How to Do Witchcraft

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Personality Differences by Gender

Generally speaking, the Glebo believe that all people have the capacity for purposeful work, and hard-working practical qualities are looked for in both men and women. Women are expected to be most concerned with the welfare of children and of households in general, while men are more free to debate theoretical issues and argue the fine points of politics or witchcraft. Men are expected to be more articulate than women and to be masters of elliptical and indirect oratory, often using proverbs to avoid saying what they really mean. Women are sometimes disparaged for simply blurting out what they are thinking, or seen as lacking in refinement and discretion. Yet good speaking ability is highly valued in women and is one of the criteria for election to the female council and the position of blo nyene. Women will often show public deference to men, but quarrels between spouses are known to become heated and even physical on both sides. Adult women are recognized as physically strong and...

Gender and Religion

Them rice and other crops according to their needs. Their lives are tightly constrained by restrictions and taboos, for they must never leave the town for more than a few hours during daylight. They live in the cult house or shrine which houses the medicines on which the health and continuation of the town and its occupants depends. Their deaths cannot be acknowledged and they are buried secretly in former times, they were probably ritually killed if they became seriously ill or infirm. They are highly respected for their willingness to sacrifice themselves for the good of the community and are assumed to control awesome spiritual powers. They are frequently called upon to settle disputes and to preside at witchcraft trials. Within the Christian churches, the civilized-native dichotomy stratifies participation and leadership, particularly for women. The local Episcopal congregations set a higher tithe for civilized women than for lappa women and expect them to take the lead in the...

Gender over the Life Cycle

Bamileke prefer and actively praise a balance of male and female children. Special rituals performed by the queen mother (the mother of the chief) aim to insure a balance of male and female children in the royal family. Boy and girl infants are treated equally, and traditional given names do not distinguish among male and female children (although praise names, ndap, do distinguish among the male and female descendants of a particular village). Infants are frequently bathed, held constantly, and passed from mother to visitor to sibling and, occasionally, to father. They are encouraged to sit and to walk, and to play give-and-take games with simple objects. Small rituals, associated with bathing, are performed by caretaking adults (especially mothers and grandmothers) to prevent convulsions, colic, and witchcraft attack. Once they reach toddlerhood, both boys and girls begin to practice the tasks of adulthood (carrying bowls of water and other objects on the head, learning to handle a...

Applying an Integrated Cultural Epidemiological Approach

Mary, a mother of a 10-year-old boy with seizures who lived in a medium-sized town in Kenya, used different words to describe her ideas about epilepsy and how she sought treatment for him. Note her mention of a broad variety of health resources quite different from those mentioned in the Ecuadorian case. Also note the complex consultations with multiple practitioners when cures did not work as promised, as well as the perceived need to hide use of local traditional healers for fear of being accused of practicing witchcraft. The third healer asked for a red chicken and a goat. We took the chicken but not the goat. He looked at it and said that the toes of the chicken should be removed and tied to the child for three days. We could tie the chicken nails on at night and take them off in the morning. We feared our son would be seen with such stuff when at school, and people might charge us with practicing witchcraft. This didn't work, either.

Historical Overview

And attempted to explain the complexities of bipolar illness. In the second century ad Areteus wrote about patients who, in a state of euphoria, danced throughout the night, talked publicly, and acted overly self-confident then, for no apparent reason, shifted into a state of sorrow and despair. The fourth century bc Greek physicians lead by Hippocrates were perhaps the first to hypothesize that symptoms we now call bipolar disorder represented a neurological illness highlighted by major uncontrollable shifts in a person's mood. These early Greek scholars further taught that mental illness is caused by natural rather than spiritual forces, identified the brain as the major organ responsible for sanity and intellectual processes, attempted to classify major mental disorders, and developed crude medical treatments for mental disorders. Unfortunately, however, records from the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Middle Ages, European Renaissance, and early American history indicate that...

