Let us forget, first of all, that there are no such things as witches or witchcraft. Please, nobody should argue that they do not exist. We all agree that they might or might not exist. We do not need proof that they do not exist. Rather I would like you to discuss what he said, working with the assumption that there might actually be things out there we do not understand.
The witch, the lion and the clay pot
The man said that he was a witch. Naturally, one of the first questions I asked him was how there can be witchcraft when science has not yet found any proof of witchcraft. I asked why there has been no documented case of magic on camera or film.
He told me to think about a baby that was born in a clay pot that was spinning around the village. As the baby grows, the pot is made bigger. He asked me if that baby can ever understand how the world outside the clay pot is. And if someone were to stop the clay pot from rolling, would that not seem like magic to the baby? If somebody dropped the clay pot into a river, would that not seem like magic?
Let me explain in modern terms: He spoke of a world like in the Matrix - there is a outside world outside of this world which we cannot see, because we are a subset of it. Or think of a computer program like pacman. If pacman was stuffed with lots of AI, do you think it could ever understand a 3D world? If we suddenly program pacman to have a gun, will that not seem like magic to pacman?
That made some kind of sense to me. So I asked him why there was no documented magic in the world. He looked at me and said; If there is a lion living in these bushes (he pointed to the semi-jungle outside), and we find it, we will kill it before it kills us. The lion would know this. So what do you think will happen if a child wanders into the jungle, and meets the lion? Do you think the lion will let the child come out to tell his father?
The way of the witch
Over the next weeks, the old man spoke to me about witchcraft. Frankly, I didn't really believe a lot of what he said. But one thing always kept me coming back. What if what he is saying is true?
I am going to explain witchcraft as he explained it to me, leaving away the dialog.
Everybody has got the inherent ability to do things that are physically impossible. There are no limits to what you can do, there are only limits to how much you can distance yourself from reality to be able to do it properly. Some people have got the talent, and are able to start off with very little training. Most people simply cannot do it, no matter how hard they try.
But everybody instinctively understands that this force exists, even though they ignore it and rationalize it away.
It isn't a force which you can tap into. Think of it like lifting your arm. You can do it without problems, because you just know how to do it. In exactly the same way, you can make a cup move across a distance into your hand, once you know how to do it. You have to understand instinctively how to do it. You cannot understand it rationally, because it is not part of our reality. It is like imagining a fourth dimension. You just cannot do it, because it is not part of our reality, even though it might exist.
You can learn how to do it with your heart. You need someone to teach you how to do it, and it is only very exceptional people who can do it without a tutor. But sometimes, you can do it when you are overcome with emotion. For example, pastors who apparently heal people do it by working themselves up (he said).
He repeated something we have all heard many times; it only works with faith. You have to believe in it, then do it without understanding it.
The dark side
Once you start to use these strengths, you can easily become possessed by demons. Demons are like virus apparently, and are simply your base instincts that become exposed to this power, and somehow confuse themselves. You rush to control and understand the power, and in doing so, lose yourself. You enter a reality that you cannot understand, and become something approaching mad. You have to then be guided back by someone who is in possession of the force.
(I would like to make a sidenote here: Possession by (and exorcism of) demons is not just a western thing, but also very common in Africa. Also, these exorcisms apparently work, because many people said that they knew people from whom who were exorcised.)
Demons can also manifest themselves in you when you are to three quarters in this reality, and still in control of your actions. In this case, you become what he called an "evil-man". You keep trying to hurt people, but often are not concentrated enough to use the powers you have.
Also, he said that there were some people who try to use the powers for bad things. He said that he could do so - that he could kill people at a distance. I asked him if there wasn't a god that prevented him from doing so. He said no, that it was his natural human impulse not to want to kill anybody.
(Another side-note: In that part of Africa, the concepts of "thou shall not murder" etc, are not dictated by the gods, but by social customs (unlike in Christianity).)
I asked him why he didn't use his power to take over control of the world, and become a rich man. He said that he didn't have that much control over his powers, and that what he could do was limited. He said, however, that such things had happened in the past, but that it was very rare, and it took very special people to do it.
Becoming a witch
I wanted to become a witch. I asked him to teach me. He said that he would not, and could not do so. He said that if I wanted to learn, I should look for a teacher. I would find a teacher, but this teacher wouldn't be him.
I suppose that this advice is also valid for the rest of you; find your teacher.
I didn't really take the Q&A with this man seriously. I don't believe in witchcraft, but there are hundreds of millions of humans who do.
Witchcraft and occult is in every single society in the world. Maybe there is something to it.