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Kulam (/koo-lam/) is a Tagalog word meaning hex or "curse". The same word is often used as a term for witchcraft, even though the proper term for witchcraft following Filipino grammar is Pangkukulam.
Usage and Related Terms
Mangkukulam (noun) is a person employing or using Kulam. Kinukulam (noun) is the target of the Kulam. Nakulam (adj.) means someone or something experiencing the effects of the Kulam. Kulamin (verb) means to bewitch or to hex. Ipakulam (verb) to get to be bewitched or hexed. Makulam (verb) means to be able to bewitch or to become bewitched; hexed.
Kulam in the Philippines is said to be centered on the islands of Siquijor and Talalora, Western Samar and the province of Sorsogon, where many of the country's faith healers reside. Kulam also exists in many of the hinterlands, especially in Samar and Leyte.
The Mangkukulam (/mahng-koo-KOO-lam/) is the Filipino term for a witch or sorcerer, literally meaning "a practitioner of kulam". Other terms are the Spanish brujo and bruja (masculine and feminine forms of "witch"; Filipinised as bruho and bruha). The verb kulamin (/koo-LAH-min/) means "to hex", while a curse is called sumpâ (/soom-PA/), which may also take the meaning of "vow" or "oath".
The primary methods employed by a mangkukulam are the recitation of spells and concocting potions. Modern popular culture also depicts the mangkukulam as using either photographs or the equivalent of a Voodoo doll.
A mangkukulam curses is mitigated by finding the caster and bribing them to lift the curse. Superstitious people still attribute certain illnesses or diseases to kulam. This most often happens in rural areas, where an herbal doctor called an albularyo (/al-booLAR-yoh/), diagnoses a victim using a divination method called pagtatatawas and helps the victim cure their malady.
- Illinois (1917). University of Illinois Studies in Language and Literature. Original from the New York Public Library: The University of Illinois. p. 41.
In quite a few South Indian languages the word "Kulam" means a pond.
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