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Top 10 Bizarre Tales Of Modern-Day Witchcraft

by Shannon Quinn
fact checked by Jamie Frater

In many parts of the world, people still believe in magic. Whether it’s wishful thinking or a product of being raised in an isolated society, there are many who go to witch doctors and self-proclaimed shamans. Even in modern society, some people study ancient occult teachings in order to achieve the results they’re looking for—whether it’s eternal life, wealth, political power, or a curse upon their enemies.

10 Not-So-Bulletproof Spell

Witch doctors still practice in many African countries, and they actually make a very good living. In 2001, a group of roughly 15 men in a village called Lambu in Ghana went to a local witch doctor. They wanted to become invincible against their enemies living in rival villages, so they asked for a spell that was supposed to make them bulletproof. The witch doctor instructed the men to cover their entire body with an herbal mixture every day for two weeks, which would make their skin impenetrable to bullets.[1]

In order to see if the spell actually worked, one of the men, Aleobiga Aberima, volunteered to be the test subject. One of his friends shot him, and Aleobiga died. The villagers were outraged that the spell didn’t actually work. They began to beat the witch doctor nearly to death, and the village elder had to break up the brawl.

9 South Korean Shaman Cult

Photo credit: Ahn Young Joon/AP

In 2016, South Korean president Park Geun Hye met crowds of angry people demanding her impeachment. In 2017, she sits in a jail cell for bribery and corruption. This drama all started back when Geun Hye was a young woman. She was the daughter of former South Korean president Park Chung Hee and grew up like a princess in the luxurious Blue House. Her parents were both assassinated when she was in her twenties. A man named Choi Tae Min, who had been Geun Hye’s father’s right-hand man, decided to mentor the young orphaned woman in the world of politics and helped her eventually become president.[3] While this may all seem normal, there is a very strange and creepy side to this story.

Choi Tae Min had started a cult called the Church of Eternal Life, which blended a mix of Buddhist and Christian teachings surrounded by the idea that Choi had the powers of a shaman. Mr. Choi convinced Geun Hye that he spoke to the ghost of her dead mother. By the time Geun Hye became president, the Choi family’s control over her was compared to Rasputin and the Romanov family in Russia.

After Choi Tae Min died, his daughter Choi Soon Sil took over the cult and the family legacy. Park shared confidential information and gave millions of dollars to the Choi family’s nonprofit organization, which was ultimately used for their personal wealth. In exchange for this money and power, the cult gave her “magical” amulets and advice that was supposed to come from spirits. Allowing the “spirits” to guide her decision-making was a huge part of her downfall as president of South Korea.

8 Steam Exorcism

Photo credit: China News Service

In 2016, a 45-year-old man in a remote village in China named Yan Yingmao was desperate to cure his sick wife. He brought her to witch doctors to perform magic rituals on her, but none of the spells worked. They explained to Yan that the reason why the spells weren’t healing his wife was because she was possessed by demons.[3]

They went on to explain that the only way to perform an exorcism was to surround Yan’s wife in steam. The witch doctors poured several gallons of water into a large metal barrel and set a fire underneath it. The water began to boil, and steam and heat emanated from the metal. They placed Yan’s wife inside a wooden barrel and lifted it on top of the boiling water. The plan was to have the hot steam rise up from the water and surround the woman like she was in a sauna.

After being in the wooden barrel for a while, Yan’s wife began screaming. The witch doctors told Yan that screaming was a good sign because it meant that the demons were leaving her body. When Yan finally insisted that his wife had enough, her body had turned black from being burned, and her face was purple and swollen. She died soon after. The witch doctors fled and were never seen again.

7 Massive Spell Against Donald Trump

Photo credit: Doug Coulter

Roughly half the citizens of the United States were unhappy when Donald Trump was elected as president. With not much left to do to change that fact for the next four years, some turned to the magical realm for help. In February 2017, a Facebook event was created for people to gather in New York City for a mass spell to stop President Trump from doing harm to the United States and potentially other parts of the world.

Many modern witches and Wiccans who couldn’t make it to the New York event decided to cast the spell in the privacy of their own homes with the help of candles, crystals, and tarot cards. The wording is as follows: “Bind Donald J. Trump, so that his malignant works may fail utterly.” The Wiccans explain that this spell is not meant to curse or personally harm Trump but to stop him from doing harm to others. While some may laugh this off as nonsense, a number of right-wing Christians have declared it a “spiritual war.”[4]

6 Curse On A Footballer

Photo credit: Brgesto

Shortly before the 2014 World Cup, Portuguese professional soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo was injured during a game against Greece. He was diagnosed with tendinitis and had a strain in his left thigh, which forced him to sit out of the international tournament. A witch doctor in Ghana named Nana Kwaku Bonsam claimed credit for Ronaldo’s injury, saying that he put a curse upon the soccer player from thousands of miles away.[5]

Bonsam goes on to explain that in order to cast the spell on Ronaldo, he had to chase down and sacrifice four stray dogs. He supposedly brought about an evil spirit called Kahwiri Kapam, which inhabited Ronaldo’s legs and could not be cured by traditional medicine. Of all of the soccer players he could have targeted, he does not explain why he picked on Cristiano Ronaldo in particular. He simply wanted to eliminate star players from the sport in order for Ghana to win the World Cup.

