Witchcraft Essay

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To Believe or Not to Believe: Rationalizing the Irrational Paul Stoller became a witchcraft sorcerer. At first he was reluctant, but as time passed on- he began adjusting to it. When he went to Mehanna, Niger to do his fieldwork, his main interest was the Songhay people and its culture. He didn’t think his interest would turn into curiosity and eventually, to become involved in its religion on a personal level. One might be questioning how an educated anthropologist became involved in such a religion so primitive, it’s considered irrational. In order to understand that, one must understand the social processes Paul went through in his journey to believe. These processes called Interpretive Drift became an important role in Stoller’s journey toward his belief in magic. In the beginning, Paul himself thought of witchcraft to be a fake, therefore an irrational thing. However, his curiosity got the best of him and he slowly started to change his beliefs. As he gradually immersed himself in Songhay’s culture, his mind became more accepting to its traditions, customs, and eventually, the religion. At first, Paul did not want to get personally involved because that would compromise his professionalism. (Stoller, Olkes 1987: 551) Nonetheless, he was struggling with his curiosity and he did not rest until he accepted the opportunity to learn witchcraft from the inside. His teacher was a magician healer, AKA sorko, named Djibo Mounmouni. Paul started learning about witchcraft and participating in rituals. Three months had passed and he had already learnt about the deities, incantations and powders/plants. Still, Paul’s reluctance kept him struggling to fully believe. At one point, Paul wonders if he’s a victim of a conspiracy. He even states he hadn’t learned anything about the “craft of the sorko” and asks himself: “Was I wasting my time?” (Stoller,

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