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Chapter V


As shown elsewhere it was the Ashanti in Jamaica who, during the days of slavery, maintained a commanding influence over all the other types of slaves, even imposing on them their peculiar superstitions and religious practices, and who have left their impress on the general population of the Island to such an extent that they may undoubtedly be declared the dominant influence in evolving our Jamaica peasant of the present day.[1] Thus, to briefly summarize a few of the principal facts, in Jamaica folklore, or Anancy stories, we find the spider, anancy, as the central figure and his son Tacoma as next in importance, with both names and characters derived directly from the Ashanti. Here also the Ashanti name of Odum is perserved {sic} for the silk-cotton tree. These stories are passed along by the Nana or Granny, and again the function and title are both Ashanti. The funeral custom of raising and lowering the coffin three times, seemingly as a courtesy to the Earth Goddess before starting for the grave, while peculiar to the Ashanti in West Africa, is still prevalent in the Jamaica "bush" where they know nothing of its origin or significance, and where they give as the sole reason for doing so, that it is always done that way. Again, the fowl with ruffled feathers, and half-naked neck and which the Jamaica "picknies" call peal-neck, i. e. bald-neck, is technically known as sensey fowl in Jamaica and asense in Ashanti. So, too, the staple food of the Ashanti is fufu, consisting usually of mashed yarn, and sometimes of mashed plantain. The term is the reduplicated form of fu, meaning white. In the Jamaica "bush" there is a particularly fine grade of white yam that is known as fufu yam, and it has lately been brought to

[1. Williams, Hebrewisms of West Africa, Introduction.]

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my attention that mashed yam in Jamaica still goes by the name of fufu. Many other details of identity in words and customs might be adduced but these must suffice for the present.

True it is, the Ashanti are not always expressly named as such in the rôle they occupied in Jamaica. It is as Koromantins that they figure so prominently in the history of the island, especially as regards the various slave-uprisings that so often threatened the white supremacy. But, as has been shown, the Koromantin, while generically Gold Coast slaves, were specifically, at least as applies to their leading spirits, Ashanti.[2]

Gardner declares: "Little can be said with confidence as to the religious beliefs of these people. The influence of the Koromantins seemed to have modified, if not entirely obliterated, whatever was introduced by other tribes. They recognized, in a being called Accompong, the creator and preserver of mankind; to him praise, but never sacrifice, was offered. . . . The tutelary deities included the departed heads of families, and the worship of such was almost the only one observed to any great extent by Africans or their descendants in Jamaica."[3]

The Supreme Being among the Ashanti, as we have seen, was Nyame, and his primary title was Nyankopon, meaning Nyame, alone, great one. Accompong, then, was the white man's attempt to transliterate the Nyankopon which he so often heard on the lips of the expatriated Ashanti.

As previously noted: Bryan Edwards, in his brief outline of the religious beliefs of the Koromantin slaves, asserts: "They believe that Accompong, the God of heavens, is the creator of all things; a Deity of Infinite goodness. In fact we have in Jamaica today, in the parish of St. Elizabeth, a Maroon town called Accompong, which according to Cundall, the Island Historian, was so called after an Ashanti chief who figured in one of the early

[2. Ditto, p. 9.

3. Gardner, History of Jamaica, p. 184. Note:--Gardner further observes p. 184: "It is and ever has been very difficult to extract from an old Negro what his religious belief really was, but it seems probable that there was some idea that departed parents had influence with the supposed rulers of the world beyond the grave, and that prayers were offered to them in some such spirit as that of the Roman Catholic who appeals to the saints in his calendar."]

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rebellions of the Island. One's first impression would be that this chief had abrogated to himself the title of Deity. But we are assured by J. G. Christaller that among the Ashanti the Divine Name was frequently given to a slave in acknowledgment of the help of God enabling the owner to buy the slave."[4]

Herbert G. De Lisser, a native Jamaican whose facile pen has won for him well-merited distinction, writes: "The West African natives and particularly those from the Gold Coast (from which the larger number of Jamaica slaves were brought) believe in a number of gods of different classes and unequal power. All these gods have their priest and priestesses, but there is one particular malignant spirit, which on the Gold Coast has no priesthood. He is called Sasabonsum, and any individual may put himself in communication with him. Sasabonsum's favorite residence is the ceiba, the giant silk-cotton tree. He is resorted to in the dead of night, his votary going to the spot where he is supposed to live, and collecting there a little earth, or a few twigs, or a stone, he prays to the god that his power may enter this receptacle. If he believes that his prayer has been heard he returns home with his shuman, as the thing is now named, and henceforth, he has a power which is formidable for injurious purposes, to which he offers sacrifice, and to the worship of which he dedicates a special day in the week. By the aid of this shuman he can bewitch a man to death. He can also sell charms that will cause death or bodily injury. His charms may also be put to other and less pernicious uses. Thus the shuman charm in the shape of a bundle of twigs, if hung up where it can be seen, is very efficacious for keeping thieves away from a house or provision-ground. Anyone may go out and get a shuman if he likes, but few there are who dare to do so, through fear of Sasabonsum, the witch's god, and public opinion which looks down upon a man with a shuman. The legitimate priests whose office it is to approach the gods also sell charms both for good and injurious purposes, but the main functions are to propitiate the gods and bewitch the people. They were called upon to undo the injury caused by the wizard and his shuman. Both

[4. Williams, Hebrewisms of West Africa, p. 16.]

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witches and wizards, priests and priestesses were brought to Jamaica in the days of the slave trade, and the slaves recognized the distinction between the former and the latter. Even the masters saw that the two classes were not identical, and so they called the latter 'Myal men' and 'Myal women'-the people who cured those whom the Obeah man had injured. Of the present-day descendants of these priests or Myal men more will be said later on. It is probable that many of the African priests became simple Obeah men after coming to Jamaica, for the simple reason that they could not openly practice their legitimate profession. But when known as Obeah men, however much they might be treated with respect, they still were hated and feared. Every evil was attributed to them. The very name of them spread dread."[5]

Myalism, then, was the old tribal religion of the Ashanti which we have studied in detail in the preceding chapter, with some modifications due to conditions and circumstances. It drew its name from the Myal dance that featured it, particularly in the veneration of the minor deities who were subordinate to Accompong, and in the commemoration or intercession of ancestors.

The old antagonism to Obeah or witchcraft on the part of the priesthood becomes accentuated, and gradually takes on a rôle of major importance, so that it actually forms a part of the religious practice. In Ashanti, the Okomfo openly combated the Obayifo as a matter of principle, and he had the whole force of Ashanti religious traditions and public sentiment to support him, until he eventually looked down with more or less disdain on the benighted disciple of Sasabonsam. In Jamaica, on the other hand, native religious assemblies were proscribed by law, as we shall see shortly, which greatly hampered the Okomfo in his sphere of influence, even his title being changed to Myal man, while the Obayifo or Obeah man, who had always worked in secret, flourished in his trade. For the very status and restrictions of slave life put his fellows more and more at his mercy and filled them with a growing fear of his spiteful incantations, backed up as they were with active poisonings. Their gods had abandoned them; why not

[15. Herbert G. De Lisser, Twentieth Century Jamaica, Kingston, 1913, p. 110 f.]

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cultivate the favour of the triumphant Sasabonsam, or at least assuage his enmity and placate his vengeance?

It was natural, too, for the Okomfo to adapt his practice to the new state of affairs. His hated rival, the Obayifo, must be conquered at any price. Personal interests demanded this as strongly as religious zeal. Since public service of the deities was no longer possible, he in turn was forced to work in secret, and it is not surprising that he met fire with fire, incantation with incantation. His religion had aimed primarily at the welfare of the community, even as the object in life of the Obayifo was the harm of the individual. Open intercession for tribal success and prosperity necessarily gives way to secret machinations to break the chains of bondage. A fanatic zeal takes hold of the Myalist Okomfo and he devises the most impressive ritual he can, to arouse the dormant spirits of his fellow-slaves.

Thus it came to pass that it was the Okomfo and not the Obayifo, as is generally assumed, who administered the terrible fetish oath. It was he who mixed the gunpowder with the rum and added grave dirt and human blood to the concoction that was to seal upon the conspirators' lips the awful nature of the plot for liberty, and steel their hearts for the dangerous undertaking. It was he, no less, who devised the mystic powder that was to make their bodies invulnerable, and enable them to meet unscathed the white man's bullets. Finally, it was the Okomfo and not the Obayifo who, taking advantage of herbal knowledge, induced a state of torpor on subservient tools, that he might seem to raise the dead to life.

Yet, through it all, while he frequently substitutes for his own religious ceremonial the dark and secret rites of his rival practitioner, his aim at least is still within the tribal law, as he works white magic for the welfare of the community, no less than he continues to combat the black magic of his adversary.

It is not surprising, then, that the rôle of the Myalist Okomfo has been so little understood, and that his most effective work was ascribed by the whites of Jamaica to the agency of Obeah and that Myalism itself should become confused with witchcraft and

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even regarded by some as an offshoot of Obeah and nothing more.

Gardner is only partially correct when he states: "Of late years Myalism has generally been regarded as an art by which that of the Obeah man could be counteracted. Its first mode of development was as a branch of Obeah practice. The Obeah man introduced a dance called Myal dance, and formed a secret society, the members of which were to be made invulnerable, or if they died, life was to be restored. Belief in this miracle was secured by trick. A mixture was given in rum, of a character which presently induced sleep so profound, as, by the uninitiated and alarmed, to be mistaken for death. After this had been administered to someone chosen for the purpose, the Myal dance began, and presently the victim staggered and fell, to all appearance dead. Mystic charms were then used; the body was rubbed with some infusion; and in process of time, the narcotic having lost its power, the subject of the experiment rose up as one restored to life, a fact for which the Obeah man claimed all the merit. The plant said to be used was the branched calalue, or solanum. If so, it can only be the cold infusion which has the narcotic power, and which is stated to belong to the European variety; for when boiled it is harmless. It is commonly used in Jamaica as a substitute for spinach, and enters largely into the composition of the famous pepper-pot."[11]

Matthew Gregory Lewis records in his diary under date of February 25, 1817: "The Obeah ceremonies always commence with what is called, by the Negroes, 'the Myal dance.'[7] This is intended to remove any doubt of the chief Obeah man's supernatural

[6. Gardner, History of Jamaica, p. 192. Note:--In this connection it is interesting to find A. W. Cardinall, In Ashanti and Beyond, London, 1927, p. 239, who had spent many years as a District Commissioner of the Gold Coast, when describing the initiation to a Bimoda secret society, observing: "If a Kussassi Youth wishes to become a member he has to undergo a rather frightening ordeal. He is cut with a knife and medicine is inserted in the wounds: thereby he is reduced to unconsciousness for a long time. 'He dies for five days' is the expression used. They then anoint him with medicine, and he returns to consciousness."

7. Note:--Lewis is evidently describing a Myal rite in the strict sense of the word. His reference to it as the opening of an Obeah ceremony is due to the common error of his day on the part of the whites who had not yet learned to distinguish between the functions of the Myalist Okomfo and the Obeah man, although it is clearly implied in the present instance by the subsequent reference to the officiating functionary whom he calls by his proper title "the chief Myal man" to whom he had previously misapplied the term "chief Obeah man."]

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powers; and in the course of which, he undertakes to show his art by killing one of the persons present, whom he pitches upon for that purpose. He sprinkles various powders over the devoted victim, blows upon him, and dances round him, obliges him to drink a liquor prepared for the occasion, and finally the sorcerer and his assistants seize him and whirl him rapidly round and round till the man loses his senses, and falls to the ground to all appearances and the belief of the spectators a perfect corpse. The chief Myal man then utters loud shrieks, rushes out of the house with wild and frantic gestures, and conceals himself in a neighbouring wood. At the end of two or three hours he returns with a large bundle of herbs, from some of which he squeezes the juice into the mouth of the dead person; with others he anoints his eyes and stains the tips of his fingers, accompanying the ceremony with a great variety of grotesque actions, and chanting all the while something between a song and a howl, while the assistants hand in hand dance slowly round them in a circle, stamping the ground loudly with their feet to keep time with this chant. A considerable time elapses before the desired effect is produced, but at length the corpse gradually recovers animation, rises from the ground perfectly recovered, and the Myal dance concludes."[8]

With the decline of Myalism from its early religious standards, it took on more and more a character of antagonism to Obeah until eventually to "dig up Obeah" became its principal differentiation from witchcraft, at least as far as the uninitiated were concerned. The spirit of fanaticism, however, held apace and after the abolition of slavery, when the restrictions on assemblies were removed, there was a recrudescence of the cult, sometimes referred to as "Revivalism" that has disturbed at times the peace of more than one Jamaica community. Thus for example, Gardner tells us: "In 1842 several Negroes residing on an estate near Montego Bay gave themselves out to be Myal men; and in St. James, Westmoreland, and Trelawney, thousands of deluded people became their followers. They were accustomed to meet together after

[8. Matthew Gregory Lewis, Journal of a West India Proprietor, kept during a Residence in the Island of Jamaica, London, 1834, p. 354 f.]

