A while ago, we covered the surprising number of ways in which fairies play a role in the law. But the “good folk” (as they are traditionally known, mostly because legend has it that insulting them is a bad idea) are not the only supernatural creatures that the law has actually felt a need to consider. Here are some genuine laws from around the world which seek to regulate the supernatural:
Do You Have a Licence for that Zombie?
San Francisco has specific laws to govern the magical art of necromancy – raising or manipulating the dead through sorcery. Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that the US state doesn’t even ban this practice, it just requires that practitioners hold a valid licence.
More specifically, in San Francisco you need a licence to be a fortune teller. Sounds fair enough, but necromancy is bizarrely included in the list of practices that come under the umbrella of “fortune telling” for the purposes of the law. If anybody ever did manage to use magic to raise the dead, though, there’s a pretty good chance that person would be running afoul of some other law whether they had a valid licence or not.
You Can’t Just Wave a Magic Wand to Solve Your Relationship Problems
Well, not in New Orleans you can’t. Another odd piece of US state law puts limitations on the services that people can offer to perform as a business when those serviceas are carried out using magical power. Strangely, this once again rests in laws which are designed to govern fortune telling, but which give a very expansive and surprising definition of what “fortune telling” can mean.
Beyond actual fortune telling, many of the activities prohibited under the New Orleans fortune telling laws revolve around the use of voodoo or sorcery to magically resolve relationship problems. People are forbidden from “[setting] forth [their] power to settle lovers’ quarrels, to bring together the separated” or indeed to “bring together the bitterest enemies converting them into staunchest friends.”
I Wish for a Lawyer
This is not so much a law as a specific case, but it was one that managed to gain some traction so you could argue it had legal backing of a sort. In Saudi Arabia in 2009, a family headed to court in order to launch a lawsuit for harassment. The party they claimed to be carrying out the harassment? A genie.
It’s worth pointing out that the common Western view of genies is a very narrow one, based mostly on the one in the tale of Aladdin who had been trapped in a lamp and granted three wishes to the person who freed them. This is not the common practice of a genie when you look at the full body of myth; they are invisible, sometimes vengeful spirits capable of nasty things like demonic possession. The family who filed the 2009 lawsuit claimed that their harasser wasn’t going to quite those extremes; he was apparently leaving them threatening voicemails, stealing their phones, and throwing stones at them. When we say the case gained some traction, court officials confirmed that they would indeed investigate the allegations – though their statement included the words “we have to” and “despite the difficulty.”