Witchcraft has many forms, which vary based on the region, country and personal beliefs of the practitioner. The public’s views on sorcery are also different based on where, and how, it is practised. Some of the reactions to witchcraft range from fear or misunderstanding, to reverence or even indifference. The basic spells and rituals are normally passed on from previous generations, but many are adapted based on the current changes in our society.
The witchdoctors in South Africa are separated into two categories: the inyanga and the isangoma. Inyanga are traditional healers that use their knowledge of herbs to take care of the villagers when they are ill. The art can be taught to anybody within the community that has a desire to heal. Isangoma, like the oracles of Ancient Greece, are believed to be born with their psychic abilities which are nurtured to help them protect people from evil spirits and predict the future. They communicate with the ancestors by going into trances, which are initiated through the use of music. In addition, many of them are religious leaders in the community. Both the inyanga and isangoma undergo years of training, and are greatly respected within the region.
The Mapuche, one of Chile’s indigenous tribes, have spiritual leaders which double as medicine women. These Machi use their connection with good spirits to boost the tribe’s overall well-being and spiritual development. At the other end of the spectrum, there are evil sorceresses known as Kalku that use black magic and summon evil spirits to wreak havoc amongst the communities. These include: the Anchimayen, creatures that bring dead children back to life for evil purposes; and Chocon, a bird with the head of a Kalku which can only be called upon for malicious intent.
A form of witchcraft practised in the Philippines is known as Kulam. These black magic practitioners called mangkukulam, and the spells that they cast use incantations intended to cause harm to others. Most of their work is done for people in their community who are willing to pay their price, and can include love potions and hexing. The method used by the sorcerers in spells normally includes making dolls to represent their victims. A string is tied around the doll to show the power that the witch has over the one being cursed, and then chants uttered to invoke the spirits. The spell can only be lifted by removing the string from around the doll, or by killing the witch. In some communities the mangkukulam actually work with the medicine man to protect its villagers, and in others the two are rivals. Surprisingly, many of the Catholics in the Philippines are very accepting of this form of witchcraft and the country aims at eliminating the bad reputation that it currently has, as there are many good practitioners as well.