Voodoo, Black Magic and Sorcery in Deepest Darkest Africa…

Title: ‘Jungle Magic’ Author: James H. Neal Year of publication: 1966
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A fascinating biographical account of supernatural occurrences.

A thick black powder spread across a car seat… The European thought nothing of it. But to his African companion it was a sign, a deadly sign of a Ju-ju attack. A curse so potent that its victim was helpless -and doomed.
 
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‘Jungle Magic’ is a fascinating text which will be of great interest to anyone with an interest in Voodoo, the Occult, and matters cognate. This startling biographical account of James H Neale’s first-hand experiences of the Voodoo religion in Ghana during British rule in the 1950s will make even the most sceptical of souls consider the power and potency of this ancient faith.
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Neal arrived on the Gold Coast in 1952 having been appointed to the position of Chief Finance and Supplies Officer by the High Commissioner in London. He was responsible for cracking down on numerous criminal gangs which were involved in activities such as fraud, extortion and the large scale theft of building materials. Neal’s investigative work lead to the convictions of many powerful figures who were operating in the West African underworld. Loyal friendships and alliances were forged during his dangerous missions but, inevitably, bitter and sinister disenfranchised enemies became commonplace and were more than willing to use black magic to kill…
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Initially Neal scoffed at the notion of Voodoo and sinister forces from unseen realms. Like many Europeans of the time he believed it was mere hocus pocus and superstition. In the introduction he recounts his first impressions on the subject whilst listening to the terrible stories of other government officials in the European Club in Accra:
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‘This was fascinating – intelligent men, level-headed and highly qualified in their professions, giving credence to a lot of mumbo-jumbo.’
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However, after witnessing the power of Voodoo on several occasions, Neal’s point-of-view is radically altered. Indeed, an almost fatal attack from a black Ju-ju man is the penultimate stage in his process of conversion. It is only after the intervention of a white Ju-ju man (his colleague’s uncle) that he is able to make a full recovery:
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‘I made up my mind there and then that Ju-ju was far more than the harmless hocus-pocus I had thought it to be.’
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The startling accounts of Neale’s experiences in this exciting environment ensure that ‘Jungle Magic’ is a real page turner. But perhaps it is the consistency of his objective and rational narrative voice which make the preternatural occurrences all the more believable and frightening. He appears to deliver his anecdotes in an unassuming fashion calmly inviting the reader to make up his or her own mind about the veracity of Voodoo. Neale’s strength as a writer is most certainly his sobriety when faced with with such a controversial, sensitive and unworldly subject.
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Sympathetic magic, as well as the usage of amulets, potions and ritual, are all evident within this seemingly unknown classic. Neal’s detailed and engaging accounts will be of great interest to anyone with even just a passing interest in the Occult. At the finale of the sensational final chapter, Neal concludes:
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‘I came more than ever to the conclusion that many of these African Ju-ju men had powerful secrets of which very little was known in the West, and that it has been passed down from generation to generation.’
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I am amazed that ‘Jungle Magic’ is currently not in print and hardback copies vend for around £25 on Amazon. I was very fortunate to pick up a paperback edition in a local bookshop for £5. Hopefully you will be able to procure a copy if this subject is of interest to you. Why not visit my website for more things magical? Magical David Fox.
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