The Witches of the Philippines
by Christine B.
The Philippines are made up of over 7,000 individual islands in the south Pacific. One of those islands is named Siquijor. Aside from its beautiful beaches and azure-colored ocean there is something else that makes this island renown—its witches.
Magic is a major component in the lives of the people of the Philippines—both good and black magic. The magic of Siquijor consists of healers, witches and demons. Along with their belief in magic comes an inventory of superstitions, including vampires that fly over the houses at the night.
Since the 16th Century when Catholicism was introduced to the islands the old beliefs and the new have mingled, but the locals have never given up their belief in magic and witches. For instance, all of the witch’s potions for the year are created a week before Easter and many of the witches use Catholic symbols when performing sorcery.
Many of the island witches work solely in healing the sick, but there are others who deal with the darker arts. Some perform spells that can cause sickness or even death. These spells have power because all of the inhabitants of the island believe they do. But casting a dark spell on an ex-lover or foe doesn’t come cheaply. Some witches charge as much as $700 to cast a spell. Considering the average yearly income of the residents is about $2,500,
that is considered a great deal of money, and luckily most can’t afford it. On the other hand, those witches who deal only in healing require only a small donation for their efforts.
One has to wonder how the laws work there for people who they believe have died from a black witch’s spell. How do the authorities prove black magic was the cause of death or which witch performed the magic that caused the death?
And if there are evil spells cast, the populace must have a witch that can get rid of them. “Bulo-bulo” is a ceremony that can remove some of the evil spells. An 86+ year old woman on the island attempts to remove an evil spell by muttering an unknown language as she puts a stone in a glass of water and then moves the glass over a victim’s body, blowing air into the glass through a bamboo straw. If the water becomes cloudy, it means the evil spell has been broken.
Many of the healer witches use herbal potions that have been used for centuries to cure illness. Some potions include over 150 different natural ingredients that are gathered on the island during the six weeks of Lent.
Witchcraft had been around for thousands of years and it is effective only if the person believes in the possibility of it. However, if you ever visit Siquijor, I suggest you don’t take the chance and just be very nice to everyone you meet.