Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Vampires, Witches, and Devils *UPDATED*

BBC has an interesting piece on recovered remains in Bulgaria from the middle ages. The bodies were found to have had iron rods driven through their chests, so at to prevent a vampire from rising. There are numerous examples all over the region.
"These skeletons stabbed with rods illustrate a practice which was common in some Bulgarian villages up until the first decade of the 20th Century," explained Bozhidar Dimitrov who heads the National History Museum in the Bulgarian capital Sofia. 
People believed the rod would pin the dead into their graves to prevent them from leaving at midnight and terrorising the living, the historian added. 
The tweet for this story joked, "Real life vampires?" ...No. Sure it is funny to joke about. You can see the humor rising from a number of disturbing cannibal occurrences recently. We like to laugh at our supernatural narratives.

But these practices were still in use around 100 years ago. Not that long. And, in some places, they may still be practiced in the Balkans. These tales, traditions, and rituals have a way of staying with a culture.

The idea of witches can conjurer up many ideas, mostly fanciful. As you read on appreciate their are different kinds of "witches."

  • The Wiccans, Pagans, etc., who have their faiths and private personal practices. 
  • The more involved "witch doctors" and shamans, often with an established social duty, found in various places around the world. 
  • The TV and movie kind. ...The hat.
  • The point at a person you dislike and say, "You're a witch!" type. Things rarely go well for this one, as we'll see.

Now, consider the reactions in certain areas of the world to the notion of witches?

Nigeria, etc.
Rise in African children accused of witchcraft.
Kids being accused in a more recent ideas, apparently coming from the growth in orphaned children.
Most of those accused of witchcraft are boys aged between eight to 14 - who often end up being attacked, tortured and sometimes killed. 
Also, children have had petrol poured into their eyes or ears as a way of trying to exorcise "evil spirits" that healers believe have possessed them. 
It is reported that some evangelical preachers have added to the problem by charging large sums for exorcisms. One was recently arrested in Nigeria after charging more than $250 for each procedure. 
The Witch Killers of Africa
In June of 2001, villagers of Congo's northeast provinces began a bloody witch eradication campaign, sparing neither neighbor, nor friend. Alleged witches were unceremoniously hacked apart by machete-wielding vigilantes, bringing about a scene of carnage unmatched since the machete killing-sprees of the Rwanda Crisis. The innocent victims were first "smelled out" (identified by tribal healers as witches) before they were savagely beaten into incriminatory confessions about others allegedly engaged in the black arts. After the unsuspecting parties were identified, the executions started in earnest throughout the rural areas. Three hundred villagers were killed in the first days of the witch paranoia.[1] In the following weeks, the death toll rose to nearly eight hundred victims.[2] Hundreds of Congolese fled to the relative safety of Uganda, many bearing machete wounds on legs, arms, and torsos. 
Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia: Beheadings for 'witchcraft'

A Sri Lankan woman is currently facing decapitation by sword on a witchcraft charge in Saudi Arabia, in accordance with Wahhabism, a strict form of Sunni Islam. The UN reports executions tripled in the kingdom in 2011. 
A Saudi man complained that in a shopping mall his 13-year-old daughter “suddenly started acting in an abnormal way, which happened after she came close to the Sri Lankan woman,” reports the daily Okaz.  
After the local man denounced the Sri Lankan for casting a spell on his daughter, police in the port city of Jeddah found it sufficient cause to arrest the woman. 
Witchcraft and sorcery imply only one measure in Saudi Arabia – beheading. And it works this way in practice: last year in the kingdom at least two people – a woman in her 60s and a Sudanese man – were beheaded on witchcraft charges. 

Nepalese women accused of witchcraft and burned alive.

A 40-year-old mother of two was burned alive in central Nepal after she was accused of being a witch, police said Saturday. 
Dhegani Mahato was attacked and set on fire by family members and others after a shaman allegedly accused her of casting a spell to make one of her relatives sick, Police Officer Hira Mani Baral said. 

Bright Ghanaian teen 'witch' accused of stealing classmates' brains

THE latest victim of Africa’s insane obsession with witchcraft is a 17-year-old high school student in Ghana who has been forced to drop out of her studies after fellow students accused her of being “impossibly intelligent”. 
According to this report, Ghana’s Women and Children’s Minister, Hajia Hawawu Boya Gariba, intervened after the girl was accused by her classmates of ‘stealing the brains of other students’ in order to get top grades. 
The student, who scored straight As, fled to Gambaga, a camp for witches in northern Ghana, after community members threatened violence. 

'Harry Potter and yoga are evil', says Catholic Church exorcist

Father Gabriele Amorth, who for years was the Vatican’s chief exorcist and claims to have cleansed hundreds of people of evil spirits, said yoga is Satanic because it leads to a worship of Hinduism and “all eastern religions are based on a false belief in reincarnation”. 
Reading JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books is no less dangerous, said the 86-year-old priest, who is the honorary president for life of the International Association of Exorcists, which he founded in 1990, and whose favourite film is the 1973 horror classic, The Exorcist. 
The Harry Potter books, which have sold millions of copies worldwide, “seem innocuous” but in fact encourage children to believe in black magic and wizardry, Father Amorth said. 
“Practising yoga is Satanic, it leads to evil just like reading Harry Potter,” he told a film festival in Umbria this week, where he was invited to introduce The Rite, a film about exorcism starring Sir Anthony Hopkins as a Jesuit priest. 
“In Harry Potter the Devil acts in a crafty and covert manner, under the guise of extraordinary powers, magic spells and curses,” said the priest, who in 1986 was appointed the chief exorcist for the Diocese of Rome. 

United States
Hagee Tells Atheist to Leave the Country because They are not Wanted and Won't be Missed (w/ video)
Tomorrow, June 6, will be the 68th anniversary of the D-Day invasion at Normandy and Pastor John Hagee used his sermon this past Sunday to reflect upon sacrifices made on this day ... and also to tellatheists to get out of America "if our belief in God offends you" because they are not wanted and won't be missed while also calling on Congress to "outlaw the practice of witchcraft and Satanism in the US military, lest we offend the God of Heaven" 
(Emphasis added.)

And, of course, we all remember when the one time governor of Alaska received special protection from witches.

We are mostly unaware, but people are killed every years for being a witch. Witch burnings and hangings may seem like historical jokes. But, in this year people have died, and will yet die. And often these people have to die because some person or group need someone they can blame (for crop failures, for illness, for deaths, for misfortune) and have punished for supernatural nonexistent reasons.

It's cruel attitude and in too many cultures allowed to persist. We should not let fear drive murder. And we should not allow ourselves to be oblivious.

A generalized courtroom scene showing an "afflicted" girl fallen on the floor in front of the judges bench. An accused woman stands in front of the judges holding her right hand over her heart and gesturing upwards, as if in the act of declaring her innocence before God.
"Witchcraft at Salem Village." Source: Pioneers in the Settlement of America by William A. Crafts. Vol. I Boston: Samuel Walker & Company, 1876. Artists: F. O. C. Darley, Wm. L. Shepard, Granville Perkins, etc.

Sorry, been thinking. We have a lot of justified beefs with how Saudi Arabia treats it's people. Rights to drive, vote, etc. How come the fact they cut the heads off "witches" is never brought up? That was just bugging me.

No comments: