Hechicería, Nagualism and Entierros in Nebaj: A Study of Witchcraft Beliefs in a Guatemalan Village
Zwet, L.M. van der
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This thesis is a study on the function and role of witchcraft beliefs, manifestations and the effects that witchcraft triggers or induces within the community of Santa Maria Nebaj in Guatemala. I have encountered three types of witchcraft, namely; hechicería, nagualism and entierros. These forms of witchcraft all have a moral dualistic division in good and evil manifestations. Also within the alleged incentives to use witchcraft, this morally based division exists. This evil/good distinction does not only apply on witchcraft beliefs, but on almost all religious beliefs. Since there are more overlapping concepts between religion and witchcraft; witchcraft is, in this study, understood to be a religion. This claim is confirmed with this study, by the processes of religious syncretism that appear between witchcraft and religion within the community of Nebaj. Furthermore the claim of the importance of witchcraft is made. Witchcraft serves as a social control mechanism and as a ‘lightning rod’ within the community of Nebaj, to canalize social relations and remove personal conflicts from the community life. Witchcraft is also used to protect the community from external frailties.