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The Persecution of Witches, 21st-Century Style

Most people believe that the persecution of “witches” reached its height in the early 1690s with the trials in Salem, Mass., but it is a grim paradox of 21st-century life that violence against people accused of sorcery is very much still with us. Far from fading away, thanks to digital interconnectedness and economic development, witch hunting has become a growing, global problem.

In recent years, there has been a spate of attacks against people accused of witchcraft in Africa, the Pacific and Latin America, and even among immigrant communities in the United States and Western Europe. Researchers with United Nations refugee and human rights agencies have estimated the murders of supposed witches as numbering in the thousands each year, while beatings and banishments could run into the millions. “This is becoming an international problem — it is a form of persecution and violence that is spreading around the globe,” Jeff Crisp, an official with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, told a panel in 2009, the last year in which an international body studied the full dimensions of the problem. A report that year from the same agency and a Unicef study in 2010 both found a rise, especially in Africa, of violence and child abuse linked to witchcraft accusations.

More recent media reports suggest a disturbing pattern of mutilation and murder. Last year, a mob in Papua New Guinea burned alive a young mother, Kepari Leniata, 20, who was suspected of sorcery. This highly publicized case followed a series of instances over recent years of lethal group violence against women and men accused of witchcraft.

“These are becoming all too common in certain parts of the country,” said the prime minister, Peter O’Neill. Last year, Papua New Guinea finally repealed a 1971 law that permitted attackers to cite intent to combat witchcraft as a legal defense. But progress is slow. Although the police charged a man and woman in connection with the 2013 killing of Ms. Leniata, no one has faced trial, a fact that drew protest from Amnesty International in February.

One of the ugliest aspects of these crimes is their brutality. Victims are often burned alive, as in Ms. Leniata’s case and a 2012 case in Nepal; or accused women are sometimes beaten to death, as occurred in the Colombian town of Santa Barbara in 2012; or the victims may be stoned or beheaded, as has been reported in Indonesia and sub-Saharan Africa.

It is tempting to point to poverty in the developing world, as well as scapegoating, as the chief causes of anti-witch attacks — and such forces are undoubtedly at work. But while Africa and the southwestern Pacific have a long history of economic misery, much of this violence, especially against children, has worsened since 2000. The surge suggests forces other than economic resentment or ancient superstition.

In some communities, it is chiefly young men who take on the role of witch hunters, suggesting that they may see it as a way to earn prestige by cleansing undesirables and enforcing social mores. That many of the self-appointed witch hunters are men highlights another baleful aspect of the phenomenon: The majority of victims are women. The Rev. Jack Urame of the Melanesian Institute, a Papua New Guinean human rights agency, estimates that witchcraft-related violence there is directed 5 to 1 against women, suggesting that witchcraft accusations are used to cloak gender-based violence.

Another factor, particularly in Central Africa and its diaspora communities, is the advent of revivalist churches, in which self-styled pastor-prophets rail against witchery and demon possession. They often claim to specialize in the casting out of evil spirits, sometimes charging for the service. Many of those congregations have emerged from Western evangelizing efforts.

One of Nigeria’s most popular Pentecostal preachers, Helen Ukpabio, wrote that “if a child under the age of 2 screams in the night, cries and is always feverish with deteriorating health, he or she is a servant of Satan.” As that implies, children in those communities are especially likely to be identified as possessed. The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that most of the 25,000 to 50,000 children who live on the streets of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, were abandoned by family members who accused them of witchcraft or demonic possession.

The etiology of this epidemic is complex, but human rights observers point to overpopulation, rapid urbanization and the hardship of parents forced to relocate to seek work, as well as the sheer stresses of raising children amid dire poverty. Superstitions are stoked by local “healers,” who charge parents to exorcise evil spirits.

Witch hunting is far from limited, however, to acts of sadistic vigilantism or profiteering. Some legal systems even sanction the killing of accused witches.

In 2011, courts in Saudi Arabia sentenced a man and a woman, in separate cases, to beheading after convictions for sorcery. In 2013, Saudi courts sentenced two Asian housemaids to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison on charges of casting spells against their employers.

