Mystic Philippines: Philippines Pre-Christianity Paganism & Folk Witchcraft

The definitions for Pre-Christianity Philippines Witches:

A. The first, called CATOLONAN, was either a man or a woman. This office was an honorable one among the natives, and was held ordinarily by people of rank, this rule being general in all the islands.

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  We know today that the Catalonan were the Tagalog equivalent of the Visayan Babaylan and functioned as a healer,  shaman,  seer and a community leader.

 No distinction as  a witch exists today.

B. The second they called MANGAGAUAY, or witches, who deceived by pretending to heal the sick. These priests even induced maladies by their charms, which in proportion to the strength and efficacy of the witchcraft, are capable of causing death. In this way, if they wished to kill at once they did so; or they could prolong life for a year by binding to the waist a live serpent, which was believed to be the devil, or at least his substance. This office was general throughout the land.

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 We know today that  Mangagauay was the Tagalog goddess of sickness and one of Sitan‘s helpers (Sitan was the guardian of the underworld and keeper of souls).  The description that Father Plasencia gave isn’t all that different from what was discovered when mapping Tagalog deities.  However, it was the Catolonan who were to give guidance and help to those affected by her.

 No distinction as a witch exists today.

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C. The third they called MANYISALAT, which is the same as mangagauay.  These priests had the power of applying such remedies to lovers that they would abandon and despise their own wives, and in fact could prevent them from having intercourse with the latter. If the woman, constrained by these means, were abandoned, it would bring sickness upon her; and on account of the desertion she would discharge blood and matter. This office was also general throughout the land.

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 Today we know Manyisalat was considered another malevolent deity by early Tagalogs.  She was the second agent of Sitan, she was tasked to destroy and break every happy and united family that she could find.

 No distinction as a witch exists today.

D. The fourth was called MANCOCOLAM, whose duty it was to emit fire from himself at night, once or oftener each month. This fire could not be extinguished; nor could it be thus emitted except as the priest wallowed in the ordure and filth which falls from the houses; and he who lived in the house where the priest was wallowing in order to emit this fire from himself, fell ill and died. This office was general.

 We know now that Mangkukulam was another malevolent deity to ancient Tagalogs.  The only male agent of Sitan, he was to emit fire at night and when there was bad weather. Like his fellow agents, he could change his form to that of a healer and then induce fire at his victim’s house. If the fire were extinguished immediately, the victim would eventually die. His name remains today as  witch

 A “witch” Mankukulam is a person employing or using “Kulam” -a form of folk magic practised in the Philippines. It puts emphasis on the innate power of the self and a secret knowledge of Magica Baja or low magic. Earth (soil), fire, herbs, spices, candles, oils and kitchenwares and utensils are often used for rituals, charms, spells and potions.

E. The fifth was called HOCLOBAN, which is another kind of witch, of greater efficacy than the mangagauay. Without the use of medicine, and by simply saluting or raising the hand, they killed whom they chose. But if they desired to heal those whom they had made ill by their charms, they did so by using other charms. Moreover, if they wished to destroy the house of some Indian hostile to them, they were able to do so without instruments. This was in Catanduanes, an island off the upper part of Luzon.

We know that Hukluban was considered the last agent of Sitan and could change herself into any form she desired. She could kill someone by simply raising her hand and could heal without any difficulty as she wished. Her name literally means “crone” or “hag.”

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Today, the Hukloban is also considered a “witch”  who could kill anyone simply by pointing a finger at him and without using any potion. It could destroy a house by merely saying so. The Hukloban appear as a very old, crooked woman.


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