Peter Smith

Publications, Lectures and Other Stuff

The Modern Belief in Witches

Every year I read reports of witchcraft persecutions and killings in various parts of the world. The most recent story (below) is from Saudi Arabia, but I have also read of recent attacks on alleged witches in India, Indonesia and several parts of Africa, often leading to the torture or killing of the accused, The most horrific accounts I have seen are from Papua New Guinea. For modern rationalists as ‘children of the Enlightenment’, such beliefs are signs of ignorant superstition, of course, but unlike many other ‘superstitions’, these are beliefs which can have fatal consequences — as they did in Early Modern Europe in the 16-17th century witch craze.

The very popularity of the Harry Potter books and films in the modern world indicates a lack of belief in witchcraft — or at least of traditional conceptions of it.

Some recent news clips:

Saudi Arabia

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/08/saudi-arabias-war-on-witchcraft/278701/

Papua New Guinea:

http://world.time.com/2013/06/05/despite-legal-moves-pngs-terrifying-witchcraft-killings-look-set-to-continue/

http://www.vice.com/read/papua-new-guinea-are-still-burning-witches-at-the-stake

India:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/10120682/India-villagers-kill-two-for-witchcraft.html

Tanzania:

http://www.helpage.org/what-we-do/rights/womens-rights-in-tanzania/womens-rights-in-tanzania/?gclid=CNOfm5uCi7kCFe4F4godrCIAEA

Swaziland:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/may/17/witches-cant-fly-brooms-above-150-meters-swaziland/

 

An account of modern Western wicca:

http://wicca.com/celtic/wicca/wicca.htm

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This entry was posted on August 20, 2013 by in Uncategorized and tagged .
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