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AJE When I was in Africa, traditional healers were not referred to as witchdoctors.

In my situation, in Nigeria among the Yoruba people (pronounced YO-ra-ba, not yo-ROO-ba!) , the use of the word Aje, translated as "witch" was very specific. There were many people who used juju (magic): babalawo (diviner/priests of Ifa), egungun (ancestor cult), ode (hunters), etc., and who worshipped traditional gods such as Shango, Osun, and Ogun. But "witches" (aje) were something entirely different. Witches were a kind of nonhuman, even vampiric, spirit, which were passed through families, and went into their bodies. Outside the bodies they were seen as "witchbirds." They could also go into animals such as cats or into trees. A "witch" was innately magical of themselves. While the babalawo and hunters got their magic from learning medicines (herbs, etc.) and from the gods/goddesses, Aje were a magical class themselves. Their magic emanated from what they were. The only way a human being could become a witch was for a witch spirit to go into them, possess them in a sense; they would become a host to the witchbird and thus become a witch themselves. Sorcerers were not witches; sorcerers were just called juju men or women. A true witch was a class of entity/being that lived in a human host and transformed that host.

Witches not only had innate magic, they did also use herbs gathered at night in the forest and the "personal effects" (hair, nails, bones, feces, menstrual blood, etc.). This was common to all users of juju however. In the forest, the hunters and witches battled each other with their different medicines, and first one side would win and then the other. Babalawo were neutral between the two. I was in a hunter's house once, when he invited a babalawo in to do a divination...and a witch came in too. The hunter and witch hurled insults and threats at each other, but could do no magic against the other in the presence of the babalawo, who represented Fate. They also had a severe society called the Ogboni, the "witch-hunters" who wore masks and used bullroarers and went about seeking to kill Aje. The Ogboni also had terrible juju. In the Yoruba system, Aje (witches) were nonhuman, innately magical, and hostile to human society. They were battled by hunters and Ogboni. But just about everyone used juju (magic)

in one form or another, and just because you worshipped the old gods and used magic did not make you a witch. They were a power unto themselves, and only really consistently got along with each other and the babalawo. More Aje THE YORUBA IMAGE OF THE WITCH By RAYMOND PRINCE, M.D., M.Sc. Lecturer Allan Memorial Institute, Montreal Formerly, Aro Hospital, Abeokuta, Nigeria The Journal of Mental Science 107 (449, 1961), originally pp. 795-805 Witchcraft, the extra-natural interference in the welfare of the community by women, has long since ceased to be a source of major concern in Western society. In many other areas of the world, however, the witch remains a very active and vital image in the consciousness of the people, This is certainly true for the Yoruba*--a negro group occupying large areas of Nigeria, Dahomey and Togoland along the north-west coast of Africa. With the Yoruba (irrespective of his social level, religion or education), belief in the witch and in her powers is all but universal. The study of witchcraft, both as it exists in contemporary cultures and as it has existed in the Western community at different periods in the past, raises a number of interesting questions for the student of psychology and sociology. If witchcraft is not a genuine phenomenon, why is the witch fantasy so prevalent in so many different cultures throughout the world? What is it about the human female that provokes such similar pictures of her magical malevolence in such diverse cultures? What changes have occurred in Western culture that have allowed the witch fantasy to lose its erstwhile potency? A study of the witch is she exists today among the Yoruba may help elucidate these problems. THE WITCH IN YORUBA THEOLOGY Yoruba legend has it that certain women once went to the malevolent trickster god Eshu to ask for the power of witchcraft. Eshu was willing to give it to them but he had to refer them to Orunmila, the god of Fate. Orunmila would not allow them to go out into the world with the power of witchcraft until they promised to honour certain signs and materials to serve men as protections against their power. They agreed to this but it was necessary for them to go on to Olorun, the Lord of all, to make their agreement binding. This transaction is mentioned in certain ancient Ifa verses of unknown origin which are used in divination. "ldi ogbungbun, aworo niye, They went to Alara's house and kill him,

They went to Ajero's house and kill him, They went to Orangun's house and kill him. You pluck the Okro of Ejiwo You eat the Camwood of Ailoran You kill the stammering water of Owu. When Eshu came, you left for a place in the sky and it received you not, Then you went to Orunmila and when you got there, you greeted him and he asked you where you were going. Then you said you were going into the world to be killing people and to be debarring their progress. It is a forbidden act to eat soap. Then Orunmila said that he would not allow the gates to be opened unto you, unless you go to the Almighty God, when you got there, you explain yourselves to him. Then the almighty God said: 'Spittle once out of the mouth, will not come back to the mouth again, The grass that the elephants tread will never rise again, Therefore you must not change your agreement And anybody with this sign on should be honoured'." (Ifa Odu, Idi Meji) THE NATURE OF THE WITCH It is clear then that in Yorubaland, witchcraft is a feminine art and has its power from Eshu, the trickster god, and was sanctioned, if somewhat reluctantly, by Orunmila (lfa) the god of Fate, and by Olorun, the Lord of all. This power is generally attributed to older women, but young women or even girls can sometimes be involved. According to some informants, witchcraft power is a kind of immaterial substance which may be kept in a calabash hidden in a hole in the wall of the witch's house, or in a hollow tree. The power itself may be lodged in the roots of a tree or even in a young child (age 1 to 8 years). In the latter case the witchcraft power will not harm the child but, on the contrary, will protect the child from other witches as the child is serving one of them as a refuge. The red tailfeather of the parrot is used as a sign of witchcraft power, and may be placed in the calabash or in the tree containing the witchcraft power. (I have been unable to find out the origin of this use of the red feather or why it should come to have this association with the witch.) Other informants regard the power as a more concrete substance which is present in the woman's abdomen. As one man said: "I have seen two women vomit it out. It was like a stone or a hard ball of something. They were not is killed the witches after that." Witchcraft seems generally