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nightfall, generally beneath the shadow of a cotton tree. Fowls were sacrificed, and wild songs sung, in the chorus of which the multitude joined. Dancing then began, becoming more and more weirdlike in character, until one and another fell exhausted to the ground, when their incoherent utterances were listened to as divine revelations. Half-demented creatures sat among the branches or in the hollow trunks of trees, singing; while others with their heads bound in fantastic fashion, ran about with arms outstretched, and declared that they were flying. It became necessary at last to swear in several hundreds of special constables, and to punish numbers of these deluded people for disturbing the peace. . . . Some six years later a Myal man, called Dr. Taylor, gave much trouble in Manchester and Clarendon, drawing great crowds after him. He was sent to the penitentiary, where he was accidentally killed. In 1852, the delusion again appeared: some now gave themselves out to be prophets, and saw visions, but the firmness of the missionaries soon put an end to these practices."[9]

There are some interesting details of the Myalistic outbreak of 1842 given by the Reverend R. Thomas Banbury, a native Jamaican, in a little volume which he published at Kingston, in 1895 on Jamaica Superstitions. He tells us: "It took its rise at Newman Hall estate in St. James and went through that parish, Westmoreland and Hanover, increasing as it went until it consisted of hundreds of deluded fanatics. They went by the name of 'Myal people'; they were also called 'angel men.' They declared that the world was to come to an end; Christ was coming, and God had sent them to pull all the Obeahs, and catch all the shadows that were spell-bound at the cotton trees. In preparation for these events they affected to be very strict in their conduct. They would neither drink nor smoke. Persons who were known to be notorious for their bad lives were excluded from their society. They went from place to place pulling out Obeahs and catching shadows and uttered fearful threats against sinners. About the time mentioned there was a very extraordinary comet, which continued in the heavens for several weeks. It was in the west, and the shape of it

[9. Gardner, History of Jamaica, p. 460.]

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was like a 'salt fish' (a cod fish split in two, with the head cut off), the head square and the body tapering off to a point. It was remarkably brilliant. These people made reference to it in their songs and pointed to it as an illustration of their divine mission, and the people were not a little alarmed at its appearance. . . . Many songs were used when taking up Obeahs, which they did openly in the daytime, in the presence of a large concourse of people who flocked from all parts to see it. The overseers and bookkeepers on the sugar estates all were present. There were present an attorney and a proprietor. An Englishman and a member of the House of Assembly, who took them on his estate gave them room and encouraged them in every way. They publicly dug out of his yard a lot of Obeahs for him. . . . The amber was a talisman by which they pretended to divine. Both Myal men and Obeah men use it. Anything through which they look at the Obeah, either in the ground or skin is called an amber, the name not being strictly confined to the substance properly so-called.

"Four shillings was the price for pulling an Obeah and six shillings for catching a shadow, and they did make money. They accompanied their operations with violent singing and dancing. They worked themselves into violent animal excitement and fanaticism, jumping about, yelling like so many demoniacs. It was frightful to hear them. Sometimes one would bolt out of the ring and run into the bush and then the others would go after him, declaring that the spirits had taken him away. They had vials filled with the juice of bad-smelling bushes which they called 'their weed.' It was said that it had the effect of causing those upon whom it was sprinkled to become Myal people. Not a little injury was done to the churches by this Myal procession. A number of young people, especially females, were drawn away. They followed them all about and fell into immorality with the men, notwithstanding the affected piety of the latter. They went into the churches on Sundays and interrupted divine services by pulling out persons whom they suspected of dealing in Obeah, or who were so reported to them. Old men who looked suspicious were beaten, rolled in cotton bush and half killed.

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"In a Baptist church at Slater's Hill an attack of this kind was made on a man whom these people considered notorious for Obeah. Afterwards the authorities had to take cognizance of their outrages and sent some of them to prison. In returning from prison their song was:

Myal nigga, we come oh,
    We go da jail, we come out.
Myal nigga, we come oh,
    We work again, we come back,
Myal man we come oh.

And according to the song they did begin their revelries again.

"There is no doubt that these people laboured under a delusion from the devil. The Myalism of these people also put on a somewhat different feature from that which existed before. They professed to take up Obeahs, which the regular Myal man never did, for the work of the latter was confined to shadows, recovering persons who were struck by duppies and bringing home those who were carried away into the woods by the spirits."[10]

In this last statement, we fear, Mr. Banbury is a little confused, since "digging up Obeah" was the distinctive characteristic of the Myalist, while we have here for the first time any reference to "catching shadows," and their connection with "duppies." But what, it may be asked were these shadows and duppies?

Captain Rattray calls our attention to the fact that "The Ashanti use a number of names translated in to English by the words 'soul' or 'spirit' or 'ghost'." He then proceeds to define these various terms. Thus Saman "is a ghost, an apparition, a spectre; this term is never applied to a living person or to anything inherent in a living person. It is objective and is the form the dead are sometimes seen to take, when visible on earth. . . . The word 'has no connection whatever with any kind of soul."[11] This is the Jamaica "duppy," in every detail.

Again, he tells us: "The sasa is the invisible spiritual power of a person or animal which disturbs the mind of the living, or works

[10. R. Thomas Banbury, Jamaica Superstitions, or The Obeah Book, Kingston, 1895.

11. Rattray, Religion and Art in Ashanti, p. 152.]

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a spell or mischief upon them, so that they suffer in various ways. . . . The sasa is essentially the bad, revengeful, and hurtful element in a spirit; it is that part which at all costs must be 'laid' or rendered innocuous, the funeral rites . . . are really, I believe the placating, appeasing, and the final speeding of a soul which may contain this very dangerous element in its composition."[12] This is the "shadow" of Jamaica, where, however, both "duppy" and "shadow" have gradually assumed a material element in the general acceptation of the "bush."

Thus for example, on the occasion of deaths in the neighbourhood, especially if by violence, the superstitious will plug up every crack and crevice of their hovels at night, "to keep the duppies out," an entirely useless precaution if the expected visitants were purely spiritual and so impassible. After the hurricane in Montego Bay in November, 1912, when about a hundred were drowned, I wanted to send a messenger on the following day on an errand that would keep him out after dark. It was with the greatest difficulty that I found one--the usual form of excuse being: "Everybody stay home a night. Too many det (dead) round, Sah!"

So, too, at a "bush" funeral, the most important circumstance is frequently the catching of the "shadow." I have more than once watched the process from a very short distance, near enough, in fact, to be able to hear all that was said, and to watch carefully most that was done, as the actors, for such I must call them, scrambled and grasped at empty nothingness, with such realism of pretence, that I found myself actually rubbing my eyes, almost convinced against myself that there must be an elusive something that escaped my vision.

When sufficient rum had been imbibed, and the singing led by a "selfish" voice had keyed up the assembly to the proper pitch, someone would excitedly cry out: "See 'im yere!" Immediately two or three or even more rival hunters would start after that "shadow" at one and the same time. From outside where I stood, it looked as if a general scramble had started in the hovel and I could see forms falling over one another and hear the imprecations

[12. Ditto, p. 53.]

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and exclamations. After a time, one more "forward" than the rest would claim to have caught the prey, only to be greeted with cries of scorn: " 'Im get away! See 'im dah!" Whereupon the scuffle would start anew.

Eventually when all of them were breathless, dripping with perspiration, their clothes soiled or at times actually torn, and eyes almost popping out of their heads with excitement, while a general condition of hysteria had taken possession of the entire gathering, the feat would be accomplished by some belligerent individual, who would clasp his hands and let out a veritable Scream of defiance: "Me got 'im! Me got 'im!" with such vehemence that he would literally shout down all protests to the contrary, with perhaps just a little hint of possible physical violence that might follow as a support to the power of his vociferation. Then a box or at times a small coffin would be produced and with much ado, not perhaps without a final effort to escape, the poor "shadow" would be securely fastened in and properly "laid" to be buried later at the funeral.

I have further listened to two disputants on the following morning, while the rum fumes were still assertive, almost coming to blows as to which one of them had actually accomplished the feat of catching the shadow, and yet when I questioned them individually a few days later, despite the fact that I knew them intimately, both of them in perfect scorn, asserted, almost in the same identical words: "Me no belieb in 'shadow,' Sah! 'Im all nonsense, Sah!"

As far as I could form any judgment from my own observations, it seemed to me that one of the supposed avocations of the Obeah man was to catch the shadows of the living and nail them to a cotton tree, while the Myal man, to undo the damage, was busying himself by "pulling" the shadows from their imprisonment in the tree. Again as the shadow may be harmful to the family of the deceased, it is the function of the Myal man and not the Obeah man to catch them at the funeral--for this is a beneficial act.

Reverend A. J. Emerick, who devoted more than a decade to

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mission work in Jamaica, in a privately printed article gives us valuable information about Myalism as it existed at the beginning of the present century. He writes: "To attempt to describe Jamaica Mialism, a superstition imported from Africa, is like trying to describe the intricacies of the most cunningly devised Chinese puzzle. Mialism is so mixed up with Obeahism, Duppyism and other cults of African warp, together with whatever in Protestantism or Catholic ritual that may appeal to the bizarre African imagination, that it is hard to tell which is which and what is what. But for all that it is a most interesting study for the student of folklore. . . .

"But whatever may have been its origin, Mialism, properly so-called in Jamaica, is a species of Spiritualism, mixed with a peculiar form of animism. Mialism with its Mial men and Mial women, has been just as prevalent in Jamaica as Obeahism with its Obi men and Obi women. At present you do not often hear the words, 'Mialism and Mial people,' but they are still there in large forces, masquerading under other names.

"The mysterious operations of Mialism consist in communications with spirits or deaths ('dets' as the Jamaican terms it). The persons who are favoured with communications with spirits are called 'mial' people. They are said to be 'fo-eyed,' that is four-eyed, by which is meant that they can see spirits and converse with them. Both sexes make pretention to this power; hence you have mial men and mial women. They are believed to be able to kill or injure anyone by aid of spirits. A mial man and obi man are equally dreaded. The mial man harms by depriving persons of their shadows, or setting deaths upon them.[13] It is believed that after a person's shadow is taken he is never healthy and if it be not caught, he must pine away until he dies. It is said that the word for shadow in the language of some African tribes is the word for soul. Obi men and mial people sometimes carry little coffins to catch and keep shadows, which shadows they are supposed to nail to the cotton tree. This cotton tree in the days of slavery, like the oak in the days of Druidism was worshipped

[13. As just noted, in my own experience that was the work of the Obeah man. The Myal man released them.]

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and sacrifices were offered at its roots. This tree was held in veneration and it was hard to get Negroes to cut it down because they were afraid that if they did so the deaths which took up their abode at its roots would injure them. There are many interesting superstitions connected with the cotton trees, one curious belief about them was that they had the power of transporting themselves at night to hold conferences together. . . .

"In connection with shadow taking is shadow catching, that is, -the restoring of the shadow to the person who had been -deprived of it. The performance is rather strange. Shadow catching is invariably done in the night. The person suspected of having lost his shadow is taken to the cotton tree, where his shadow is, as the Jamaica people say, 'pell bound,' that is spellbound, or to which it was nailed. The mial men and mial women are accompanied by a large concourse of people. The victim is dressed all in white, with a white handkerchief about his head. Eggs and fowls are taken together with cooked food, to the cotton tree. The mial men and mial women parade up and down before the cotton tree with white cloths over their shoulders, singing and dancing, and all the people join in the chorus. The cotton tree is pelted with eggs, and the necks of fowls are wrung off and the bodies are cast at it. This is done to propitiate the deaths or duppies that had their shadows enthralled at the tree. The singing and dancing proceed more vigorously as the shadow begins to make signs of leaving the tree. A white basin of water to receive it is held up. After they have sung and danced to their heart's content, they suddenly catch up the person and run home with him, affirming that his shadow is caught and covered up in the basin. When the patient has reached his home, a wet cloth is applied to his head and his shadow is said to be restored to him."[14]

The narrative may here be interrupted to remark that Fr. Emerick fails to make the clear distinction between Obeah man and Myal man, since at times the two functions are so confused and even exercised by the same individual under a dual rôle. In general, however, Obeah is secretive and malicious; Myalism is open

[14. A. J. Emerick, Jamaica Mialism, Woodstock, 1916, p. 39 ff.]

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and benevolent. When the "shadow" is "pulled" at the cotton tree, or "caught" at the funeral, just as when Obeah is "dug up," the larger the body of witnesses the greater is the satisfaction of the Myal man in this good deed which he performs. The Obeah man, on the contrary, seeks to avoid all publicity, as his purpose is evil. And even if, as occasionally does happen, the same individual is today an Obeah man and tomorrow a Myal man, to the best of my knowledge, he observes perhaps unconsciously the technique of the rite which he is performing, and his entire manner and method will change overnight.

Bringing the subject up to date, Fr. Emerick states: "Bedwardism has all the ear-marks of mialism, and in its fetish origin is fundamentally the same. Its founder was a lunatic, named Bedward, who was suffering from religious monomania. He claimed that he had visions from God, and that the spirit of God had descended upon him and that in him the prophets were reincarnated, at one time Jonas, at another Moses, then John the Baptist. He declared that in a vision God had made known to him that the water of Hope River cleansed from diseases and sin. It was rumoured that a sick woman was cured by partaking of this water. Belief in Bedward's miraculous powers gradually grew until persons from all over the island carne to get the healing waters from him and stories of wondrous cures by him were spread about. The craze grew until as many as twenty and thirty thousand Negroes used to gather every Wednesday morning along the river bank at a place called August Town, on the Hope River. In the great throng were hundreds of the crippled, the deformed, lepers, the blind, consumptives and sufferers from every form of disease. At a few moments of nine the so-called prophet would appear in flowing white robes, and with a wand in his hand, with elaborate and majestic ceremonies, he would bless the water, whereupon, these thousands of men, women and children of all ages would strip naked and jump into the water. An indescribable scene followed. . . . I only introduce this short account of it here as a help to my study of Mialism and because Bedwardism seemed

{p. 157}

to have a parental affinity to Revivalism[15] which is now rampant it, Jamaica and which is nothing but Mialism pure and simple under a new name. . . .

