In a deeply misogynistic society, women who are seen to have too much power are often accused of being witches in order to ‘tame’ them.  The extirpation of witchcraft from communities is often violent and murderous.  To accuse a party led by a woman of practicing witchcraft seems even more repellent than calling one’s opponents Satan worshippers in a deeply Christian country.
Well anything for power and money, right? While this sort of thing would be considered goofy and ridiculous here in Canada, it's serious business in many parts of Africa. People who make accusations like that -- with real repercussions -- ought to be disciplined by his political party.

Remember just north of South Africa is Zimbabwe, at least one politician has been implicated in kidnapping of children for ritual abuse so he could magically secure wealth and power.

Edit 2014-04-09 10:34pm : I had written 'when superstition mixes with religion' which I meant to say 'superstition mixes with politics'. Feel free to also substitute in 'religion mixes with politics' as well.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Let Those Witches Get Cracking

In Zimbabwe there are still witchcraft laws. When the judicial system is superstitious things like reason and evidence can take a back seat to sheer paranoia and delusion that borders on tragically ridiculous.

Man cracks egg at court; Witchcraft! rules court

I've been known to bring a boiled egg or two to work with me and I've always been rather concerned that the sulfur smell would disturb some people, but this takes it to a new level.
Lovemore Jochoma, 27, of Unit G in Chitungwiza was sentenced to an effective nine months in prison after he was caught “red-handed” while preparing to smash an egg to allegedly perform a ritual outside the Chitungwiza magistrates court’s premises.
Apparently, Lovemore was charged with domestic violence and was due to appear in court. So he went to see a prophetess who told him to go crack an egg outside the courthouse to influence the court.
“I went to an apostolic sect leader where l was informed by a prophetess that l am possessed by some evil spirits that are tormenting me. She then told me to perform these rituals so that they would help me to be set free.”
What's silly here is the egg cracking and the Zimbabwe legal system's reaction to a man doing a ridiculous thing. They immediately charge him with witchcraft and sentence him to nine months in jail.

The fact that a prophetess suggested he go break an egg is ridiculous.

The fact that the authorities felt threatened enough to throw him into jail for this is ridiculous.

Finally, what about the domestic violence? Have we forgotten about this?

There is another layer of ridiculous here:
The common feeling among those interviewed was that courts were generally not competent enough to discern a pure act of witchcraft without seeking expert evidence from practitioners of traditional medicine.
The Zimbabwe authorities and higher court simply doesn't see their witchcraft laws as ludicrous. How can this foster any sort of climate other than utter confusion?

Instead, they are upset because lower courts are sentencing people to long jail terms without bringing in qualified experts to determine whether it's true witchcraft or superstition. 

And in this case, the egg was given to him by a prophetess of some apostolic sect leader. I guess, the idea here is that she is some kind of white magic practitioner. So maybe she doesn't count as a witch? So maybe his egg cracking is just lunacy or good superstition?
“But in the meantime, we as Zinatha urge people not to engage themselves in acts that can be misconstrued for witchcraft by others. Mind you, we are a very superstitious society as Zimbabweans.”
Indeed. When the experts are themselves superstitious, it is a very dangerous and ridiculous situation. It's not too far off Europe when the churches were in charge, don't you think?

Saturday, 8 March 2014

The Straight Dope On Penis Shrinka-Snatching Witches


Author of The Straight Dope, Cecil Adams wrote a winner of an article about mass delusions of penis-snatching witches in Africa and penis-shrinkers in Asia. I mean, I just could not avoid clicking on this when it appeared in my Google trap.

What's Up With Penis-Stealing Sorcerers?
Fear, witchcraft, and genitals
A penis-theft episode typically involves four stages. First the “victim” has an odd encounter, such as a stranger unexpectedly shaking his hand. Next is the sensation of an electric shock or chill traveling to his genitals. Third, he checks his crotch and becomes convinced his penis, testicles, or both have been stolen or shrunken. The final step is crying “Thief!” and enlisting others to confront the suspect, sometimes with the “victim” stripping on the spot to prove his genitals are gone. When an epidemic swept Nigeria in 1990, men walked around grasping their penises to prevent theft.
Apparently, the theft is really just shrinking that could be related to the cremaster muscle which can activate in response to cold or fear. Or both. Incidentally, the castration scene in the movie Farinelli also seems to work pretty damn well too.

I think Adams is pegging this phenomenon on uneducated country bumpkins being exposed to strangers and new experiences in increasingly urban settings. They're just not used to dealing with so much unknown and the stress that it's triggering a physiological process that, in turn, feeds back to their paranoia.
What’s going on? The likeliest explanation is what’s been called “the witchcraft of modernity”: in a rapidly urbanizing society, when you dump a bunch of bumpkins into the middle of a faceless crowd, you can’t be surprised when some of them get weird. 
... The scenario is easy to picture: teeming Lagos, a frightening encounter with a stranger, the activation of the cremaster. Add in journalists uncritically spreading wild tales, and we understand the frisson victims experience: it’s the shock of the new.
I agree that could have something to do with initialising these mass hysterias. However, it is the belief in superstition and magic that acts as fertile soil for these delusions to spread.

This article reminded me of miracle claims in religions - Christianity and Islam. I often hear people ask how so many dozens, hundreds or thousands of people could have all believed they saw something. Surely they cannot all be hallucinating? Or do phenomena like this one tell us a different story?
I acknowledge you don’t get many substantiated cases of penis theft in, say, Paris. While rumors of genital larceny appear sporadically throughout the world, most commonly they’re found in developing nations with poorly-educated tribal cultures where belief in witchcraft is still strong. In Senegal, for example, it’s believed penises can be stolen by cannibal witches, or via impotence spells cast by sorcerers, or simply by ordinary, everyday evil spirits.
Isn't it interesting how miracles like magical penis theft still happen in these developing countries but not in increasingly secular countries with high levels of education?

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Californians Respond to Serious Drought With Sticks And Blind Faith


Times are pretty rough these days in California. They're having the worst drought in decades. Many farmers, faced with potential crop failure, turn to prayer to God to help bring forth rains.

No wait, that would be ridiculous. And so would science. What's that ever really done for anyone anyway? They turn to water witchcraft, naturally.

California Farmers Turn to 'Water Witchcraft' to Fight the Drought
While both state and federal water scientists disapprove of dowsing, California “witchers” are busy as farmers seek to drill more groundwater wells due to the state’s record drought that persists despite recent rain.
I can remember my own grandfather, a devout Roman Catholic of Irish descent, talking about how he had called the water finder to tell him where he had to dig his well. I'm not sure how accurate his guy was, but many studies later, there is zero evidence it actually works.

Anyway, these guys are making some serious coin.
After the valley’s most popular dowser died in recent years, Mondavi has become the go-to water witch in Napa Valley. He charges about $500 per site visit, and more, if a well he discovers ends up pumping more than 50 gallons per minute.
It's kind of sad, because unless this one guy in the article, Marc Mondavi, is the shining exception to all science done on this for centuries, people are being taken in -- whether Mondavi actually believes it or not.
“There’s no scientific basis to dowsing. If you want to go to a palm reader or a mentalist, then you’re the same person who’s going to go out and hire a dowser,” said Tom Ballard, a hydrogeologist with Taber Consultants, a geological engineering firm based in West Sacramento.
There are also scientific ways to detect water resources that presumably have hit rates higher than pure chance; which is what dowsing is currently batting at. During times of crisis, it's all too easy to fall back on superstitious pseudo-science, but with resources so scarce, California will need more than just blind luck.

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