to be held as a desirable skill because of the great power it provides; however, there is also the idea that the spirit of the witch after death becomes a restless and disconsolate ghost who wanders about the world in a distraught state. The power is usually passed from mother to daughter, but it may also be bestowed as a gift, or may be purchased. When passed from one person to the other it is often given mixed with certain foods. It is sometimes held that a woman cannot die possessing witchcraft power but must pass it on to someone before her death; in fact, she will not be able to die unless she does so. Perhaps some actual comments by Yoruba informants would help clarify these aspects. "Witchcraft power is like a breeze, you can't see it but it has effect. A woman can't die possessing it-when she dies, she vomits out the invisible witchcraft and it passes to her daughter." "A wornan can buy witchcraft power or may, as well, inherit it from another person. This mostly depends on the interest or love the witchcraft woman has in the person that is going to possess it. Sonic people when they suffer too much, seek for this power. In this case she has to buy it. But it is very necessary, and matter of must, to give this witchcraft power to somebody before she should die. In this case, if she could not get anybody either to buy it or to give it out as a gift to her friend outside, or to have a daughter she loved that can inherit it, she has to take it to an Iroko tree that is very young. This will become a spirit in the tree. Other witches will be coming to this tree to have their meetings. It is such trees that herbalists carry their sacrifices to in case they have a patient that is seriously sick." "Through many informants I believe that a woman may buy, inherit or be presented with this power. This is not given directly. It can be given through foods such as baked beans (Akara), Kola, Porridge, red Yam (Esuru) and many other native foods. When this is taken the power will start to grow, until when the person will start to fly in the night." THE POWERS OF THE WITCH Witches are considered to have great power-"They are the rulers of the world, they get their power from God who gave them permission to kill. They have no mercy. They can do anything." They are said sometimes to have favourites whom they protect and make wealthy but these positive aspects are not emphasized-they are mostly spoken of in connection with their malevolence. The Yoruba word for witch is Aje and would appear to be a [' somewhat contraction of "iya je" meaning "mother eat". The word Aje is avoided as much as possible or at least spoken in a whisper (for fear of

attracting the witch's attention or offending her). The expressions "Agbalagba" witchcraft (old people), "awon iya" (our mothers) or "Awon eni toni aiye" (those who a calabash rule the world) being substituted. A witch's malignancy may be turned upon a man for almost any reason-for some slight impoliteness, or because he accuses her of being a witch, or because he is getting too high in the world or often for no reason "just because they are evil women". One of the commonest fantasies about the powers of the witch is that she can transform her "heart-soul" (Okan) into a bird or animal. This occurs at night and her physical body remains in a deep sleep while her transformed heart-soul moves abroad. A woman who sleeps on her back with her mouth open and arms outstretched is probably a witch. She cannot be awakened while her heart-soul is abroad and if someone captures the bird or animal into which her soul has been transformed she will not be able to wake up; if the creature is killed the witch will die. Most witches transform themselves into night birds of some typethese have been variously described to me as "a white bird with a long red beak and red claws" or "a brown bird like a bush fowl with a long red beak" Alternatively they may transform themselves into owls, cats, rats or bats, the common feature being that these creatures are all active by night, for it is believed that witchcraft is a nocturnal thing, the witches being most active between 12 and 3 a.m. in the realms of dream and nightmare. If the witch's activities are brought into the light of day, they lose their potency, e.g., by confession. It is believed that the witch bird perches by night in a tree close to the victim's house. An owl perched in a tree near a man's house will cause considerable alarm to the householder. The actual manner in which the witch bird damages her victim is obscure but I have been told that it pecks its victim's head or neck and sucks out his blood. There is a saying, "Ale ke lana, omo ku loni" (the witch bird chirped yesterday, the child dies today). Witches are considered to take part in some obscure nocturnal orgies (ajo) for which one member of the witch party must supply a human child. A patient told me, "My wife is a high-tempered woman. If anything happened she would curse everyone, sometimes if she fought with someone, if it was settled whether she was wrong or right she would argue for three days. If I corrected her she would always argue. She has a twisted foot. One day she pointed at a place in time farm and said there had been a great feast there last night but I had not heard of it. When I asked her more about it she grew annoyed. After that I was afraid and began to suspect she was a witch. By drinking the life blood of numerous victims, the witch

is thought to be able to prolong her own life, and it is for this reason that old people are suspected of being witches. A pregnant woman will avoid visiting an old woman during her pregnancy and the birth of a baby will be kept a secret from a suspected old woman. In some areas the death of a young person or child is considered unnatural and all such deaths are attributed to the work of witches. In addition to old age, other factors may lead the people to regard a woman as a witch-a woman with a beard, a domineering or cantankerous woman or a woman who engages in odd behaviour. One girl told me, "An old woman in our town who used to go about collecting old broken bottles and other things and packing them in her room for no purpose was thought to be a witch, but no one said anything openly for fear of what she might do." One of the most common deeds attributed to witches is interference with reproduction. Impotence is common among Yoruba males and it is the prevalent idea that this is the work of witches. A witch is said to be capable of taking the penis of a man and having intercourse, using it with the man's wife or some other woman. The witch will then return the man's penis but it will be altered in some way and may not be able to function. The woman who is visited in this way may become barren. It is a not uncommon dream for a man to see someone come to him and tamper with his penis or testicles. A woman will dream of someone having intercourse with herthe visitor may be either in the form of a man or of a woman with a penis. All this is considered to be the work of witches. Witches are also thought to control the menstrual flow of women. They can make it stop or flow excessively. They may obstruct the expulsion of the child from the womb. There is some obscure fundamental relationship between witchcraft and menstrual blood. The menstruating woman and the witch both have power to render magic and the native doctor's medicines powerless. On one recent occasion in the town of A. the women of the town had risen in revolt against the payment of certain taxes which they native considered to be unfair. Their power was so great that they forced the ruling chief of the town to retire to the provinces for a year. They camped in hordes in front of the chief's palace singing and causing a disturbance. When police were sent to disperse them the women brandished their menstruation cloths. This caused the police to take to their heels, for it is believed that if a man is struck by a woman's menstrual cloth he will have bad fortune for the rest of his days. In addition to these two most emphasized propensities of the witch (i.e., to cause wasting diseases or death through sucking the blood and eating the spirit of the victim and to interfere with his sexuality), she may cause psychiatric

