The practice of obeah
Obeah or obi as it is sometimes called is a form of witchcraft that is practiced mainly in the West Indies, it is primarily practiced in Jamaica, the Virgin Islands, and Trinidad and Tobago and is similar to voodoo or hoodoo. The practice of obeah is thought to be both black and white magic and is associated with luck, charms and mysticism.
Obeah in Jamaica
The West African Ashanti tribe called priests who practiced sorcery or magic "myal men" or "obeah men", which is the word they use for sorcery. Obeah also has another meaning when linked with magic; it means a charm or talisman that was used for evil magic. Despite obeah being linked with black magic, it is also considered to be a good form of magic which is practiced for healing, bringing luck and good fortune.
During the 19th century, some people believed that the obeah men would come and steal their shadows and these people were then coerced into helping the obeah men with the hope of having their shadows restored. During this period, the British government of Jamaica sent myal men to prison but obeah remained a vital form of black magic.
Obeah in the Virgin Islands
Perhaps the most famous form of obeah that we are all familiar with if we have visited the Virgin Islands is the mocko-jumbie or the stilt dancer. Obeah tradition in the virgin islands proclaim that a jumbie is a lost or evil spirit and is thought to be related to the word nzumbi or as we more commonly know them zombies.
However as dark as the word suggests a jumbie might be they are totally opposite and wear brightly coloured clothing, they dance during the daylight hours and stilt dancing is very popular at holidays and at carnivals.
Obeah and wanga
The wanga is associated with obeah and it is a small magical charm packet which is used in the practice of black magic in Haiti, it is a form of magic that is associated with voodoo. Wanga is also known as mojo, toby and jomo, it is usually a drawstring bag in which a charm is held and is worn under the clothing.
They are thought to hold supernatural powers and can protect the wearer from harm and evil, they are also used in the casting of evil spells with the intent to harm others, usually something relating to the person such as a lock of hair or fingernail clippings is used.
Particular attention is taken to the tying of the bag as this is thought to ensure that the particular spell works correctly and once it has been sealed then it is encouraged to work by using perfume or anointing oils on it regularly.
The practice of obeah
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