What is Obeah?

kaylarStarred Page By kaylar, 3rd Oct 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1qdzvw-8/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Culture>General

Obeah, as practiced in Jamaica makes Voo Doo look like an episode of Sponge Bob

What it is...sort of

West African dieties are known as Obi.
In Jamaica, the hold overs of African religion, is called Obeah. Everyone, (almost) claims not to believe in it. Everyone (almost) does.

The term 'obeah' is first found in documents from the early 1700s.
It is in connection to Nanny of the Maroons, who is one
of our National Heroes.

When the British would try to attack, Nanny would show them her rear
bumper and the bullets would fall back on them.

The British made Obeah illegal after Tacky's War, where an Obeahman provided services to the Maroons.

So powerful is Obeah compared it to Voo Doo, I share this rather unsavoury episode.

The Red Sock

In Florida, when I was undergoing rehab, I was at a particular place where 99% of all 'Aides' were from Haiti.
I caught one of them sitting on the bed of an old woman who'd had a stroke and couldn't move, watching television.

Not taking care of the old lady, watching television.

She fled as I rolled in, (I was in a wheel chair).

The Aide decided to use Voo Doo against me, thinking I was an American.
She stole a sock.

I had a particularly hideous pair of red socks and she took one of them.
I knew what it meant.

Abandoning Standard English, and turning to the non-language, (or langwij if you prefer) I made many very loud prounoucements which echoed through the hallways while inscribing certain characters on the door then sprinkled talcum powder on the floor.

The few Americans had no idea what I was doing or saying, but there wasn't one Haitian in the building who didn't realise that they had messed with the wrong person.

Subsequently the sock reappeared on my well made bed and that particular Aide never entered that room again.

In fact, the only Aides who would enter were not Haitian.

This is to explain why Haitians do not ever mess with Jamaicans.

The Practice

The names of the dieties are lost and I doubt anyone would know them.
The practices are often half baked and semi-ridiculous.
They often are harmful.
This does not in anyway stop the belief or the practice which is illegal.
One could be charged and convicted of practicing Obeah and go to prison.

Speaking of prison, many people end up there because they pay their
Obeah man (or woman) and not their lawyer.

Some also get killed when they think their Invisibility Ring is working and
decide to leave custody without permission.

The Power

As I wrote in Belief Kills people will actually believe in Obeah despite the numerous signs and warnings.

This belief allows a large number of charlatans to rip off the public with their
'baths' (to protect them from bullets...very popular with the Jamaican Constabulary Force), with amulets (like Invisibility rings) and the ever useful
white powder.

People believe that they can not walk into any room where there is white powder
on the ground.

This is a standard with West African religions which is why no Haitian would
come near the room and they sent a local to sweep it up


Jamaicans believe in spirits.
They call them Duppies, and they are like ghosts.

Jamaicans believe in witches.
They recognise certain signs and signals and know what they mean.

No work site can operate until a goat is killed and it's blood is sprinkled in
the corners. Western Companies which do not allow this will suffer strikes.
No one will work there until the ritual is completed.

No building will go up, ever private buildings like a house, that hasn't had at least a chicken slaughtered and its blood sprinkled about the foundation. You don't have to agree. The workers 'know' better so will do it when you aren't there.


The Gleaner, the oldest Newspaper often carries stories of Duppies and Obeah
men, and has even interviewed one of the more well known; Joseph.

He lives in Manchester, a central Parish.
Most Obeah is practiced in Saint Thomas.

In fact the only reason why Jamaica continues to have St. Thomas as a Parish, (instead of having it declare Independence and go on the way it wants) is due
to the fear of having 13 Parishes.

Three-Finger'd Jack, a book and subsequent play was inspired by true
events in 1800. There is a little 'tribute' to Jack in; Saint Thomas, at Thirteen Miles
in Bull Bay.

If you come to Jamaica, unless you are locked up in a Hotel and never step on
the road, you might not be exposed to Obeah.

If one of your shoes or socks is missing, however, understand, someone is working Obeah on you. And make a fuss.


Bull Bay, Haiti, Jamaica, Magic, Obeah Man, Obi, St Thomas, West Africa

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author avatar kaylar
I am passionate about history, culture, current events, science and law

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
4th Oct 2013 (#)

Is it always bad or can there be goo Obeah?

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author avatar kaylar
4th Oct 2013 (#)

Myal is the 'good' obeah. It is hard to tell them apart

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author avatar Lady Aiyanna
4th Oct 2013 (#)

Well they can use all the magic they want with the mirrors of life now reflecting totally at them. Every magic of such is used for the betterment not adversity wherein harm falls on the person practising this only for the fact that they are using this for negativity. None the less, it may work on many depending on the etheric and the vibrational levels to catch these spells.
As always negatives find a way to be destroyed before they reach fruition and it is a fact even in dark magic as all countries and races have their own style of dark magic.

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author avatar kaylar
4th Oct 2013 (#)

Actual Obi is a West African Religion. It is an Panthon, and quite complex. What we have today is something somwhat different.

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author avatar M G Singh
4th Oct 2013 (#)

Excellent post that informed a lot

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author avatar kaylar
4th Oct 2013 (#)

Thank you Madan...

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author avatar Johnny Knox
4th Oct 2013 (#)

I can't say that I;m really into these stuff but that was an informative read. Thanks for the education.

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author avatar kaylar
5th Oct 2013 (#)

thank you Johnny

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
5th Oct 2013 (#)

Very informative piece!

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author avatar kaylar
5th Oct 2013 (#)

You're welcome

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