Bush doctor

joanamcbarata

Senior Member
European Portuguese
Here's the context:



"Instead, they imagine these killings are the work of "spirit lions”. Supernatural demons summoned up by enemy bush doctors and sent to destroy their foes."


Is it a synonym for witch doctor? Some kind of wizard?


Thank you.
 
  • xqby

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.)
    Yes, it basically means "witch doctors."

    I think of bush doctors as traditional herbalist healers who sometimes use magic (or at any rate, think that they can use magic). Note also that more modern doctors who spend a good deal of time in the African or Australian wilds--the bush--can be called "bush doctors."
     

    joanamcbarata

    Senior Member
    European Portuguese
    Thank you.

    That's the word I was looking for: healer. I'm translating it to portuguese, and the translations I found for the other terms were too "fantastic", healer is much more "real" ;)
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    "Healer", however, does not carry the connotations that "bush doctor" or "witch doctor" does. It seems hard to picture someone fearing "spirit lions" summoned by a healer. Witch doctors don't just nurse sick people back to health. They can curse them, declare them outcasts, even order people to abduct or kill them. They can read signs and speak to spirits, at least according to their culture.

    They are closer to wizards or witches than healers, in my opinion, at least in their role within the tribe.
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    In modern medical literature, reference is sometimes made to "traditional healers", which means the same thing but is considered a less judgmental term.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    In modern medical literature, reference is sometimes made to "traditional healers", which means the same thing but is considered a less judgmental term.
    Given the original quote, though, this is not an issue about natural medicine vs. western medicine :) :

    Instead, they imagine these killings are the work of "spirit lions”. Supernatural demons summoned up by enemy bush doctors and sent to destroy their foes.
    Summoning supernatural demons and sending them to destroy your foes is not exactly homeopathy. My friend who uses only homeopathics might have some disagreements with her practician but I've never heard of him summoning demons to settle the matter.

    What I'm trying to say is that the function being described here falls outside the role of healing entirely. "Healer" does not convey the person's role, function, power or authority in this situation, in my opinion.
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    "Traditional healers" are the same thing as witchdoctors. It's just a politically correct term that is currently fashionable. Traditional healers use amulets, incantations, fetishes, chants and all the rest of it. The term isn't used for herbal or alternative medicine.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    Summoning supernatural demons and sending them to destroy your foes is not exactly homeopathy. My friend who uses only homeopathics might have some disagreements with her practician but I've never heard of him summoning demons to settle the matter.
    That would indeed be more of a holistic approach.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    "Traditional healers" are the same thing as witchdoctors. It's just a politically correct term that is currently fashionable. Traditional healers use amulets, incantations, fetishes, chants and all the rest of it. The term isn't used for herbal or alternative medicine.
    I see what you're saying.

    Do you think that this conveys the same idea, then, as the original?

    Supernatural demons summoned up by enemy traditional healers and sent to destroy their foes."
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    :eek: No, I don't. I got carried away. My apologies, joanamcbarata. I completely lost sight of the context. (And if you don't think that is embarassing...)

    Getting back to the actual question
    Is it a synonym for witch doctor? Some kind of wizard?
    I think the answer is "yes".
     

    joanamcbarata

    Senior Member
    European Portuguese
    I see it's a controversial definition, but know I understand that there's a thin line between the two concepts.

    Maybe wizard is is a fantastic term, but I guess when we're talking about spirit lions, we're not dealing exactly with our conception of reality.

    Thank you all for making things clearer.
     

    turnbjr

    New Member
    USA, English
    In Voodoo-rich Haiti, where I was born and raised, "witch doctor" is the appropriate English word. "Bush doctor" would be behind "witch doctor" and "shaman" for my first choice (as a Brit. word that can mean two very different things).

    "Traditional healer?" Haha! How innocent we have all become! No witch doctor I know would be insulted by the term "witch doctor." Ask my friends at bhm dot org.

    Good luck,

    James
     
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