5 Kenyan Politicians And Witch Doctors

Photo credit: Nairobi News

In 2003, a politician named James Mutiso was elected into office in Kenya. Many witch doctors hired by his rivals had put curses on him. Very soon after the election, he was in a car that crashed and fell into a river. At the time, his own witch doctor, whom he called his “healer,” was in the car as well. They were both trapped in the car and drowned in the river. After recovering the bodies, rescuers found objects which indicated that this healer had, in fact, been performing spells as a witch doctor. Apparently, she focused too much on spells to achieve victory and not enough on protection from evil spirits.

Years later in Nairobi, a group of Christian priests banded together in 2016 to expose a group of politicians who were hiring witch doctors to perform magic rituals in order to win elections. Despite the fact that the pastors claimed to know the identities of these criminal witch doctors, they could not trace their locations or come up with proof to hand over to authorities. They ended up meeting at a church and praying together, claiming that the power of God will be greater than the evil spirits of black magic.[6]

4 Deadly Magic Football Riots

In 2008, during a soccer game in the Democratic Republic of Congo, two local football clubs were playing against one another: Nyuki versus Socozaki. It was clear that the Nyuki club was going to lose, so the goalkeeper decided to perform spells on the Socozaki team. He was using an African form of witchcraft called fetishism, which is when a magical object and incantation is used.

In western countries, if someone waved a magic wand and “cast a spell” over their opposing team, everyone would laugh, roll their eyes, and carry on. However, in the Congo, people still truly believe in the power of spells. This was considered a threat to their health and well-being, so the entire Socozaki team jumped him.

The Nyuki players came to their goalie’s aid, and it started a massive brawl between the two teams. The police were forced to throw tear gas and pull the men off one another. Eleven of the soccer players died, and many more were injured.[7]

3 Illness Spread By Witch Doctors

In 2016, a 34-year-old man named Chhem Yin was running from his fellow villagers in Cambodia’s Pursat province. They were trying to get revenge and vowed to kill him. Finally, someone caught up with Yin and shot him mercilessly with an AK-47.[8]

Why had Yin been murdered? People in his village had reported him to the police, claiming that he was a witch doctor. They said that he was making people sick and that these illnesses sometimes lead to death. The villagers truly believed in magic, and they saw Yin as a villain in the town. A while back, the police had questioned Yin about the villagers’ concerns. Yin claimed that he never even dabbled in witchcraft.

One man was so outraged over the fact that the police were not doing anything to stop the sorcery that he decided to perform vigilante justice by shooting Yin. He also tracked down other known witch doctors. He beheaded one and stabbed another. This man is unidentified and is currently on the run.

This is not an isolated incident in Cambodia. In recent years, villagers in remote parts of the country have decided to crack down on “magic” by murdering any known witch doctors, even if they are simply trying to heal villagers with natural remedies.

2 Chinese Spirit Masters Seeing The Future

Photo credit: AFP-JIJI

According to 74-year-old Zhao Fucheng, modern Chinese cities are stealing away the magic from his ancient practice as a shaman.[9] With millions of young people leaving their remote villages in China in favor of seeking job opportunities in cities each year, witch doctors are losing many of their clients. Zhao calls himself a “spirit master,” relying on birth dates in correlation with a lunar calendar on an ancient scroll to help him predict the futures of people who come to him for advice. He can also recommend healing from rituals performed in traditional Chinese medicine, or if the problem persists, he will go to the spirits for aid.

Shamans worry that as the young people leave, there will be no one left to apprentice as a spirit master. Even Zhao’s son refuses to learn the art of shamanism because he does not believe in ghosts. Just like many ancient traditions, shamanism in China is fading as the newer generations embrace modern society. Zhao predicts that in the next 30 years, they will see a major decrease in the number of practicing shamans. That’s at least one vision of the future that will most likely come true.

1 The Magic Death Notes

In 2008, in a village in Kenya, a notebook of names appeared in a school yard. The anonymous author claimed that it was a collection of known witches in the village. The police took possession of the notebook. Before the villagers took action, they held a town meeting. Many of the people were ready to go and kill every single person whose name was written in the notebook, even without any actual proof that these people did anything wrong.

Before the villagers could go on a lynching spree, an elderly woman stood up during the town meeting and declared, “I am a witch.”[10] A few other people stood up and did the same. The villagers were angry, but the police were present, so these “witches” were able to go into protective custody. According to Dr. Solomon Monyenye of the University of Nairobi, many targets of witch hunts are elderly women. Knowing that the town was out for blood, it is possible that these women claimed that they were witches because they knew police custody was the only way they would make it out of the village alive.

Shannon Quinn is a writer and entrepreneur from the Philadelphia area.

fact checked by Jamie Frater