Cultural Expression of Neuroses and Psychoses

The prevalence and forms of mental illness in different cultures is an old concern of psychoanalytic anthropology culturally specific behavioral manifestations of schizophrenia have been discussed for Japan (Caudill, 1959), Italy (Parsons, 1969), and many other cultures. Parsons also raised the question of how people in a community differentiate mental illness from culturally appropriate accusations of witchcraft. Melford Spiro wrote on a case of psychosis in Ifaluk (Spiro, 1950), and later considered the cultural factors that contribute to mental illness in that culture (Spiro, 1959). One of

Hasan Aziz and Zarin Mogal

In developing countries epilepsy still remains in the shadows of myths, superstitions and stigma. Fear, shame and mysticism surrounds epilepsy even today. Families of patients with epilepsy often make references to black magic, witchcraft, voodoo or evil ancestral spirit possession, a divine punishment, and poisoning.26,27,36,37 The mysterious stormy events of an epileptic seizure have compelled many to associate it with a supernatural cause.36-39 In Pakistan, only 3.1 population surveyed associated epilepsy to a supernatural cause as against 71 in Turkey.40 In traditional Africa epilepsy is linked to the evil eye. The curative rituals range from complete shaving of entire body with glass and affliction of burns to banishment of the person causing the evil influence.38,41 The saliva, flatus, breath, and other secretions of the patient are thought to be highly contagious.38,42 Epileptic seizure is thought to signify escaping of a demon or an evil spirit and hence one is not allowed to...

Contextualizing Birthing Systems Global and Local Perspectives

In one case, for example, Ganigi, a woman experiencing her tenth pregnancy, confronted complications during labor that challenged local healers. Ganigi initially adhered to the Bariba ideal of delivering alone but called her mother when she delivered the umbilical cord prior to the birth of the baby. Her labor then stopped. This unusual circumstance led the family to call a respected local midwife, known for her spiritual powers. The midwife diagnosed the protrusion as a woman's affliction known as tigpiru, and offered a herbal remedy. When that failed to accelerate labor, a second midwife and the anthropologist were called. The second midwife tried abdominal massage, herbal smelling salts, and a herbal drink served in a gourd, to no avail. Ganigi, in a state of great anxiety that her problems might result from witchcraft, finally allowed the anthropologist to transport her to the nearest maternity clinic, where the nurse diagnosed a prolapsed cord and assisted Ganigi in delivering...

Communicating about Risk Menace and Safety

Risk fills a particular cultural niche in contemporary society. Anthropologists have long said that non-Western cultures explain misfortune partly through magic and witchcraft. Anthropologist E. E. Evans-Pritchard wrote in his classic book Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic among the Azande that his African village informants were perfectly capable of explaining that a raised granary collapsed because termites had eaten through the supports (Evans-Pritchard 1937). But witchcraft explained why that particular granary collapsed just when that particular individual was seated underneath it enjoying the shade. A contemporary social anthropologist suggests that the concept of risk plays an equivalent role in post-industrial Western cultures where control over one's life has become increasingly viewed as important, the concept of 'risk' is now widely used to explain deviations from the norm, misfortune and frightening events (Lupton 1999 3).

Biology and Nature Constructing Biomedicines Ultimate Realities

Anthropologists, historians, and philosophers of science, among others, have shown that nature too is a construction whose elements reflect our own cultural projections back to us (Davis-Floyd, 1994 Foucault, 1975, 1977 Gordon, 1988 Keller, 1992 Schiebinger, 1993). Most cultural constructions of nature reflect cosmologies, and these cosmological underpinnings ensure the uniqueness of most medical systems, from Chinese medicine to local indigenous types of shamanism or witchcraft. Such underpinnings, especially in indigenous systems, are in fact what made them early candidates for anthropological investigation, allowing, as we noted above, the field of medical anthropology to grow rapidly by incorporating studies already carried out.