"The Revivalists masquerade as a Christian sect and cover themselves with a glamour of Christianity, by such practices as exclaiming in the mialistic songs. . . . such expressions as 'Lord have mercy on us,' 'Christ have mercy on us,' words evidently taken from the Catholic Mass. But despite all this they are but pagan mialists, and their service is pagan. The mialists as a body as well as individually, believed and especially FELT themselves called by the spirit for their work. Their supreme effort in their demoniacal, frenzied worship was to get a plenitude of the spirit. So also the Revivalists believe and feel an excited call to perform some work or give some message. Sometimes individuals, getting the spirit during the night, arise and in a frenzied condition go over the hills and along the roads, stopping sometimes before houses and shouting at the top of their voices, quoting Holy Scripture, giving warning, and announcing what they consider their God-given message. They will sometimes give warning by shouting 'Hammer and nails!' This is intended to be a death warning. During the day you will sometimes see them making curious marking on the road before certain houses. One night while I was going along a mountain path I met a woman who was under this peculiar spell. She seemed to me like one of the frenzied Eumenides whirling by me. You see again from the name of 'Angel people,' as they call themselves, where they get their idea of being messengers from heaven." At one place in the mountains, I have myself heard one of these unfortunate creatures, half-crazed with emotionalism, as night after night for weeks on end, she stood up against a flat wall of rock which served as a sounding board and sent her voice booming out over the valley in a seemingly interminable repetition of "Fire and brimestone {sic}, Fire and brimstone, judgment on men, judgment on men!"

[15. Note:--On the contrary Bedwardism is an offshoot of Revivalism which dates back to the closing days of slavery.]

{p. 158}

After stating: "The original mial dance is said to be an old West African priest dance," Fr. Emerick continues: "The Mialists robed themselves in white and affected the power of divination. The Revivalists do all this. There was a band of Revivalists who met every Thursday at a place called Retirement, in the Dry Harbour Mountains. I often heard them, for it was one perpetual howl from morning till night, like the rise and fall of tidal waves on the sea beach. I have gone to see them and any account of demoniac possession that I ever read seemed tame in comparison with the demoniacal contortions, the hysterical singing and moaning, the frenzied gyrating, swaying, dancing and the abominable jerkings, of these people in the heat of their wild African, weird fetish worship to become possessed by the spirit. They form a compact circle, or rather wheel, of men and women. The whole living, squirming wheel circles and swirls in a body and each individual gyrates at the same time with many a curious bow and bend and dip and twist. Alternately they sing and moan and shout and scream. Every now and then by spells they go through abdominal contortions, just as if some infernal spirit of wondrous strength gripped them and threw into convulsions every fibre of their being. Their eyes and faces with the demon of possession looking from them made a horrible sight to see, and once you have seen it you will never forget it. They all do not do the same thing at the same time, some are doing one thing and others are doing different things, but all together they make a harmonious inharmonious whole. Each one held in his hand a green piece of bush or twig. I asked the reason for this, but got no satisfactory answer. . . . There is always one man who is called the leader, or band master. He stands still not performing any of the gyrations, but directs the performance like the director of an orchestra or band, and announces the revelations which those possessed by the spirit receive."[16]

Describing. a similar open-air meeting of Revivalists, De Lisser says: "Each of the white-robed women had a bit of withe twisted round her left wrist, and each carried a short cane. Noticing this,

[16. A. J. Emerick, l. c., p. 47 f.]

{p. 159}

remembered that when the priests and priestesses of the African Gold Coast were about to dance in honour of their gods and to become possessed by them, they bound their wrists with addor and carried bundles of canes in their hands. Here then, clearly, was the survival of an African custom masquerading as a native Christian revivalist demonstration."[17]

Whatever, then, may be thought of the present-day decadent Myalism as seen in Bedwardism and other revivalist outbreaks, it is certain that in its inception, as the offshoot of the old Ashanti tribal religion, it was of so potent a religious force, that it ha survived a century and a half of legal proscription and still a further century of an undisguised death-struggle with the powers of Obeah, and still is able to vitalize each recurrent upheaval against formal Christianity, even as it inspired the futile efforts to break the chains of slavery and cast off the white man's rule, before constitutional methods had found a way to right the crying wrong of humanity.

It is not surprising, then, that from the earliest days of legislation in Jamaica, a serious source of danger to the peace of the Colony was recognized to be ever present in the assemblies of slaves where the old religious tribal dances were openly accompanied by drumming which aroused the fanaticism of Africans to such a pitch as to endanger a general uprising. Before long it was discovered that a second cause of danger, this time a personal one to master and slave alike, was to be traced to the secret poisonings that were ever becoming more common. And yet many years passed before it was even suspected that there could be any connection between this state of affairs and Obeah, which was looked upon with amused toleration as foolish superstition and nothing more. But even when the rebellion of 1760, disclosed the connection of Obeah and poisoning, and there was a set determination to crush the dread menace at any cost, it was not suspected that they were not dealing with witchcraft alone but a recrudescence of the old religious spirit in a new and more dangerous guise.

In early legislation we find accentuated the danger from fanaticism

[17. De Lisser, Twentieth Century Jamaica, p. 134.]

{p. 160}

aroused by religious assemblies and nothing more. Then appears due provision against the menace of poisonings and finally formal condemnation of Obeah. But through it all the secret phase of Myalism and its confederation with its archenemy Obeah against the oppressor of both, never seems to have been suspected. We may be pardoned, if we review somewhat in detail the legal development of this phase in the Law of Jamaica.

Appended to the Laws of Jamaica passed by the assembly and confirmed by His Majesty in Council, April 17, 1684[18] immediately following the Royal Confirmation and consequently disallowed, we have "An Act for the better ordering of slaves," wherein we find the words: "And it is further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that every master or mistress or overseer of a family in this island shall cause all slaves houses to be diligently and effectively searched once every fourteen days, for clubs wooden swords, and mischievous weapons, and finding any, shall take them away and cause them to be burnt."[19] This would indicate that even at this early date there was danger from a slave uprising.

Among the Acts passed in 1696 is one entitled: "An Act for the better order and government of slaves." Herein we read under Clause XIII the very same words as in the above Act which was disallowed in 1684.[20] Clause XXXII of this new Act runs as follows: "And whereas divers slaves have of late attempted to destroy several people, as well white as black, by poison; the consequences of which secret way of murdering may prove fatal, if not timely prevented: Be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any Negro, or any slave or slaves, before the making of this Act, have maliciously given or attempted to give, or shall hereafter maliciously give, attempt or cause to be given to any person whatsoever, free or slave, any manner of poison, although the same was never taken, or if taken, death did not or shall not ensue upon the taking thereof; the said slave or slaves, together

[18. London, 1684, p. 140 ff.

19. Ditto, p. 142.

20. Acts of Assembly, passed in the Island of Jamaica from 1681 to 1737, inclusive, London, 1743, p. 50 ff.]

{p. 161}

with their accessories, as well before as after the fact, being slaves, and convicted thereof . . . shall be adjudged guilty of murder, as if the party or parties that took or shall take the same had died; and shall be condemned to suffer death, by hanging, burning, or such other way or means as to the said justices and freeholders shall seem most convenient."[21] Moreover Clause XXXIV of the same Act prescribes: "And for the prevention of the meeting of slaves in great numbers on Sundays and Holidays, whereby they have taken liberty to contrive and bring to pass many of their bloody and inhuman transactions: Be it enacted by the aforesaid authority, That no master, or mistress, or overseer, shall suffer any drumming or meeting of any slaves, not belonging to their own plantations, to rendezvous, feast, revel, beat drum, or cause any disturbance, but forthwith endeavour to disperse them, by him, or herself, overseer or servants; or if not capacitated to do the same, that he presently give notice to the next commission-officers to raise such number of men as may be sufficient to reduce the said slaves."[22] Failure in duty on this point, the commission-officers included, carries a penalty of "forty shillings for every offence." This Act was confirmed, January 5, 1699,[23] and thus became the first approved Code Noir of Jamaica.

We have, then, in the very foundation of the Jamaica Slave Law, and that before the close of the seventeenth century, a clear distinction between danger from the rebellion of slaves and danger from poisoning.

In 1717 there was passed "An Act for the more effective punishing of crimes committed by slaves,"[24] of which Clause VIII thus accentuates the danger of slave uprisings: "And whereas the permitting or allowing of any number of strange Negroes to assemble on any Plantation, or settlement, or any other place, may prove of fatal consequences to this your Majesty's Island, if not timely prevented: and forasmuch as Negroes can, by beating on drums, and blowing horns, or other such like instruments of

[21. Ditto, p, 55.

22. Ditto, p. 55.

23. Acts of the Privy Council, Vol. II, p. 834.

24. Acts of Assembly, l. c., p. 108.]

{p. 162}

noise, give signals to each other at a considerable distance of their evil and wicked intentions: Be it further enacted, That in one month's time after the passing of this Act, no proprietor, attorney, or overseer, presume to suffer any number of strange Negroes, exceeding five, to assemble on his plantation or settlement, or on the plantation or settlement under the care of such attorney or overseer; nor shall any proprietor, attorney, or overseer, suffer any beating on drums, barrels, gourds, boards, or other such like instruments of noise on the plantations and settlements aforesaid." The penalty for each offence is to be ten pounds in the case of proprietor or attorney, and half that sum for overseers. This was an early recognition of the power of the "talking drums" which so long mystified African travellers.

In this Act of 1717, there is no mention of the danger of poisoning. However, in 1744, in consequence of a frustrated rebellion of the slaves, wherein "a general massacre of the white people was intended," there was passed: "An Act to explain and amend an Act, entitled, 'An Act for the better order and government of slaves,'" in which it is explained: "That it was the true intent and meaning of the said Act, that the crime of compassing and imagining the death of any white person by any slave or slaves, should be deemed and adjudged a crime of as high a nature as the crime of murder, and should be punished as such,"[25] and again reiterates "although the bloody purposes of such slave or slaves be prevented before any murder hath been or shall be committed."[26]

Thus what was originally applicable to the case of poisoning alone, is now by extension applied generally to any attempt whatsoever at the taking of the life of any white person. Again, before this last Act, the danger from rebellion had been clearly dissociated from the danger of poisoning. Henceforth, while the two groups of prohibitions will be preserved, the danger of rebellion is recognized in both. However, the second group of Clauses

[25. Acts of Assembly, passed in the Island of Jamaica front 1681 to 1754, inclusive, London, 1756, p. 263 ff.

26. Ditto, p. 264. ff.]

{p. 163}

are now formally connected with Obeah, while the prohibition against assemblies becomes more detailed and specific in purpose. Gardner tells us: "The safety of the island was again imperilled by the Koromantins. Several of the leaders met in St. Mary's in July 1765, when the solemn fetish oath was administered. Into a quantity of rum, with which some gun-powder and dirt taken from a grave had been mingled, blood was put, drawn in succession from the arm of each confederate. With certain horrid ceremonies this cup was drunk from by each person, and then came the council. It was agreed that during the ensuing Christmas holidays the rising should take place, and in the meantime all were to obtain companions."[27] The impetuosity of one of their number frustrated the plans of his associates who were acting not under the influence of Obeah but of Myalism, as the "solemn fetish oath" makes clear.

On Dec. 21, 1781, there was passed "An Act to repeal several Acts and Clauses of Acts, respecting slaves, and for the better order and government of slaves, and for other purposes."[28] The purpose of this consolidated Act was to rewrite the Code Noir in its entirety, and being passed for three years only, it was to expire with December 31, 1784. Clauses XII to XIV renew the former prohibitions about assemblies of slaves but the penalties are greatly increased. The master, owner, guardian or attorney is now liable in the sum of one hundred pounds, while overseers and bookkeepers may be punished with six months' imprisonment for violations of the code. As regards amusements which are permissible among their own slaves, the use of "drums, horns and such other unlawful instruments of noise" are of course prohibited.

Clause XLIX takes direct cognizance of Obeah. It runs as follows: "And in order to prevent the many mischiefs that may hereafter arise from the wicked art of Negroes going under the the {sic} appellation of Obeah men and women, pretending to have

[27. Gardner, History of Jamaica, p. 141.

