Witchcraft in Nupe Society Essay

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When studying witchcraft in African civilizations, such as in the Nupe society, one must keep in mind that the concept of witchcraft, more specifically the idea of a supernatural power, used entirely for evil and anti-social purposes, which with man becomes possessed, is very openly identified in the minds of their citizens. This notion, however, should not be confused with their accepted beliefs in magic, magico-religious rites, spirits, ghosts, and the application of ‘magical substances,’ known in our culture as medicine, because these concepts are distinctly separated from the witchcraft described in this paper. That is, the evil craft used as a means of killing and torture, which is immeasurable by typical moral and social standards.
The first, and most distinct characteristic of witchcraft in the Nupe society is that women are the main practitioners. When a woman wants to become a witch, she must merely seek out a known female witch, ideally the official head of witches, who, “without any complicated initiation, she soon becomes a witch herself (Nadel, 429.)” At the moment of inception, the new witch officially enters into “the organized ‘order’ of witches (Nadel, 429),” with whom she will participate in unholy councils held outside of the village, where plots against people in the community are formulated. Yet, it is noted that the members and gatherings are known and visible only to one another. Moreover, each member of the order is expected to have a hand in common work by acquiring a human victim. It is believed that it is far easier to practice their power on a member of their own kin, and therefore witches own flesh and blood are their most common prey. However, it is also said that witches frequently become consumed by quarrels within the order, and, as a result, they often use the night to act against each other.
Women’s witchcraft, commonly referred to as ‘real’ witchcraft, is associated with three concepts: night, invisibility, and the human...

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