disturbances, to be described subsequently, and all manner of other misfortunes and accidents. I will give just two further examples. A witch may cause to come down over a lorry-driver's eyes so that he cannot see where he is going and will drive into the ditch (Incidentally, many lorrydrivers' cabs are so filled with charms and "medicine" hanging from the windscreen that they can scarcely see out!) I have also been told that when a witch closes her eyes she can see everywhere and can observe all that is happening. It is said of a powerful political leader, who was recently killed in a motor accident, that at one time he kept an old woman in his house who used to tell him what to do and where to go and "when the time would be safe". Later he gave up taking her advice and he was destroyed by the "medicine" of his political opponents. (The fatal accident took place near Ijebu Ode which is a town renowned for its "powerful medicines", particularly cursing, and where many of his opponents lived.) DEFENCES AGAINST WITCHCRAFT There are three general methods by which the Yoruba may defend himself against witches: (1) with the help of native medicine usually as instructed by the native doctor, (2) through membership in certain cults, and (3) through organizing witch hunts and using trial by ordeal, though this last has been frowned upon, at least during the British regime in Nigeria. I will say a few words about each in turn. The Yoruba native doctor sees a good deal of his work as protecting his patients from witchcraft, against malevolently-used words (i.e. curse, incan-tation and invocation) and against various other types of homoeopathic and contagious magics. Witchcraft is usually the territory of malignant women, while magic words and practices are the territory of the warlock. It is true that many native doctors have some conception of the physical causation of disease, e.g. that disease may come from eating incorrect foods-"cocoa doesn't grow well on all types of earth"; that "small, small bugs or worms cause tuberculous lymphadenitis"; that "epilepsy is the result of a lizard in the belly". Still the elements of witchcraft and sorcery are much emphasized. As one doctor said to me, "If you have two patients each with the same disease to the same degree and you give both the same herbs, one gets better but the other may not. This is because the witches are involved in the latter." It would appear that recently (though I have no idea when this attitude began) the relationship between the witches and the native doctors has altered. In former times, they were always at loggerheads but the native doctors' medicines were usually the more powerful and could overcome the effects of witchcraft. Now, however, the

witches have become so powerful that the native doctor has joined forces with the witches and works in co-operation with them. For example, if a patient comes to the native doctor with an illness that the doctor divines or diagnoses as having an ruling element of witchcraft in it, he will ask the patient to provide a sacrifice to the witches. After the witches are thus appeased the native doctor's medicines will be potent. I was unable to find out too much about the native doctor's dealings with the witches because of their covert nature. My visits to native doctors almost always took place amid a throng of people, my interpreter and I seated on folding wooden chairs with the doctor in a small room in his mud hut, a great press of people--men, women and children--squeezing through the narrow windows and pushing in at the door. I soon learned that under such circumstances the one subject that could not be discussed was witchcraft. I do not know whether this was because there might have been some witches in the audience who would not like their secrets revealed or whether most of the people were unaware of the co-operation between the native doctor and the witch, a subject then that would be painful to the native doctor. At any rate it seems highly clear that in former days the role of the native doctor was to divine who the witch was who was causing the patient's illness, point her out and have her banished or killed. Often methods of ordeal were used to discover the witch. I might mention some of the types of medicines used by the native doctor as defences against witchcraft. On one occasion I watched a doctor make a medicine which he said was to protect against eye diseases caused by witches. In a piece of white cloth he placed a disembowelled chicken still covered with feathers together with some other objects which looked like pieces of white soap. He bowed his head and quietly recited an incantation over the preparation. He then wrapped up these materials in the white cloth which then formed a round ball about 8 inches in diameter, and tied it around with many windings of black and white thread (the threads being placed side by side). This bundle was to be suspended from the ceiling of the patient's house. The native doctor had a similar bundle hanging from his own ceiling. The same native doctor was a "specialist" in treating mental illness* and was also using a very effective infusion of the roots of the plant Rauwolfia vomitorum (which contains many of the same alkaloids as R. serpentina, including reserpine). In addition to this tranquillizer each of his patients had every day to smear himself with black soap to protect him from the witches. Also he had growing in the middle of his compound a special tree which would not allow witch birds to perch in it. It is probable that the use of the soap and

of the fowl with the feathers is related to the passage from the Ifa verses which I quoted earlier. The use of these substances prevents the witches from consuming the spirits of the patients through something akin to homoeopathic magic. The formula appears to be, "No one eats black soap or fowls with the feathers on, I have a fowl with feathers on as a defence and am covered with soap, therefore no one, not even a witch, will eat me." To turn to the cults which may protect a man from the witches: one of the most important of these is the Gelede cult which has recently been very well described by Mr. U. Beier (1958). It is a very popular cult among the Egbado the Yoruba who occupy the south-western portions of Yorubaland. The Gelede are dancers, all male except for the leader. They wear brilliantly painted wooden masks over their heads and dress up as women with large breasts and protruding buttocks. I would like to quote from Beier's article passages which describe the function of the cult and the motives for becoming a member. "The purpose of the Gelede dance is to 'placate the witches'. This is what every Geledc dancer says . . . The men say: Gelede is 'the secret of women'. We the men are merely their slaves. We dance to appease 'our mothers'. The witches, they say, can kill in the dark, and there is no protection from their power. 'because God has already given them permission to kill, confess their God does not mind killing-because for every man who dies he can make a new one.' "One Gelede dancer said: 'As I have already got three children, there is no reason why I should not die. Nothing prevents me from dying tomorrow. But as I am a member of the Gelede society, the witches will spare me.' "Another dancer expressed it as follows: 'God gave the world to the witches. They have woman was permission to kill. In the olden days they did a great deal of harm to our fathers. But our fathers thought for a long time until they found a way to placate them and win their favour, thus the Gelede society was started. Fear of death made us join this society. Because the witches cannot harm anyone inside the society'." The dance may occur once a year or perhaps oftener depending upon the leader. The main portion of the dance takes place at night though some of the masqueraders may dance the next day for general amusement. The dance is highly organized with different members of the cult appearing in special order and singers who accompany the drumming with songs sacred to the society. Part of one of the songs addressed to the "great mothers" is of considerable interest and is as follows: "All-powerful mother, mother of the nightbird Mother who kills animals without striking

My mother kills quickly without a cry To prick our memory suddenly Quickly as the woodpecker picks the tree on the farm The woodpecker who hammers the tree while words rush forth from his mouth, Great mother with whom we dare not cohabit Great mother whose body we dare not see Mother of secret beauties Mother who empties the cup Who speaks out with the voice of a man, Large, very large mother on the top of the iroko tree, Mother who climbs high and looks down on the earth Mother who kills her husband yet pities him." The masks used in the dance are ingeniously carved and have a great variety of subjects. Above the carved heads are serpents, women in exhibitionistic poses, mothers and children, or witch birds pecking into the head. (I have also seen one of a woman sitting at a sewing machine and another of aeroplanes with propellers at both ends!) It seems clear, that the feminine costume represents incorporation of and identification with the threatening mothers--a kind of ritualized transvestitism as a defence against the devouring and castrating mother. The witch hunt is another method of defence against witches. As I have said, at the present time the witches are too powerful in Yorubaland to be openly opposed by the native doctors (seine of whom actually dance under the Gelede masks). Occasionally, however, a group of diviners and ordeal men may band together and go from village to village to search out the witches. Such a band was the Atinga, a group which began its activities in the northern Gold Coast, spread down to the coastal areas of the Gold Coast and through Togoland and Dahomey to southern Nigeria. The Atinga sought the assistance of the heads of the villages who called their people together. The Atinga leaders began to beat the drums and dance in the circle of collected villagers. During the dance one of the Atinga became possessed, claimed to receive the ability to prophesy and pick out witches. The accused women were forced to bring out their witching apparatus-calabashes, familiars, red feathers, etc. --and confess their evil deeds. If a woman refused to confess she had to undergo an ordeal. She had to bring a fowl, some gin and some money. The gin was poured out as a libation, and the fowl had its throat half cut so that it would run about for a while, then collapse. If the chicken collapsed with its breast upright, the woman was acquitted. If the ordeal was unfavourable the woman could try a second time providing she paid more money. Most women confessed, but a few were beaten to death. The movement was quashed by the British