28. Acts of Assembly, passed in the Island of Jamaica, from 770 to 1783, inclusive, Kingston, 786, p. 256 ff.]

{p. 164}

communication with the devil and other evil spirits, whereby the weak and superstitious are deluded into a belief of their having full power to exempt them whilst under protection from any evils that might otherwise happen: Be it therefore enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the first day of January, aforesaid, any Negro or other slave who shall pretend to any supernatural power, and be detected in making use of any blood, feathers, parrots-beaks, dogs-teeth, alligators-teeth, broken bottles, grave-dirt, rum, eggshells, or any other materials relative to the practice of Obeah or witchcraft, in order to delude and impose on the minds of others, shall upon conviction before two magistrates and three freeholders, suffer death or transportation; anything in this or any other act to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding."[29]

This Act never received the Royal Assent and at its expiration the matter was allowed to rest for a couple of years, but the action of the Assembly in Jamaica during the years 1787 and 1788 resulted in what was commonly called "The New Consolidated Act,"[30] to which Stephen Fuller refers as "being the present Code Noir of that Island." Clauses XIX to XXI prohibit the meetings of slaves, etc. along the general lines of previous Acts. Clause XL represents the restrictions on Obeah without enumerating the paraphernalia, but specifies as the purpose of the deed: "In order to affect the health of lives of others, or promote the purposes of rebellion." 31 In Clause XLI, we find repeated the old penalty against poisoning, which had been overlooked in the Act of 1781, where it was supposed to be contained under the general decree against Obeah.[32]

December 14, 1808, there was passed "An Act for the protection, subsisting, clothing, and for the better order, regulation,

[29. Ditto, p. 277.

30. Stephen Fuller, New Act of Assembly of the Island of Jamaica commonly called the New Consolidated Act, London, 1789,

31. Ditto, p. 10.

32. Ditto, p. 11. Note:--This Act failed to receive the Royal Assent and we find no mention of its provisions in An Abridgement of the Laws of Jamaica being an alphabetical digest of all the public Acts of Assembly now in force, published at St. Jago de la Vega, in 1802. In fact there is no reference there in any way pertaining to assemblies of slaves, Obeah or poisonings.]

{p. 165}

and government of slaves, and for other purposes," which was replaced on December 19, 1816, by "An Act for the subsistence, clothing, and the better regulation and government of slaves, for enlarging the powers of the council of protection; for preventing the improper transfer of slaves; and for other purposes."[33]

In the latter Act, Clauses XXXIV to XXXVI prohibit the assemblies of slaves in the usual form, but under the section permitting, amusements on the properties to which they belong, "so as they do not make use of military drums, horns and shells" we find the further restriction, "Provided that such amusements are put an end to by ten o'clock at night." [34]

Clause XLIX (p. 123 f.) deals with Obeah and Clauses LII and LIII[35] repeat the former penalties for poisoning and having poisons in one's possession. By Clause L, placed immediately between Obeah and poisonings, slaves are forbidden to preach or teach "without a permission from the owner and the quarter sessions," and by Clause LI nightly[36] and other private meetings of slaves are declared unlawful. And as there is no mention of outside slaves or drumming or dancing we may safely conclude that these two new Clauses are associated with Myalism in its new form, the true nature of which even here escapes detection.[37] This surmise is strengthened by the fact that the whole matter is thus placed immediately after Obeah to which the legislators evidently thought it was connected. Clause LIII proceeds to extend the scope of previous legislation against the danger from poisonings and further identifies the process with Obeah. It runs as follows: "And be it further enacted, That if there shall be found in the possession of any slave any poisonous drugs, pounded glass,

[33. John Lunan, Abstract of the Laws of Jamaica relating to Slaves, St. Jago de la Vega, 1819, p. 105.

34. Ditto, p. 118.

35. Ditto, p. 124 f.

36. Ditto, p. 124.

37. Lunan, l. c., p. 124, Note:--While the non-conformists have always felt that this legislation was aimed solely at their missionaries through motives of bigotry, more sincerity of purpose should be accredited to the Assembly than was generally accorded. The objective of the law is the Revivalist meetings initiated by the Methodists, it is true, but the real motive is self-protection against the rising spirit of Myalism fostered in these gatherings.]

{p. 166}

parrot's beaks, dog's teeth, alligator's teeth, or other materials notoriously used in the practice of Obeah or witchcraft, such slave upon conviction, shall be liable to suffer transportation from this island, or such other punishment, not extending to life, as the court shall think proper to direct."[38] The Act of 1781 had made the use of such instruments unlawful, the present Clause is directed against even having them in possession.

The prevalence of poisonings in Jamaica about this period is evidenced by a visitor to the island in 1823, as follows:[39] "A Negro man, named Schweppes or Swipes, to which his comrades had added the appellation of Saint, took it into his head to poison a preacher at Montego Bay. He but half killed the poor creature, who discovered the nature of the poison in time to prevent its fatal effects, though it is more than probable he will never recover his former health. The maniac did not escape, but argued that the spirit moved him to kill Massa Parson. He affirmed that the preacher always said 'he longed to lay down his burden; to quit this mortal life; to go to Abraham's bosom, to the bosom of his Saviour, to glory' and so forth--and he Swipes (whose brain was turned topsy-turvy) out of good-will and love, wished to help him to Heaven and glory, for which he was anxious." Again while visiting an estate on Morant River, we are told: "The cook a few days before, had endeavoured to poison Mr. G. and his family, by mixing, I think he said, ground glass in some soup, which was, however, fortunately detected in time to prevent mischief."[41] Finally, just before sailing from Port Antonio, he thus describes the contents of the "cutacoo" of a vagrant Obeah man who was apprehended: "There was an old snuff-box, several phials, some filled with liquids and some with powders, one with pounded glass; some dried herbs, teeth, beads, hair, and other trash; in short the whole farrago of an Obeah man."[41]

On December 22, 1826, was passed "An Act to alter and amend

[38. Lunan, l. c., p. 124 f.

39. Cynric R. Williams, A Tour through the Island of Jamaica, from the western to the eastern end, in the year 1823, London, 1826, p. 38 f.

40. Ditto, p. 240.

41. Ditto, p. 344.]

{p. 167}

the Slave Laws of this Island." Clause LX to LXIV cover unlawful assemblies of slaves. The time for "innocent amusements" on their own properties is extended to midnight.[42] Clause LXXXII deals with Obeah and the following Clause repeats the prohibition against slaves preaching and teaching without permission, another evidence of rejuvenated Myalism.[43] In Clause LXXXIV there is a further extension of the general safeguard against the formation of "plots and conspiracies"[44] whereby meetings of sectarians between sunset and sunrise are prohibited: "Provided always, that nothing herein contained shall be deemed or taken to prevent any minister of the Presbyterian kirk, or licensed minister, from performing divine worship at any time before the hour of eight o'clock in the evening at any licensed place of worship, or to interfere with the celebration of divine worship according to the rites and ceremonies of the Jewish and Roman Catholic religions." Then follows an article for the punishment of designing teachers for laying contributions on slaves[45] and the usual prohibition against nightly meetings of slaves and the Clauses on poisoning.[46]

Clause LXXXIV prohibiting meetings of sectarians between sunset and sunrise aroused strong opposition, especially on the part of the Methodists who claimed that the instruction of the slaves was thereby practically restricted to the Established Church of England,[47] and the Act was accordingly disallowed. The despatch thereupon sent by W. Huskisson, His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, addressed to the Governor of Jamaica, Sir John Keane, under date of September 22, 1827, states, in part: "Among the various subjects which this Act presents for consideration, none is more important in itself, nor more interesting to every class of society in this kingdom, than the regulations on the subject of religious instruction. The eighty-third

[42. Slave Law of Jamaica with Proceedings & Documents relative thereto, London, 1828, p. 95 ff.

43 Ditto, p. 108.

44 Ditto, p. 109.

45 Ditto, p. 110.

46. Ditto, p. 111.

47 Ditto, p. 231.]

{p. 168}

and the two following clauses must be considered as an invasion of that toleration, to which all His Majesty's subjects, whatever may be their civil condition, are alike entitled. The prohibition of persons in a state of slavery assuming the office of religious teachers might seem a very mild restraint, or rather a fit precaution against indecorous proceedings; but amongst some of the religious bodies who employ missionaries in Jamaica, the practice of mutual instruction is stated to be an established part of their discipline. So long as the practice is carried on in an inoffensive and peaceable manner, the distress produced by the prevention of it will be compensated by no public advantage.

"The prohibition of meetings for religious worship between sunset and sunrise will, in many cases, operate as a total prohibition, and will be felt with peculiar severity by domestic slaves, inhabiting large towns, whose ordinary engagements on Sunday will not afford leisure for attendance on public worship before the evening. It is impossible to pass over without remark the invidious distinction which is made not only between Protestant dissenters and Roman Catholics, but even between Protestant dissenters and Jews. I have indeed no reason to suppose that the Jewish teachers have made any converts to their religion among the slaves, and probably, therefore, the distinction in their favour is merely nominal; still it is a preference, which, in principle, ought not to be given by the Legislature of a Christian country."[48]

Again he says further on:[49] "It may be doubtful whether the restrictions upon private meetings among the slaves, without the knowledge of the owner, was intentionally pointed at the meetings for religious worship. No objection, of course, could exist to requiring that notice should be given to the owner or manager whenever the slaves attended any such meetings; but, on the other hand, due security should be taken that the owner's authority is not improperly exerted to prevent the attendance of the slaves.

"I cannot too distinctly impress upon you that it is the settled

[48. Ditto, p. 146.

49. Ditto, p. 147.]

{p. 169}

purpose of His Majesty's government to sanction no colonial law, which needlessly infringes on the religious liberty of any class of His Majesty's subjects, and you will understand that you are riot to assent to any bill imposing any restraint of that nature, unless a clause be inserted for suspending its operation until His Majesty's pleasure shall be known."

Later, taking up the question of Obeah, he writes: "The definition of the offence of Obeah will be found to embrace many acts, against which it could not have been really intended to denounce the punishment of death. The definition of the crime of preparing to administer poison is also so extensive as to include many innocent and even some meritorious acts. Thus also the offence of possessing materials used in the practice of Obeah is imperfectly described, since no reference is made to the wicked intention in which alone the crime consists."[50]

The acknowledgment, to the Governor, of the receipt of this communication, on the part of the House of Assembly, on December 4, 1827, contains these significant words: "In enacting the eighty-third, eighty-fourth, and eighty-fifth clauses, which are particularly objected to, the House had before them the example of Demerara, and they deemed the restrictions necessary, as well for the peace of the colony as for the well-being of the slaves; that opinion the House still retains, and consequently are unable to present to your Honour any modified law on this subject."[51]

In the formal answer to the letter, passed unanimously[52] by the Jamaica House of Assembly on December 14th we read: "The eighty-third clause prohibits the preaching and teaching of slaves, not because mischief might possibly accrue, but because it has been found by experience, as the preamble in the clause declares, 'to be attended with the most pernicious consequences, and even with the loss of life.' So long as the slave subsists at the cost of the master, so long must that master's right be admitted to watch

[50. Ditto, p. 156.

51. Ditto, p. 159.

52. Ditto, p. 189.]

{p. 170}

over his actions, on which depend his health and his life. Neither health nor life can be secure, if slaves are allowed to unsettle the understanding of each other, by mutually inculcating their crude notions of religion, and have free license to meet under the pretence of preaching at unseasonable hours and in improper places. The House duly appreciate the pious motives of the King's ministers, who would extend the blessings of religion all over the world, but nevertheless it is their opinion, that no persons are competent to judge of regulations intended to restrain the malpractices of 'ignorant, superstitious, and designing slaves,' unless they have made themselves acquainted with the African character by a long residence among them. These remarks equally apply to the eighty-fourth clause. Meetings for religious worship between sunrise and sunset, are prohibited only to unlicensed preachers; and it is believed that in no well organized society are persons, without character or of doubtful or secret views, suffered to go at large, under shelter of the night, amongst an ignorant peasantry, and make upon their minds an impression that may be dictated by political or religious fanaticism. . . . Although the slaves of Jamaica have advanced rapidly in civilization within a very few years, yet it is not pretended that their progress has been so great that all those guards can be dispensed with which were thought essential by our predecessors. The eighty-third and eighty-fourth clauses are not innovations, as Mr. Huskisson seems to suppose; they are taken from the old slave law, and come again into operation on the disallowance of the new law, with this difference, that the new law provides against any misconception of the law in respect to Catholics and Jews, and permits licensed ministers to perform divine worship at any licensed place of worship to the hour of eight; and when it is remembered that in Jamaica the setting sun varies from half-past five to half-past six, it will appear that time enough is afforded for the night worship of slaves. . . .

"The remarks of Mr. Huskisson, on the clause for the punishment of Obeah, naturally offer themselves to one ignorant of the extent of African superstition, and the horrible crimes Negroes

{p. 171}

will perpetrate sometimes to gratify revenge, and often to acquire influence that may enable them to levy contributions on the fears of their more timid fellows. Negroes are seen to pine away to death under the pretended sorceries of the Obeah man; and, where the imagination does not perform the work of death with sufficient celerity, the more certain aid of poison is called in, to hasten the fate of the victim. Mr. Huskisson considers, that under the next clause, many innocent and some meritorious acts are exposed to punishment. But it is submitted, that the possession of poisonous drugs by Negroes cannot be innocent, unless confided to them by their masters; which fact can readily be proven."[53]

Both sides to this controversy were right in part, and yet they both failed to discern the real point at issue. To the home government, there was actual need of suppressing what appealed to them as an outburst of religious bigotry against the non-conformists; to the planters in Jamaica it was clear that there was growing up among the slaves a religious fanaticism and unrest that could augur nothing but another upheaval of the social order with attempted massacre and destruction of property. What neither side of the argument even suspected was that under guise of Methodist Revivalism, the long persecuted and seemingly forgotten Myalism was taking a new lease of life and imbuing the slaves in general with its own peculiar religious mania in preparation for the day when the solemn fetish oath might be administered for the general overthrow of the white regime. And the Methodist authorities, on their part, could only see a consoling outpouring of the spirit, and countless brands saved from the burning, when in reality the consequence of misguided zeal was a dangerous recrudescence of pagan practices with a veneer of Christianity, cloaked and disguised as a Methodist Revival.[54]

Similar excesses were experienced later by another group who surpassed even the Methodists in the unbridled spirit of Revivalism.

