Of Magic, Witchcraft And The Law

A regular visitor to these pages would be familiar with my theme

The Beauty And Chaos Of The Place I Call l HOME

“…I write fantasy, fantasy steeped in African mythology, legends of old married to the science of today, spawning narratives that celebrate the magic in my ancestry and the myths behind the truth of my heritage……….”

I have had a love affair with words from the moment I learnt to read and picked up a copy of classic fairy tales and I got lost down the rabbit hole of fantasy… how readers become writers

I have read many genres since then but my favourite has always been epic fantasy, a world where anything could happen, later I would discover African Authors who write the blend of fantasy that I never knew I had been searching for between all the pages of books I read, fantasy set in a world closer to the home I know and our blend of magic…

AfroDance at UW - Home | Facebook

In the African context when you speak of magic, it becomes witchcraft, an evil and dark craft; traditional healers are known as witchdoctors, even those herbalists whose herbal remedies are simply roots and tree bark are eyed suspiciously like there’s more to their mysticism than can be explained by science…

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Arthur C. Clarke

Sometimes I joke that we would progress much faster if we stopped calling our type African Science, witchcraft.

There’s a divide between African tradition and religion particularly Christianity from when the colonialists settled bringing along missionaries with them and imposing all sorts of legal frameworks some which we have carried on to today.

Witchcraft Suppression Act [Chapter 9:19]

The Witchcraft Suppression Act was enacted in 1899 under this act, it was a criminal offence to name anyone as a witch or wizard or to accuse someone of meddling in the supernatural. Money received as payment or received for practice of witchcraft, would be deemed to have been received by fraud, and punished for such fraud. Traditional Courts felt there was a grave injustice in that this law which punished the victim and how the courts regarded the whole practice of witchcraft as a pretence, something which had no real existence at all, referring to it as so-called witchcraft.

Amendment of the Witchcraft Suppression Act

The Witchcraft Suppression Act was amended in 2006 and now reads:

“Whoever accuses a person of witchcraft means to indicate that the person (is possessed by a spirit or) used non-natural means (witch-finding) to cause death, injury, disease or inability in any person. “Any person who engages in any practice knowing that it is commonly associated with witchcraft, shall be guilty of engaging in a practice commonly associated with witchcraft if having the intention to cause harm to any person. “Such practice inspires in the person against whom it was directed, a real fear or belief that harm will occur to that person or any member of his or her family, and be liable to a fine not exceeding level ten or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or both.”

“For the avoidance of doubt, it is declared that any person who assists another person to commit the crime of engaging in a practice commonly associated with witchcraft, by giving advice or providing any substance or article to enable that person to commit the crime, shall be liable to be charged as an accomplice to the crime.

It had to take almost a 100 years for the law to decide there could be more to this even if its just in the associated belief of the social phenomenon.

What is witchcraft?

I wont even lie, I don’t know, its not a subject that is ever really talked about and maybe partly due to the legislation that refused to acknowledge its but what comes quickly to my mind is that:

Witchcraft is someone using the supernatural to injure or kill another person or their property.

But is that all there is, isn’t there any good kind, aren’t there those who would practise this for protection and prosperity not selfishly but for the community. We have called it witchcraft and its difficult to see any good in it. Read Demystifying Witchraft

Sekuru Kaguvi
Mbuya Nehanda Sekuru Kaguvi 1897

During the liberation wars spirit mediums were a crucial part of struggle. Mbuya Nehanda, Sekuru Kaguvi, are iconic, there’s stories about their deeds, that they told the freedom fighters bullets would turn to water. Before she was executed she proclaimed “Mapfupa angu achamuka“(My bones will rise again) Ancestral Spirits/Vadzimu/Madlozi have always been an integral part of our identity whether we acknowledge them or not.  

Magic and Me

my life is so much more interesting in my head

Imagine if we figured out how to harness our mystic skills. Remote viewing? We been having it, practitioners can “see” you in a clay pot, they can track a target using intricate global positioning in the spirit realm find lost objects and bring back lost lovers (I don’t know how you would lose a lover but that’s not the point)

Imagine if at the center of the Reserve Bank there was a snake just vomiting out a pile of cash for the treasury.., how about building a lightning powered Power station since they can conjure up lightning on demand, we could even be video conferencing by just looking in mirrors….

