Canada’s weirdest laws: Pretending to practise witchcraft is illegal

Though Great Britain got rid of their witchcraft law in the 1950’s, Canada decided to hold on to it.
Though Great Britain got rid of their witchcraft law in the 1950’s, Canada decided to hold on to it. (Photo: iStock)

Riddikulus!

All you Harry Potter fans out there listen up: if you are pretending to perform sorcery like the young wizard, you may be in a world of trouble.

The Criminal Code of Canada still has an enforceable law that says that you cannot pretend to practice anything to do with the occult.

See: Canada’s weirdest laws: You can be arrested for an 'immoral' theatrical performance

The law says if people are fraudulent in practising the dark arts, they are in trouble.

The practises that can get people in trouble are:

  • Pretending to exercise or to use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration;
  • Undertaking, for a consideration (meaning money), to tell fortunes; or
  • Pretending from his (or her) skill in or knowledge of an occult or crafty science to discover where or in what manner anything that is supposed to have been stolen or lost may be found.

Apparently, the original anti-witchcraft law came from Great Britain which passed the Witchcraft Act in 1542, and lead to the incarceration and execution of witches.

The Witchcraft Act, updated in 1736, took out the law that forbade the practise of witchcraft and instead made it an offence to pretend to practise witchcraft. Thankfully they changed the penalty of death to a maximum of a year imprisonment and this is what our criminal code adopted in 1892.

Though Great Britain got rid of this law in the 1950’s, Canada decided to hold on to it.

See: Canada’s weirdest laws: Be careful how many coins you use when shopping

Today the law is used to crack down on “healers” and “curse-lifters” who promise they can lift a curse put on you if you pay them thousands of dollars.

So the next time you’re going out with your magic wand in tow to practise a couple of spells, make sure you are doing it on the up and up.

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