[53. Ditto, p. 164 ff.

54. Note:--Cfr. also D. Trouillot, Esquisse Ethnographique: Le Vaudoux, Port-au-Prince, 1885, p. 27, where Jamaica Revivalism is classified with the Haitian "Fandango," a Chica Dance and claimed to be a form of Voodoo in the wide sense of the word.]

{p. 172} Gardner thus describes the facts. "With a few exceptions, native Baptist churches became associations of men and women who, in too many cases, mingled the belief and even practice of Myalism with religious observances, and who perverted and corrupted what they retained of these; among them sensuality was almost unrestrained. Their leaders or 'daddies,' as a class were overbearing, tyrannical, and lascivious, and united the authority of the slave-driver with the darkest forms of spiritual despotism. Of scriptural teaching there was little. Simple facts were so perverted, that they would have been ridiculous had they not been blasphemous."[55] It was this condition of affairs that led up to the final slave-rebellion just before emancipation went into effect.

As recently as October 12, 1932, a letter appeared in THE DAILY GLEANER of Kingston, Jamaica, entitled "An Open Letter to Ministers of Religion" and signed by R. H. Ferguson, wherein the latest form of Myalistic Revivalism, known as Pocomanism, is thus described. "I see a house yonder. Those within are singing. Come stealing sweet cadences the notes of that well-known hymn

'Day is dying in the West,
Heaven is touching earth with rest.'

"The hymn ceases and ah! they strike up some lively tune as 'Bright soul, wha' mek you tun' back?' Bodies are swaying, and, oh soul of Bacchus! Are they drunk? Pandemonium!--a religious frenzy. I am minded of the Berserkers--a little madness as men and women jumping like kangaroos, to a well-timed rhythm place their hands to their mouths, grunting (is it grunting?) for all they are worth, like wild boars sounding their war-cries as they resist the onslaught of the charging hounds.

"That exercise over, a stalward Negro man, wearing a red and

[55. Gardner, History of Jamaica, p. 358. Note:--The so-called "Native Baptist Churches" are not to be confused with the regular Baptists. They had their origin, it is said, in groups expelled from the older organization for superstition and immortality. They carried with them the name of Baptist and little more.--Cfr. Samuel Green, Baptist Mission in Jamaica, London, 1842, p. 19 f. Many of the leaders in the insurrection of 1831 in St. James' parish, as well as not a few of those who were associated with the Morant Bay Rebellion Of 1865, were connected with these Native Baptist Churches.]

{p. 173}

white bandana, steps forth and makes an oration. Listen. 'I come here to take off ghosts and if the Devil himself come with you, him must go!' Can it be possible in law-abiding Jamaica? Sick folks are washed and anointed with evil-smelling oils, presumably, 'oil a tun' back,' 'oil a carry-away,' 'oil a keep him down,' 'oil a bamba,' 'dead man drops.' Oh shade of Æsculapius! Songs, songs, sacred songs.

"Does the law punish the man who practices Obeah? Are these practices a form of Obeah? If so, are they carried on in the guise of Christianity? Do such meetings contribute to the uplift of the people, and make of the children the ideal citizens of the days to come? . . .

"My humble opinion is that that sect should not be allowed to broadcast such demoralizing influences. The island can safely do without Pocomanism. . . .

"With the greatest alarm I once listened to a man haranguing a crowd in New Town. Said he, 'Your ministers tell you when you die, you gwine a heaven go drink milk and honey. Who tell dem say God have cow-pen a heaven? etc.' . . . And now I am asking potently, should such people be allowed to carry on and broadcast heresies, pernicious, destructive, damning? . . .

"I respectfully beg your fraternity to get together and represent this matter to the legislators to the end that our fair island may be saved the disaster of a religious upheaval brought about by whom? An ignorant set of dancing, prancing, steppers, a set of howling windbags--men too lazy to work, and so elect to collect toll while preying on the credulity of the simple--self-styled 'shepherds' determined to make a mess of Christianity."

This letter evoked the following editorial in THE DAILY GLEANER Of the following day. "POCOMANISM. Mr. R. H. Ferguson cries aloud in his Open Letter to Ministers of Religion (published in this paper yesterday) that Pocomanism is 'tearing at the vitals of the Church.' He is aware that this 'Pocomanism,' which he says is the result of Pocomania, will strike the average reader as being something strange and weird; therefore in this letter to the ministers of religion he explains what Pocomanism

{p. 174}

is, and it turns out to be neither more nor less than our old friend Myalism, which is much better known in these days as Revivalism. Pocomania, then, is a frenzy brought about by men and women exciting themselves--'jumping like kangaroos,' as Mr. Ferguson expresses it--singing hymns calculated to stimulate the emotions, deliberately surrendering their minds and bodies to superstitious influences. The leaders of these revivalists or pocomaniacs claim to be able to exercise ghosts that are haunting afflicted persons, and also to cure the sick by anointing them with special mixtures, usually of an evil-smelling description. These men are nothing but a survival of the 'Myal men' of a hundred years ago, and of West African priests who practiced the same rites in their native country. And they seem to thrive on their deceptions.

"It is a pity that Mr. Ferguson writes in a manner that suggests a sort of long, loud scream of the pen, varied by spasmodic jumps, for the evil to which he calls attention is one that should certainly not be overlooked. His application to it of the term 'Pocomanism' is very effective in directing notice to the thing to which it refers. Religious revivals are of all sorts and descriptions; to speak of a revival merely, therefore, is not to evoke in the mind of the average hearer any startling picture of physical obscenity or moral degradation; which perhaps is why, when a protest is voiced against 'Revivalism' of the ghost-catching or 'balm' healing type, not much notice is taken of it. Yet those who have seen the ceremonies by which ghosts are supposed to be laid and sickness to be cured, recognize that even the ejaculatory manner adopted by Mr. Ferguson in describing- them does not exaggerate the facts. The thing itself is worse than any picture of it could be, and it is no wonder that he wants to know whether these practices are not a form of Obeah, even if carried on under the guise of Christianity. He suggests that legislation should be brought to bear on this Pocomanism and that the ministers of the island should unite to crush the Pocomaniacs, 'an ignorant set of dancing, prancing, steppers, a set of howling

{p. 175}

windbags, men too lazy to work, self-styled "shepherds" determined to make a mess of Christianity.'

"The language is strong, but not too strong; the denunciation is fully merited. We agree entirely that this sort of Revivalism, or Pocomanism, must have a bad effect upon the minds and morals of the younger people who witness it and that it deliberately encourages the basest forms of superstition. But it is no use appealing to the ministers of religion; they cannot put a stop to it. preaching and teaching will doubtless have a salutary effect in the long run, but that long run means years and years, a couple of generations, perhaps a century. We ought to have quicker and more effective action to deal with the evil; such action means legislation, and that in its turn will demand a comprehensive description and definition of the practices to be suppressed. That may not be easy, but we should hope that it will not be impossible. The claim to 'take off ghosts,' to heal diseases by anointing with oil, and incantations, is really a form of fraud such as Obeah is defined to be in our laws. A disguise is thrown over these thing by the use of terms current in the Christian religion, but the fraud, the superstition, the vileness of the dancing and the sexual excitation that follows are patent to everyone except the willingly deluded. It will have to be the lawyers, however, who must try their hands at framing legislation to suppress the practices complained of. We hope these lawyers will be equal to the task, for these orgiastic revival dances--this Pocomanism which seems to be more common than should be possible at this date of our history--undoubtedly do much to frustrate the efforts made by educationists and the religious organizations in this country."

But even if they do legislate against this latest Myalistic outbreak, it is to be feared that they will at best abolish for a time the public expression of the real spirit which we must expect merely to retire once more to secret functions in preparation for the day when it will ultimately break out anew under another guise in which it will not be immediately recognized. It is not always easy to analyze the Negro's purpose in a dance.

{p. 176}

In quite recent times, I have personally known well-meaning Ecclesiastics, comparatively new to Jamaica and its ways, commenting with approval regarding the Minto dance, that it was graceful and free from the objectional embraces of most modern dances. In their innocence, or rather ignorance, they never suspected the entire purpose of the dance which consists in the arousing of the passions, being derived from the same source as the Haitian Calenda already described. When told of its true import they blushed at the memory of the interest they had shown in watching the dance. An interest that had probably made the participants chuckle shamelessly at Parson's lack of understanding,--"'Im ignorant fee true, Sah!"--For they who dance the Minto know full well its evil purpose.

William Wilberforce asserted: "The Jamaica planters long imputed the most injurious effects on the health and even lives of their slaves, to the African practice of Obeah, or witchcraft. The Agents for Jamaica declared to the Privy Council, in 1788, that they 'ascribed a very considerable portion of the annual mortality among the Negroes in that island to that fascinating mischief.' I know that of late, ashamed of being supposed to have punished witchcraft with such severity, it had been alleged, that the professors of Obeah used to prepare and administer poison to the subjects of their spells; but anyone who will only examine the laws of Jamaica against these practices, or read the evidence of the agents, will see plainly that this was not the view that was taken of the proceedings of the Obeah men, but that they were considered as impostors, who preyed on their ignorant countrymen by the pretended intercourse with evil spirits, or by some other pretences to supernatural powers."[56] And remarks on the very next page: "No sooner did a Negro become a Christian, then the Obeah men despaired of bringing him into subjection."[57]

This statement of Wilberforce brought almost immediately from the Reverend George Wilson Bridges, an Anglican Clergyman

[56. William Wilberforce, An Appeal to the Religion, Justice, and Humanity of the Inhabitants of the British Empire, in behalf of the Negro Slaves in the West Indies, London, 1823, p. 22.

57. Ditto, p. 23.]

{p. 177}

in Jamaica the following caustic retort: "You speak of the African practice of witchcraft, called Obeah; and referring to the laws which make the dreadful effects of that superstition punishable by death, you call it 'folly' to attempt 'rooting out pagan superstition by severity of punishment.' Are you then so ignorant, Sir, of the manners and customs of the people whose cause you profess to advocate, as not to know that Obeah, and death, are synonymous: that the latter is the invariable end and object of the former, and that this imported African superstition is widely different from the harmless tales of witches and broomsticks, which once frightened you in the arms of your nursery maid? Your feelings have probably been shocked by stories of burning old women for bewitching pigs, and swimming them for assuming the shape of a hare; but are you not to be told that Obeah is a superstition dreadfully different from these fantasies; that it is, in fear, the practice of occult poisons: by which thousands have suffered in these islands, and which, though gradually giving way beneath the spreading influence of Christianity, must nevertheless, in every proved case, be punished by human laws, as severe as those which attach to the convicted murderer in every land."[58]

And yet, as we have seen, Wilberforce was not far astray in his estimates, not only of the Laws of Jamaica, but also of the general attitude of amused toleration with which Obeah was usually regarded by the planters of the island, until the rebellion of, 1760 opened the eyes of all to the connection between Obeah and poisonings, and led the Assembly to legislate directly against the practice of this black art.

Still, despite the fact that chroniclers made no specific mention of the dangerous pest as such, there are many indications that it exacted an awful toll of human lives from the earliest days of Jamaica as an English Colony.

In an appendix to his Reports of the Jamaica Assembly on the subject of the slave trade, Stephen Fuller gave a summary of the

[58. George Wilson Bridges, A Voice from Jamaica; in reply to William Wilberforce, London, 1823, p. 28 f.]

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Negroes from Africa who were sold in Jamaica between 1764 and 1788. During this period some 50,000 slaves were imported by the five principal agents and of these nearly 15% came from the Gold Coast and about 10% from Whydah. One firm, Messrs Cappells, who seemingly specialized in Gold Coast Negroes, reports between November, 1782, and January, 1788, out of a total of 10,380 importations, 5,924, or nearly 60% as from the Gold Coast and only 444 from Whydah.[59]

But it is not only numerically but also by his dominant spirit, as we have seen, that the Gold Coast or Ashanti slave asserted an ascendancy over the rest of the slaves and firmly established in Jamaica his own form of witchcraft, Obeah, with its concomitant poisonings.

Robert Hammill Nassau states: "The slaves exported from Africa to the British possessions in the West Indies brought with them some of the seeds of African plants, especially those they regarded as 'medicinal,' or they found among the fauna and flora of the tropical West Indies some of the same plants and animals held by them as sacred to fetich in their tropical Africa. The ceiba, or silk-cotton tree, at whose base I find in Africa so many votive offerings of fetich worship, they found flourishing in Jamaica. They had established on their plantations the fetich doctor, their dance, their charm, their lore, before they had learned English at all. And when the British missionaries came among them with school and church, while many of the converts were sincere, there were those of the doctor class who, like Simon Magus, entered into the church-fold for sake of whatever gain they could make by the white man's new influence, the white man's Holy Spirit. Outwardly everything was serene and Christian. Within was working an element of diabolism, fetichism, there known by the name of Obeah, under whose leaven some of the churches were wrecked. And the same diabolism, known as Voodoo worship in the Negro communities of the Southern United States has emasculated the spiritual life of many

[59. Stephen Fuller, Two Reports from the Committee of the Honourable House of Assembly of Jamaica, London, 1789, Appendix.]

