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Column Beurskens: Witches

A friend of mine has gone into alternative medicine. Formerly she was a general practitioner. Once we got to talk about witches. In fact I am a witch myself she said. When reflecting on witches in earlier times we pictured Eucalypta, who proceeded on her broomstick high along the heavens. Her maliciously roaring laughter and the wart on her nose immediately showed how eternally evil she was.

It is hundreds of years ago since the last witch has been burned. On a certain evening our pharmacist comes along to talk about a priest from a nearby convent who swept a pot of condoms off his counter. That was one thing, but now he had written letters. In them it was said that the pharmacy just might catch fire in the not too distant future. Also his assistants would make unexplainable serious mistakes. Thought I had had everything today and now this… I initially think by myself, but the pharmacist is white around his nose and also his assistants don’t think this is funny. Moreover, the pharmacist is my neighbour and I am not looking forward to pyrotechnical experiments of the father myself.

Voodoo, witches, driving the devil out, driving him in, all of it is possible again. And it happens again as it shows. To the great thinkers of the past evil was not something abstract. Saint Augustin believed in the devil as a creature which went around looking for whom to devour. Teresa of Avila always took with her on her travels a bucket of holy water to keep the evil one away from her wagon. Also in our times there are people who enter into pacts with the devil. Somebody who gets young people as far as to put a piece of purple cloth over their faces and subsequently to commit suicide is certainly such a one.

Therefore two excellent witchcraft tests, but first a warning: it can also be a man nowadays. That is emancipation. On the one hand the witch never wants to talk about good and evil. She immediately starts to stare at the ceiling and she will look like she is extremely bored. On the other hand humour is a good test also, although I don=t know whether it is mentioned in the great book of witchcraft the ‘Malleus Maleficarum’, neither do I know whether it was carried out during the witchcraft trials in former times. The witch doesn’t have a sense of humour. Nobody gets a laugh out of Ossama bin Laden. Evil can be fought with prayer of course and then the enemy-of-all-good always loses, but second best is also humour. Saint Teresa made fun of the devil on a regular basis. Anybody who forbids Ossama bin Laden from being portrayed in the carnival -like it happened in our province- neither understands carnival nor Ossama bin Laden. Should it befall us that laughter disappears from the catholic church, she is lost beyond hope. In that case her salvation can only be had from the outside. Indeed, old things come back. A famous medium in the Netherlands, Yomanda, counselled a well-known actor about her breast cancer. She died anyway however. Now people want to get Yomanda on trial. That of course would amount to an old-fashioned witch trial. Watching this from inside the church is a source of some amusement. Using violence against a witch on the one hand is evil, on the other hand evidently it is a sign of unbelief. The church has been taught this lesson earlier.

Yomanda indeed is a witch, be it a benevolent one. I don’t dare to go and watch her in one of her mass sessions because I am afraid to end up on her stage as stiff as a piece of wood like others. My friend almost rolls off her chair laughing. Consequently she isn’t much of a witch.