Granular Theory See Life Theories Of

The theoretical relationship between the features of one's handwriting and his her personality or character has been studied extensively in modern times by the French abbot Jean Hippolyte Michon (1806-1881) and by the German philosopher psychologist Ludwig Klages (1872-1956). Based on analyses of the characteristics and variables in personal handwriting - such as modulations in size of letters, layout, connectedness, slant, regularity, speed, forms, shading, and angularity - graphologists (those who analyze the physical features and patterns of handwriting and who formulate graphology theory) have speculated on persons' traits, qualities, and attributes. Some graphologists use the analytic approach, in which relatively isolated aspects of the handwriting (e.g., curvature, angularity, width, slant of individual letters) are presumed indicators of specific personality traits of the writer. Other graphologists assert that personality characteristics are reflected...

Culture Bound Syndromes and Social Change

Although the term culture-bound refers to a concept of culture that comes from an earlier period in anthropological theory in which culture was seen as relatively unchanging and localized, contemporary anthropologists increasingly see such syndromes as not only characterized by the same historical changes and globalization that affect all cultural phenomena, but as derived from such changes directly. For example, Carr posits that the incidence of amok may have risen under colonialism and with urbanization in Malaysia because Malaysian rural culture had insufficient ways of dealing with the sharp rise in interpersonal conflict when the society came under stress (Carr, 1985). Eguchi (1991) theorizes that phenomena such as fox possession became psychiatric syndromes, defined as disease, only when the religious context in which they originally appeared changed. When most people no longer believed in fox spirits, those who did were labeled as delusional, and therefore sick. Jilek and...

Cultural Construction of Gender

Bamileke believe that males and females differ in their anatomy and reproductive capacity, in their relative strength, and in their emotionality. In terms of reproduction, men contribute substance to the making of a new fetus (usually termed water, the same word used for semen, but occasionally termed blood). If the child is born in wedlock, it is said to physically resemble its father. Women likewise contribute substance (usually identified as blood but occasionally as water) to the new being, as well as actively forming the fetus through their transformational (cooking) skills during gestation. Women further form the child through breast-feeding. Women are responsible, through both inheritance of traits and child-rearing practices, for the personality of the child. Women are considered to be physically less strong than men, but to have greater endurance. Bamileke women are still expected to display considerable physical strength and fortitude, especially in their agricultural...

Socialization of Boys and Girls

Boys and girls usually play in gender-segregated groups. In coastal towns, soccer (football) is the preferred team sport for boys and almost any round object that can be kicked will be used as a ball. Girls may practice dance steps and chase each other in games of tag. Occasionally, a mixed-sex group of children will enact some adult activity, such as a development rally or witchcraft investigation. If family resources are limited, only the boys, or one boy, may be chosen to attend formal school. Parents fear that girls who are sent to school may become pregnant and leave before they acquire enough education for the wage sector. This common scenario is responsible for the very disparate numbers of boys and girls in the educational system. In general, boys are expected to be more active, aggressive, and mobile than girls. Although all young people are expected to behave with great respect towards their elders, girls are instructed to cast their eyes down and sit with their legs pressed...

Orientations to the Body

At one end of the continuum are systems whose orientation to the body can be called externalizing in that their diagnostic and therapeutic ideas and techniques direct people's attention away from the sufferer's body. In those systems the medical gaze looks outward, scanning networks of people and beings (e.g., ancestral spirits, possession spirits, demons) for morally significant encounters and events involving the sick person or that person's close relatives. The diagnostic goal is to construct a useful etiology, that is, a string of circumstances and events that lead to the onset of suffering and distress and identify the ultimate source of the sickness. The therapist's goal in those systems is to insert himself or herself into the patient's sickness narrative and, once there, persuade or coerce the pathogenic agents to stop afflicting the patient. The classic account of diagnosis and treatment in an externalizing system is E. E. Evans-Pritchard's Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic...

Other Cross Sex Relationships

While discord between spouses is deplored, that between cross-sex siblings is scandalous. The depth of feeling is indicated by witchcraft beliefs, which hold that, since the most precious life for a man is his sister's daughter, she is the preferred victim of his heart stealing.

