Necromancy and nigromancy descibe the act of black magic/ spiritualism. It comes from Greek originally and laterly Latin, according to Wikipedia. The question is, is this the ancient source of the term used in modern times with a derogatory intent towards Afro American slaves and their decendents? I stumbled across the word, and it would make sense that it is in our collective psyche after international witch hunts since before Roman times. This word meaning 'dead man' which conjures moral fear of 'black magic' links neatly with Niger/Nigerian to suit the context of slavery in America at the time. Surely? Please don't mock! Am no academic!

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    necromancy comes from the Greek word for dead, not the Latin word for black. I would avoid using nigromancy, as this is an archaic spelling that looks racist. – Peter Shor Feb 19 '15 at 23:39
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    If you take a look at a simple Ngram, you'll see that nigromancy, although the historically earlier form in English, has basically flatlined against the etymologically less corrupted necromancy for the past two centuries. Nobody says nigromancy, and it's not only because it sounds like a racist word: nobody used it back when being racist was par for the course, and words like negro and nigger were not generally offensive like they are now. (Also, what international witch hunts since before Roman times?!?) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Feb 20 '15 at 1:28
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    Are you implying that racism towards black-skinned people existed in Roman times? Not so much. There was a black Roman emperor, and in Roman times, blond hair and not black skin was the most likely indicator of slavery. – Peter Shor Feb 20 '15 at 2:28
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    In terms of the European experience, keep in mind that "slave" is derived from "Slav", as in slavic. Until the transportation technology improved markedly and New World demand for slaves exploded, the exportation of slaves from Africa was quite low. In other words, until roughly 1500 slaves in Europe were predominantly Caucasian. Since the term necromancy predates this, there is no connection between "black-skinned" and "black magic". Other than the general concept of the color black, of course. – WhatRoughBeast Feb 20 '15 at 2:50
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    @PeterShor These things tend to move around. The Nazi Bureau of Race Research bestowed the title of Honorary Aryans on the Japanese. And Hitler was even known to have muttered some gibberish about the Italians being Mediterranean Aryans. I think the Turks were also credited with some sort of ethnic status. I guess if he had found an ally in Central Africa, the inhabitants would have become Black Aryans. – WS2 Feb 20 '15 at 23:28

I am also not an academic, but I am fairly well-read, including occult studies, and other than in your OP, I have never encountered the term about which you ostensibly inquire.

Aside from mentioning nigromancy in association with necromancy /ˈnɛkrɵˌmænsi/ in its definition of the latter term, Wikipedia has little to say, mentioning only that according to,

“Herbert Stanley Redgrove necromancy was one of three chief branches of medieval ceremonial magic, the others being black magic and white magic. [But] [t]his does not correspond to contemporary classifications, which often mistake "nigromancy" ("black-knowledge") with "necromancy" ("death-knowledge")” See Wikipedia LINK.

etymonline returns the following two brief results:

A.) necromancy (n.) c.1300, nygromauncy, "divination by communication with the dead," from Old French nigromancie "magic, necromancy, witchcraft, sorcery," from Medieval Latin nigromantia (13c.), from Latin necromantia "divination from an exhumed corpse," from Greek nekromanteia, from nekros "dead body" (see necro-) + manteia "divination, oracle," from manteuesthai "to prophesy," from mantis "prophet" (see mania). Spelling influenced in Medieval Latin by niger "black," on notion of "black arts." Modern spelling is a mid-16c. correction. Related: Necromantic.

B.) necromancer (n.) c.1300, from Old French nigromansere, from nigromancie (see necromancy). see etymonline LINK

So, in summation: a) The conflation of “niger” with “necro” is the result of an error which has long ago been amended; b) No relationship exists between the erroneous formulation nigromancy and the disparaging term later used to dehumanize African-Americans, past or present; c) The term nigromancy isn’t used in modern times as far as I am aware (see Janus Bahs Jacquet's Ngram link above in commentary to OP); d) negromancy does not translate as "dead man" but basically as "the act of prophecy via communion with the dead" (necro + mancy); and e) This question strikes me as disingenuous, as well as potentially divisive and incendiary, but because I value this community, I thought it prudent to respond emphatically in answer-form rather than in commentary.

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    No need for bolding your entire answer. – Mitch Feb 20 '15 at 3:58
  • I put 2 and 2 together and made 22! Possibly. But this old and deep rooted fear perhaps has tarnished language's relationship to the river black. I was researching witchcraft and stumbled upon the word... The unspeakable words of society. – Carrie Feb 20 '15 at 7:08
  • People are as sensitive today about the use of the unspeakable N word as they were in the witch hunts of Roman times. It isn't racist or evil to discuss origins of a word. That said, is anyone willing to consider the word nigromamcy in connection with the word negro or nigger? Couldn't it be? – Carrie Feb 20 '15 at 7:18
  • I meant to write 'the colour black' previously, not the river black. – Carrie Feb 20 '15 at 7:19
  • I will value this site too if the contributors discuss language without borders. Disingenuous, that is your opinion about my activity, is it relevant? – Carrie Feb 20 '15 at 7:24

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