Superstition and Other Silliness: July 2004 Archives

July 28, 2004

Magical beliefs in Jamaica

Jamaica: Belief in magic is strong in Jamaica, and various illnesses and misfortunes are regularly attributed to obeah. It's good for business too.

Walk into some drug stores downtown Kingston and you will be able to purchase a variety of 'oils'. These oils are chemicals, esters, that are sweet smelling without any real effect. One pharmacist told me that oils account for a significant part of sales. There are oils for success, oils to promote healing, oils to 'tie' someone into a relationship, oil to 'get rid of someone'. Other products include 'compellance powder', 'tan there oil' and 'oil of come back'. Baths, costing up to $10,000, are an important part of these rituals and may be used to cast off evil spirits, to 'wash off' bad luck or promote success.

The author of the article, Wendel Abel, is a consultant psychiatrist and know it's all headology:

My opinion, however, is that although obeah is widely practised in Jamaica, there is no basis for it. People experience personal tragedies every day and a lot of the associations made with someone's experience is both false and coincidental. Contrary to some belief, evil spirits, spells and obeah cannot cause illness. The reality is that there is a number of medical disorders for which there is no adequate treatment or cure. Many persons will turn to the supernatural out of desperation.
For many conditions with psychological bases such as anxiety disorder and depression, healing can take place by suggestion. This is similar to what we describe as 'the placebo effect' in which an individual with pain may get an injection of water and will feel better.

'Dem obeah me!' - Jamaica Gleaner, 28th July 2004.

July 23, 2004

Lighten up, and drink more of the local beer

Scotland: A sub-editor's slip has caused consternation in Innerleithen. A placeholder caption concerning a local tradition where Satan is burned on a bonfire was not replaced before the Southern Reporter went to press.

One of the picture captions ran: Caption, caption about these pious little bleeders and the lady busser doing that interminably boring thing so cherished by Border festivals. What on earth is going on in this picture - these people have got to get out more often for their peace of mind and sanity.

Locals are upset. Norman Scott, the treasurer of the Games Committee told The Scotsman Whoever wrote those words must be at least in league with the devil. The person responsible has apologised, and Scott has shown true Christian forgiveness, pointing out that if the editor turned up at a meeting He'd probably get lynched.

Town's anger as newspaper gaffe sees religious ceremony ridiculed - The Scotsman (BugMeNot), 23rd July 2004 (thanks Tony).

July 22, 2004

The killer mobile app

Nigeria: A new rumour has appeared - that answering phone calls from certain numbers will cause you to drop dead instantly.

A BBC reporter says experts and mobile phone operators have been reassuring the public via the media that death cannot result from receiving a call.
He says that in such a superstitious country unfounded rumours are common.
A list of alleged killer numbers has been circulated but no-one is reported to have died from answering the phone.

Panic at Nigerian 'killer calls' - BBC News, 19th July 2004.

July 20, 2004

His and Hers Church

United Kingdom: The Catholics have to deal with the problems of have an insane misogynist taking dictation from his invisible friend, whereas the Anglicans get the joys of death by committee.

Proposals to divide the Church of England into two — one part with female clergy and one without — are being discussed by Church leaders to avert an exodus of traditionalists when women become bishops.
The Archbishop of York, Dr David Hope, has told friends he believes such a scheme, though highly controversial, is probably the only way to hold the Church together if it decides to consecrate women.
He has privately won support from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, who agrees the options facing the Church are limited.
Both are worried that more than 300 traditionalist clergy could quit in protest, potentially costing tens of millions of pounds in hardship payments to those who leave.

July 19, 2004

Christians to cast spells against crime

Jamaica: How do you deal with a high crime rate? Perhaps you could do something about corruption in the police? Maybe set up a Civic Dialogue Project to allow the whole community to address issues such as crime, violence and unemployment? Or maybe just stop eating and complain to your imaginary friend?

More than 10,000 Christians led by over 200 pastors are expected to converge on the St William Grant Park in downtown Kingston on August 1, Emancipation Day, for fasting and intercessory prayers asking God to halt the rise in murders, crime and other problems affecting the country.

This isn't the first time this kind of magick has been tried. The first was in 1999. Since then, crime, and murder in particular, has risen in Jamaica.

Christians plan day of prayer to halt crime - Jamaica Observer, 19th July 2004.

July 13, 2004

A chip off the old block

Ghana: A stabbing incident at Kumasi High School was not as the authorities suggested, according to a representative of the school's alumni. Mr. Samuel Oduro told a newspaper that the truth would bring ridicule on the school, which is why it had not been mentioned.

According to Oduro, investigations conducted by the old boys revealed that those students went in for concoction elsewhere, which was believed to be containing cutlass juju power that could make them cutlass proof.
So one morning, he said, these students decided to test the potency of their juju by slashing cutlass on each other. And in the process one of them overpowered the rest inflicting several wounds on them.

