Obscura Is Not A Typical Antique Shop

Do you remember the show Oddities? It used to play on Discovery back when it was reliable. I wish it’d come back for this reason!

The Official Show Summary

Obscura is not a typical antique shop! Here’s the summary.

Oddities is a half-hour documentary/reality television program that follows the operation of an East Village, Manhattan shop which trades in antiques and other rarities.

The show premiered on November 4, 2010, and airs on the Discovery Channel and its sister network, the Science Channel. — Wikipedia

Discovery Channel — Oddities — Official Trailer

The Chained Cauldron

In Season 3, Episode 8, called The Black Magic Woman that I discovered a particular form of magic. A man who bought a storage unit found a big iron cauldron. The cauldron had chains and many odd dangerous objects in it.

Looking at the rather old cauldron through the television, I felt like I needed to renew my tetanus vaccine!

Oddities Star Hosts — Mike Zohn and Evan Michelson
Oddities Star Hosts — Mike Zohn and Evan Michelson

One of the store’s hosts and owner, Mike Zohn, express sensing it to be evil and the smell quite overwhelming. Zohn is curious about the object and wants to know what’s it for and what its purpose is.

When the co-owner comes in, Evan Michelson expresses that it isn’t a witch’s cauldron and that further research would be wise. After all, they have absolutely no idea of what it is and what it contains.

The Cauldron Of Malice

Zohn and Michelson’s first stop is at an esoteric store. The shop owner is quite resourceful when it comes to all sorts of ‘magic’ and occultism.

The Ninana Store’s owner is an anthropologist who developed a passion for the mystical field.

When she sees the cauldron, she immediately knows what it is and doesn’t want it near her store. Intrigued, they ask for more information. She mentions that the kettle is a Nganga native from Kongo.

She explains that this cauldron imprisons a malevolent spirit, and its usage is up to the owner of the container. Because no one knows what the cauldron’s origin is, this anthropologist was happy to give the esoteric history, but it stopped there.

I mean, I told you Obscura is not a typical antique shop!

Cauldron Meet Gamma-Ray

Zohn and Michelson didn’t stop their research. They wanted to go to the bottom of that story and the cauldron. They contacted an industrial x-ray company to help. Once on the machine and back in the cabin secured from the rays, the results are inconclusive.

You would think one would give up, but not the Obscura team! They ask the x-ray specialist if there was anything else they could do. There was and so, let’s meet the gamma-ray machine you wouldn’t like it when its angry—see what I did there?

Discovery Channel — Oddities
Discovery Channel — Oddities

The cauldron was placed on the pedestal. The specialist explained that humans would suffer if going through the rays emitted by the machine, and it would ensure cancer.

However, in the cabin, they were safe, and of course, so was the cauldron. To Zohn’s disappointment, he wouldn’t turn into The Incredible Hulk that day.

Show Me Your Insides

Once the results appeared on the computer, the team could see bullets, hollow steel ball, railroad spikes, liquids that obviously dried with time, among other debris. Everything seemed violent and meant to hurt.

When returning to their store and meet with the owner of the cauldron or the unfortunate ‘heir’ of it, they said it was too weird for them.

Brooklyn Museum Mask Nganga Diphombe
Brooklyn Museum Mask Nganga Diphombe

They showed him the gamma-ray results and what was inside. Even he thought it to be quite strange and unsettling.

But the weirdest thing was hearing that for the owners of Obscura, that cauldron was too odd and strange!

Where Is Nganga From?

Nganga comes from the language of Kikongo and is a herbalist term for spiritual healer. Among many African societies and sub-Saharan Africa, Haiti, Brazil, and Cuba, it also exists.

The ‘ganga’ part of the word is proto-Njila, which comes from an early branch of the Bantu family. However, the form of the verb ‘gang’ translates to wisdom, skill, and knowledge.

Nganga Healer

Then again, because of various variations of interpretation, the word itself might have different meanings throughout the entire speaking Bantu world.

What’s Nganga For?

The one administering the abilities to a nkisi—the object retaining the spirit, was the Nganga. The people-possessing skills to communicate with the ‘other world’ come from the Kingdom of Kongo.

Those people were the ones capable of knowing where disease could come from, or misfortune and how to address those obstacles.

Those were capable of measuring what was needed to address the supernatural and make natural medicine. Nganga were responsible for loading the nkisi—physical object intended to become the vessel for otherworldly forces.

Haiti Voodoo
Haiti Voodoo

However, once Kongo turned to Christianity toward the end of the fourteenth hundreds, Nganga became Christian Priest. To this day in Kikongo those priests have references such as Nganga or Nzambi translating to Priests of God.

If we go to South Africa, Inyanga is a medication role. It is the contrast of Sangoma, which deals with foretelling and inherited spirits.

Then again, some distinctions blur in history, and so many of these healers practice both arts. In Swahili, Mganga is a physician who is actually qualified.

All in all, Obscura is not a typical antique shop and I miss the show so very much!

The OCD Vampire,
Alexa Wayne


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