Cyber Sangoma

I am the man who is going to write the type of fantasy that I want to read; an epic African fantasy where we won’t call flying in a Reed Basket witchcraft…

~B

I can’t do magic so I write….

39 Comments

  1. Beaton I totally get what you are talking about. Have you read any of Mutwa Credo’s work, there is much about African myths, and many include magic. I know many very wise traditional healers, not all use their power to do harm. You might like to read this:

    What is an African Traditional Healer or a Sangoma?
    As an African Traditional healer, African Shaman or Sangoma, there are various roles that you can be called to. In my lineage and some others, I was trained in a number of roles, and the roles sometimes cross over.
    A Sangoma is mainly a spiritual healer that is consulted by anyone with any issue be it health, money, work, social, family or love problems. They are sought out to consult the oracle of the Bones i.e. to read the Bones and divine what is causing the problem and how it can be corrected. The Sangoma may apply various methods in restoring mental, physical and spiritual health and balance.
    The different healers or healing roles.
    Sangoma – meaning “from the drum” – a drum person. One who works in a trance state and communicates to the ancestors on your behalf, calls in the spirits and uses their assistance in divination’s, reading oracles such as bones and diagnoses what may be the cause of your illness. A Sangoma is able to access and use the energy of “umbilini” for divination’s and healing. It is similar to “Kundalini”, “Chi” or life force. This energy is accessed in trance states which can be spontaneous or invoked by drumming and dancing. They are also trained in the use of magical aspects of muthi (medicine) to cast “spells” for healing, luck and protection .They are also trained in reversing bad spells or bad luck. They also clean people and their ancestors to facilitate healing and harmony. In my opinion a Sangoma’s work is mostly about cleaning up. We are always cleaning away hindrances in people’s lives that prevent them from thriving.
    Inyanga – A medicine person that mostly heals physical ailments, but also mental or spiritual illness, with plant medicines (Muthi). A moon person. They learn many rituals around harvesting and preparing muthi or medicines. The rituals are connected to nature cycles and energies such as the full moon cycles and seasons and when is the right time to collect and prepare certain medicines. They also learn about the power places in and on the earth and where certain medicines can be found and will be protectors of these secrets. Sometimes known as a witch doctor if they work dark or harmful magic.
    Witch Doctors – The term is sometimes used as slang for Sangomas or Inyangas. In certain tribes there are witch doctors who are allowed to live outside the villages and work their magic. They are warned that if anyone in the village comes to harm or if the village is harmed, they and their whole house will be burned to death.
    Prophets – They heal with water rituals, holy or blessed water, candles & prayer and through “washing”. Washing can mean washing or cleansing with muthi, baptism, or washing in the rivers or oceans. They are called by very specific dreams and visions.
    Sanusi – the higher aspect of an Inyanga/Sangoma – one who works to ascend or uplift the spiritual energies of a group, nation or land, and direct them. A keeper of wisdom and seer of higher or hidden things. Keepers of traditional history, culture, art, myth, legend and music. Keeper of sacred artifacts and talismans. Holds knowledge of sacred sites and the spirits that dwell there. Can access the deep medicine in the earth and on the planet. Communicator with plants and animals and spirits.
    Article Credit > https://africamystics.wordpress.com/2015/02/15/what-is-an-african-traditional-healer-or-a-sangoma/

    I hope one day to read your story or stories!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Look out for authors such as Nnedi Okorafor, Tomi Adeyemi, and if you hang around the book review section of my blog some my show up… in fact my next three articles during the weekend break will be book reviews of some interesting fantasy literature
      ~B

      Liked by 2 people

  2. ‘Imagine if at the center of the Reserve Bank there was a snake just vomiting out a pile of cash for the treasury.., how about building a lightning powered Power station since they can conjure up lightning on demand, we could even be video conferencing by just looking in mirrors….’

