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Author Topic: Obeah - Afro-Caribbean Shamanism  (Read 15777 times)
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RastafariSpeaks .com

« on: December 08, 2003, 02:31:29 PM »


Linked to what we were discussing with regards to shamans are these articles about the practices in Jamaica and its African roots.

Love life...





...the Wanderling.

Obeah, as practiced in Jamaica and the Caribbean, takes the USE of and KNOWLEDGE of, ancient occult powers orginally handed down over the centuries by word of mouth from the remnants of a once very powerful and celebrated religious order in remote ages, now lost in the mist of time, and combines it with Shamanism as practiced mostly by tribal people who spoke Ashanti from West Africa, Sorcery, Voudon (Voodoo), and witchcraft. It is a dying breed shrouded in secrecy known and practiced only by a select few. Even fewer ever truly enter the ranks of Obeah and able to successfully wield its will and awesome scope unscathed. An Obeahman can use any system and fuel it with the power of Obeah without the danger of disrespect for the gods, but, depending on circumstances, not necessarily without repercussions from the gods. Obeah is potent, compelling and in the wrong hands, both deadly and dangerous. It's secret lies in its POWER. Even White Light Shields can and do weaken, collapse, or be rendered impotent, buckling under to another's stronger power when pitted against each other in tests of strength.

Many years ago I was apprenticed under a Jamaican man of spells called an Obeahman. I learned that in the scheme of things all things must return to a balance. If you create any movement in the normal flow of events somehow somewhere there must be a return to the equalibrium. Simply put, if you act as the medium between the person wanting a spell given and the person receiving the spell, the person wanting the spell is responsible for the consequences. If, on the otherhand, you are the perpetrator of the spell for your own reasons on your own behalf, then YOU must accept and bear the consequences. Nothing is free, there is always a payoff somewhere. It is worth considering when you start casting about spells or interfering with the normal flow of events. Spoken from experience.

Justice is not postponed. A perfect equity adjusts its balance in all parts of life. Oi chusoi Dios aei enpiptousi, -- The dice of God are always loaded. The world looks like a multiplication-table, or a mathematical equation, which, turn it how you will, balances itself. Take what figure you will, its exact value, nor more nor less, still returns to you. Every secret is told, every crime is punished, every virtue rewarded, every wrong redressed, in silence and certainty. What we call retribution is the universal necessity by which the whole appears wherever a part appears. If you see smoke, there must be fire. If you see a hand or a limb, you know that the trunk to which it belongs is there behind.

Ralph Waldo Emerson -- "Compensations"

"Power is one of the first barriers you must pass in becoming a Man of Knowledge (Shaman). Power is intoxicating. Magic and Siddhi create a drunkenness that is very tricky to sidestep. What you wish for comes true, like Aladdin and the Genie."

Jeffrey Ellis -- "DreamingAwake"

The more pure and spiritually developed a person is (especially if they are actively working towards real spiritual advancement) the more attention they will attract from the negatives to pull them down (see Mara). In other words, the potential of any aspirant generates their level of negative opposition, plus their level of positive assistance, as set by Karmic Law. This is the natural way of things, and is part of the reason why real long-term spiritual development is so difficult. And this is also why those that achieve any significant level of spiritual / psychic development usually live fairly difficult lives, or have a painful past.

Robert Bruce -- "White Light Shields"

The First Law of Thermodynamics, a cornerstone of classical physics, states energy always presents itself as being "fixed." That is, energy can be exchanged between the system of interest and its surroundings, however, the total energy of the system PLUS the surroundings remains constant. Nevertheless, in spite of the "rules" observed throughout history in classical physics, in quantum physics, energy can and does appear and disappear out of nowhere spontaneously.

Anna Jones -- "Apportation Revisited"

SHAMANIC ZEN MUSINGS: The following are four relatively interesting stories, two involving an Obeahman and the Wanderling, and, two as an example of similar spiritual powers personified, only in comparison, involving east Indian yogis rather than an Obeah:

My first encounter with an Obeahman occured one day when a Jamaican friend of mine and myself were taking a shortcut during a trip across Jamaica in his car. He decided it would be quicker if we cut through some of the cane fields on the way back. We were doing about eighty miles per hour when we passed a little old man on the side of the road walking with a wooden staff and carrying a bundle over his shoulder. My Jamaican friend immediately hit the brakes and screeched to a halt telling me the old man was an Obeah and leaving him to walk so far out in the middle of nowhere would be bad luck. Since his vehicle was a small little two-door British car, to show respect due the Obeah, I got out and squeezed into the small rear seat allowing him to sit in the front. Soon we were back up to speed cruising the back roads of the cane fields at about eighty miles per hour. Then, all of a sudden the engine started to cough and sputter, eventually just dying and stopping to run altogether. We coasted to the side, my friend got out and asked me to get into the drivers seat to try and start the engine as he fiddled with stuff under the hood. Two or three times we tried and the car refused to start. The Obeah got out and went to the front of the car, and, although the hood obscured my view somewhat, I could tell he tapped the engine a couple of times with his staff. My friend asked me to try it again and immediately the engine fired up. The next morning my friend was late to work. He said after we left the Obeah off where he requested and me home, he went home. However, when he got up the next morning his car refused to start and that it acted exactly the same as it had in the cane fields. When he got it to the shop to be repaired the mechanic showed him the ONLY thing he could find wrong with it. A spring in the carburetor was physically broken and with that spring broken the car could not run under any circumstances. The mechanic replaced the spring and the car started up and ran perfectly.