A Lebanese television psychic, Ali Hussain Sibat, was arrested in 2008, while on pilgrimage to Medina, by the Saudi religious police for hosting a television show in his native Lebanon, “The Hidden,” where he would make predictions and prescribe love potions and spells. After an outcry by Amnesty International and others, the Saudi courts stayed Mr. Sibat’s execution by beheading, but sentenced him in 2010 to a 15-year prison term.

As in Africa, the wave of anti-witch activity in Saudi Arabia is fairly new. The Saudi religious police devised an Anti-Witchcraft Unit in 2009, resulting in the arrests of 215 alleged “conjurers” in 2012. Some observers attribute this sudden interest in witchery to the royal family’s attempts to appease its religious inquisitors by keeping them busy targeting a handful of vulnerable individuals.

A final motive driving modern witch hunting may be more venal than spiritual: The police in Indonesia, where there were about 100 suspected witch killings in 2000, point to fraud and graft directed against vulnerable women, who, lacking family or community protection, fall prey to banishment or murder on slim pretexts, while their homes and property are seized by their accusers.

Globalization means that paranoia over black magic and spirit possession are no longer confined to developing nations. Mass migration has made this a pervasive problem. In January, a Queens, N.Y., man was arrested for beating to death with a hammer his girlfriend, Estrella Castaneda, 56, and her daughter, Lina Castaneda, 25; Carlos Alberto Amarillo told the police that the women were “witches,” who had been “performing voodoo and casting spells” on him. (Voodoo, more properly known as Vodou, is an authentic Afro-Caribbean faith based in deity worship and ritual, practiced in New York and many American cities. Other belief systems that retain or reinvent ancient nature worship and spell practices sometimes go under the names of Wicca or neo-paganism.)

It has not been confirmed whether the Queens victims had ties to Vodou (neither they nor the suspect were Afro-Caribbean). Accusations like those made by Mr. Amarillo, who is under psychiatric evaluation, often prove unreliable or are misreported in a sensationalist way. But the theme has nonetheless become alarmingly familiar in Western news coverage.

In 2012, The Guardian reported that London police had during the last decade investigated 81 cases of “ritual abuse” of children accused of possession or witchcraft, a phenomenon that British social agencies fear is on the rise, particularly within African immigrant communities. In 2010, a 15-year-old boy, Kristy Bamu, was tortured and killed in East London by his older sister and her boyfriend, both Congolese, who had accused him of sorcery after he wet his bed. In the wake of that case, the British police started to receive special training on witchcraft-related abuse.

Because anti-witch violence is rooted in the belief systems of traditional societies, it would be easy to slip into the fatalistic view that this crisis is a tragic repetition of ancient aggressions. But where local superstitions explode into violence or migrate across a wide range of settings and societies, we can and must act.

Western branches of Pentecostal and charismatic Christian congregations must work closely with the more fervent ministries of their denominations among African and immigrant communities to foster an understanding of how “exorcisms” can spiral into deadly abuse. No African congregation wants to feel dictated to by the West, but there is a place for exchange and cultural pressure. Western ecclesiastical bodies can specifically enact prohibitions against for-profit exorcisms.

Laws should be enacted against accusing children of witchcraft throughout the countries of Africa and the southwestern Pacific, as one Nigerian state has already done. And countries like the Solomon Islands that still criminalize witchcraft should strike down those statutes.

Police indifference to crimes of witch hunting must also be tackled, especially in societies where police officers themselves may share in traditional beliefs about “black magic.” A 2012 British government report on combating faith-based violence against children provides a valuable guide to instructing the police on signs of abuse, asking religious leaders to condemn violence and protecting vulnerable witnesses.

Legal efforts must be paired with increased social awareness. In a promising model, a 2010 Oxfam International report noted that some Catholic parishes in Papua New Guinea have been teaching congregants about the natural causes of death and illness (common triggers for anti-witch paranoia), providing shelter to accused witches and denying the sacraments to those who accuse others of sorcery.

