ASSORTED OCCULT UNPLEASANTNESS
DEMONS IN BONDAGE
Spanish fashion house Balenciaga got an unexpected response to two of its recent, spectacularly ill-advised advertising campaigns; one which featured small children holding teddy bears in bondage wear, and another where handbags were photographed on top of legal documents relating to laws against distributing child abuse images. These led to widespread accusations that the label was promoting and supporting child abuse. Inevitably, eagle-eyed social media posters went a step further and scrutinised Balenciaga’s campaigns in detail, finding what they believe to be “demonic symbols” hidden in these and other photographs. A summary in a TikTok video from music producer Marc Baigent points out “a child’s drawing of the Devil” behind a boy in one shot and a “random black hood, perfectly placed and tied, resembling a Satanic cult” on the floor beside him. He is wearing a pair of red trainers, supposedly resembling a Devil, and a roll of Balenciaga tape on the floor shows two ‘A’s, interpreted as spelling “Baal”, described as an ancient god to whom children were sacrificed. It also says: “Lastly, one of the dolls with a padlock around its neck. Coincidence?” Prompted by such discoveries, others have been stretching the talents of Google translate to breaking point, feeding in variations of “Balenciaga” and claiming meaningful results. One Twitter user typed in “Ba Len Ci Aga”, which Translate assumed was in the African language Hausa, and got “Do what you want” back, which the poster connected with Crowley’s “Do what thou wilt”. Another broke it down as “Baal [sic] enci aga”, which Google Translate interprets as “Baal is king” in Latin, with both confirming the suspicions of those with an inclination to be suspicious. news.com.au, 30 Nov; newsweek.com, 2 Dec; thecut.com, 5 Dec 2022.
In Jamaica, the allegedly occult use of a padlock was also creating disquiet when a frog with its mouth padlocked shut was found outside the Spanish Town courthouse in St Catherine. Onlooker Julani Brandford said, “Lawd Jeezas, dis yah one seal,” following the discovery of the frog, adding, “Smaddy mouth lock up again. A so dem wuk pon witness fi mek dem buss di case.” The use of “spiritualists” in an attempt to influence court cases is widespread in Jamaica. Often this simply involves plaintiffs anointing themselves with “courthouse oils” to tip a case in their favour, but more elaborate methods are also employed. Obeah Man Reuben Williams said that various animals could be used to influence cases: “Some people use chicken, some people use goat, some people use cow and pig .... The cow is for universal purpose, and the chicken is for minor operations.” He explained that a cow’s tongue is often used “because the bull represents a mighty force” and suggested that this might be involved with the padlocked frog. “For some high science, yuh can use a piece of the cow tongue and put inside of the frog belly, but yuh affi force it dung him stomach and padlock it.” He added that this required some serious magic: “At first you have to conjure the spirit that is going to be invoked. The person that is going to do the invocation, to get the spirit, would have to become powerful enough, or have the knowledge enough, to call on that spirit to place whoever mouth yuh wah fi close, and place dem as the bullfrog.” Jamaica-star.com, 2 Nov 2022.
Eleven teenagers at the Agricultural Technical Institute in Hato, Colombia, were found collapsed in a corridor after using a Ouija board. The students, aged 13 to 17, were suffering from violent vomiting, abdominal pain and muscle spasms. “The children were passed out. At the time they were found they were short of breath and thick drool was coming out of their mouths,”
said Jose Pablo Toloza Rondón, the mayor of Hato. He added: “It is not ruled out that it was the Ouija board, that is part of the investigation.” The students were seen by doctors at a nearby health centre, but five had to be taken to the Manuela Beltrán Hospital for further treatment. Juan Pablo Vargas Noguera, a doctor at the hospital, said: “We did not find psychological alteration in the children, taking into account that it was said that it would have been from playing the Ouija board. The medical report says it was due to food poisoning.” It was later found, after the students were interviewed, that they had all drunk from the same glass of water, which was the likely source of the infection. independent. co.uk, 12 Nov 2022.
A PLAQUE ON BOTH YOUR HOUSES
In Larne, Northern Ireland, a proposed historic plaque commemorating the last witch trial held in Ireland had its wording changed after the intervention of a local councillor. A line saying, “Today the community recognises your innocence” was dropped after Ulster Unionist councillor Keith Turner questioned whether it was within the council’s remit to say whether those involved were innocent or guilty. At the trial, which took place at Islandmagee in 1711, eight women and a man were found guilty of witchcraft, put in the stocks and sentenced to a year in prison. Alliance councillor Robert Logan said, “There are no such thing as witches. How can you be accused of being a witch if there is no such thing as a witch?”, but Turner pointed out that the crime of witchcraft existed until 1821, so they could have been found guilty of the crime. Previously, another councillor, Jack McKee, had objected to the plaque, saying it could become a “shrine to paganism” and was “antiGod” and said that he “could not tell whether or not the women had been rightly or wrongly convicted as he didn’t have the facts and was not going to support Devil worship”. Alliance Councillor Maeve Donnelly welcomed the plaque and said: “It is long overdue that these women (and one man) have been commemorated.” belfasttelegraph. co.uk, 23 Nov 2022.
“How can you be accused of being a witch if there is no such thing?”
WITCH HUNTS NOT OVER
In Borno State, northeastern Nigeria, Boko Haram jihadists carried out a witch hunt on the orders of local commander Ali Guyile after the alleged sudden death of his children overnight. His followers rounded up 40 women in a village near Gwoza and accused them of causing the children’s death by witchcraft. Guyile first had 14 of the women killed by having their throats slit, then followed this up several days later by murdering a further 12. Northeast Nigeria is the frontline of a struggle between Nigerian state forces and two rival jihadist factions, Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa, but accusations of witchcraft are common in both the Islamic north of the country and the Christian south. Meanwhile, a rise in sorcery killings in Papua New Guinea has been blamed on instabilities caused by climate change, natural disasters, economic inequality, tribal violence, gender violence and a mistrust of government. On the island, there has been a long tradition of sorcery, but violence against sorcerers, which is known as “sanguma”, has not been part of New Guinea’s customs until recently. According to film maker Paul Wolffram, who is making a documentary about the killings, people are now looking for someone to blame when there is a premature death in their community, saying “One young man told me without any qualms or hesitation that they recently had to kill a witch in his village, because if they didn’t take care of it, nobody else would to stop what they perceive as sorcery.” He added that this “belief in sorcery has completely dominated people’s mindsets up there at the moment.” Wolffram hopes his film will raise awareness of the problem in neighbouring New Zealand. rnz. co.nz, 11 Nov; dailymail.co.uk, 15 Nov 2022.