Government in 1951. Many Yoruba recall vividly the Atinga hunts. According to one informant, the king of town A. did not invite the Atinga to practise their arts in his town because he said that many of the pillars of the community were witches. Another Yoruba, a schizophrenic patient, said that his brother, who was a policeman, had been instrumental in bringing the Atinga into his home town. He said that shortly afterwards his brother was killed under unusual circum-stances and he himself "ran mad". He attributed both of these misfortunes to his brother's meddling in the affairs of the town witches. THE WITCH AND PSYCHIATRIC DISTURBANCE Patients suffering psychiatric disturbances frequently consider their symptoms to be the result of witchcraft. Many schizophrenic patients, for example, accuse their mothers of being witches. Indeed the sight of the psychotic son, apathetic and with downcast eyes, walking down the road behind his mother renders the fantasy of the consumption of the son's spirit by the mother not too unrealistic. The patient may implicate the witches in his illness for a number of reasons. Perhaps the commonest indications are to be found in dreams--dreams of drowning are almost always interpreted in this way; dreams of intercourse with unknown persons or of having ones genitals tampered with or the classical "nightmare" dream experience (pressure on the chest, terror and suffocation) are other examples. Secondly, the native doctor, as a result of his divination, may inform time patient that he is being troubled by a witch. It may also happen that the patient develops symptoms during the time the patient is having some difficulties with a woman. He may then of course attribute these symptoms to the witchcraft of his female opponent. An illustrative example might be helpful here. P.F. was a 17year-old Yoruba male admitted to Are Hospital, Abeokuta, in March, 1959, with the complaints that he had been behaving irrationally (fighting with other students in his school for no reason and running away from school), he was rambling and abstract in his conversation and unable to do his school work. The patient's father, an executive in a Government Department, had two wives, the patient being the only child of the senior wife. The junior wife had two children. All the children were attending the same school and whereas the patient was a good student, the son of the junior wife was a poor student and the father proposed to take the poor student out of school but send the patient on into higher education. This was a source of intense annoyance to the junior wife. The patient describes the onset and course of his illness as follows:

"At the end of 1957, 1 finished school and went to Lagos to spend the holiday with father. On reaching Lagos I met my brother 0., who failed the examination, and my sister and we were very loving to ourselves. Seeing how co-operative we three were, their mother would always call them and advise them to sever their connection from me. I had one bed where we both slept and studied. I woke up one night about I a.m. and found 0. gone. I intended to put my pen under the pillow where I met a butchered red-headed lizard. The intestines were removed and inside the stomach were seven needles and some ashes. Since that time I haven't been able to study any book or even stay in the school hostel-there are certain commanding instincts in me that push me to do certain things that I know to be very bad. I also have nightmares all the time that my father's second wife is beating me." Because of these symptoms he was expelled from school and taken to several native doctors, but to no avail. The native doctors attributed his illness to the witchcraft of the second wife. In this instance certain medicine (i.e. the lizard and needles) was used but this is the exception rather than the rule with witches. With the psychotic patient, the content of his hallucinatory experience may convince him that witches are attacking him. For example a 20-year-old Yoruba student described the onset of his psychosis as follows: "1 was sitting at my table in my room late at night. I had a strange feeling and looked up and saw a woman standing looking in at my window. Then a white bird flew from the woman into my mouth and lodged in my throat so that I couldn't speak and felt choked." This student was subsequently admitted to hospital in a disturbed state; he heard the voice of the holy spirit and expressed the idea that a witch and the Holy spirit were fighting inside of him. A third example is that of M.N., a 35-year-old single Yoruba cocoa farmer convicted of decapitating a woman with a matchet. He said that his trouble had started in 1956 and that he was being troubled by witchcraft day and night. The witches were talking to him continually saying such things as "It's done, he's killed: we have killed him now, now we will kill his brother", etc. The witches had started to trouble him after he had refused to attend the Cherubim and Seraphim church. "After that I would hear bats' voices in my ears and I would be confused. They troubled me at night in dream, they would come both man and woman and pull at my testicles and penis. One night they cut my penis right off but I prayed and it was restored . .. In the morning I could see all the veins were coming out and it was not normal." It was clear that this patient had the idea that

the woman he killed was the witch that was tormenting him. The delusion of being a witch also occurs; however, the woman who makes such a confession is generally not regarded as being delusional or psychotic, the idea being, as it were, culturally syntonic. There is the belief in some parts of Yorubaland that a witch cannot die until she has confessed her evil deeds, and in conformity with this idea certain old women (probably suffering senile psychoses) may be seen wandering around the streets telling of the people they have killed and the children they have eaten. Such old women are generally driven from their homes and may be stoned in the streets. None of these patients were brought to the psychiatric clinic. On one occasion, however, a psychotic woman who had believed she was a witch and had killed her young daughter was referred from the court. Her confession written a few hours after the killing read as follows: between the night of Tuesday and Wednesday the 20th and 21st of August, my mates in witchcrafts came to my house and instructed me to kill my daughter 0. and I killed her that very night with a stick which is still in my room, and before this done I held her two legs swinged her around my head and knocked her on the floor three times. All these being done in the night. After the death I used matchet to cut her two legs and I threw the matchet in a brook. I also killed a cat and packed both the cat and my daughter in a basket." DISCUSSION The idea associated with the name of Melanie Klein (1935, 1940) that the infant passes through a stage in which he divides his mother into two entities, one good and the other bad, has merited considerable contemporary interest. Under normal circumstances this propensity seems to occur between the ages of three months and one year and resolves itself in the so-called "depressive position" when the child is capable of grasping that the good mother and the bad mother are in reality one. This splitting of an object into good and bad titles may also be observed in adult psychotics. For example a housewife suffering from paranoid schizophrenia was transferred to me from a rather aggressive female psychiatrist. The patient expressed the idea that there were really two of her former psychiatrists, one who was tender and friendly, the one who was brusque and short-tempered. She said they both looked the same but that she felt that one was real while the other was an impostor. It would seem that by the adult, a person is recognized to be an entity largely on the basis of external and objective cues, e.g. on the basis of external appearance, gestures, voice, etc., whereas by the infant (and the schizophrenic noted above) the test of

