Witchcraft: European and African

Witchcraft: European and African

Witchcraft: European and African

Witchcraft: European and African

Excerpt

Belief in witchcraft is one of the great fears from which mankind has suffered. It has taken its toll literally in blood. The belief has appeared in many parts of the world, in one form or another. It became particularly prominent and developed in Europe, in the later Middle Ages and Renaissance periods. Still in modern Africa belief in witchcraft is a great tyranny spreading panic and death.

Interest in witchcraft is still widespread in Europe and America. Passionately believed in and causing terrible persecutions from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, rejected as an illusion in the last century, the subject fascinates modern men with that appeal which the mysterious exercises on the mind. The literature of witchcraft is immense. Moreover, from its experiences of the Nazi horrors, this generation can understand better than the last one the despotism of false ideas, the worthlessness of forced confessions, and the torture of scapegoats. And even in western Europe the revival of superstition, as seen in newspaper astrology and the like, following upon the decline in Christian faith, is favourable to the recurrence of dabbling in the black arts.

In other continents, from India to the Pacific, various forms of witchcraft belief appear. But it is in Africa that it is now most widespread. Witch-hunts are common there and witch-doctors are important members of society. The coming of education seems to have done little as yet to shake the belief, and there are signs that many of the educated increase their convictions in the reality of witchcraft when the power of the old gods is broken.

The present book is in the main a study of belief in witchcraft in . . .

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