Crucial, too, is that the United Nations and international human rights organizations start compiling yearly statistics on these crimes. We’re severely hampered in understanding the scale of this crisis when our most recent global data are already five years out of date.

Most important, witchcraft-related violence should be branded as hate crimes by international courts and by all jurisdictions where anti-hate statutes exist. This is vital to gaining wider recognition of this criminality and preventing it.

In too many places, the accusation of witchcraft has become an incitement to mob violence. It is time to lay the ghosts of Salem to rest.

Mitch Horowitz is the author of “Occult America” and “One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life.”

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Occult Third Reich: These are the multiple times Nazis tried to use supernatural powers

The myth about the love of the Nazis in general and Hitler in particular for the supernatural is widespread and well monetized. Films about legions of mutant zombies who were taken out in secret laboratories, about devilish rituals, the search for the “spear of fate” and the like take pride of place in the lists of category B paintings.

photo: Shutterstock

And the myth has a serious factual background. There is even a special term – “Nazi occultism”. For example, the British religious scholar Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke believes that occult doctrines had a decisive influence on the formation of the ideology of National Socialism.

And although his theory has many opponents, no one argues that Hitler wanted to recreate a new race of demigods based on the “pure Aryans.” In general, the Nazis tried to resort to the help of occult forces quite often.

Hitler hired a Jewish clairvoyant to predict his future

photo: Richard Lewinsohn

In January 1933, shortly before taking office as German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler visited the clairvoyant Erik Jan Hanussen (pictured above, center) to learn about his future.

Hanussen had caught Hitler’s attention a year earlier when he published an article predicting that Hitler would become German chancellor in 1933.

During the session, Hanussen told Hitler that his future would be favorable, but an obstacle would arise in his path. The psychic promised to use some kind of magic spell to ensure Hitler’s success. To do this, he took mandrake root from the butcher’s yard and buried it in the light of the full moon in Braunau am Inn, the city where Hitler was born.

True, Hitler had no idea that Hanussen was a Jew. And Hanussen, in turn, thought he could convince Hitler that anti-Semitism was not a good idea. In general, Hanussen was not very good at predicting the future.

Hitler hired a specialist to magically detect Jews

After the end of the First World War, Adolf Hitler became friends with the physician Wilhelm Gutberlet, who claimed that he possessed the superpower of recognizing Jews from a distance.

The method used by Gutberlet was quite simple: he swung the pendulum and loudly asked to point to the Jew. They became very close on the topic of anti-Semitism, and before Joseph Goebbels came to power, Gutberlet was in charge of propaganda in the Nazi party. He probably had to rotate his magic pendulum quite often.

Hitler’s astrologer

A few days before the assassination attempt on Hitler in the Munich beer hall “Bürgerbreukeller” in 1939, the Swiss astrologer Karl Ernst Kraft tried to warn Hitler that his life was in danger.

In early November 1939 he wrote a letter to his friend Dr. Heinrich Fesel, who worked for Heinrich Himmler. In the letter, Kraft warned that Hitler would be in danger from November 8-10 and asked him to cancel all public appearances.

At first, Heinrich Fesel did not attach any importance to the letter, but after the bombing, he nevertheless informed Himmler, and Kraft was officially hired by the Nazi party. As a staff astrologer, Kraft had to analyze the predictions of Nostradamus, and, of course, in such a way that Germany won the war.

Dietrich Eckart predicted Hitler would become the German messiah

German journalist Dietrich Eckart was a huge influence on Hitler in the early days of the Nazi movement. He was at the origins of the German Workers’ Party, which later became the NSDAP, and, like Hitler, was a member of the Thule Society, an occult organization that believed that Germany was destined to become the homeland of a new messiah, who would turn it into the Promised Land.

This Messiah, according to Eckart, was none other than Adolf Hitler. In addition, Eckart convinced Hitler by all means that the Jews wanted to destroy the German state and that the messiah’s task was to cleanse the country of them.

Of course, Hitler never officially admitted that he supported Eckart’s ideas about his God-chosenness. But he dedicated Mein Kampf to him, and that says something.