Because of this, gossips preferred to spread tales about the Taliban and Al-qaeda operating and the school, and school authorities suggested that it was the Muslim students at fault. It was a composition of individuals who belong to diverse religion, Oduro countered.

Untold story of the stabbing incident at Kumasi High School - Students test their juju powers - The Ghanaian Chronicle, 13th July 2004.

July 8, 2004

Take the piss twice daily.

Zimbabwe: Urine therapy is causing a bit of stir, especially the claims that it is helpful to people living with HIV and AIDS. And traditional healers have been quick to point out that it has other benefits too.

Zinatha [Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers' Association] acting manager Mr Hezekias Bhebhe said urine could also be used to diffuse witchcraft by squirting the liquid on the juju or muti. It is also used to cast off witchcraft-induced spells...
...Urine can also be ingested by a person who would have taken poison. It neutralises that poison. If you put droplets of urine in the ear of an unconscious man, he will regain consciousness.
Urine is definitely something we prescribe on a regular basis, Mr Bhebhe said.

Urine As a Therapy to Ailments - The Herald (Harare, via, 7th July 2004.

Mystery Princess

Australia: A psychic has predicted a royal wedding at the Holy Trinity Church in Williamstown next February. More stunningly, this is because she has declared that she is really Princess Liala Farouk, the Grand Duchess of Alexandria, daughter of an Italian princess and the Egyptian King Farouk.

Princess Liala said her mother was an Italian 'Anastasia', who was believed to have been killed in a Nazi concentration camp in 1944, but survived.
Liala claims her mother, Princess Mafalda, was given a new identity by Rudolph Hess and left to start a new life in Australia with her three children.
She said her mother had met King Farouk when she was a young woman but travelled to Europe after the war, met him again and married him, bigamously and in secret, shortly before Liala was born.

She claims she has evidence, but won't let it be checked.

Liala said King Farouk was listed on her birth certificate as her father, but she refused to show Star a copy of her birth certificate.

Riddle of the royal bride - The Star, 8th July 2004.

July 6, 2004

The first domain of its kind on Earth

Pastor Best forwards me a press release he received today from It all sounds terribly exciting:

The new domain will reveal for the first time, innovative new programming and content, devoted exclusively for the gay sexually enlightened, sensually endowed and spiritually empowered.

Arcanum One, Located in Sacramento, California, in association with the world's leading expert in classical Pythagorean numerology, Hans Decoz, will unveil the first re-translations geared to the current vernacular of the gay lifestyle, and gay lifestyle only.

Gayhoodoo will show how to manifest and use naturally occurring influences (the mathematics of nature) on behalf of gay men and women, and will do so for the first time anywhere. Gayhoodoo guarantees this claim with firm, unalterable resolve.

How can they be so certain about this whatever-it-is? Well, they believe that

gays possess unique sensitivities beyond normal society, and have the innate capability to tap into these hidden forces. The time has now come for these abilities to manifest., and guarantees these methodologies will not only empower, but enlighten as never before.

And there's more...

To further enliven the experience, Individually prepared potions, spiritual therapy fragrances, and centuries old ritual, based on time tested methods and procedures with an exotic gay slant will inspire and regain faith and belief in unseen forces, sadly overlooked in today's culture. Gayhoodoo will not only be the first to offer gay potions, it will be the only gay website offering private consultation for both gay men and women, using accurate numerical sequencing techniques and trained intuitive numericists.

But, ultimately, it's about shagging.

Another innovative step will offer the first and only gay matching service that does not use sexual intrigue, psychology, or astrology as a means to finding gratifying companionship. will employ profile matching techniques that accurately predicts compatibility on levels never obtained before. This dating service is free, and to gay men and women, transsexuals, and bisexuals only, and will be directly linked to Gayhoodoo.

Hang on, what about the other T-folk who don't identify as transsexual? Can't be real Californian New Age tripe after all!

The House (Witch) Doctor

India: It seems that the imaginary qualities of houses affect their value in India, and some houses cannot be sold at all.

The words used to describe them vary - cursed, jinxed, haunted - but the basic idea is the same.
These properties scare people away, said Sheikh Pervez Hamid, a real estate broker.
The supernatural is deeply embedded in everyday Indian life, and such practices as astrology and numerology are widely believed, not to mention vaastu, a set of ancient Hindu design principles encouraging harmony with nature.
When former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, for instance, left his official residence, Indian newspapers reported that he didn't like certain numbers, and had asked that his new house's address be changed from No. 8 to 6A.

Cursed Mansions Stay Empty in New Delhi - The Guardian, 6th July 2004.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the Superstition and Other Silliness category from July 2004.

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