News stories that sound like horror movies. Dismembered corpses and desecrated graves, children sold off for ritual and the ghastly reality of human sacrifice. There are few mysteries left in the 21st century. The occult is one of them. Black magic and evil forces still have the power to terrify, control and in some cases kill.
Black magic is one of the last great unknowns in a world that claims to have found an answer to everything, and we’re afforded a glimpse into this shadowy realm only when something unspeakable happens. With the dark arts comes power, and with power comes greed, so it’s no surprise that black magic practices are a favorite of criminals.
Discover how Mexican drug cartels invoked ancient sacrificial rites to ensure their immortality. Witness African prostitution rings using voodoo to enslave young women in tourist traps. Recoil in horror at a Pakistani religious leader who tortured and murdered his adoring followers. And despair at the abhorrence of child sacrifice in modern-day London!
This is the story of when magic meets crime.
WORLD OF WITCHCRAFT
In America the practice of witchcraft exists in a type of purgatory. While the First Amendment allows citizens to worship in any way they desire, if there are exploitative, damaging or fraudulent factors, that worship can cross the line into crime. For example, fortune-tellers and palm readers might find themselves taken up on fraud charges, as opposed to anti-superstition laws. Not exactly the Witchfinder General of Puritan times. In fact, the witch trials of Salem took place almost 80 years before the establishment of America as we know it, and those prosecutions were made under British doctrine.
Any specific laws relating to the practice of witchcraft in modern-day USA are made at the discretion of the state. The U.S. District Court of Virginia acknowledged witchcraft as “a valid and legitimate religion” in the 1980s, but as a whole the U.S. doesn’t give the occult much credence. Other countries take it a lot more seriously.
In 2013 Swaziland implemented regulations on how high a witch can fly a broomstick. In 2011 Romania extended their taxation system to include witches, fortune-tellers and astrologers. Saudi Arabia even has an Anti-Witchcraft Unit that is used to “educate the public about the evils of sorcery, investigate alleged witches, neutralize their cursed paraphernalia, and disarm their spells,” The Atlantic reports.
India has its own share of problems combatting witchcraft. So much so that in 2013 the state of Maharashtra passed an anti-superstition act. It did little, however, to quell the darker facets of black magic practiced throughout the country. In April 2017 a man in Odisha sacrificed a six-year-old girl to the Goddess Kali, slicing her wrists open and draining her body of blood in a ritualistic offering. That same month a couple in their 50s were lynched and set ablaze under accusations of sorcery. A group of approximately 30 villagers savagely tortured and beat the couple and their children before tying them up and setting them on fire. Both parents died from their injuries.
India’s neighbor to the west, Pakistan, has also proven to be vulnerable to the allure of the dark arts. In 2017, at a Sufi shrine in Sargodha, the 50-year-old custodian, Abdul Waheed, and four accomplices committed one of the most horrific ritualistic slayings in recent memory when they held captive, tortured and murdered 20 loyal members of Waheed’s congregation.