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professed Christians."[60] Again he says, "There are native poisons. It is known that sometimes they are secretly used in revenge, or to put out of the way a relative whose wealth is desired to be inherited. . . . The distinction between a fetich and a poison is vague in the thought of many natives. What I call a 'poison' is to them only another material form of a fetich power, both poison and fetich being supposed to be made efficient by the presence of an adjuvant spirit. Not all deaths of foreigners in Africa are due to malaria. Some of them have been doubtless due to poison administered by a revengeful employee."{p. 61}

Sir Hans Sloane, who accompanied the Duke of Albermarle to Jamaica in 1687, in capacity of physician to the Governor, remarks of the slaves: "They formerly on their festivals were allowed the use of trumpets after their fashion, and drums made of a piece of a hollow tree, covered on one end with any green skin, and stretched with thouls or pins. But making use of these in their wars at home in Africa, it was thought too much inciting them to rebellion, and so they were prohibited by the customs of the island."[62] Again he says: "The Indians and Negroes have no manner of religion by what I could observe of them. 'Tis true they have several ceremonies, as dances, playing, &c. but these for the most part are so far from being acts of adoration of a

[60. Robert Hammill Nassau, Fetishism in West Africa, London, 1904, p. 25.

61. Ditto, p. 263. Note:--Nassau further states, p. 264: "An English traveller recently in the Igbo country of Nigeria, in discussing the native belief in occult forces, says: 'It is impossible for a white man to be present at the gatherings of "medicine men" and it is hard to get a native to talk of such things, but it seems evident to me that there is some reality in the phenomena one hears of, as they are believed everywhere in some degree by white men as well as black.' However that may he the native doctors have a wide knowledge of poisons; and if one is to believe reports, deaths from poison, both among the white and black men, are of common recurrence on the Niger. One of the white man's often quoted proverbs is. 'Never quarrel with your cook'; the meaning of which is that the cook can put something in your food in retaliation if you maltreat him. There is everywhere a belief that it is possible to put medicine on a path for your enemy, which when he steps over it, will cause him to fall sick and die. Other people can walk uninjured over the spot, but the moment the man for whom the medicine is laid reaches the place, he succumbs, often dying within an hour or two. I have never seen such a case myself; but the Rev. A. E. Richardson says he saw one when on the journey with Bishop Tugwell's house-party, He could offer no explanation of how the thing is done, but does not doubt that it is done. Some of the best educated of our native Christians have told me that they firmly believe in this 'medicine-laying.'"

62. Hans Sloane, A Voyage to the Islands, London, 707, Introduction, p. lii.]

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God, that they are for the most part mixed with a great deal of bawdry and lewdness."[63] With the suppression of drumming and assemblies, the Myal dance (and in a disguised form) was all that was left of their religious practices that could be produced in public. In passing Sloane remarks a couple of cases of poisoning, but makes no mention of Obeah as such.[64]

Charles Leslie, writing in 1740, states: "When anything about a plantation is missing, they have a solemn kind of oath, which the eldest Negro always administers, and which by them is accounted so sacred, that except they have the express command of their master or overseer, they never set about it, and then they go very solemnly to work. They range themselves in that spot of ground which is appropriated for the Negro burying place, and one of them opens a grave. He who acts the priest, takes a little of the earth, and puts it into every one of their mouths; they say, that if any has been guilty, their belly swells, and occasions death. I never saw any instance of this but once; and it was certainly a fact that a boy did swell, and acknowledged the theft when be was dying: But I am far from thinking there was any connection betwixt the cause and the effect, for a thousand accidents might have occasioned it, without accounting for it by that foolish ceremony."[65] While this passage is frequently quoted as an example of Obeah, it is really a religious ordeal, similar to so many practiced in Africa. It is employed publicly and for the general good. Consequently we must ascribe it to Myalism and not to Obeah.[66]

[63. Ditto, Introduction, p. lvi.

64. Note: Retribution falls heavily on the slave of his day, if we may judge by the following statement of Sloane, Introduction, p. lvii: "The punishment for crimes of slaves, are usually for rebellions burning them, by nailing them down on the ground with crooked sticks on every limb, and then applying the fire by degrees from the feet and hands, burning them gradually up to the head, whereby their pains are extravagant. For crimes of a less nature gelding or chopping off half of the foot with an ax. These punishments are suffered by them with great constancy."

65. Charles Leslie, New History of Jamaica, London, 1740, p. 308.

66. Note:--Dr. Patrick Browne, The Civil and Natural History of Jamaica, London, 1756, p. 25, like his predecessor, Dr. Sloane, remarks the presence of poisonous plants. However he ascribes the high death rate among the slaves not to poison but rather to the poor medical attendance on the island. Speaking of the diseases so prevalent among the slaves, he is decidedly outspoken: "These are indeed frequently of a peculiar nature, and require a consummate knowledge of symptoms and disorders, to discover the real forces of them; yet the owners, {footnote p. 181} whose interest depends chiefly on their welfare, will commit them to the care (f some raw youth, or ignorant assumer, that is hardly skilled enough to breathe a vein, or dispense a dose of physic; but this proceeds more from ignorance and vanity, than any real want of humanity; for few of them are judges of physic, and each would be thought to have a doctor of his own."]

{p. 181}

Edward Long, the first historian to refer to Obeah by name is writing after the revelation caused by the rebellion of 1760. As yet his views are not as set as we find them fifteen years later in the document studied in an earlier chapter, and he quite naturally confuses Obeah and Myalism. He says of the slaves: "They firmly believe in the apparition of spectres. Those of deceased friends are duppies; others, of more hostile and tremendous aspect, like our raw-head-and-bloody bones, are called bugaboos. The most sensible among them fear the supernatural powers of the African Obeah men, or pretended conjurers; often ascribing those mortal effects to magic, which are only the natural operation of some poisonous juice, or preparation, dexterously administered by these villains. But the creoles imagine, that the virtues of baptism, or making them Christians, render their art wholly ineffectual; and for this reason only, many of them have desired to be baptized, that they might be secured from Obeah.

"Not long since, some of these execrable wretches in Jamaica introduced what they called the Myal dance[67] and established a kind of society, into which they invited all they could. The lure hung out was, that every Negro, initiated into the Myal society, would be invulnerable by the white man; and although they might in appearance be slain, the Obeah man could, at his pleasure, restore the body to life. The method, by which this trick was carried on, was by a cold infusion of the herb branched calalue; which, after the agitation of dancing, threw the party into a profound sleep. In this state he continued, to all appearances lifeless, no pulse, nor motion of the heart, being perceptible; till on being rubbed with another infusion (as yet unknown to the whites), the effects of the calalue gradually went off, the body resumed its motions, and the party on whom the experiment had been tried, awoke as from a trance, entirely ignorant of anything that

[67. This is the common misconception, already noticed, of considering Myalism as an offshoot from Obeah.]

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had passed since he left off dancing."[68] A few pages later, Long adds: "Bits of red rag, cats teeth, parrots feathers, eggshells and fish-bones are frequently stuck up at the doors of their houses when they go from home leaving anything of value within, (sometimes they hang them on fruit trees, and place them in cornfields), to deter thieves. Upon conversing with some of the Creoles upon this custom, they laugh at the supposed virtue of the charm, and said they practiced it only to frighten away the salt-water Negroes, of whose depredations they are most apprehensive."[69]

Long seems too easily satisfied with the explanation of this Creole. Even today, every Negro in Jamaica has a superstitious fear of anything that is referred to, even in joke, as preternatural. On more than one occasion I have seen a gentleman throw a piece of ordinary paper on the floor and say to the housemaid, a married woman of exemplary character and a regular church-member: "Look out Aida, duppy there." To which Aida would invariably reply with a laugh: "Me no belieb duppy, Sah! All nonsense, Sah!" And yet she would give that piece of paper a wide berth, and if told to bring something that would necessitate her passing the suspicious object, she would walk all the way around the room to avoid it. When asked why she did not go direct, she would explain: "Me prefar walk dis way, Sah!" And that paper would remain there untouched until a friendly breeze blew it out of the house.

During the last quarter of the eighteenth century, there lived one of the most desperate characters in Jamaica history. His depredations accomplished single handed and over a wide area left the impression that he was the head of a numerous and well-organized band of robbers and his very name became synonymous with terror throughout the country districts. Owing to the loss of two fingers in an early encounter with a Maroon, he was generally

[68. Edward Long, History of Jamaica, London, 1774, Vol. II, p. 416.

69. Ditto, Vol. 1I, p. 420. Note:--In reference to the slave law of Jamaica, Long writes, p. 493: "The Negro code of this island appears originally to have copied from the model in use at Barbadoes; and the legislature of this latter island, which was the first planted by the English, resorted to the English villeinage laws, from whence they undoubtedly transfused all that severity which characterizes them, and shows the abject slavery which the common people of England formerly laboured under."]

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known as Three-finger Jack. Concerning this desperado, many accounts have come down to us, all of which show that his chief reliance was the machinations of a notorious Obeah man. Thus we are told: "Dr. Moseley in his Treatise on Sugar, says, 'I saw the Obi of this famous Negro robber, Three-finger Jack, this terror of Jamaica in 1780. The Maroon who slew him brought it to me. It consisted of a goat's horn, filled with a compound of grave dirt, ashes, the blood of a black cat, and human fat, all mixed into a kind of paste. A cat's foot, a dried toad, a pig's tail, a flip of virginal parchment, of kid's skin, with characters marked in blood on it, were also in his Obeah bag."[70] Burdett thus describes the Obeah man who bestowed this grewsome gift on Mansong: "Amalkir, the Obeah practitioner, dwelt in a loathsome cave, far removed from the inquiring eye of the suspicious whites, in the Blue Mountains; he was old and shrivelled; a disorder had contracted all his nerves, and he could hardly crawl. His cave was the dwelling-place, or refuge of robbers; he encouraged them in their depredations; and gave them Obi, that they might fearlously rush where danger stood. This Obi was supposed to make them invulnerable to the attacks of the white men, and they placed implicit belief in its Virtues."[71] He evidently played the rôle of Myalist as well as Obeah man.

Coming now to the nineteenth century, as would be expected,

[70. William Burdett, Life and Exploits of Mansong, commonly called Three-finger Jack, the Terror of Jamaica, Sommers Town, 1800, p. 34.

71. Ditto, p. 17. Note:--Robert Renny published in London in 1807: An History of Jamaica, . . . To which is added an illustration of the Advantages, which are likely to result, from the Abolition of the Slave Trade. He remarks, Preface, p. xi: "Perhaps an observation will be deemed requisite respecting the non-quotation of authorities, for the various historical facts, related in the Present volume. For this conduct, the conciseness requisite in a short history, will Probably account in a satisfactory manner." The entire work lacks originality and is little more than a reprint from others. Hence we may confine ourselves to the following brief quotation, p. 169 f.: "Whatever their notions of religion may have been, they, not unlike their European masters, seem to pay little regard to the ceremonies of any system in Jamaica. But they are not on that account, the less superstitious. A belief in Obeah, or witchcraft, is almost universal among them. The professors of this occult science, are always Africans, and generally old and crafty. Hoary heads, gravity of aspect, and a skill in herbs, are the chief qualifications for this curious office. The Negroes, both Africans and Creoles (i. e. those born in the island), revere, consult, and fear them." Then follows an account which is little more than a paraphrase from the Report of 1780.]

