Do laws prohibiting black magic still exist?

Inspired by the fun in this thread, as well as this morning’s episode of Nat Geo’s Taboo: Are there any places in the world where black magic, witchcraft, and other such nonsense are still prohibited by law?

Just asking out of curiosity, before I complete the circle. :cool:

Since no one can prove magic exists I’d say it’d be difficult to make a law against it.

Now, I’d guess some things people might do in pursuit of black magic would be illegal (sacrificing people and so on).

So you do not believe that there were ever laws against witchcraft? :dubious:

As it usually takes a deliberate act of the relevant legislative body to remove obsolete laws from the statute books, it rarely happens in practice unless the law is causing some sort of real problem (such as some people attempting to enforce it inappropriately). For that reason, I would be moderately surprised if there were not still laws against forms of black magic around, in various countries, technically still operative, but in practice ignored and unenforced.

I do not have any specific examples to offer, however.

I believe some countries in Africa still have anti-witchcraft laws on the books. In act, I thinks I read about a prosecution under those laws some months back.

How about the laws of thermodynamics?

Canada has anti-witchcraft laws currently.

Section 365 of the Canadian Criminal Code, R.S. 1985,c.C-46

The key here is “fraudulently”. Practicing some sort of Wicca isn’t caught.

What passed for “proof” in the past was a bit lacking by modern standards.

And yeah, I suppose some law might technically still be on the books but I’d be surprised if it’d stand up in court in the US.

If you go outside and draw a pentagram, light some candles and read from the Necronomicon to summon a Lovecraftian demon I doubt you can be thrown in jail for that alone.

Perhaps people will think about having you committed but not thrown in jail.

This issue actually came up (somewhat obliquely) in a real-life case here in central Illinois. I wish I remembered names and places so I can dig up a cite, but here’s the general outline:

Teenager in some small town (Illiopolis, I think, but that’s from vague memory) practices Wicca. He wants to host a sort-of Wiccan festival in the town park. In applying for the permit, he mentioned that he planned to have psychics, palm readers, etc. among other guests.

The God-fearing people of Illiopolis were having none of it, and dug up some law meant to protect the townsfolk from being scammed by Gypsies which prohibet “fortune tellers” from plying their trade in town. His application for a permit was denied.

The question isn’t whether it works or not – it’s whether actually performing a magickal ritual (presumably in manner that does not violate other laws) is itself a criminal act.

Presumably, if I were to draw a pentagram in goat’s blood and burn a photograph of someone who has wronged me and post the video on YouTube, that would raise some eyebrows – but unless extenuating circumstances apply, the police would laugh it off as someone being silly. (Am I correct?)

Don’t tell anyone, but…a long time ago, I decreased the entropy of an isolated macroscopic system. (And I’d do it again, if I could remember how it works…)

In Canada, performing black magic would be a criminal act - if you were doing it for money.

It’s a question of fraud.

Depending on where your drew the pentagram and how big the flames on the candles are, I suppose you could get cited for vandalism, burning without a permit, and air quality violations. If a Lovecraftian demon pops up, you might run afoul of local animal control regulations and federal laws barring the smuggling of illegal immigrants.

In the US, many states have laws against fortune telling for money. That might meet the definition of laws against black magic.

I doubt they could make that stick. Seems to me demons are neither animal nor human. :smiley:

In any case, an alternative to banning witchcraft might be to (try to) tax it.

Border Patrol agent: “So boss where to we deport him to?”

But what if the magician is a True Believer? Fraud is a matter of intent, not deed.

I’m assuming that’s up to local jurisdictions – doesn’t make sense that any state government would outlaw forms of (IMHO) harmless entertainment which support the economy. (Venice Beach, CA would become a ghost town if “woo” became illegal.)


One is the Central African Republic:

From time to time you hear of witches and sorcerers being convicted and sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia.

The way Section 365 is written in your quote, it’s only fraud if it doesn’t work, and if they’re not fraudulently pretending, they’re off the hook. Which would require that magick, fortunetelling, etc work. Now, I’ve run into various religious personnel who believe that their spells and prayers work; it would seem that the Section was written to exclide them, because they believe what they’re doing works.

Fortune telling is a class C misdemeanor in Wisconsin too. It falls under the vagrancy statute.

Can anyone tell me what the difference is between a “fortune teller” and a “psychic”?