    There would be no fighting with IMF and the WB

    Liked by 4 people

    1. It’s crazy how in public we will not talk about it but behind the scenes a lot is happening.
      I heard something about how when they have to do maintenance work on the Kariba Dam, they first do some ceremony for Nyami Nyami it’s never acknowledged officially but it’s there or the mysterious things that used to happen when the dam was being built…
      ~B

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “…where we won’t call flying in a Reed Basket witchcraft…”
    And “sometimes I joke that we would progress much faster if we stopped calling our type African Science, witchcraft.”
    The truth here should be world spread. Thanks for the changed perspective Beaton. Though in Uganda The witchcraft act was abolished, witchcraft is a mere myth and it doesn’t exist so they say.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am sure a lot of useful knowledge has been dismissed as “witchcraft” who knows maybe the cure for COVID might be found in the realm of our very own herbal cures, I was happy to read how some countries will now be working with traditional practitioners to see if they cant come up with something that can help
      Its a myth they say…
      ~B

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha you can’t even call yourself a witch even if you went to the police confessing that you had been possessed by your ancestral spirits and committed all sorts of witchcraftry and now wanted to stop, well they would not know what to do with you 😂😂

      ~B

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well am just reading with an open mind here, I haven’t been exposed to the different African traditions mentioned maybe heresy and all I have witnessed is the evil side of witchcraft (inflicting pain on others for ones gain) . I do know of herbalists thou in Uganda there free to even sell their medicine on streets so those are not deemed witchcraft I believe.
    It’s good to believe but I can say have experienced the super natural through believing God all I can say is the Super natural exists and it’s a power source (still some use it for good others for evil)
    Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I keep imagining if herbalists were to work the scientists and pharmaceutical labs they could probably come up with some really effective herbal medication with standardized doses and all….
      ~B

      Like

  5. Witchcraft and science are related both the KGB and CIA have in the past had departments for what they call paranormal.

    Russia has research on remote viewing on military sights, a CIA agent who claimed to see things in Russia on time drew a submarine that was so big that everyone in the USA said it could not be made a few months Russia displayed it to the world.

    The British MI6 killed baby rats and the mother in a different place had it’s brain activity spike and they are doing research on how they can use telepathy in war.

    Now Africans did not document like the Asians how to mix chemicals that make people go blind and mad and dead.

    Witchcraft has been used to boost morale in liberation struggles

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I have read wiki-leaks about the CIA have a super secret department that studies the paranormal and tried to make regular humans manifest supernatural abilities, extra sensory perception, telepathy, telekinesis, walking through walls and other weird ideas like how they would drug subjects with drugs such as LSD and place them in sensory deprivation chambers, there was also the mind control Project MK Ultra and other less known ones…
      Meanwhile in Africa they did their level best to make sure we never connected with our land or its spirits, our ancestral spirits…I read a tweet about how we can celebrate Santa Claus and associated Christmas stuff but we will not revere our own ancestors, they are evil spirits…

      ~B

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Crazy crazy thoughts right here. I have a feeling you’ll love Paulo Coelhos books. In particular Brida. It’s about a girls search for magic.
    Uganda does have a witch craft Act that was repealed but the punishment for such was banishment from your Homeland to an unknown land.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Believe it or not I haven’t read any of Paulo Coelhos books I am not sure why possibly because I usually shy away from non-fiction😂😂
      Someone mentioned repealment of the law, it’s crazy how our countries even have similar laws but then again we both just adopted the system the British brought then amended and repealed sections as needed… Going through the constitution you’ll probably find some things still hidden away from 100 years ago 😂😂
      Banishment seems rather extreme
      ~B

      Like

  7. Well. I only have my western Christian viewpoint to work with on this but here’s what I have.
    I do believe in the evil spirits of the bible and they are the power behind what I think is called witchcraft.
    And I just deleted several lines of related claims because it had turned into an apologetic for the Christian point of view which I don’t want to presume is respected wherever this might be read.
    Bottom line, I believe it is real. It works. It’s evil and not to be messed with.
    It is certainly not doing Africa any more good than any supernatural anti-Christian works are doing here in my USA.
    IMHO
    Steer clear where you can my friend.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I know right, just that first I had to introduce the way things are and why they are so… Now that we are the same page, the next chapter is about to begin. 😂😂😂

      Like

  8. A lovely lady, my teacher that helped me to gain and build my knowledge of self, the spiritual realm, and my connection to the more… more of what you don’t see with your two eyes, but what one gains from the 3rd eye, said this to me “what do you think ‘spelling’ really is?”

    Liked by 2 people

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