{p. 184}

every writer in Jamaica has something to say about Obeah which still remains, however, a great enigma to be explained according to each individual's point of view. Thus Stewart writing in 1808, and expressing the opinion that was commonly maintained by the missionaries: "There is one good effect which the simple persuasion of his being a Christian produces on the mind of the Negro; it is an effectual antidote against the spells and charms of his native superstition. One Negro who desires to be revenged on another, if he fears a more open and manly attack on his adversary, has usually recourse to Obeah. This is considered as a potent and irresistible spell, withering and palsying, by undescribable terrors, and unwonted sensations, the unhappy victim. Like the witches' cauldron in Macbeth, it is a combination of all that is hateful and disgusting; a toad's foot, a lizard's tail, a snake's tooth, the plumage of the carrion crow, or vulture, a broken eggshell, a piece of wood fashioned into the shape of a coffin, with many other nameless ingredients, compose the fatal mixture. It will of course be conceived that the practice of Obeah can have little effect, without a Negro is conscious that it is practiced upon him, or thinks so: for as the sole evil lies in the terrors of a perturbed fancy, it is of little consequence whether it is really practiced or not, if he only imagines that it is. An Obeah man or woman upon an estate, is therefore a very dangerous person; and the practice of it for evil purposes is made felony by the law. But numbers may be swept off by its infatuation before the practice is detected; for, strange as it may appear, so much do the Negroes stand in awe of these wretches, so much do they dread their malice and their power, that, though knowing the havoc they have made, and are still making, many of them are afraid to discover them to the whites; and others, perhaps, are in league with them for sinister purposes of mischief and revenge. A Negro under this infatuation can only be cured of his terrors by being made a Christian; refuse him this indulgence, and he soon sinks a martyr to imagine evils. The author knew an instance of a Negro, who, being reduced by the fatal influence of Obeah to the lowest state of dejection and debility, from which there were little hopes of

{p. 185}

his recovery, was surprisingly and rapidly restored to health and to spirits, by being baptized a Christian; so wonderful are the workings of a weak and superstitious imagination. But, though so liable to be perverted into an instrument of malice and revenge, Obeah, at least a sort of it, may be said to have its uses. When placed in the gardens and grounds of the Negroes, it becomes an excellent guard or watchman, scaring away the predatory runaway, and midnight plunderer, with more effective terror than gins and spring guns. It loses its effect, however, when put to protect the gardens and plantain walks of the Buckras."[72]

[72. J. Stewart, An Account of Jamaica and its Inhabitants, London, 1808, p. 256 ff. Note:--In the second edition of this work which was published under the title, A View of the Past and Present State of the Island of Jamaica, Edinburgh, 1823, for some unexplained reason, this passage is rewritten and considerably changed with the element of poison in Obeah introduced.--Cfr. p. 276 f.: "The most dangerous practice, arising from the superstitious credulity, prevailing among the negroes is, what is called obeah, a pretended sort of witchcraft. One negro who desires to be revenged on another, and is afraid to make an open and manly attack on his adversary, has usually recourse to obeah. This is considered as a potent and irresistible spell, withering and palsying, by indescribable errors and unwonted sensations, the unhappy victim. Like the witches' caldron in Macbeth, it is a combination of many strange and ominous things--earth gathered from a grave, human blood, a piece of wood fashioned in the shape of a coffin, the feathers of the carrion-crow, a snake's or alligator's tooth, pieces of eggshell, and other nameless ingredients, compose the fatal mixture. The whole of these articles may not be considered as absolutely necessary to complete the charm, but two or three are at least indispensable. It will, of course, be conceived, that the practice of obeah can have little effect, unless a negro is conscious that it is practiced upon him, or thinks so; for as the whole evil consists in the terrors of a superstitious imagination, it is of little consequence whether it be really practiced or not, if he can only imagine that it is. But if the charm fails to take hold of the mind of the proscribed person, another and more certain expedient is resorted to--the secretly administering of poison to him. This saves the reputation of the sorcerer, and effects the purpose he had in view. (The negroes practicing obeah are acquainted with some very powerful vegetable poisons, which they use on these occasions.) An obeah-man or woman (for it is practiced by both sexes) is a very wicked and dangerous person on a plantation; and the practice of it is made a felony by the law, punishable with death where poison has been administered, and with transportation where only the charm is used. But numbers may be swept off by its infatuation before the crime is detected; for, strange as it may appear, so much do the negroes stand in awe of those obeah professors, so much do they dread their malice and their power, that, though knowing the havoc they have made, and are still making, they are afraid to discover them to the whites; and others perhaps, are in league with them for sinister purposes of mischief and revenge. A negro under this infatuation can only be cured of his terrors by being made a Christian: refuse him this boon, and he sinks a martyr to imagined evils. The author knew an instance of a negro, who, being reduced by the fatal influence of obeah to the lowest state of dejection and debility, from which there were little hopes of his recovery, was surprisingly and rapidly restored to health and cheerfulness by being baptized a Christian. A negro, in short, considers himself as no longer {footnote p. 186} under the influence of this sorcery when he becomes a Christian. But, though so liable to be perverted into a deadly instrument of malice and revenge, obeah--at least a species of it--may be said to have its uses. When placed in the gardens and grounds of the Negroes, it becomes an excellent guard or watch, scaring away the predatory runaway and midnight plunderer with more effective power than gins and spring-guns. It loses its power, however, when put to protect the gardens and plantain-walks of the Buckras."

B. Pullen-Bury, Jamaica as It Is, 1903, London, 1903, p. 140, says of recent times: "Some planters adopt Obi to ensure themselves against thieving. They take a large black bottle, fill it with some phosphorescent liquid, and place within it the feather of a buzzard, the quill sticking uppermost. This they fasten to a tree on the outskirts of the coffee-patch or banana-field, where it can be well observed by all who pass near. The dusky population, firmly believing it to be the work of the Obeah man, refrain their thieving propensities accordingly."]

{p. 186}

Matthew Gregory Lewis, who was already quoted on Myalism, records in his diary, in his own delightful way, an accusation of Obeah brought by one of his own servants, Pickle, against a fellow-servant Edward, as follows: "He had accused Edward of breaking open his house, and had begged him to help him to Ills goods again; and 'Edward had gone at midnight into the bush' (i. e. the wood), and had gathered the plant whangra, which he had boiled in an iron pot, by a fire of leaves, over which he went puff, puffie: 'and said the sautee-sautee; and then had cut the whangra root into four pieces, three to bury at the plantation gates, and one to burn; and to each of these three pieces he gave the name of a Christian, one of which was Daniel; and Edward had said, that this would help him to find his goods; but instead of that, he had immediately felt this pain in his side, and therefore he was sure that, instead of using Obeah to find his goods, Edward had used it to kill himself.'"[73] Even in my time in Jamaica, it was enough to threaten to "burn whangra" within the hearing of some petty thief, to have the goods returned at once. I understood that failure to do so, would cause the body of the thief to break out into the most terrible sores, in case the threat had been carried into execution.

Another entry in Lewis' diary is worth repeating here. Under date of January 28, 1816, we find it recorded: "There are certainly many excellent qualities in the negro character; their worst faults appear to be this prejudice respecting Obeah, and the

[73. Lewis, Journal of a West India Proprietor, p. 134.]

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facility with which they are frequently induced to poison to the right hand and to the left. A neighbouring gentleman, as I hear, has now three negroes in prison, all domestics, and one of them grown grey in his service, for poisoning him with corrosive sublimate; his brother was actually killed by similar means; yet I am assured that both of them were reckoned men of great humanity. Another agent, who appears to be in high favour with the negroes whom he now governs, was obliged to quit an estate, from the frequent attempts to poison him; and a person against whom there is no sort of charge alleged for tyranny, after being brought to the doors of death by a cup of coffee, only escaped a second time by his civility, in giving the beverage, prepared for himself, to two young bookkeepers, to both of whom it proved fatal. It, indeed came out, afterwards, that this crime was also effected by the abominable belief in Obeah, the woman who mixed the draught, had no idea of its being poison, but she had received the deleterious ingredients from an Obeah man, as 'a charm to make her massa good to her!' by which the negroes mean, the compelling a person to give another everything for which that other may ask him."[74]

James Stephen, on the other hand, writing in 1824, in defence of the slaves, still clings to the old estimate of Obeah as being for the most part fanciful. Thus he argues: "Obeah also is a practice, which has, by laws of Jamaica and Dominica, all of a modern date, been constituted a capital offence: and many negroes have of late years been executed for it in the former island, though in many of our other islands it has never been considered as worthy of having a place in the copious and comprehensive catalogues of crimes furnished by their penal slave laws. Obeah and poison are deserving of a particular consideration, because they were: once seriously alleged by the Agent of Jamaica and other colonists, as great causes of the dreadful mortality which prevails among the slaves in our islands. The subjects also are curious in their nature, and I was prepared to offer much authoritative information upon

[74. Ditto, p. 148 f.]

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them, tending to prove that they are for the most part the grounds only of fanciful, though fatal imputations on the unfortunate slaves."[75]

This passage drew a sharp reply from Alexander Barclay who had just returned from a twenty-one years' residence in Jamaica: "Another part of the slave law which Mr. Stephen disapproves of is the punishment of Obeah with death but he has not assigned his reasons for thinking that 'it has been, for the most part, the ground of a fanciful though fatal imputation on the poor slaves.' The deaths which the Obeah man occasioned by working on the imaginations of their superstitious countrymen, and by poison, certainly were not 'fanciful,' whatever their pretended supernatural powers might be.

"I was present some years ago, at a trial of a notorious Obeah man, driver on an estate in the parish of St. David, who, by the overwhelming influence he had acquired over the minds of his deluded victims, and the more potent means he had at command to accomplish his ends, had done great injury among the slaves on the property before it was discovered. One of the witnesses, a negro belonging to the same estate, was asked--"Do you know the prisoner to be an Obeah man?' 'Ess, massa, shadow-catcher, true.' 'What do you mean by shadow-catcher?' 'Him ha coffin, (a little coffin produced), him set for catch dem shadow.' 'What shadow do you mean?' 'When him set obeah for summary (somebody), him catch dem shadow, and dem go dead'; and too surely they were soon dead, when he pretended to have caught their shadows, by whatever means it was effected. Two other causes, besides the law, have contributed to make this now a crime of much less frequent occurrence,--the influence of Christianity, and the end put by the abolition to the importation of more African superstition."[76]

George Wilson Bridges, in his Annals of Jamaica, is also outspoken. In explaining African Fetishism he observes: "The Obeah,

[75. James Stephens, The Slavery of the British West India Colonies, delineated, London, 1824, Vol. I, p. 305.

76. Alexander Barclay, A Practical View of the Present State of Slavery in the West Indies, London, 1828, p. 185 f.]

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with which we are so fatally familiar in Jamaica, is no other than this doctrine of the fetish."[77] He had previously said: "The dexterity with which the Negroes make use of poison to gratify their human propensities, surpasses the utmost refinements of Asiatic cruelty . . . it is concentrated in so small a compass, that the immersion in any liquor of the finger in whose nail it lies concealed, causes the immediate death of the drinker."[78]

In the closing days of slavery, on the very eve of Emancipation, we have the testimony of Dr. R. R. Madden, who, as he tells us himself was one of six stipendary magistrates who in October 1833, were sent out to Jamaica.[79] In a letter dated Kingston, September 8, 1834, Madden writes: "An Obeah man was lately committed to the Spanish Town prison for practicing on the life of a Negro child. It appeared in evidence that he went to a Negro hut, and asked for some fire to light his pipe; that he was seen to put some bush (herb) into the pipe, and then placing himself to windward of the child, commenced smoking, so that the fumes were directed by the wind towards the child. Immediately after he went away, the child was taken alarmingly sick; the father pursued the man suspected of Obeahing, and brought him back. He was accused of being an Obeah man, of having injured the child; and being threatened with violence if he did not take off the Obeah he consented to do so, and accordingly performed certain ceremonies for that purpose; the child improved and he was suffered to depart. The improvement however was only temporary; he was again sent for and with a similar result.

"I have copied the account of his examination by the attorney-general, from the original document. He confessed that he was a practicer of Obeah, that he did it not for gain or vengeance, but solely because the devil put it into his head to be bad. He had learned the use of the bush from an old Negro man on . . . estate, where master had been poisoned by old man. It was a small plant which grew in the mountains, but did not know the

[77. George Wilson Bridges, Annals of Jamaica, London, 1828, Vol. II. p. 404.

78. Ditto, Vol. II, p. 404.

79. R. R. Madden, A Twelvemonth's Residence in the West Indies, during the Transition front Slavery to Apprenticeship, London, 1835, Vol. I. Preface, p. vi.]

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name of it; (he gave some of the dried leaves to the attorney, who showed them to me for examination; but they were so broken that nothing was to be made of them). He said it did him no hurt to smoke this plant; but whoever breathed the smoke was injured by it; he had no spite against the father or mother of the child, nor wish to injure them. He saw the child, and he could not resist the instigation of the devil to Obeah it, but be hoped he would never do it any more; he would pray to God to put it out of his head to do it. Such was the singular statement made to the attorney-general by the prisoner; and the attorney-general informed me, made with an appearance of frankness and truth which gave a favourable impression of its veracity."[80] This looks like smoking whangra or wanga which has become very common of recent years. The effect on the smoker, however, is similar to that of Indian hemp, and renders many of the devotees veritable maniacs.

Dr. Madden also records: "There are two descriptions of Obeah; one that is practiced by means of incantations; and the other by the administering of medicated potions in former times, it is said of poisons, and these practitioners were called Myal men."[81] He is here mixing up the two, Obeah and Myalism, as might be expected from one insufficiently acquainted with the island to discriminate. The whole subject interests him nevertheless, as he takes note: "In the criminal record-book of the parish of St. Andrews, I find the following obeah cases:

"1773. Sarah, tried 'for having in her possession cats' teeth, cats' claws, cats' jaws, hair, beads, knotted cords, and other materials, relative to the practice of Obeah, to delude and impose on the mind of the Negroes.'--Sentenced to be transported.

"1776. Solomon, 'for having materials in his possession for the practice of Obeah.'--To be transported.

"1777. Tony, 'for practicing Obeah, or witchcraft, on a slave named Fortune, by means of which, said slave became dangerously ill.'--Not Guilty.

[80. Ditto, Vol. I, p. 93.

81. Ditto, Vol. I, p. 97.]

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"1782. Neptune, 'for making use of rum, hair, chalk, stones, and other materials, relative to the practice of Obeah, or witchcraft.'--To be transported."[82]

Immediately after Jamaican emancipation, and during the trying days of reconstruction of the entire social order, with a readjustment to conditions that were so vastly different from the accepted status of nearly two hundred years when the word of the master usually stood against the world, free rein was given to the religious frenzy that brought again into vogue the Myalistic spirit so long repressed. A spirit of exultation naturally drove the slave of yesterday to take advantage of his freedom and sate himself with long-forbidden joys and the outbursts of religious fanaticism became so intermingled with nocturnal saturnalia, that for a time it was difficult to distinguish the one from the other. The old objective of Myalism quickly reasserted itself. Now that the shackles had been stricken from their bodies, why not strike the chains from their souls as well? To "dig up Obeah" consequently became widespread and persistent.