The Nazis believed in the theory of the creation of the universe, which Hans Herbirger saw in a dream

The official doctrine of the creation of the universe in Nazi Germany was the Doctrine of Eternal Ice, developed by the Austrian engineer Hans Herbiger. According to her, our Galaxy was born as a result of the interaction of the super-sun and blocks of space ice. This theory ran counter to astrology, but in the eyes of Hitler it was even its plus. And Herbiger himself did not like astronomy. “Objective science is a pernicious invention, a totem of decline,” the scientist wrote.

Herbiger also claimed that in the entire history of the existence of the Earth, she had four moons. The previous three have already fallen to the Earth, and each time it became a global cataclysm, due to which the geological era changed on the Earth. The fourth (current) Moon, too, sooner or later must fall to Earth, as evidenced by Herbiger in John the Theologian.

According to the same concept, the USSR was a power of the “world ice” as opposed to the solar Third Reich. All would be fine, but this concept came to Herbiger in a dream.

Project SP used magic pendulums to find warships

There was a secret office in Berlin with the letters SP on the door. The letters stood for “Sidereal pendulum”, and inside the Nazi psychics, using magic pendulums, tried to find British ships.

The Nazis started the project because they were convinced that the British were already spying on them with the same methods. In a report received by German intelligence, it was asserted that “the British have created an institute in which, with the help of pendulums, the positions of German warships, primarily submarines, are examined.”

In fact, the British had already hacked the Enigma cipher machine and read the encoded German messages, but the Nazis did not know this.

Once the SP department was able to find a damaged German battleship using a pendulum. Someone Ludwig Staniak did it. It was most likely just a coincidence, but the Nazis were so impressed that they created an entire department that spent days swinging pendulums over maps in an attempt to locate the enemy.

Heinrich Himmler was confident that he could predict the future

According to Wilhelm Wolff, Heinrich Himmler’s personal astrologer, he not only hired people with supernatural abilities, but was confident that he could predict the future himself.

So, for example, Wulf argued that Himmler never made decisions without first checking the position of the moon and stars, and all the commands he gave to the Nazi army were based on astrological calculations.

Ironically, it was Himmler who ultimately banned astrology across Germany, but according to Wolfe, he did so because he feared astrology was too powerful.

“We cannot allow others but ourselves to engage in astrology. Astrology should remain a privilege singulorum in the National Socialist state, and not belong to the broad masses ”- these words really belong to Himmler.

SS Brigadeführer convinced Himmler that Jesus was German

The first half of the twentieth century was generally fruitful for strange ideas in Germany. The German occultist Karl Wiligut was especially distinguished, who claimed that German culture originated in 228,000 BC, when there were three suns in the sky, and giants and dwarfs roamed the Earth. Wiligut also insisted that Jesus was German and that his real name was Christ.

Wiligut was fond of occult ideas from childhood and after the First World War even spent some time in a psychiatric hospital with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. However, Karl Wiligut’s close friend Heinrich Himmler was not at all embarrassed by this diagnosis. Moreover, under his patronage, Wiligut took over as head of the Department for the Study of Early History, created especially for him within the SS. Wiligut considered himself a descendant of the ancient Germanic god, and Himmler – the reincarnation of the medieval knight Heinrich Fowler.

Among the achievements of Wiligut is the development of the design of the “Death’s Head” ring, which was awarded to distinguished SS officers, as well as the performance of mystical rituals in the castle of Wewelsburg, which he proclaimed the “German Camelot”.

Rudolf Hess betrayed Hitler because six planets were in the constellation Taurus

On May 10, 1941, Deputy Fuehrer Rudolf Hess made a solo flight to Scotland, where he tried, on his own initiative, to persuade the British government to make peace with Nazi Germany. This reckless step was doomed to failure, and many wondered why the hell Hess had to do this.

The answer turned out to be even stranger than one might imagine: he did it on the recommendation of his own astrologer. More precisely, it was like this: a close friend of Hess, geographer Karl Haushofer, said that he had a dream in which Hess walked through the corridors of an English castle and brought peace between Great Britain and Germany.

