Deep Dive by Sophia Macpherson

Witchcraft and Black Magic Across the World

Witchcraft in the Philippines

The island of Siquijor, found in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines, is a mysterious other-world of witchcraft, the unknown and to mangkukulam: these are practitioners of a form of Filipino witchcraft called kulam. Researcher of Filipino and Austronesian history, @igorot.sky, states that in his experience of visiting the island that many Cebuanos refused to accompany him on his journeys. Many believe that they perform black magic, using rituals similar to voodoo, and cast spells and incantations to bring harm. However, they aren’t just self-serving; they often sell love potions and services to help customers exact revenge on those who have wronged them.

These images are from documentary photographer, Jacob Maentz, and show his time spent with folk healers and sorcerers on the island. Out of his time spent there he said it was “interesting seeing the influence of the church on these sorcerers, with many praying and lighting candles on their altar before starting a ritual.”

A folk healer from Siquijor burns charcoal together with a special mix of healing plants next to an old balete tree. Fumigating patients is a key part of their rituals and helps rid people of any pain or discomfort they may have.
Juanita Torremacho, a fourth-generation folk healer, performs a 'tu-ob' ritual to help a patient with his arm pain. Visitors from all over the Philippines (and foreign travelers) journey to Juanita’s home in hopes of being healed.
A sorcerer in Siquijor island places his hand on a human skull which he uses to cast spells on people. Visitors from all over the world hire him to place hexes against their enemies. This skull is kept in an old rice bag and is stuffed with victims photographs and their names written on pieces of paper. Siquijor island is known for its black magic and folk healers.

Vodou in Haiti

In ‘Servants of the Spirit’, photographer, Les Stone, spends 20 years exploring the mysticism of the practice of vodou, an African diasporic religion that developed in Haiti between the 16th and 19th centuries and which is often seen as a practice involving magic. Vodou is an official religion of Haiti, which more than 8 million people practice. This African diasporic religion is based on the belief that everything is a spirit and humans exist to serve the spirits through different devotional rites and prayers.

During rituals, Vodouists will often experience spirit possession and enter trance-like states, which can include eating and drinking, dancing, divination and performing special medical cures or physical fears. Vodou is not evil; it is a belief system and religion comparable to any other. As one of Vodou's central sites, Souvenance holds an annual festival at Easter. These images take place during this event.

Of his time spent there, Stone says “it’s Vodou, the people, the music, the dance and the incredible drumming that draw me back.

All images by Les Stone

Witchcraft in Romania

In the suburbs of Bucharest lives one of the most famous witches in Romania, @mihaelamincaofficial. She and her coven - all of which are traditionally itinerant Roma minorities - live at the outskirts of European society and make their living through performing rituals that help their clients find money, love and sufficient punishments for those who have wronged them.

Romanian photographer, Virginia Lupu, had the chance of photographing them in cantatory action. In this, Lupu discovered a significant aesthetic element in the witches' rituals. Minca would use a different color palette for each type of spell.

"Red for love, yellow for abundance and richness, white for blessing, and black for powerful black magic rituals..."

The women's recipes and activities aren't noted in any kind of book, but passed down from generation to generation. The images highlight how the women invoke craft and fashion to enhance their potency and Lupu wanted the images to help viewers better appreciate Roma superstitions, witchcraft and magical practices.

Images by Virginia Lupu
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