Articles/Essays From Pagans
May 19th. 2013 ...
The Role of Identity in Magic
Talking Trash? It's a Dirty Subject but Waste Happens.
My Wiccan Journey
13 Keys: The Victory of Netzach
May 12th. 2013 ...
Pagan Studies I: How Should We Define Modern Paganism?
The Third Path
Nothing Special... Part Two
May 5th. 2013 ...
The Value of Multicultural Awareness
Put Your Back Into It (Our Lady of the Sacred Honey Badger)
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Red Lipped Bat Fish
April 28th. 2013 ...
Lessons from the Lessers: Iris
April 21st. 2013 ...
Taken By The Goddess: The Crescent Moon Tattoo
The Gods/Being Godbothered
To Be A Witch
The Archetypes are Gods: Re-godding the Archetypes
April 14th. 2013 ...
On The Inclusion of Children
'Wand Fun' With Grandson
Lessons from a Baby
Lessons of Freedom: On Divinity and Healing
April 7th. 2013 ...
Out of the Broom Closet... Sorta
A Journey Through the Witches Tarot
History and Science Behind Numerology
March 31st. 2013 ...
What is the Magickal Self?
Ethics and Numerology
March 24th. 2013 ...
Keystones of the Sacred Land
March 17th. 2013 ...
Why Some Pagans and Witches Still Hide
Witch Heritage 101: What Happens When Witch Haters Joke about anti-Witch Films
I'm Not a Broom. So What's with the Closet?
March 10th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Things I Did as a New Pagan: Part 3
Hunting for the Real Witch in Film
The Collective Shadow
Lies - The Opposite of Truth
March 3rd. 2013 ...
Grounding and Releasing Negative Energy
A Patchwork of Magick
February 24th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I Made as a New Pagan (Part Two)
February 17th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I made as a New Pagan... Part One
Gardening with Crystal Energies
A Call from the Ancestors
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Black Water Snakes
February 10th. 2013 ...
We Are the Weirdos, Mister: A Completely Uncool Story of Origin
February 3rd. 2013 ...
"I'll Grind Your Bones to Make my Bread": Pagans and Animal Husbandry
The Role of Contemporary Culture in Magic
A Pagan Response to Endangered Earth
The Great Mother's Gift, Heinlein, and the Nature of Squirrels
13 Keys: The Glory of Hod
January 27th. 2013 ...
Why We Do Need Wicca
The Cosmos In the Coffee Shop
On Travel Spirituality and Magick
January 20th. 2013 ...
Beloved Backs and How to Save Them
Building or Burning Bridges?
Plants, Magic and Intuition
Plagiarism - How It Harms Our Community
January 13th. 2013 ...
Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Stupid Clichés
The Magick and Power of Words
Aging Is Not Easy
The Riddle of Who We Are?
January 6th. 2013 ...
Wicca v Witchcraft
A Witch in the Closet
How Many People Can You Fit Under An Umbrella?
Gut Hunches, Mouse Dreams, and Pinkie Sense
December 30th. 2012 ...
Ritual "Cheat Sheet" Bracelet
Magick is All Around Us
Confessions of a Living Satyr
A Tiny Bit of Belly Dance History
December 23rd. 2012 ...
The Warrior Goddess and You.
World Change: A Message from Greece
What's the Meaning of Life, Anyway?
My Brother's Keeper
December 16th. 2012 ...
Keeping Christ in Xmas
Love is the Law
Listen to Your Heart's Wisdom
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
S.A. Witches Will Define Themselves, Thank You
Article Specs |
Article ID: 11919
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,092
Times Read: 2,750
RSS Views: 39,733
Author: Damon Leff
Posted: September 2nd. 2007
Times Viewed: 2,750
In June this year the Office of the Premier of Mpumalanga Province, South Africa, leaked a draft Witchcraft Suppression Bill which threatens to undermine the freedoms and rights already guaranteed to an existing religious minority – Witches - by deliberately criminalizing and prohibiting said religious minority’s constitutionally guaranteed right to exist and to practice their religion. The Bill seeks to suppress Witchcraft and will imprison self-defined Witches on the assumption of automatic inference of criminality.
In submitted formal objections to the proposed Suppression Bill the South African Pagan Rights Alliance (SAPRA) and the South African Pagan Council (SAPC), supported by Pagans across the country who define themselves as Witches, have criticized the Mpumalanga legislature’s decision to base their Bill on a piece of Apartheid legislation – the Witchcraft Suppression Act (Act 3 of 1957 as amended by Act 50 of 1970).
The Suppression Bill contradicts 11 clauses enshrined in the Bill of Rights, Chapter Two of the Constitution of South Africa, by denying self-defined Witches the right to dignity, equality, religious freedom, expression, association and the right to choose their trade, occupation or profession freely. The Act would in effect deny equal citizenship to South Africans who define their religion as Witchcraft.
SAPRA has called on the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development to support the enactment of legislation to prevent or prohibit unfair discrimination, to protect and advance persons or categories of persons disadvantaged by unfair discrimination, and to promote the achievement of equality for a specific historically disadvantaged religious minority – Witches.
