In wake of witchcraft accusations, concerns rise over religious regulation in South Africa

PRETORIA, South Africa –A self-styled prophet and leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering is being sued because he accused a businessperson of being a witch on live television, and some South African Pagans fear the case may bolster a push to regulate religion. If that were to come to pass, members of minority traditional and Pagan groups may be disproportionately affected in this country. Witchcraft is a complicated topic throughout Africa. Witch accusations can lead to violence, arising out of negative associations made to traditional practices. The emergence of Neopagan movements such as Wicca make the use of the word “witch” all the more confusing.

UN will focus on witchcraft-related violence for first time

TWH –  The Times of India reports that “Shanti Devi, a resident of Thethai Andag village, was [killed Tuesday night] on suspicion of practising witchcraft.” 11 assailants reportedly beat her to death and later set her body on fire “to wipe out all evidences connecting them with the crime.” Kalinga TV offers a similar report. “In yet another superstition-related crime, a man hacked his aunt to death suspecting her to be practicing sorcery before dumping her body on the banks of a river in Thakursahi village.” The Ghana Web reports that a 63-year-old man has recently come forward to claim that his blindness was caused by his own mother selling his soul so that she could possess witchcraft abilities.

International Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities: an overview

TWH — Both the United Kingdom and United States are well known to have thriving Pagan, Heathen, and polytheists communities in one form or another. A few of the most commonly found Pagan religious practices, such as Druidry and Wicca, can locate their origins in one or both of those two cultures. Furthermore, for those people living within those two countries, it is often fellow community members and co-religionists who are most commonly given voice in the mainstream press, at local events, and even within the Pagan media sphere. This reality can make it difficult to see beyond one’s own national borders into other cultures where Pagans, Heathens, and polytheists may thrive. Over the years, The Wild Hunt has gone in search of such practices beyond the U.K. and the U.S., asking how ritual, belief, and community differ within those other societies.

Column: South African Pagans remember Donna Darkwolf

[Today The Wild Hunt welcomes guest contributor Damon Leff, a human rights activist, Witch, and editor-in-chief of Penton Independent Alternative Media. Leff is also the director of the South African Pagan Rights Alliance, and owns his own pottery studio called Mnrva Pottery. He is currently studying Law at the University of South Africa, and lives in the Wilderness, Western Cape, South Africa.]

“No living thing can seek the light for ever. Not find it. And not be changed.

South African Witches face obstacles in the public practice of magic

[The following article is a joint project between The Wild Hunt and Damon Leff, a human rights activist, Witch, and editor-in-chief of Penton Independent Alternative Media. Leff is also the director of the South African Pagan Rights Alliance, and owns his own pottery studio called Mnrva Pottery. He is currently studying Law at the University of South Africa, and lives in the Wilderness, Western Cape, South Africa.]

SOUTH AFRICA — Michael Hughes, the unofficial face of the recent February 24 mass binding ritual against the 45th President of the U.S. Donald Trump, described it as a tool for political resistance against “the Devil.” In the wake of the numerous international headlines around the world, South African Witches were left wondering whether such public magical resistance against a sitting head of state will in any way influence, or reinforce their own government’s existing negative perception of Witches. South African Witches live in a country that is still hostile to any notion of “witchcraft” as a valid spiritual pursuit. For most South Africans, including influential Traditional Healers and Traditional Leaders, Witchcraft is viewed as a wholly negative practice.