identity is "similarity of feeling toward" so that a person that aroused fear or a wave of depressic hostility had to be a different entity from the one that aroused pleasure. To return to the idea of the witch, it is an attractive hypothesis that the Yoruba witch represents the collective image of the bad mother in a people who have not yet attained the depressive position in their emotional development. I do not think we would be distorting the Yoruba concept too much to think of witchcraft as representing all the bad aspects of the mother or the female. It is true that not all women are thought to be witches, but all women are potentially witches and they are linked to witchcraft in some way through the common bond of menstruation. The fact that the witches are called "our mothers" and the fact that many schizophrenics say their mothers are witches seems to lend support to the idea. It may also be noted that depressions are rare among the Yoruba. Paranoid thinking is common but the profound selfcastigating melancholia so commonly seen in the contemporary Western man is very uncommon. I can remember only one case of this type and the patient was highly Westernized-reared in a literate Christian home, well educated herself, and who had lived in England for several years. Could this mean that the Yoruba as a culture has not reached the "depressive position"? It is also of interest that the Yoruba mother tends to be idealized to a considerable extent and the relationship between mother and son is much more significant than between husband and wife. The latter relationship is almost distant-there seems to be no romantic element, wives being of value as status symbols and as bearers of children rather than for warmth of relationship. There seems to be some evidence then that with the Yoruba, their emotional development is arrested to the extent that intense relationships exist primarily between mother and child and that even in this relationship the mother tends to be on the one hand revered unrealistically and over-valued and on the other hand feared as a destructive entity in the background with all her witchly attributes. The fusion of these two images has not yet occurred, the depressive position not yet reached, the Yoruba has not yet been able to release himself from his mother so that little progress has been made towards relationship between husband and wife. To turn for a moment to time interesting question-what changes have occurred in Western culture that have allowed the witch fantasy to lose its erstwhile potency? I would like to draw attention to three books published in a cluster about the beginning of the 17th century: Reginald Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584), Cervantes' Don

Quixote (1605) and Burton's Anatomy o Melancholy (1621). The first two of these books mark the beginning of the end of two rather extraordinary attitudes towards the female sex in Europe.* Scot was one of the first to ridicule the idea of the witch and question the reality of her abilities to fly, transform herself into animals, etc. Cervantes' book was a satire on the knight and his ideal lady and marked the beginning of the fading of that complementary medieval female image--the knight's lady--which had existed for some 300 years alongside the image of the witch. The third of these books marks the high point as it were in the Renaissance preoccupation with the problems of melancholia, depression and death. These problems were great interest to Elizabethan dramatists and poets and there are numerous representations and paintings of the Danse Macabre and the Dance of Death. Can we take this interest in melancholia as an indication that there was in fact a wave of depression spreading over Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries? The literary and artistic interest in depression and death is generally attributed to the plague and poverty produced by the Hundred Years War. Is it possible that the depression resulting from the attainment of time cultural "depressive position" was the primary event and that time Black Death was in part a symptom of this wave of depression? We could look upon the Renaissance then as a leap forward in reality testing with a concomitant release of human vitality accompanying the European "working through" of its depressive position.

WITCHCRAFT, this was and still is a dreaded word in Nigeria. Our forefathers believed in the existence of witches and the havoc they wreaked on mankind and society. Everyone in Nigeria knows about witches, or has heard of them or has been affected by witches. Our present generation of Nigerians attribute all manners of misfortune, disease, ill-luck, death, infertility, etc. to witches. Several new generation churches, white garment churches, etc. see "vision" of witches committing all manners of havoc on their victims.

Of course in Nigeria there is nothing like a natural death. Nobody dies a natural death. Natural death, Haba, Mba, Otio, some Nigerians will mumble in their mother tongues. Something or someone is behind the person's death, never mind the fact that he has been ill for years. As matter of fact, the illness was caused by witches or evil persons. Any and every death was attributed to someone and most times to enemies, witches and evil persons. One very interesting factor is that no one has ever seen a person metamorphose into a witch or into an animal. In short no one has seen a witch metamorphose into a bird, rat, bat, owl etc.

People just "felt" or "knew" that the rat or owl or bat was acting strangely and hence must be a witch.

Nigerians believe in witches and spend time, effort and money in the attempt to counter their malevolence. Traditional doctors are paid to divine and diagnose malign influences, to supply the medicines of protection or revenge. To the average Nigerian, witchcraft is an actionable wrong and culprits are punished severely. Our culture provides the preconditions for accusations of witchcraft. Therefore, we can safely posit that belief in witchcraft is unquestioned.

So, what is witchcraft? The Longman English Dictionary defines witch as "one who is credited with supernatural powers especially a woman practising witchraft". A witch doctor is "a professional sorcerer or magician". The Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary defines witch as "a woman thought to have evil magic powers". A witch doctor as "a doctor with supposed magic power." From the above two dictionary definitions we can summarise that witchcraft is an activity that cannot be detected by ordinary means or by everyday means. Therefore, it must be tracked down by the actions of people.

Potential Witches/Wizards In Nigeria, the following people, rightly or wrongly, fall into the category of witches or potential witches. They are old people: native and traditional doctors; people who exhibit strange behaviour; wicked and malevolence people; young people; unsociable people; people with disagreeable behaviour; people who stare fixedly at other people; people who are easily offended; people with red eyes; people with evil eyes and evil countenance; people who avoid looking at others straight in the face; people who eat alone and do not share their food; people who do not rejoice with others at their good fortune; people who are happy at other's misfortune etc.

How Does One Become A Witch It is believed that virtually everybody is a potential witch. Being a potential witch is very different from actually being a full-fledged, practising witch. So how does one become a witch. Stories abound of how people become witches. Some of these stories are just too incredible to believe while others are simply left to the imagination. Our forefathers as well as the present generation of Nigerians believe that: (a) Witchcraft runs in the family and is passed through the blood line, i.e. a mother passes it to her favourite daughter or all her daughters and on to her granddaughters. In the same vein, wizardry can be passed from father to son or grandson.

(b) Witchcraft is passed through eating in dreams, or through sexual intercourse in dream. It can also be passed openly at home or at gatherings through food, drinks, kolanuts, fish and meat. In short through anything edible. (c) Witchcraft is passed through cuts made into a body by native doctors. (d) Witchcraft is passed through laying hands on someone's head, forehead etc. (e) Witchcraft can also be given to a stranger - i.e. a non-family member out of pure mischief. (f) Witch doctors can initiate people into witchcraft for a fee. (h) Witchcraft is passed through blowing of air at someone especially in the face, heart etc. (i) Witchcraft is passed through simply being touched by a seasoned and very powerful witch. (j) Witchcraft is passed through numerous other ways e.g. by stepping over a witches outstretched legs etc.

