The Epidemic of “Witch Hunts” (part one)

Part one of our two part interview with Damon Leff. Leff is a South African Pagan involved in education and advocacy for human rights and religious freedom. We spoke with him about the South African Pagan Rights Alliance (SAPRA) and the work it is doing.

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.

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.