Sources and Types of Beliefs

Replaced, temporarily or permanently, by another entity. More rarely, a second entity may also be thought to enter the body without displacing the first, even though the behavioral manifestations are those of this additional presence. Such an explanation for possession by the spirit of a dead sinner (dybbuk) is found in the Jewish tradition. A belief in entities that may possess individuals is also required, be they hostile or benevolent, spirits of the dead, sometimes of animals or witchcraft beings. High gods are rare among the spirits that are believed to possess humans. It is apparent that beliefs in spirit possession are linked to complex cosmologies, although the details of such esoteric systems may be known only to ritual specialists. For the ritual participants, such cosmologies may be more implicit than explicit. The behavior acted out is largely learned and structured by local expectations.

Leisure Recreation and the Arts

Men spend their leisure time in sex-segregated groups, talking local and national politics or listening to the radio, if available. Women spend what little free time they have in groups of other women, often braiding each other's hair and exchanging news. Younger people who are in school or otherwise considered civilized have more gender-mixed activities church groups and school classes sponsor disco dances and video showings using a gas-powered generator to supply electricity. It is considered odd, and possibly indicative of witchcraft, for anyone to spend their leisure time alone.

Zollnerpoggendorff Illusion

The phenomenon of zombiism (i.e., a corpse-like robot-like human being believed to belong to the living dead, who is buried alive and resurrected by witchdoctors in order to carry out their directives, existing in particular in the voodoo cult of Haiti and various West African religions) has been studied by the Irish-Canadian ethnobi-ologist E. Wade Davis (1953- ). In his zom-biism theory, Davis suggests that in the secret cult activities the ingestion by the victim of a barely sub-lethal dosage of a poison magic powder (consisting of such substances as pufferfish and other ingredients containing the neurotoxin tetrodotoxin) results in a deep coma resembling death. The witchcraft ceremonies also typically involve a live burial where, along with the poison, extensive neurological damage usually occurs in the victim. Later, when the victim is exhumed revived, he or she typically has few intact memories or

Nimal Senanayake

Belief in witchcraft is part of a religious thought system, and is common throughout Africa. Water or food poisoned by witchcraft may cause epilepsy. Often, the actions of the witches happen when a person is asleep. The Bagandas, living in rural areas of Uganda, believe that epileptic seizures are caused by the movement of a lizard within the head, present since birth or sent through the agency of witchcraft. Treatment comprises shaving the scalp and applying a horn to suck the lizard out.

Body Image

Excretion and excretory behaviour are rigidly controlled in each culture and in each society, and in western societies there are strong prohibitions on the uncontrolled passage of urine and faeces. Prohibitions concerned with excrement are numerous, and it has been associated with madness, danger and witchcraft. To excrete through a different body exit requires a specific schema, which the individual and his society must understand if the individual is not to become a marginal member of that society. The western world enforces rigid laws in association with the civilized disposal of human waste by means of the private act of excretion, and the raising of a stoma can risk placing the individual in a liminal position as a person who may be dangerous to society. As human beings we draw boundaries between ourselves and the outside world. When these boundaries break down we find it profoundly disturbing, and when something in the system that we have conceived breaks down it violates...

Metamorphosis

Barkan, Leonard, The Gods Made Flesh Metamorphosis and the Pursuit of Paganism (New Haven Yale University Press, 1986) Diaz, Nancy Gray, The Radical Self Metamorphosis to Animal Form in Modern Latin American Narrative (Columbia University of Missouri Press, 1988) Forbes Irving, P.M.C., Metamorphosis in Greek Myths (Oxford Clarendon Press, 1990) Ovid, Metamorphoses, translated and with an introduction by Mary M. Innes (Harmondsworth, Middlesex Penguin Books,

Status of the Aged

Resource and information control, only certain types of control, particularly administration and consultation, correlate with beneficient treatment of the elderly. Some forms of supernatural information control, especially transformational powers, were in fact a potential threat to the elderly. Under conditions of rapid change, older women who are linked to esoteric power such as witchcraft, may be seen as great liabilities and put to death. This happened in great numbers in Europe during the middle ages (Bever, 1982) and in certain areas of East Africa during the mid-1990s (Witchcraft-a violent threat, 2000).

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