How Witches Operate It is their operations or rather their activities or what people perceive to be their activities on other people that strike deadly fear in non-witches. It is their activities, which are full of evil, that gave rise to the general saying that the fear of witches is the beginning of wisdom. Witches are said to hold nocturnal meetings under big trees or in clearings in the bush or forest. They supposedly travel invisibly through the air to arrive at their destination. They are said to be capable of metamorphosing into any animal of their choice - their favourites being rats, snakes, owls, bats, cats or dogs. People believed and still believe that witches committed and still commit a lot of havoc. They turn into rats to take peoples' money and render them poor; turn into snakes to attack and kill enemies; turn into birds to pluck their target's eyes, or suck their blood etc; they tamper with the fertility of women either by eating foetus, stopping the growth of the baby in the womb or by eating the woman's eggs. They either drink, steal or damage men's sperm thereby making it impossible for the men to impregnate women. They supposedly change children in the womb; kill babies in the womb before they are born; make it impossible for women to be delivered of their children. They even kill women during child birth. The list is endless.

Witches are said to be capable of disrupting and changing the course of one's success in life and turning it into extreme failure. They stop good things from happening e.g. marriages, promotions and healings. Most importantly, they are said to "suck" human blood and "eat" human beings. They are said to have an insatiable appetite or lust for human meat. It is believed that at their meetings they must dance naked to the tunes of a "native piano" made of "strong medicines". It is also believed that at their meetings (when they are held in each other's houses), the hostess must offer one of her children to be killed and eaten by members.

Ethnic Groups Beliefs And Punishment The Yoruba People believe that witches turned into Eiye Efe (witchcraft bird) to go to meetings and wreak havoc on people. In the olden days, witches were so abhored by the people that suspected witches were made to go through the Ayelala ordeal and if found guilty their bodies would swell up and they would die. The universal belief then was that to antagonize a witch was to court evil for one's self. Yoruba babalawos (medicine men) used "medicine" to protect themselves against witches. The ingredients for this medicine were a pigeon, red tail feathers of a parrot, Eru fruit, and a leaf called Aje-Ko-Fo-Orule (witch never rests on the roof). All these were put together and burnt and its smoke was what drove the witches away. It was believed that the witches in the vicinity where the "medicine" was being burnt, would become incapacitated and restless and would start talking to themselves at the same time trying to take some embers from the fire so as to spoil the "medicine". They were usually prevented from doing so by the babalawo. The ashes from the medicine was rubbed on the forehead for protection. This medicine is still used today. Because the Yoruba people know and understand the depth of the wickedness of witches, they created the Gelede cult which is dedicated to the witches who they addressed as Iya Wa (our mother). The aim was to appease them and turn their evil powers into good use for the development and well being of their communities.

Likewise the Ijaw people, in the olden days, had a very healthy fear of witches. They had various gruesome ways of disposing of them. A witch caught dancing the "witches" dance was either stoned to death, or drowned or tied to a log and thrown into the swamp. The witch's eyes were also torn out so that she would not be able to find her way back to earth to continue to perpetuate her evil deeds. If a witch was very notorious, she was tied to a stake and fires lit beneath her and burnt alive. Some were bound and thrown into the water. Among the Brass Ijaw, when a child died, the bowels were opened and examined and if found to be black, the mother was suspected of witchcraft. Her whole family was then put under surveillance. Any member of the family, previously suspected and later found guilty was taken to the waterside, tied between two posts while members of community threw spears at her until she died. These were very gruesome deaths. The people believed that those who are deformed, and crooked during the day become strong at night when they performed their nefarious deeds. They also believed that if one met a suspected witch at night, all one had to do to render the witch powerless was to call her name first, then take earth and throw at her. She would be rendered powerless to hurt the person. Any owl, bat, cat or vulture sited near one's house was pursued and killed with the belief that it was a witch and anyone who died at that time was believed to be the person who turned into the animal. Lots of witches existed among the Ijaw, hence they watched suspected witches seriously and if any of them did anything suspicious, she was instantly dealt with - either beaten to death or buried alive in the swamp.

The Igbo people believed witches are capable of everything evil. The witches were believed to love dancing to the "native piano" at daytime and anyone of them caught in the act was stoned to death or beaten to death or burnt alive. The bodies of notorious witches were never

buried in the village but thrown into the bad bush after her eyes had been gorged out. Suspected witches whose atrocities had not been proved were driven out of the village and made to live in the bad bush. She was barred, on pain of death, from coming to the village or the town.

The Igbos believed that witches change into rats, fowls and pigs and actually bite people in this form. The wound thus inflicted would enlarge, become inflamed and eventually kill the person. There is also the belief that witches can kill people from a distance by the power of thought.

The Urhobo people believed that children do not die natural deaths but are eaten by witches who are envious of their mothers. While the Efik and Oron people believe that if a witch is not dealt with in her lifetime and if she is buried like an ordinary person, she will reappear and cause harm to people. She does this through a small hole found near the grave. She reappears in the form of a rat or small animal. When the people in the community discover this hole, the witch's corpse is exhumed and if found to be in perfect condition, as if just interred, she is burnt. The Efik and Ibibio people also believe that babies are initiated into witchcraft through potions put in their food after which they will find themselves in the witch's coven.

The Mbembe people feared witches but believed that a witch living in a compound where everyone was friendly with her would protect those living in her compound but if the people were not friendly but hostile towards her, she would cause them harm. The Mbembe witches hid their witchcraft in their eyes, and hearts in the form of bats. For this reason, when a witch died, her head was severed and placed in a cooking pot and thoroughly cooked to kill the bat so that she will not see her way back to earth again. According to Talbot (1926) an incident happened in 1920 in Api Apun Eye, a village in Mbembe land. A small hole was found near the grave of a witch. The grave was opened up in the presence of a "native doctor". The woman's body was found to be quite fresh and with a looking glass in her hands.

The native doctor on seeing her this way, immediately blew her head to pieces with his shot gun. The Mbembe people also have special medicine called Atan Fichin (eyes of witchcraft) with which they can perceive witches entering their compound. This medicine was usually prepared by powerful native doctors. They also believed that people are born with witchcraft and that no one can buy real witchcraft and that while on earth a person decides if she will be a witch in her next life. If she had been badly dealt with by them in her present life, she would decide to become a one on reincarnation. If she was already a wizard and enjoy it, she would come back as one. If she was not enjoying it, she would not return.

