The Sorceress: Watercolour


Is the word ‘sorceress’ or ‘sorcerer’ only used for the bad spells or bad medicine-making? Over to you first English speakers. Feel free to make your comments below. I had this word come up last September when I was applying for a PhD. My watercolour above is meant for good medicine. So, if you are facing some challenging times right now, I am sending you some good medicine and thoughts.

My mother and I made a list of many good indigenous or traditional medicine our people (the Bukawac-speakers) have used over the years. We both realised, a lot of the trees and special plants have been lost. To get some, our family and people have to purchase or travel to other parts of the province and sub-district to purchase or ‘borrow’ or get in exchange (barter-system) for other goods. Traditional healing using herbs and other good medicine (as I call it) is still a common practice in many parts of Papua New Guinea.

8 thoughts on “The Sorceress: Watercolour”

  1. My first thoughts were similar to Writinghouse’s comment. It was in the Middle Ages when (mostly) women who knew the traditional healing arts were called “witches” and burned at the stake. African religions that brought traditional knowledge of healing into the “New World” were/are also condemned as black magic. Now, in our modern era, anything that claims to have healing qualities that is not approved by the Medical Associations and pharmaceutical industry is officially considered suspect. I agree, we need to reclaim these terms in a way that does not yield those negative knee-jerk reactions from centuries past.
    Beautiful painting. She looks loving and knowledgeable, and lit by an inner light.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great watercolour, I feel better already! The word sorcery in English has a negative connotation to it. Your question made me wonder why so I have checked in my dictionaries and the reason is probably because the word originates from the 14th century French word meaning witchcraft, The word Witchcraft carries negative associations with it, mostly due to the history of witchcraft in Britain and America I guess. Perhaps it is time for a change and for language to be less intrinsically judgemental! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! Wonderful definition and meaning making. I get why it is used so much for the violence (sorcery and witchcraft related) in PNG. I feel the same way – that there must be another word for the good medicine…’good sorcery’. Thank you so much.

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