Magic and secret societies play an important role in the societies of Sierra Leone and Liberia. At all socio-economic levels, secret societies can be found and their influence felt. Indeed, they are everywhere: part of politics, culture and religion.

The widespread belief in magic and the public fight against witchcraft is one major reason that secret societies are so influential. These secret societies use herbs and ceremonies to fight against the malignant powers of witchcraft. Bewitched people or children are persecuted by special healers unions—and, on occasion, killed for being cursed.

In the villages, there are bush schools and dancing devil ceremonies. These photos offer a portrait of a mystical community, composed of traditional priests, hidden societies, and magical healers.

—Daimon Xanthopoulos