The Nupe people believe that the witches who kill are women while the wizards defend others against the female. The Nupe believe that for the female witches to kill, there must be an avenue left open by the wizards as a result of default in defending his fellows. In effect, the female requires the assistance of the male to kill. The Nupes believe that evil resides in feminity. Women are considered sexually insatiable because they control the economy especially in trading. She shoulders the expenditure in the family. In the process of trading, the females travel to distant lands and there they end up having lovers and supernatural strength hence the belief in them being witches. Convicted witches were either stoned, killed, burnt or sold into slavery.

The Tivs believe that failure to excel and be recognized is a moral fault and this is highly despised. This failure inspires envy which leads to witchcraft. In the same vain, excesses in performance or ambition or exercise in authority is also believed to be a moral fault and may be ascribed to evil occult power. These two beliefs are said to be controlled by Tsav which means talent, ability, potential a certain witchcraft. Tsav exists in every person's heart and can either be developed or undeveloped. It can be obtained through the use of human beings or spirits or ancestors. Those with Tsav are known as Mbatsav. They belong to a secret society; deal with spirits and magic; are sacred and perform spiritually at night. They are said to leave their bodies at night, riding on a magical iron horse to do their work and they can turn into animals. Mbatsavs perform the following functions: (a) They can cause agricultural, human and animal fertility and infertility that is they perform a productive function. (b) They expel evil from the society through magical rites; drive away diseases or destructive animals, birds, insects associated with witches. This is protective. (c) They have the power to propel evil to a person to cause death, suffering of discomfort. They use their power against members of the society and are believed to be antisocial. This is destructive function. (d) Mbatsavs are, therefore, always in constant conflict between the forces of good and evil.

From the above one can posit that Mbatsav is a generic word which includes those who practise both black and white magic, as the constituted authorities for the benefit of the community as well as those who practise black magic as a weapon, which is being done with a personal objective as an anti-social act. Thus one is legal and constitutional while the other is illegal and unconstitutional. Protective and productive functions are legal and constitutional while destructive function is illegal and unconstitutional. Punishment for the latter is an ordeal which may lead to death. Thus the Tivs believe that all evils are conveyed by the agency of malevolent spirits, often propelled by evil men who have acquired Tsav which they use to influence them (spirits) through magical processes. Wizards, therefore, fall into the category of who use their Tsav for evil action.

In my research into this topic, I was told all sorts of fantastic tales. One interesting factor was that no one has actually seen a real witch but were told or believed through strange behaviours of people. Some Awka women told me that they believe that witches change into all sorts of deformed human beings but that their figures could not be clearly discerned. They claimed that the most notorious wizards confessed their crimes while they were on their death beds - just before they died.

There was this story of a very notorious witch who flew out as a bird and could not return into the human body because the witch has been turned while she was away - that is, her feet where her head was and vice versa, thus the bird could not enter into the body. This supposedly happened in Onitsha. There was another tale of a witch in Ikot Abasi in Akwa Ibom State who had only one child and when it was her turn to "produce meat" for the members, refused to produce her only child. Instead she supposedly gave her fellow members all the old portions of meat she had been saving. They refused to accept the meat and killed her child and she was forced to seek redress at the King's Palace. There was yet another story of how a woman accidentally witnessed a meeting of the wizards in their coven in the bush. There she saw, to her horror, her daughter tied up for slaughter by her (woman) sister. She ran off and summoned the chiefs of the village to the area where the child was saved by the intervention of the medicine man. Two years ago, there was pandemonium at Oshodi where a "flying" woman "landed" on the ground. She wore only a thin strip of cloth over her genitals. People pounced on her and she confessed that she was very late leaving the coven. She was burnt after her confession. There was the story told by an "eye witness" of how some people went to a Buka - (a local restaurant) to eat. One of them demanded for fufu (cooked cassava mound) with egusi soup. However, when the food arrived and the man was about to eat, the fufu started "talking" - saying "don't eat me, please don't eat me". Those around shouted drawing the attention of passers by. The owner of the restaurant was pounced upon. A medicine man was brought who forced the woman to confess that she was a witch and that this was one way she has been initiating unsuspecting people into witchcraft. Unfortunately for her, the customer's spirit was too powerful for the witch.

One February 25 this year, there was a news story at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) of a man who macheted his father to death for being a wizard. He accused his father of killing his mother, children, wife and brother and also of disturbing him and threatening him daily in his dreams. One could go on and on.

Detection Of Witches Now that we have an idea of how witches operate, we need to know how witches are detected or known. It is a well known fact they are human beings, but their activities cannot be detected or tracked down by the actions of people, but through manipulation of objects which are believed to have mystical power to reveal secrets. Thus it is done through divination, (the skill of saying what will happen in the future or discovering hidden knowledge through magical means), by very powerful babalawos or traditional doctors, The following are methods of detecting witches:

(a) Through witch doctors who can fish out witches and remove the evil and diseases cast on one by them. Witches run away from them. (b) Through spirit medicine - priests and priestesses who can tell when a sickness is caused by a witch. They will usually advise that the affected person contact a witch-doctor and in addition move out of reach of the witch. (c) Through oracles and their operators. (d) Through diviners who interpret the answers given by the behaviour of the mechanical objects he uses. He never speaks with the voice of the spirit. (e) If blood is found in the mouth of a man or woman coming back from the farm, he/she must have eaten a human being in the bush. (f) If the internal organs of a woman is diseased in certain ways, she is proclaimed guilty of being a witch. (g) If a person does not successfully go through some ordeals meant for witches, the person is guilty of being a witch. For example, the gun powder ordeal or trial. In this trial, a suspected witch throws some gunpowder into the fire, if the gunpowder does not explode, the person is guilty of being a witch. (h) When a man is suspected of having been killed by a relative who is a witch, a medicine man is invited at the man's wake. He puts some strong "medicine" in the palm wine and gives it to the dead man's relatives to drink. Any person who, after taking the drink, sleep non-stop for three days in the case of a woman or four days in the case of a man is said to be a witch or wizard responsible for the man's death. (i) When the suspected witch keeps appearing to his victims in their dreams and bothering or disturbing them or gives them food to eat or liquids to drink.

Analysis In trying to analyze the witchcraft phenomenon, we will look at various aspects of witchcraft.

Accusation of witchcraft attempts to modify a set of social relationship relevant to the accuser, to an accused and certain others who are potential parties to the accusation. The usual charge is that the accused used illegitimate, magical or supernatural means to accomplish an end. His use of such means establishes him as a witch and as a witch becomes estranged from his accuser and those witnesses who have accepted his guilt. The accusation of witchcraft is usually carried out before and upon an audience. It works like this:(a) The accuser presses the charge.

