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Witches and liability

This post was written by Elysia
on September 9, 2010 | Comments (2)

It’s a funny thing, having lawyers in the family – I always seem to pay more attention to the legal ramifications of issues in Pagan life, whether that’s the debate about religious observances at city hall, or parental custody battles during divorces, or chaplains employed by the prison system.

So no surprise that today a family member sent me an AP article titled “Toil and trouble: Romania rejects tax on witches.” Well, those lucky Romanian witches and fortune-tellers are still off the hook and don’t need to pay taxes on their magic-related earnings.

But what really struck me in the article was that the proposed bill, if accepted, would not only have taxed witches and fortunetellers, but would have also held them liable for “false predictions.”

Now I can see that there may be (and should be) laws in different municipalities protecting people from scammers, fraudulent mediums and other ill-meaning ilk — you know, the type that immediately says there’s a curse on your head and only they can remove it, but each step towards removing it, and each visit back to the “magician” uncovers deeper problems and requires more and more money.

However, I still don’t agree that a good-intentioned witch should be held liable for false predictions. If we did that, we’d have to hold the medical profession to account (‘false positive’ being an oft-used medical term, of course), then the weather forecasters, then the business journalists, then the high school counselors, then the Las Vegas bookies… everyone who’s ever attempted to make a prediction about anything.

Because when it comes down to it, anyone (including witches) can make a prediction based on the best of their current knowledge, whether that’s a stock portfolio analysis, a tarot card reading, or a message from a spirit guide. But predictions, no matter where they come from, are never set in stone. People can steer their destinies with free will and right action, can nudge the outcome in their favor with magic or prayers, can work with their wyrd or their karma or their HGA and influence the end result. So much for liability of the fortuneteller.

Reader Comments

Written By Gordon
on September 10th, 2010 @ 1:32 am

The weather analogy didn’t occur to me but you’re completely right, of course.

Still. It’s a fun story. It made the front page of a large newspaper website here in the UK.

Written By Eilex
on September 21st, 2010 @ 2:15 pm

Actually, like it was said here, the law proposed was NOT directed real witches and pagans but at gypsy frauds who advertise smth like ‘the all powerful witch *insert name here* born with *insert psychic power here* guarantees your lover to return, curse your enemy, remove Mercury, tell your future, etc.’
A note on ‘remove Mercury’ as maybe some will wonder what that is – it was believed (and still is by some) that an enemy can do ‘evil magic’ on you by somehow making you ingest/touch mercury (in Romanian the exact phrase is ‘argint viu’ which translates as ‘live silver’.
This whole fraud earns them a LOT of money and sometimes the ‘rituals’ include christian inconography mixed some ‘creepy looking’ items to add to the drama and make the person belive magic is genuinely performed on their part.
Of course there are real tarot readers, psychics, spell casters, etc. But they do not advertise like the gypsy frauds do, they’re usually recommended to friends by people who have required their services and some won’t even ask money in return for their help.
This was poorly covered by the Romanian media and then it leaked on to international media – ‘politicians won’t ban witchcraft for fear of curses’ and things like that. It’s all political game to be honest.

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