Hess discussed this with his astrologer, who told him that six planets will be in Taurus on May 10, and there will also be a full moon, which means that the forecast for making peace is very favorable. And Hess went to the UK.

In Scotland, Hess was captured and until the end of the war he was in an English prison, and after that he became a participant in the Nuremberg Trials, where he was sentenced to forty years in prison. For some reason, the astrologer did not mention such a scenario.

The Nazis hired a psychic to find Mussolini

After the Hess incident, Hitler banned the occultists from the Third Reich. This, however, did not prevent him and Heinrich Himmler from still resorting to the services of astrologers.

For example, when Mussolini was arrested in 1943 as a result of the June 25 coup, several occultists were promptly released from German prisons and ordered to find Mussolini. True, Hitler, as a safety net, even equipped a reconnaissance operation to search for, and also ordered to intercept radio communications.

As a result, one of the occultists, using a pendulum, “found” Mussolini on one of the islands to the west of Naples. At the same time, the Nazis intercepted a radio message that confirmed the location of the Duce.

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Dark Horoscope: What Kind Of Demon Are You According To Your Zodiac Sign?

It turns out that in the horoscope you can find out what kind of demon you are by your zodiac sign. Yes, according to esotericists, each of us has our own dark side, which obeys a certain representative of the underworld. And by the way, it doesn’t always hurt us. Sometimes the demon’s patronage even helps. 

If you want to know what kind of demon you are by your zodiac sign , then look for yourself in the list below. By the way, the dark horoscope begins unconventionally with Capricorn.

Capricorn – demon Dagdarion

demon by zodiac sign

It is believed that Capricorn is the most demonic sign of the zodiac due to its external resemblance to the appearance of Satan or Baphomet. Dagdarion, on the other hand, may look like a toothy fish, a satyr or a devil. This is a demon of coldness and indifference. He gives Capricorn strength of character and the ability to resist other people’s emotions, helps to reach career heights and find useful contacts. But from a negative point of view, Dagdarion can make Capricorns into insensitive, proud, arrogant, calculating manipulative people.

Aquarius – the demon Bechemiron

demon by zodiac sign

Bechemiron is not one, but many demons, similar to hippos, can also take the form of a cat, dog, wolf or fox. Such a patron demon brings clairvoyance, prophetic dreams and strong intuition to his charges. However, he can also plunge a person into groundless fantasies and illusions. Therefore, it is so important for Aquarius not to lose touch with reality.

Pisces – demon Neshemiron

demon by zodiac sign

Neshemiron looks like a skeleton entwined with snakes, or a mermaid. It helps Pisces to better understand themselves and feel other people. Empty dreams, irresponsibility and spinelessness are the vices with which Neshemiron endows his wards. A person can waste his whole life, being lazy and considering himself an underestimated society.

Aries – demon Byriron

demon by zodiac sign

Byriron is the creation of Samael, the prince of the fallen angels. This is a child of fire, who has an active, cruel and fearless character. What is the use of it for Aries? It raises their fighting spirit and endows them with determination, helps them become a leader, an insightful and firm person. But the patronage of Byriron makes Aries too aggressive, power-hungry and despotic. Therefore, spiritual practices, yoga and meditation are recommended for representatives of this sign in order to learn how to pacify a storm of emotions in themselves. In addition, Byriron makes Aries show cowardice and “hide in the bushes” when it would be necessary to express their opinion.

Taurus – demon Adimiron

Adimiron is a creature in the form of a half-lizard, half-lion. This demon endows Taurus with a strong-willed and unyielding character. It is believed that the lion’s part of the body of Adimiron gives his wards physical strength, and the part of the reptile’s body – a “cold head”, rationality and concentration. However, in addition to such gifts, this demon can make Taurus very stubborn, withdrawn and greedy individuals. Therefore, it is very important for them not to cling to the material world.

