History of Anthropological Thought

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Ideas of the supernatural and witchcraft are both reasonable and have a social meaning in the context of community in which they take place. Comprehending the social meaning in the social context of magic and witchcraft is based on understanding the meaning of the supernatural and witchcraft…

Introduction

The word 'mangu' means 'witchcraft' and to some extent witchcraft and sorcery are alike. Both have general purposes, but their practices are different. Witchcraft was said to be a 'psychic power which often inherited, it can be activated if the owner became angry or jealous, and this power are normally unconscious as well as limited to those with the substance in their body. Sorcery is skill, which can be learnt by anyone and can be passed on through study. This skill also knows as "black magic" which can be defines as evil use of medicines' (Evans-Pritchard, 1937, p.42). Both are used for destructive private ends against the lives and possessions of law-abiding people.
The centre of this book is the three oracles of the Azande in the Sudan. These being in order of decreasing significance: the poison oracle, the termite oracle, and the rubbing board oracle. Amongst the Azande, witchcraft is viewed as a main hazard. They are sure that witchcraft can be inherited and that a person can be a mage, making others harm, without understanding her or his impact.
Anthropologists have had long disagreement concerning the nature and importance of beliefs in witchcraft and magic and, in particular, concerning rationality of the witchcraft beliefs. Evans-Prichard underlines that they are rational since they are very utilitarian, they are the mighty mechanism of social top og hierarchy. ...
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