Evil acts done by sorcery can be lethal provided there are four ingredients combined for the purpose: fear, belief in magic power, a feeling of hopelessness, and self-suggestion.
“My girlfriend had a difficult marriage. Her husband cheated on her, beat her, and drank like a fish,” says Oksana Kryuchkova from the city of Podolsk, in a telephone call to Komsomolskaya Pravda. “One day she decided enough was enough. She went to a village and contacted a sorcerer. She asked the old woman to do away with the monster,” says Oksana. “The sorcerer first carved a male figurine out of wood. Then she placed it on the table and whispered a few words. She’d hammer a small nail into the figurine for about a week. And the husband would double up in pain every time the nail entered the wood. Finally, the sorcerer drove a nail into the heart of the figurine. It was on the day my girlfriend’s husband died. I’d like to have your opinion on the event. Does it look like a true story to you? Was it a coincidence?”
We put the question to Vladimir Lebedev, Doctor of Psychological Sciences:
“There’s an account of a very interesting case in one of the short stories by Agatha Christie. Alice, the protagonist of the story, suddenly inherits a large sum of money following the death of her distant relative. One Gerald Martin soon proposes her, and she accepts despite knowing virtually nothing about Martin’s past. In a short while, Alice becomes quite suspicious about her husband. A gardener tells her that Martin has immediate plans to set off on a long journey. And he is going to take you along, says the gardener. The news comes as a shock to Alice – Martin has never spoken to her about any journey. Somehow she manages to leaf through his papers which clearly indicate that Martin is a criminal at large, convicted for murdering several of his former wives. Alice is astounded by the findings. But she pulls herself together, and concocts a story, which she plays off against Martin at dinner. Sipping at her coffee, she “confesses” to him about murdering heru previous husband so that she might be entitled to a handsome sum of insurance. She also tells him that she’s put poison into his coffee too. Martin turns pale on hearing the “confession.” He says his coffee tastes strange.
‘You’re going to die in five minutes,’ said Alice sternly.
Five minutes later, Martin dies on the spot though there was no poison whatsoever in his coffee cup’.”
“The reason behind the above case lies in the power of suggestion or the ability to bring ideas into a patient’s mind while the latter is awake,” says Dr. Lebedev. “Alice must have developed a hypnotist’s abilities, about which she’d known nothing before the incident. The husband in the story became susceptible to suggestion for one simple reason. He must have been confident that violence could not be used against him though he used violence against other people on numerous occasions. The cup of coffee with a ‘strange aftertaste’ was, without doubt, a kind of “placebo”, which gave a boost to the effect of Alice’s ‘confession’.”
Ethnologists and doctors studying tribal communities put down similar accounts. For example, American doctor Garry Wright relays the following case in his book Eyewitness of Sorcery.
Lusung, a sorcerer in one of South African tribes, told a man who had committed a crime: “You willday in threedays!” Then she sprinkled water and sprayed some red powder around the hut of the condemned man. The sorcerer repeated her incantation for the benefit of the villagers. “Her words were a death verdict,” says Wright in his book. “None of the villagers laid hands on the criminal yet he was found dead three days later,” adds he.
Scientists believe superstitious fears prompted by sorcerers’ deliberate action can explain the cases of death like the above.
“The patient’s will is paralyzed, his mental activity suffers a dramatic decrease, and his objectives are highly volatile when he is in a state of fear. The patient’s suggestibility goes up. As a result, the above factors predispose him to panic attacks,” says Dr. Lebedev. “Iatrogenic disorders or those caused by the diagnosis, manner or treatment of a physician serve a good example. Patients affected by iatrogenic disorders are usually emotionally distressed, they feel anxiety, and start to speculate about the possibilities of death. Such careless remarks of a physician as ‘Your heart’s condition is simply horrifying!’ or ‘Who on earth could okay your pregnancy with the test results like that?” may lead to most lamentable consequences.
Aside from fear, any bad news, the aftermath of a family argument or work problems could deal a lethal blow to a human being. For example, William Pitt, British statesman and prime minister, could never get over the news about the defeat of Russian and Austrian armies by Napoleon I near Austerlitz in 1805. He went down with heart failure and succumbed to illness one year later. The Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov suffered a heart attack and died shortly after learning about a ban imposed by government censors on his opera The Golden Rooster in 1908. However, all the above individuals suffered from cardiovascular diseases. Therefore, affect or the predominant emotion in a person’s mental state can trigger disruption of the circulation.
Summing up, we can assume that an ‘incantation’ can have a lethal effect on a person if the latter is in a state of fear, and deeply believes in the magic power of a sorcerer. By the way, death cases caused by casting a spell are quite rare. As a rule, individuals of a certain mental frame are affected. However, even a handful of cases gets a great deal of publicity and thus solidifies the belief in omnipotence of sorcerers.”
Hypnologist Yuri Grigoriev comments on the article:
“There is irrefutable evidence showing that the power of suggestion is limited even during a hypnotic sleep. Unlike direct suggestion, a number of factors play a key role in the process. To name just a few: poor health, an unstable psyche, a traumatic experience. As for the case relayed by your reader from Podolsk, the mechanism of sorcery looks quite simple to me. The sorcerer apparently made arrangements so that somebody might inform the victim which part of the figurine, his “double”, she was hammering those nails into. Somebody definitely told him about the timing of the “ritual” too. By and large, the above accounts had are no examples of a sorcerer’s direct action on a victim. Black magic is used for evil purposes via mediated action.”
Translated by Guerman Grachev