The second story is written by and from W. Somerset Maugham's book A Writer's Notebook:

In India a Yogi wanted to go somewhere by train, but having no money, asked the station-master if he could go for nothing; the station-master refused, so the Yogi sat down on the platform. When it was time for the train to go it would not start. It was supposed that something was wrong with the engine, so mechanics were sent for and they did all they knew, but still the train could not go. At last the station-master told the officials of the Yogi. He was asked to get in the train and it immediately started. (For what is thought to be the original source to the Yogi story see Lahiri Mahasaya)

The third story is also from Maugham, but comes from his novel The Razor's Edge:

An Indian Yogi came to a bank of a river; he didn't have the money to pay the ferryman to take him across and the ferryman refused to take him for nothing, so he stepped on the water and walked upon its surface to the other side. The Yogi (telling the story) shrugged his shoulders rather scornfully and said, "A miracle likethat is worth no more than the penny it would have cost to go on the ferryboat.

The fourth story returns to the Wanderling and an Obeahman high in the mountains of Jamaica:

The Obeah squated down without changing eye contact, peering at me with an astounding set of eyes that seemed to shine deeply from within with a mysterious, intense light of their own, and said, in his heavy Jamaican patois, "You have felt the breath of the Dark One." "Yes, once," I said, "many years ago," refering to an incident in the military when I literally felt the boney fingers of the Shadow of Death brush across my soul. "Why didn't he take you with him," the Obeah asked? "I don't know," I responded, shrugging my shoulders.

The Obeah poured a warm tea-like broth into two small bowl-shaped cups without handles. He took one and gave me the other, gulping down the liquid while motioning me to do the same. (see)

He asked me what I liked about Jamaica. I told him things like the weather and the people. Then he asked again what I liked about Jamaica. But now I wasn't able to answer. It was like my mind had grown so huge that trying to focus on something as minuscule as a few words to string together into a sentence had become an impossible hardship (click to continue)...


THE WORD OBEAH: What Does It Mean?

At the very bottom of the page is another incident regarding the Obeah and the Wanderling, as the Obeahman saves the Wanderling teetering on the edge of death from the ravages of Dengue Fever.

Think what you will all you modern day folk.



(Afro-Shamanistik Witchcraft)

By: Azoth Kalafou
Obeah is one of the more unknown and obscure African traditions of Sorcery. While Santeria, Umbanda, Candomblč are getting a broader and broader reputation Obeah is still veiled in a great deal of secrecy, which is understandable when you view the complexity in this earth-religion. The word Obeah or Obi is itself a word obscured and clouded in secrecy (see). Although an Obeahman can be thought of as a Sorcerer or a cross between a voodoo witchdoctor, medicine man, root doctor, and Carlos Castaneda "Teaching of Don Juan" occult spiritualist, the most understandable meaning of the word Obeah can be translated as "occult power," meaning a powerful engine used to empower spells for witchcraft as well as other forms for practical magic and communication with the gods.

It is thought that the Ashanti and the Dahomeyans are the carriers of the wisdom of Obeah. That it was slaves from west and-north-Africa that brought this current of power to Jamaica and Trinidad-Tobago. The tradition of Obeah captures several lines of occult transmission. The Obeah it self is best seen as an multi-different source of extreme power. In a way, in that Obeahmen have been around and practicing their craft for centuries, and long before the term came into popular culture, the Obeahmen are the TRUE Chaos Magicians since they can use any system they want and fuel it with the power of Obeah, without the danger of disrespect for the gods. In Trinidad you will find Obeah blended with Muslim faith with Hinduism and Christianity. Also in Sierra Leone there are certain tribes which declares themselves as Muslim but who use the Quran to perform powerful magic with the help of Angels and Djinns. Similar traditions are to be found in Trinidad-Tobago as well. In the succession I belong to Obeah is blended with Orisha-worship, which is the most common manifestation of Obeah. Orisha worship in Trinidad has two main fractions "Spiritual Orisha" which are very Christian in its practical way. They also avoid blood-offerings. The other one "Baptist Orisha" is a more pure and ancient line of Orisha-transmission who accept blood-offerings and function very much like Orisha-worship you’ll meet elsewhere in the world. Still I might add that Voudon (Voodoo) is perhaps the closest "brother" to "Baptist Orisha"

Obeah is close to witchcraft, but it also includes many elements easily recognizable as Shamanism. This is the very core of Obeah, the shamanistic techniques that are used at initial stage of obtaining knowledge, on a more developed level the practice developes into forms of worship easily recognized within voudun. The impulse of Obeah is the witchcraft-part.

