Witchcraft and sorcery has been an important concept to many people and in the field of Anthropology that has always entertained and made academics curious to know its existence. It has formed an important part in the studies of magic, religion and science and several scholars like Malinowski and Durkheim have researched extensively over it. From the anthropologist point of view, the witch power is inherited and the sorcerer’s is learned. In this essay I will be discussing and comparing how ideas regarding witchcraft and sorcery fit into the larger society and culture drawing on all the sources in two of the following culture groups, Bali/ Lombok and Vanuatu.
Indonesia is a country that is rich in culture and customs, it is a country strongly influenced by various types of religion and magic. Magic is very strong on the island of Lombok and there are still ancient traditions present to this day and are being practiced. Generally, magic is handed down from father to son throughout the generations; but certain people are selected including women that interest them and feel like they will be willing to continue with the magic practices. Additionally Lombok is an island that lies to east of Bali in Indonesian archipelago. The people of Lombok are called the Sasak, the Sasak are classified into two categories, which is the Wetu Telu they are the traditional Sasak, and the Waktu Lima who are the Islamic Sasak. And their Balinese neighbours are the only individuals who continued to follow Hinduism religion. Additionally Sorcery is the number one practice that’s been done by many Indonesian’s that includes those who secretly denies it. Some of the practices can be found in the district of the Javanese of Banyu Wangi also refereed to as the “Stockroom of Sorcery”. In that community, everybody is able to perform some sort of magic. It could be as simple as palm reading, Card reading, and good luck charms while using the name of God to cover up their act.
The society mostly views magic or witchcraft as something of a physical creature, mainly stereotyped as women. The witches are also seen to trick and eat children, to fly with broomstick at night and casts spells. Although when it comes to the Balinese society, the important elements of their culture are the notion of religion that includes God, people, demonology and witchcraft. Magic seem to be an important aspect of the Balinese culture that controls almost most of the Balinese people, the threat of magic in that culture is seen through a person going to a Balinese with knowledge of sorcery or a shaman and they may obtain a magic prayer or a mantra, a stone or some other items of magic that will help protect and prevent the instruction of evilness. Some people also go to a shaman to instruct evil to someone they dislike or have hate or jealousy towards; that usually involves love magic or even death in the victim’s family. The Balinese people are somewhat closed off when it comes to discussing about witchcraft, mainly due to the fact that they believe witches are extremely obnoxious and can cause harm to their society. They believe taking their names can cause disaster and destruction in people’s lives. (Hay 2005).
Further more, it has been noted by anthropologists that many of the northern Balinese are very fearful of witchcraft and sorcery, which has influenced their social lives. The Northern Balinese are not very interested in black magic or anything to do with witchcraft, they are usually poised, well mannered and are afraid of such living. They refuse to participate with such practices; they are in fact regulated by joyful and cheerful practices so that they’re not captured by fear. Due to the fear of witchcraft many people from the northern Balinese society perform magic ritual on the daily unintentionally such as collecting their hair after combing to ensure that nobody is able to practice magic on them, and to also ensure that they do not offend anyone. Other fear that the Balinese are living with is that the unmarried as well as married people are afraid of the love magic, while nursing parent’s fear of their baby’s death due to witchcraft. They also believe that illnesses are the result of black magic and people die because of them (Wikan, U., 1987).