SAPRA and the SAPC have presented an alternative Witchcraft Protection Bill to the Mpumalanga legislature for consideration as a replacement to the current Suppression Bill. Chapter 9 (4) of the Constitution of South Africa makes provision for the drafting of legislation to prevent or prohibit unfair discrimination.
The Protection Bill will provide for the protection of self-defined Witches, protect Witchcraft as a belief system and religion, and prohibit discrimination against persons claiming to be Witches, or alleged to be Witches or practicing Witchcraft.
Who defines Witchcraft?
The Suppression Bill defines Witchcraft as:
…the secret use of muti, zombies, spells, spirits, magic powders, water, mixtures, etc, by any person with the purpose of causing harm, damage, sickness to others or their property.
Self-defined Witches have rejected this definition on the grounds that it stereotypes witchcraft as harmful and portrays Witches as a danger to the communities within which they live and work. The proposed definition will merely serve to justify public fear of witchcraft and promote malice and violence against suspected witches.
SAPRA has called on Provincial and national government authorities to halt the passage of the Suppression Bill and has provided the authorities with the following preferred definition of Witchcraft:
…a religio-magical occupation that employs the use of sympathetic magic, ritual, herbalism and divination.
Urgent need to avert a Witch-Hunt
The national Witchcraft Suppression Act (1957) prohibits not only the knowledge and practice of witchcraft but also the practice of divinations. The Act also makes it illegal to accuse another of either being a Witch or of using witchcraft to cause harm.
Since 1980 thousands of innocent men and women have been accused of being witches or of using witchcraft. Many have been murdered by their communities without trial. Many more have been banished from their villages, their homes destroyed and members of their families murdered or forced to flee in fear of their lives.
For many South Africans a witch is nothing but a source of mischief, quarrel, illness, barrenness and sudden death. In common usage the word ‘witch’ is virtually synonymous with poisoner, murderer and liar and has become a label of convenience for any archetypal evil that threatens the natural and good societal order.
In rural South Africa, the mere suspicion of witchcraft activity may lead to accusation, assault, enforced exile or murder, especially in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Kwazulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
We are not criminals
Despite numerous inter-governmental investigations into the phenomena of ‘witch-purging’ by individuals and communities within South Africa and in spite of numerous very detailed published reports, including the Thohoyandou Declaration, no attempt has been made to reconcile the two very different world-views at stake when discussing witchcraft from a traditional African and Christian perspective, and Witchcraft from a South African Pagan perspective.
The 1995 Report of the Ralushai Commission of Inquiry into Witchcraft Violence and Ritual Murder in the Northern Province, defined the term ‘witch’ to mean a person who,
…through sheer malice, either consciously or subconsciously, employs magical means to inflict all manner of evil on their fellow human beings. They destroy property, bring disease or misfortune and cause death, often entirely without provocation to satisfy their inherent craving for evil doing.
Testifying before a Truth and Reconciliation Commission Amnesty Hearing in July 1999 Professor Ralushai confirmed his Commission’s definition of ‘a witch’ when he was asked by attorney Patrick Ndou to define what a Witch was. Ralushai stated,
“A witch is supposed to be a person who is endowed with powers of causing illness or ill luck or death to the person that he wants to destroy.”
It could be argued that maintaining and reinforcing a definition predisposed to eliciting violence against alleged witches was never in the best interest of tolerance or reconciliation.
The characterization of a person or group of persons (witches) as ‘evil’ and so deserving of criminal classification by default makes a mockery of the values of human dignity, equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms on which the Republic of South Africa is founded.
Witchcraft is a religion
Witchcraft is an ancient magical system that employs the use of divination, sympathetic magic and Pagan ritual practices. Contemporary Witches define their religio-spiritual practices as a craft and modern Witches ply their craft as herbalists, diviners and magic workers.
As ‘Wicca’, Witchcraft has evolved into a modern Pagan mystery religion. Wicca is an initiatory, polytheistic (with exceptions), Pagan mystery religion inspired by various pre- and post-Christian western European beliefs and spiritual practices. Gerald Gardner popularized Wicca in England in the 1950’s. An initiate of 'the Wicca' is one who traces his or her initiatory lineage back to Gerald Gardner or his initiates.
Not all Witches define themselves as 'Wicca'. Contrived disassociation of the term ‘Wicca’ from ‘Witch’ in order to support a cultural and religious world-view of good (the Wicca) versus evil (the Witch) is grossly misleading. The Wicca are (with exception), by self-definition, Witches.
Pagans identify their religion as a modern Earth and Nature venerating spirituality, one that embraces ancient and new forms of spiritual and magical practice, including the veneration of ancient Gods and Goddesses worshiped by pagans of the pre-Christian world.
Although no definite census exists, it is estimated that there are between 3000 and 5000 self-defined Pagan Witches in South Africa.
Location: Hoogekraal - southern Cape, South Africa
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