Gemini – the demon Celladimiron

Celladimiron is a Cerberus-like entity. He gives Gemini the ability to easily and quickly adapt to changing external conditions and circumstances. However, the dark side of Celladimiron’s patronage is the inability to find oneself and one’s place in life. Representatives of this sign run the risk of losing their true self, so they should engage in self-knowledge.

Cancer – demon Shehiriron

Shehiriron is a spirit of water, similar to a demonic reptile, insect, mollusk or crustacean with a human face. The most important gift that Cancers have in store from this spirit is the ability to make all their dreams and fantasies come true. But along with them, empty chores, obsessive thoughts, fears and phobias come into the life of Cancers. Sometimes representatives of this sign suffer from insomnia more often than others.

Lion – demon Shelhabiron

Shelhabiron is a werewolf-like fire spirit. It gives Leo the endurance and the ability to deal with very difficult and responsible tasks, as well as creativity. But on the dark side, Leos can be vicious, ruthless, heartless, and aggressive. Therefore, it is important for representatives of this sign to mobilize their own resources and direct all their internal forces in the right direction.

Virgo – demon Cefariron

According to the description, Cefariron is a half-living and half-dead entity. She helps Virgo see the truth, be an honest and impartial person, and also not pay much attention to public opinion. But all this, in turn, can make the representatives of this sign of people depressed and indifferent to the joys of life. Therefore, they are encouraged to practice positive thinking and not forget to devote time to what they like.

Libra – demon Obiriron

Obiriron is a demonic spirit similar to a golem or a leprechaun. It helps Libra find inner stability. Obiriron has power over time and can give as much of it as needed so that Libra can achieve what they want. However, because of this, the representatives of this sign relax and stop doing anything, thinking that everything will work out by itself. Therefore, the main advice for Libra is not to be lazy.

Scorpio – demon Neheshithiron

Neheshithiron is a demon that looks like a devil insect with a human head. From Scorpios, he makes aggressive and strong personalities. He also helps the representatives of this sign to transform and evolve. It is important for Scorpios to listen to their heart and go through life their own way, because otherwise Neheshitiron, wanting to return a person to his own path, may begin to destroy his life.

Sagittarius – demon Nahashiron

And the last demon according to the sign of the zodiac is the patron saint of Sagittarius, Nakhashiron. It is a demon that looks like a reptile with a dog’s head. He helps Sagittarius to deal with the disadvantages of their character and become a strong and whole person. Nakhashiron provides the representatives of this sign with continuous movement towards the goal, giving them energy for transformation. The negative influence of the demon is reflected in the fact that a person can not withstand such a rapid development and get sick. Therefore, Sagittarius needs to streamline their lives as much as possible so as not to waste energy in vain.

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Christian writer recorded the voice of Satan?

This week, foolishly, apparently, one author claimed to have recorded the real voice of Satan. To promote the new book, Christian author Roderick Millington published a track … of the devil himself, supposedly saying, “Come into the fire, come to me.”

The electronic voice phenomenon has been the subject of controversy in the world of paranormal research for many years. Television shows such as Ghostbusters have publicly showcased the results of EVH, often manipulating frequencies to “reveal” a free voice shouting from the great beyond.

Whether you believe in the paranormal or not, Millington’s “Voice of Satan” recording will make you raise an eyebrow.

“I confess right away that until recently I was one of the cynics who laughed at those who believe in the devil,” the author begins. “Then I heard his voice and everything changed.” He continues: “As I sat at my desk trying to figure out what Satan might have spoken to me directly, after a while my breath came back, my mind became clearer and I knew what I had to do. This book is the result. “

This book is titled “The Devil’s Playground” and contains 21 supposed recordings of EVP demons along with Satan himself. However, you don’t need to buy a book to hear Satan’s voice! All you have to do is click here and scroll down to the “Come on fire, come to me” web player.

Rock and metal have a rich history of audio files, with religious leaders striving to find feedback and subliminal messages hidden in songs.

Led Zeppelin was accused of hiding the message “He’ll give you 666” in the song, and Judas Priest and Ozzy Osbourne were put on trial after fans died.

No group was found guilty of a crime.

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