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Witchcraft. In this essay I am going to look at two types of witchcraft and attempt to compare them. I have chosen witchcraft amongst the Azande and witchcraft in medieval Europe.

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Introduction

Compare and contrast examples and principles of witchcraft from either two different societies, or two different time periods, to point out what has changed and what has stayed the same. In this essay I am going to look at two types of witchcraft and attempt to compare them. I have chosen witchcraft amongst the Azande and witchcraft in medieval England. Evans-pritchard found that the Azande have an profound interest in the discussion of witchcraft as a topic of conversation, compared to articulation about God (Mbori). Although witches conceived by the Azande do not exist, a natural theory is found in witchcraft. This provides an explanation for hapless events and a way to respond to such events. Witchcraft plays a daily part in zande life. It is everywhere from domestic life of the home to the labour of hunting and fishing. In medieval England there was not the same frequency of witchcraft as that which occurs daily in the Azande. Witchcraft was becoming very popular in the fourteenth century and came to it's high during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The English too were intrigued by witchcraft however in medieval England and later periods, witchcraft was against the law and was seen as an offence against God and Man. Witchcraft involved the renunciation of God. ...read more.

Middle

People in England believed it is a gift comes to them as an accident of birth or else the special recipe or charm has descended from father to son, like that with the Zande. Another belief is that it has been given to them by the former owner and as a rule it is used for the benefit if their friends to cure diseases. It is seen as an insult for the person who has these powers to be called a white witch. The term healer is preferred. One might not even know they possess these powers. Seymour states 'anybody might become a victim of the witch epidemic.' (1989). In medieval England there were many common Witchcraft charges. These varied from having a birthmark or physical defect to recovering from an illness and having a long life. Others were performing as a midwife to healing. Here in after midwifery was not seen as Witchcraft but a normal part of life. Living into old age is also common as a result of medical advances. However other accusations of Witchcraft such as performing it on others to harm them is not very common in England. There is no longer execution of Witches as the last Witchcraft law was repealed in 1736. This idea of witchcraft and the charges, which surround the issue, is very different from that of the Azande of Sudan. ...read more.

Conclusion

. .Sorcery being performed by mere sophistication and wicked abuse of nature in things of natures own production.' The difference between Witchcraft and Sorcery regarding the Zande, is explained in relation to more natural happenings in a chain of causation. For example a skilled wood carver has bowls that occasionally split during his work even if he was careful and knew well the techniques of the craft. He would attribute this to Witchcraft. In modern day England, one would say that the carver had not been careful enough when making the bowls or that there was something wrong with the materials. Evan-Pritchard states 'Witchcraft explains why events are harmful to man and not how they happen.' The Zande people select the cause, which is socially relevant Witchcraft is the socially relevant cause when a man is killed by spear in war or is bit by a snake and it is the prime determinate of social behaviour. Witchcraft was seen as more of an anti-social behaviour in medieval England as it went against the laws and rules of society. In modern day England there is very little social relevance of Witchcraft. The Zande is in complete contrast having Witchcraft play a daily role in everyday life. Witchcraft amongst the Zande people has become their culture and a way of life. As it is embedded deep in the roots of their civilisation, ideas about witchcraft will not change dramatically over time. ...read more.

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