(b) A convinced audience fixes guilt. (c) The community mates out instant punishment. (d) When unconvinced, the audience absolves the accused, usually through ordeals.

In a community, witchcraft can and does provide inevitable schism, smear campaign, justification for breaking a relationship, reason for prosecuting a feud, justification for homicide etc. When a person is accused of witchcraft, his status in the community is automatically degraded. The witches are convicted on circumstantial evidence. When proof is provided, it is through an ordeal or divination. A person denouncing a witch must provide triangle of identities and relationships. This triangle leads the denouncer to the perpetrator and both of them to the event.

The denouncer establishes the credentials as a representative of the community values. The event for which this responsibility is to be allocated belongs to a special class. Its act of commission automatically condemns the perpetrator on motivational grounds. The audience accepts the event, denouncer and perpetrator as proper representations of their types, just as they (audience) judges the unsuccessful accuser to be unqualified to denounce another and represent group values.

Whatever the case may be, accusations of witchcraft have some attributes which are: (a) Accuser is "doing something" to a named person. (b) Accusation is prompted by a set of prior events e.g. misfortune, strange behaviour that leads to identification of a suspect. Thus the accuser is "doing something" about a predicament. (c) Accuser gets the audience of witnesses convinced through communicative work and thereby accept the transformation of accused into a witch.

In analyzing witchcraft one should not forget the importance of misfortune and people's inherent belief in the various causes of misfortunes which directly propel certain actions. The causes of misfortune are believed to be three: (a) Acts of supernatural beings and forces. God and the ancestors fall into this category. Responsibility of the misfortune is therefore supernatural. (b) Unseen forces triggered by an error, (conscious or unconscious). For example, braking taboos, contact with ritual impurity etc. fall into their category. The individual is responsible for his misfortune since he knows what to avoid and actions required to remedy these breaches of which he is conscious.

(c) Witchcraft for which others are responsible.

An important aspect of the analysis is our state of technological development. Why is it that belief in witchcraft and its malevolent actions are prevalent in the technologically underdeveloped countries? Is our inability to analyze happenings scientifically and place them in their proper perspectives responsible for these beliefs, or is it simply that in our custom nothing happens by chance? Every strange behaviour must be attributed to something. Every strange event must be controlled and motivated by unseen forces. Have the non-traditional religions affected our views on witchcraft? How do we situate the Nigerian belief in witchcraft to the strange happenings of the Bermuda Triangle? These are only food for thought.

"Paganism" was used by Christians to describe people who didn't follow Christianity, or the preChristian practices. "Pagans" had their own terms for what they did or believed in. "Pagan" is only defined as such by Christians. To me, modern day pagans (aka neopagans) use that term in a postmodern sense of reclaiming, such as black folks sometimes use the "N" word among themselves or gay folks use "fag" among themselves in reclaiming a term from an oppressor. Before Christianity came, "Pagans" considered "witchcraft" a specific practice by "witches", and did not lump it in with everything they did as "pagans." Here's an example from the Yoruba of Nigeria. This is all stuff I learned in person in 1996 during my time there. The religious life of traditional Yoruba was centered around the Orisha (the deities). Each deity had a place in the cosmology and a sphere of influence. Ogun was god of iron, Shango god of fire and thunder, Orunmila of divination, wisdom and prophecy, Oshun of beauty and love, etc. Most average folks went to the priest/priestess of one or the other if they had a particular problem. If you were a warrior for example you might go make offering to Shango or Ogun. If you needed counsel you would go to a diviner, a babalawo, under Orunmila. If you wanted fertility you might offer to Yemoja, goddess of the sea and fertility/children. If you had no luck bearing children, you might next in desperation go to the mami wata, the female spirits that live in the water, and ask her for one of her children. Often this would do the trick, but even though the child came through your womb, it was not really "yours" but only borrowed and you had to treat it a certain way through childhood, or the mami wata would take it back. Some groups were dedicated to a particular orisha. For example, the traditional hunters (a specific class of woodsmen and hunters who also had special juju-medicines to fight evil in the bush, in some ways like the woodsman in Red Riding Hood) were dedicated to Ogun. The babalawo were dedicated to Orunmila. I was acquainted with priestesses of Osun and Shango.

Now they also had a group called Aje, "witches." These were not entirely human, but humans "possessed" by a special kind of spirit called a witchbird. They were almost always women. Actually I never heard of a male witch. They were not the same as sorcerors. Sorcery/juju was a learned skill but also required imparted power by a deity and/or mentor. But witchcraft was inherent in the soul of a witch, it emanated from their essence, their being. They could shapeshift, usually birds or cats. They performed almost always inimical/hostile juju, but on occasion could also choose do something beneficial. They often lived in certain trees, such as the iroko. The hunters were their natural enemies in the bush. In the towns, the chiefs and kings had actual witchhunting societies, the Ogboni, that used bullroarers and went searching to destroy them. This was LONNGGG before Christianity. A regular human woman could ONLY become Aje if she accepted a witchbird inside her to replace her human soul. There were interesting group dynamics among these folks. I was in a small village, in a mud house of a hunter we knew. Along comes a Babalawo who was going to do a divination for one of my group. Then, soon, along comes an Aje too, just to observe the proceedings. She and the hunter threatened each other, but the Babalawo was there as a moderating influence. Aje and Babalawo tend to get along ok, and Babalawo are well-regarded by all of traditional Yoruba, so it was like having a priest in a house-- although the other two were also magicoreligious practitioners. Anyway, except for the yelling, no one did anything there, and soon the Aje left. In traditional Yoruba society, the kings and chiefs run the towns and society as a whole. The priests and priestesses of particular orisha are integrated as part of that society. Hunters are somewhat marginal, since they go freely in and out of the fearsome bush (full of ghosts and witches and unspeakable things). And aje are feared by all, except the diviners, who walk freely among all. So even without Christians and Muslims it is very complex. Now in this small town, there was also a mosque and a christian church. Both Christian and Muslim decried the traditionalists as "pagans." But they also feared the pagan juju, whether of the priests of orisha like Shango or the Aje. Christians wore crosses and Muslims wore tiny little Korans. Most also had jewelry or other medicines to protect against bad juju, even if they were devout. Because western society is so Christianized (although it is more secular than anything else anymore-- and secularists think ANY kind of traditional religion is suspect) it lumps "pagan" and "witch" together. But functional traditional societies do not do this. There is no "pagan" and "witches" are a specific kind of person.