Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
In Shakespeare’s Macbeth the three witches prophesied the king’s dreadful fate as they stirred their pot of mysterious animal parts. Yet the Bard knew that these weird details were once more than mere words. Items such as ‘the howlet’s wing’ were ingredients in real magic. Today such creatures – cats’ skulls, the jaws of sharks but especially the body parts of owls and other birds – are gathered and sold in voodoo markets in Benin and other parts of West Africa. Author Mark Cocker talks about his personal journey to understand the magical practices in Africa and what they tell us about human belief and experience worldwide.
Speaker: Mark Cocker is a multi-award winning author and naturalist, whose 12 books include Crow Country, Our Place and Claxton. Over the last four decades he has also published more than 1000 essays on nature in national and international newspapers especially the Guardian.
Images courtesy of the speaker