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#576
Madagascar
Keymaster

The belief in the “mpamosavy”, spellcasters, occupies a large place in the Malagasy social life, with still survivals at the present time. However, it is necessary to distinguish it from the “ombiasy”, even if the two terms are translated indifferently by “sorcerer”. “The mpamosavy is an evil, hidden and formidable being, whereas, on the contrary, the ombiasy is a public and venerated benefactor” (Hubert Deschamps). The latter represents science because he is at once a diviner, a doctor, an astrologer, a mage, an interpreter of the gods, a man of good advice, a meteorologist, all for a fairly honest remuneration in cash and in kind. However, he sometimes also gives the “mpamosavy” the means to cast spells.
The belief portrays the latter as a sinister, frightful character (man or woman), a creature of the shadow that drags death and misfortune in its wake. Initiated into an esoteric circle by masters of a certain age, “he goes at night to the villages,” they say, prowling around the huts, watching the door and weeping to attract calamities. Generally naked and rubbed with oil, he enters the hovels and huts, bewitching the sleepers “by pulling their tongues”! If any other fatal event occurs, he rejoices in making noise. The belief also means that it turns into an owl or is accompanied by this bird in its movements. Or that he tell the crocodiles the people or the cattle they will have to carry. “There is even an old crocodile at Vangaindrano, which passes to be the wife of a pamosavi” (1934).
However, the spellcaster most often uses less fantastic but pernicious methods. Hubert Deschamps speaks of evil amulets in antesaka country, in particular “mohara”, “horns of oxen decorated with geometrically arranged beads, where are mixed various ingredients based on wood powder, honey, pepper …” The “mpamosavy “Also uses human bones, dog bones, rotten eggs, dead serpents …
According to the formula of the mixture, one obtains various species of “mohara” whose action varies, but which are all mortal. “The Voro-toka is thunderous; The tsitra-maso does
Die in the blink of an eye; The iakalo-tola fell to the ground, stiff as a rice pestle; The fataka
Milefitri bends the man in two to make him die; The tapak’andro causes death in half a day; And even the itomabilo (automobile) kills by making the chest snore like a motor. The science of the pamosavi, as we see, is not insensible to progress. “
It is customary to cast spells only occasionally to avenge an enemy. In reality, many people take a liking to their work of malfeasance and everything is a pretext for it, even simple family quarrels. Thus, in the long run, he becomes like a hallucinated intoxicated with his power, relentless to pursue his jealousy the happy people, the rich …
Later, most people wonder about this power. It can in any case be null because some of the powders that the “mpamosavy” uses, are real poisons. And it is believed that he holds an unlimited, almost supernatural power. “Unexpected diseases are always attributed to an evil spell. The pamosavi are all murderers in power … “And to protect themselves, society is organized against them in the most rigorous way.
In antesaka countries, two methods are applied. The preventive is that of the oath. By this one, the chiefs of clans of the same territory gather around a calabash full of water mixed with rush, drops of bovine blood, pinched with earth … to invoke the gods and ancestors and swear to denounce The “mpamosavy”, be they close relatives. Each one then drinks a few drops of this preparation and if he fails to take his oath, it is death for him and misfortune on his clan.
The repressive method is to stop the alleged spellcaster. The accused is completely naked, rubbed “lengomatsy” (stinking plant) and is taken to the “kibory” (tomb of the clan) to undergo the tests. The tomb is then opened, and an ox is brought, and the accused must hold his tail. If the ox turns, if it strikes the man with his tail, if a kite, an owl or a serpent comes to pass, the guilt is established. “But man is not at the end of his troubles because then comes the second, the most terrible, homa-vokaka (eating corpse meat).”
In all cases, it always applies as a complement to the first test if it innocent the alleged “mpamosavy”, or as a preliminary punishment if it recognizes him guilty. Fortunately these sentences are abandoned.