What's up with penis-stealing sorcerors in Africa?

Link to column

I’m surprised Cecil didn’t mention our own penis-stealing witches in the West. The Malleus Malificarum has a whole chapter on these fiendish thefts.

Part 2, Chapter VII, How, as it were, they Deprive Man of his Virile Member

One of the stories there shows, if nothing else, that the monks Sprenger and Kramer, authors of the Malleus, had a wicked sense of humor.

I don’t quite understand the joke. Were the monks putting in a jab about priests being less-than-celibate somehow?

Yes, I’m guessing that it’s a barb aimed at licentious priests (of whom there were many before the Counter-Reformation and probably after) by Kramer, the main author of the Malleus and a Dominican monk.

I lack the power to read Cecil’s mind, or at least will not admit that I have such power if I do, which I don’t, especially not any that is witchcraft or sorcery-based.

However, Cecil’s responses to questions tend to be rather short and to the point and not fully expository dissertations on the subject matter.

So when asked about penis-stealing sorcerers in Africa, which is an ongoing phenomenon in Africa (and some other nations in other continents), he focused on the current aspects of the phenomenon.

On the other hand, the Malleus Maleficarum was published in 1486. While it has enjoyed many reprints through the years, this is a 500 year old book. Why mention it when you can find much more recent examples that are directly relevant to the question asked?

To liken it to a classic question reprinted recently, when Cecil was asked about whether people are injured or killed by bullets shot into the air, as in the case of celebratory gunfire, the examples were contemporaneous. I suspect some additional research may have provided some comments on the dangers of shooting one’s arquebus into the air from the 15th or 16th century, there was no real need for that.

Just a follow-up to bowlweevils’ post: Cecil’s column is syndicated in many alternative newspapers, and, as such, has a certain fixed length. He’s not writing a dissertation or a definitive academic paper; he doesn’t have room for footnotes, for instance. So he does tend to focus on what he thinks is the most relevant aspect. So it’s not at all surprising that he didn’t trace the history of penile-theft back to the ancient Egyptians (or whatever.)