Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Psychology of Kulam: Mommy Dionisia and her Voodoo Finger (life coach, counselor, psychotherapist, clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, osteopath, quezon city, manila, philippines)

Behind every man’s success, they say, is a woman. For Manny Pacquiao, the woman behind his victory over Timothy Bradley might very well be his mother, Mommy Dionisia. 

In an 11-second video clip that went viral, Mommy Dionisia was shown squirming anxiously in her seat and then forcefully thrusting her middle finger towards the boxing ring as if she was blasting Timothy Bradley with a voodoo hex. Netizens quickly tagged Mommy Dionisia as a sorceress of sorts whose voodoo powers helped her son win. If this was true in any way, it only proved that Bradley’s powerful fists were no match against Mommy Dionisia’s middle finger.

While Mommy Dionisia’s flamboyant mannerisms may have spurred jokes about hexes, curses, and spells, it did make some people curious about what voodoo really is.

Mommy Dionisia's voodoo finger video!

Voodoo is a religion which originated in Africa 6000 years ago and is most popular in Haiti and New Orleans. Just like most ancient religions, voodoo rituals involve singing, chanting, dancing, drumming, and animal sacrifices. During the rituals, people get into a trance that allows deceased ancestors and spirits to enter them so that they can receive spiritual teachings and advice. Voodoo rituals also use spells for healing, for love, and for luck. But what people fear most are voodoo hexes and curses that cause illness, bad luck, or even death.

In the Philippines, hexes are known as “kulam” and are performed by a “mangkukulam” or local witch. It is in the provinces of Siquijor, Sorsogon, Samar, and Leyte that the practice of kulam proliferates. For Pinoys, the most common reasons to employ the services of a mangkukulam include: 
  • Taking revenge on a person who has betrayed them in matters of love or money 
  • Taking revenge on an abusive person 
  • Edging out a competitor. 

Before a hex can be made, the mangkukulam will require an object that represents the intended victim. Using the blood, hair, or saliva of the intended victim is said to make the kulam more powerful. Through the recitation of Latin prayers, t
he mangkukulam calls upon spiritual forces to assist her. She then ensnares the victim’s soul by tying a string around a doll that represents the intended victim. Finally, the kulam is inflicted on the intended victim by pricking the doll with needles, burning it, hitting it or immersing it in water.

You’ve probably heard real-life stories of people getting sick or dying from a hex. This is also known as voodoo illness or voodoo death. Psychiatrists hypothesize that when a person discovers that he had been hexed, he develops an intense psychological terror which causes 
an overload of stress hormones to be released, thereby making the brain and body organs malfunction. What happens here is called the “nocebo” effect (opposite of placebo) wherein people who are told that they will experience something bad actually anticipate and experience it. Thus, psychiatrists are prone to believe that it is not the hex per se that sickens or kills people, but the intense fear that overwhelms them. As for those people who get sick or die without any knowledge that they were hexed, their illness or death probably happened by chance.  Or who knows?  Perhaps paranormal forces were really at work. 

In order to break a hex, some strategies which people use include the following:

  • Making a doll that represents the mangkukulam and binding it up to paralyze its power
  • Making a doll which represents the victim and redirecting the hex to the doll as proxy 
  • Wearing protective amulets 
  • Using mirrors to reflect the hex back to the mangkukulam. 
Of course, Christians turn to prayers, biblical verses, and fasting as they invoke the Holy Spirit for healing and protection.

To conclude, here are some thoughts to reflect on:

  • For those of you who perform kulam or throw hexes, be reminded of the law of karma: whatever you sow, that you will also reap! 
  • For those of you who employ the services of a mangkukulam, you are most likely an angry, vengeful, and desperate person. You are better off approaching a psychotherapist who will help rid you of emotional baggage and guide you towards forgiveness. 
  • And lastly, for everyone else, be reminded that the opposite of throwing hexes is blessing others through prayers, good thoughts, kind words, and kind deeds.  Wouldn't our world be wonderful if everyone did just that!


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