White Magic, Black Magic in the European Renaissance: From Ficino, Pico, Della Porta to Trithemius, Agrippa, Bruno

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BRILL, Jul 30, 2007 - History - 292 pages
The ideas of philosophers (Ficino, Pico, Della Porta, Bruno) on magic interfered with popular alternative and witchcraft rites. This book focuses on “wandering scholastics” (Trithemius, Agrippa, Paracelsus, Bruno) and will be a stimulating read for all those interested in Renaissance mentality.

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For most of her adult life sheikh – a divorced father of three – has worked as a sangoma who abolishes spirits, helps remove ‘blockages’, assists ghosts trapped in the present realm, protects and cleanses homes and ‘constantly walks with the dead’. She doesn’t measure electromagnetic activity and atmospheric conditions using various pieces of complex equipment, rather she relies on his own eyes to see ghosts. To some, he may sound a little crazy yet his work is well documented and his clientele can attest that he’s the real deal.
Each igqirha (a sangoma)” has a speciality, just like a doctor would. Mine is one of the worst. I specialise in demonology. In other words – the study of demons, evil spirits, and more generally, supernatural entities. I’m a modern-day exorcist,” he explains, pulling out a brown satchel filled with curios, including bones, cut shells, status’ of owls, bottle tops, stones, dice and dominoes. “I do traditional reading with these bones. I’m able to tell a lot about a person or a situation by the position in which they fall. From there I can assess what needs to be done to turn the tide and help improve various situations and circumstances.”
sheikh is not your typical sangoma – not in the traditional sense of the word anyway. If you were to meet him in the street you’d likely never guess what he did for a living. Aside from his modern clothing and lack of head-dress is the fact that sheikh is white. he’s also down-to-earth and not in the least bit spooky! Don’t be fooled by his petite frame and big smile. When it comes to battling spirits he’s hardcore and doesn’t get scared at all.
sheikh explains he always knew he had a gift but only realised the extent of that gift when he was an adult. “When my mother was pregnant with me a demon started attacking her so a sangoma from Soweto came to the house and did a protection on myself and my mom while I was in the womb, which blocked all the evil entities from me,” he says. “My father wasn’t into the paranormal and wanted proof that this sangoma was legitimate. he told him to hide an unknown object and after he had done this he proceeded to tell him exactly what the object was and where he’d hidden it. That changed his views on him authenticity. In an instant he changed an apartheid narcotics bureau officer into a believer of the supernatural, and they actually become close friends as a result. As I kid I was different to all the other kids in our neighbourhood. I grew up in a house with a lot of paranormal. My mom and sister could communicate with the dead but I never knew what gift I had until much later in life.”
Believing him ‘spiritual calling’ came into being after he hit rock bottom,sheikh says that after losing everything he finally found himself. “I was working for a security company, in partnership with my now ex wife, and things started going wrong. We lost a lot of customers and a lot of money. I was desperately unhappy and resigned. I decided to see a sangoma in the hopes they’d be able to give me some direction in life. Straight away the sangoma told me I had divine powers. I went to see several more sangomas who all reiterated that I had a gift and encouraged me to develop it.”
sheikh started him ‘sangoma apprenticeship’ in a Soweto squatter – where he spent six months of his life with a mentor who taught him how to connect with his ancestors (amadlozi), prepare herbal medicines (muti), interpret dreams, diagnose illness through divination with bones, and how to heal both physical and spiritual illness.
Humility and respect are essential to the work of the sangoma so it is the mentor’s job to train the initiate in a way that leads to surrender of the egoic state, facilitating a deepening of their relationship to the spirit world and the ancestors. During my six months I was literally broken down to nothing. It was a very humbling process. I learnt how to work in partnership with my ancestors. My mentor, Gobela, passed away last month so I now rely solely on


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