Obeah can be viewed as "a Tower of Power", an enormous vault of Intelligent-Power (similar in scope to Joriki in Japanese) that can be communicated with by the Obeah in special and secret ways. The Obeah inhabits All, that's why it is no problem to blend it with other traditions. For more along the same lines see Sudden or Gradual Enlightenment:

In Obeah related to Orisha worship you can become an Obeahman or a Obi-man. This signifies that your pathway is particularly dark and evil. Usually the Obeahmen sooner or later will move to secluded places and perform dark forms of magick mainly connected to the Dead. The Orisha of the Obi-men are called Bones. Bones is the King of Death, and has many features in common with Ghuede of the voudon pantheon, and oddly enough, the Prince of Darkness, Mara in the Buddhist religion. Another deity of great importance is Oduda, which means "The Black One," a complementary mirror-figure of the male King of Death, or "Dark One". She is the principle balancing and most of all - complementing Bones. In features she is closely linked to Maman Brigitte and also resembles the Hindu-Indian Mother Kali (Kali-Ma) in her aspect as Dhumavati and Baghalamukhi combined. The spirit known in the outer world as Anima Sola is also of great importance, but my vow of silence restrains me for telling much about her in the open.

He squated down without changing eye contact and said in his heavy Jamaican patois, "You have felt the breath of the Dark One." "Yes, once," I said, "many years ago," refering to an incident in the military when I literally felt the Shadow of Death brush across my soul. "Why didn't he take you with him," the Obeah asked? "I don't know," I responded, shrugging my shoulders.

The old Obeahman to the Wanderling, high in the mountains of Jamaica.(SOURCE)

It must be understood that the path of Bones is a special path not suitable for anyone. The path has a tendency to turn the practitioner of his magic into anti-social beings who inhabits what can look like a disrespect for the life of human beings. The initiation of Bones is only given to those who truly belong in this path of empowerment. The access offered to the wisdom of existence and how to change it relies on the practitioners ability to recognize his or hers own heart of hearts in a manner that draws proper cells of attunement close to the practitioners knowledge of Self in the light of Death. The path of Bones is lethal in the way that he gives his children tools and formulates of a direct and instant function that infuse the ability to severely destroy whatever comes in the Obeahmans path. I have heard stories about Obeahmen who charge people only a few pennys to kill off someone, like they really want to just kill for the sake of killing. These are rumours, maybe a few occasions has given rise to this rumour – since the danger inherent in solely working with the forces of Night and Death is evident. But the same rumours is also surrounding paleros, without these rumours having much substance in them – with a few exceptions…..

Vouden is proper to mention at this juncture since Obeah in practice is very similar to vouden. But there are some differences, for instance Satan is personified in this tradition as all the princes of Hell are. This is due to the great influx of western theurgical teaching and the importance stressed on kabbalah and gematria.. The different grimoires are frequently used by the Obeah-men, like Grimorium Verum and Goethia as well as the 6. And 7. Books of Moses. Especially these books by Moses has a great importance since Moses is seen as the snake-charmer and among the greatest of magicians. Techniques of shamanistic quality are frequently used together with methods ascribing to traditional witchcraft. The way of the Obeah-man is a crooked one but a path that leads to Attainment of Self. Much of this is shrouded in secrecy and it still will be. This is only a taste for the truthful eyes of wisdom to get even wiser….

© The Lodge of UR 1997

The following account with the Obeah is from Consulting Mediums:

For those of you that may be familiar with the Wanderling's interaction with the shaman man of spells called Obeahman high in the mountains of Jamaica you may recall that when a young girl from the village was hit by a car, the parents, who could not afford a regular medical doctor, opted to have their daughter taken to the Obeah. The Wanderling and another village member carried the girl in a sling-like hammock slung between two long wooden poles up the hazardous mountain trail to the Obeahman's abode. During that several hour period, although breathing, the girl never regaind consciousness. The Wanderling was not allowed to go into the Obeah's hut bcause he was white, nor were any of the rituals performed observed, that is, if any at all were performed. The next morning the Wanderling ended up clear down the mountain and didn't exactly see what happened to the girl. About two weeks later she was seen to be playing with other village childern as though nothing had ever happened. No marks, scars, scraches, casts or anything else. Many months later the Wanderling contracted Dengue fever and laid in his bed sweating in pools of water, delirious with a high fever, not eating, and basically unable to move. A villager happened by and reported how sick he was to a village elder. He inturn passed word to the Obeah. Under NO circumstances had the Obeah ever been known to leave his mountain lair, everyone in need of his services ALWAYS had to go to him no matter how serious the situation. However, much to the suprise of everyone in the village and others for miles and miles around, within a few hours of hearing of the Wanderling's condition he showed up on the veranda. He would not enter his house, again because the Wanderling was white, but he did remove items from his Oanga Bag and perform a set of rituals that included spreading sand and ashes in a circle, casting bones into the circle, sitting Buddha-like doing some chanting and using smoke that waifted throughout the house. The next day the Wanderling was up and around, sore, and except for a substantial loss of weight and weak from having not eaten, OK. The Obeah was gone.


..Understanding Truth and My Place in it..
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