(Pic: Calling North, Samhain 2006:'European' Magic in Africa)
Here in Africa, Witchcraft is perceived differently according to the culture one belongs to.
I work with highly intelligent, articulate people who have no problem with the concept of a 'Witch' turning herself into a black cat - in fact, one of them claims to have seen it.
I used to struggle with the idea of Witchcraft actually physically harming people.
The idea that someone could lay a curse on another and that person would sicken and die, or be killed by a falling rock within the month belonged, as far as I was concerned, to the realms of coincidence, human imagination and tall stories.
And this, mind you, after I became a Witch myself.
We cling, most of us in the Western subculture, to the paradigm of the rational, the individual, the scientifically-explainable.
The shining figure of Apollo is the only preChristian God we acknowledge- he who stands tall and radiant in the light of his own frontal lobes, telling us that if we can't measure it, can't build equations to explain it, it doesn't really exist.
What we have mostly forgotten-or smothered and dumped into the cloacae of our bright, brave new world- is the far older, chaotic, dark and stygian presence of the old Goddesses. Those for whom the Pythonesses prophesied before the Sun God appropriated their holy sites.
They still exist, however we try to explain them away-the realms of our world we try so hard not to see, the Pythian.
Terri's inventing words again, I see.
(Pic: Beltane Fire Festival:'European' magic in Europe)
I have only very recently come-despite the facts knocking me on the head for years-to accept that this realm is also real, also a part of the world we live in, and must be at least acknowledged, or it will bite us very firmly indeed on the ass.
All of which is relevant to SAPRA's current contribution to Pagan rights.
Please note, if you read the province of Mpumalanga's attempt at a Witchcraft Suppression Bill that these legislators can neither spell nor assemble sentences in English. Not such a heinous crime-unless you are an elected law-maker and assumed to be fairly well educated.
Luke Martin of Lunaguardia in Mpumalanga and Damon Leff, our SAPRA convener, have put together an alternative to this daft attempt to stop Witches being killed through legislating Witchcraft away, and have done a fine job with their proposed Witchcraft Protection Bill, also available at the SAPRA site.
Please note that neither of these young men is a qualified lawyer or even a parliamentarian.
Enmarie, who is responsible for the gorgeous image below:
has been spending time with the Traditional Healers Organisation, which represents iSangomas and isInyangas, with respect to this matter.
(Pic: Calling the Ancestors: 'African' magic in Africa)
They are of course incensed at the not-so-subtle attempt to legislate their own Craft, and are making common cause with Pagans . A formidable partnership this is, indeed-especially since they have a Traditional Healer sitting in parliament.
The Bill presents itself as an attempt to curb the slaying (by burning, stoning, hacking to death and sometimes just shooting) of 'Witches'-whether they be Witches or not. It's something which happens here with depressing regularity.
How the hel anyone thinks they are going to achieve this by banning Witchcraft is beyond most people.
It's as if this posse of clowns got together in Mpumalanga, scratching their heads over what to do about all these women -and sometimes men- being targeted and torched by their own neighbours, and came up with the intelligent idea of making -not the practise of murdering the Witches but the practise of Witchcraft illegal.
After all-these Witches must have done something to provoke their murderers, not so?
Just as most women must have been asking to be raped.