This gave witchcraft a set-back for a time, or rather made it even more secretive and vindictive. As a consequence, there was no abatement in the general fear and terror in which it was held by Negroes without exception. And it cannot be surprising if occasionally the practitioner of Obeah, perhaps for self-protection, assumed the rôle of Myalist, and "dug up" perhaps the Obeah that he himself had planted. In public, too, he might became a Myalist Doctor, while in secret he was still the Obeah man. He could apply the healing properties of herbs to counteract the very

[82. Ditto, Vol. I, p. 98. Note:--Dr. Madden later makes the observation on p. 108: "The Africans, like all other people who profess the Mohammedan faith, have an opinion that insanity and supernatural inspiration are frequently combined, and consequently, knaves and lunatics (partially insane) are commonly the persons who play the parts of santons and sorcerers. The Africans carried most of their superstitions to our colonies, and, amongst others their reverence for those either whose physical or mental peculiarities distinguished them from the multitude,--and such were the persons who in advanced age, usually took on themselves the Obeah character. It is evident to any medical man who reads these trials, that in the great majority of cases the trumpery ingredients used in the practice of Obeah were incapable of producing mischief except on the imagination of the person intended to be Obeahed." The good Doctor here overlooks the element of poison and greatly underrates the power of superstitious fear on the part of the Negro.]

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poisons he had occultly administered. Finally, together with the vile concoction devised at the midnight hour for harm and ruin, he might fashion the protective fetish as a counter-irritant. And the Myal man in turn! Is it entirely improbable that he may have on occasion stooped to unprofessional practices, and with his knowledge of vegetable poisons played the rôle of his rival in herbal lore? In any case, from this time on, we find an ever increasing confusion of Obeah and Myalism in the accounts that have come down to us.

Thus John Joseph Gurney, in a letter addressed to Henry Clay of Kentucky and dated Flushing, L. I., June 8, 1840, writes as the tourist and not as a scientific investigator. He is describing his visit to Jamaica a few month earlier, and remarks: "Under the guidance of our friends J. and M. Candler, we drove several miles into the country, to breakfast at Papine, the estate of J. B. Wildman, late member of parliament for Colchester. There we were entertained by William Manning, a catechist of the Church Missionary Society, who like other agents of that institution in the island, is very valuable and useful. . . .

"We were disappointed, on visiting the sugar works of Papine, to find them stopped; and we saw young men, doing nothing, in some of the comfortable cottages which have been built on the property. The reason assigned was, that there was 'a matter to settle.' The said matter turned out to be the trial of a 'Myalist,' or 'black doctor,' one of those persons who hold communion, as is imagined, with departed spirits, and practice medicine, under their direction, for the cure of the living-the diseases themselves, being ascribed to Obeah, or evil witchcraft. These superstitions, although not nearly as prevalent as formerly, still prevail in some places, and deprived as the Negroes now are of regular medical attendance, some of them have recourse to these magical quack doctors, to the great danger of their lives. The whole day was now given up by the people to this strange concern; but under a promise of their working for their master two of their usual spare days, in lieu of it. The Myalist, a young fellow of eighteen or twenty, dressed in the height of fashion and jet black,

{p. 193}

was brought up before our friend Manning to be examined--several men, and a crowd of women, being in attendance. He openly confessed his necromancy, and as a proof of its success, showed us two miserable women, one sick of fever, the other mutilated with leprosy, whom he pretended to have cured. The evidence was regarded by the people as resistless, and our plain declaration of disbelief in Myalism, were very unwelcome to them, They said it was 'no good.' We were sorry to observe the obstinacy of their delusions, but such things will be gradually corrected by Christian instruction."[83] If Mr. Gurney could only have looked well into the future, he might have revised his prophecy!

The same fatuous hopefulness inspired the Reverend James M. Phillippo of Spanish Town, who spent twenty years as a Baptist Missionary in Jamaica. Writing of this same period, he says: "It may be remarked that the spell of Obeism and its kindred abominations is broken. In some districts, it is true, Myalism has recently revived; but it has been owing to the absence of a law since the abrogation of the Slave Act, by which the perpetrators could be punished, together with the difficulties and expensiveness, in many districts, of procuring proper medical advice and aid. Thus the Myal men having most of them been employed in attendance of the sick in the hospitals of estates, and thereby acquiring some knowledge of medicine, have, since the abolition of slavery, set up as medical men; and, in order to increase their influence, and, consequently, their gains, have called to their aid the mysteries of this abominable superstition, in many cases accomplishing their purposes by violence as well as by terror. The more effectually to delude the multitude, the priests of this deadly art, now that religion has become general, have incorporated with it a religious phraseology, together with some of the religious observances of the most popular denominations, and thus have in some instances succeeded in imposing on the credulity and fears of many of whom better things had been expected."[84]

[83. John Joseph Gurney, Familiar Letters to Henry Clay of Kentucky, Describing a Winter in the West Indies, New York, 1840, p. 76.

84. James M. Phillippo, Jamaica: Its Past and Present State, London, 1843, p. 263.]

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We will find our next witness more discriminating. From long experience and close contact with every class of Jamaicans, he had learned to recognize the fundamental elements that made up their natural religious and superstitious tendencies, so commonly confused and intermingled in practice, but nevertheless, even then actually distinguishable in their principles.

In consequence of the rebellion that started at Morant Bay in October, 1865, and which led to the trial and execution of George William Gordon, a Royal Commission was appointed "to inquire respecting certain disturbances in the Island of Jamaica." Oil February 26, 1866, Beckford Davis, Clerk of the Peace of St. George's, now a part of the Parish of Portland, appeared before the Commission and was examined under oath. One point on which he was questioned in detail was the prevalence and influence of Obeah. His evidence, in part, was as follows: "It is a twofold art; it is the art of poisoning, combined with the art of imposing upon the credulity of ignorant people, by a pretence of witchcraft. Its effects are produced by poisoning. The Obeah men are parties who are acquainted with many of the simples of this country, which are not known, and they administer them with a very pernicious effect. . . . I can only imagine what they are from the effects which I have seen produced on individuals. . . . I did not see the poison administered. I know that the general belief is that Obeah men are acquainted with the venomous plants of this country; their habit of practice in it is by imposing on the Negroes by means of charms and things of that kind, such as dried fowl's head, a lizard's bones, old eggshells, tufts of hair, cats' claws, ducks' skulls, and things of that kind. I have seen a good deal of it."

Asked: "Are these Obeah men still much consulted?" he answered: "Very much indeed; and their influence is so great that nothing that can be said to the black population can induce the more ignorant of them to question the power of the Obeah man. . . . They have no fixed residence. They wander about the country wherever they can pick up dupes. . . . The people have many superstitions about them, but they are mortally afraid of them."

{p. 195}

He testifies about one particular Obeah man who was apprehended in his district but was sent to Port Antonio for trial, and describes the contents of his chest "and a book full of strange characters." Among the Obeah articles noted in the chest was a white powder, which was identified by Dr. Robert Edward Gayle of St. George's as being arsenic.

Being asked: "Did you ever see an Obeah stick?" he replies: "Oh yes, plenty of them." "With twisted serpents round them?" "Yes, some; and some with the likeness of a man's head, only of a very deformed cast. They have different kinds of things on them. The Negroes are in great dread of them; they consider if an Obeah man touches you with one of these sticks, some great misfortune will happen, if not death itself."

Questioned further if he had ever seen an Obeah man with "a globe of glass into which persons look to see the future?" he asserts: "They have not arrived at that stage of superstition yet. Grave dirt is a favourable article with the Obeah man. . . . It is the grave dirt taken from whence the corpse is buried. It is supposed that if an Obeah man throws that at a person, he will die."

To the inquiry: "Are the Obeah men solitary persons or have they wives and families?" he answers: "Those that I have seen have always been single men." "Has he any distinct mark by which he is known?" "None in particular, that I know of, except that he is generally possessed of a very bad countenance. . . . There is generally a peculiarity about them."

Finally asked: "Do not they possess the art of curing as well as poisoning?" he declared: "No; it is another class that do that, called 'Myal men'; they profess to undo the work of the Obeah man." "They are the antidote, not the bane?" "Just So."[85]

The real sinister element of Obeah now began to assert itself. As the entire tone of the Royal Commission had been from the start antagonistic to Governor Eyre and its every move was sympathetic towards the restless masses who had been implicated in

[85. Report of the Jamaica Royal Commission, 1866, London, 1866, Vol. 1I, p. 52I, Items 26459-26540.]

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the Morant Bay uprising where Obeah had played its evil part, many an Obeah man boasted of the influence he had exercised throughout the conduct of the investigation and consequently applied his trade with new energy and the general terrorization of the island.

Seven years after the publication of the Report of the Jamaica Royal Commission, Charles Rampini writes: "Of all the motive powers which influence the Negro character, by far the most potent, as it is also the most dangerous, is that of Obeah. . . . The Obeah man or woman is one of the great guild or fraternity of crime. Hardly a criminal trial occurs in the colony in which he is not implicated in one way or another. His influence over the country people is unbounded. He is the prophet, priest, and king of the district. Does a maiden want a charm to make her lover 'good' to her? does a woman desire a safe delivery in child-birth? does a man wish to be avenged of his enemy, or to know the secrets of futurity?--the Obeah man is at hand to supply the means and to proffer his advice. Under the style and title of a 'bush doctor' he wanders from place to place, exacting 'coshery' from his dupes on all hands; supplied with food by one, with shelter by another, with money by a third, denied naught from the mysterious terror with which he is regarded, and refused nothing from fear of the terrible retribution which might be the consequences of such a rash act. His pretensions are high; but he has means at hand to enforce them. He can cure all diseases, he can protect a man from the consequences of his crimes; he can even reanimate the dead. His knowledge of simples is immense. Every bush and every tree furnishes weapons for his armoury. Unfortunately in too many instances more potent agents are not wanting to his hand. His stock in trade consists of lizard's bones, old eggshells, tufts of hair, cats' claws, ducks' skulls, an old pack of cards, rusty nails, and things of that description. 'Grave dirt,' that is earth taken from where a corpse has been buried, is also largely used. . . . But ground glass, arsenic and other poisons, are not infrequently found among the contents of

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the Obeah man's 'puss-skin' wallet, and it is not difficult to conjecture for what purposes these are employed.

"As an outward and visible sign of his power, the Obeah man sometimes carries about with him a long staff or wand, with twisted serpents or the rude likeness of a human head carved round the handle. He has his cabalistic book, too, full of strange characters, which he pretends to consult in the exercise of his calling. One of these is now in my possession. It is an old child's copy-book, well thumbed and very dirty. Each page is covered with rude delineations of the human figure, and roughly traced diagrams and devices. Between each line there runs a rugged scrawl, intended to imitate writing. . . .

"There is something indescribably sinister about the appearance of an Obeah man, which is readily observed by persons who have mixed much with the Negroes. With a dirty handkerchief bound tightly round his forehead, and his small, bright cunning eyes peering out from beneath it, he sometimes visits the courts of. petty sessions throughout the island, if some unfortunate client of his who has got into trouble requires his aid to defend him. . . .

"Serpent or devil worship is by no means rare in the country districts; and of its heathen rites the Obeah man is invariably the priest. Many of them keep a stuffed snake in their huts as a domestic god-a practice still common in Africa, from which of course the custom has been derived."[86]

This is evidently an element of decadent Voodoo that temporarily impinged itself on Obeah. I have found many references to this in recent writers but never came across any indication of it in my own investigations. As regards the cabalistic book, referred to by both Beckford Davis and Rampini, we have possibly a residue of Mohammedanism. In the Report of 1789, answering the question about the religion of those among the slaves who were not Christian, Stephen Fuller replied, "They are either Pagans or Mohammedans, but principally Pagans. The Mohammedans

[86. Charles Rampini, Letters from Jamaica, Edinburgh, 1873, p. 131 f.]

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are those that come from the Mandongo Country chiefly." Père Labat had already stated: "Nearly all the Negroes are idolators. There are only those from the neighbourhood of Cape Verde, of whom some are Mohammedans. When they bring these last to the Islands, it is necessary to be on one's guard in assuming charge of them. For besides the fact that they will never embrace Christianity they are extremely subject to the abominable sin which caused the destruction of the four ill-famed towns: and it is of the greatest importance that this vice be not introduced among the Negroes nor in the country."[87] He is writing in the year 1698. Much of the sensuous in Voodoo is probably due to this influence of these Mohammedans, and possibly Obeah, too, may owe to a like source some of the more repulsive features of its later practice.[88]

Rampini gives some of the results of his own investigations concerning Obeah and incidentally mentions in passing: "I have before me the records of the slave courts held in the parish of Portland between the years 1805 and 1816. They are full of cases of Obeah. One woman attempts to murder her master by putting arsenic into his noyeau; another by mixing pounded glass with his coffee; a third is charged with practicing upon the credulity of his fellow-slaves by pretending to cure another of a sore in his leg, and 'taking from thence sundry trifles,--a hawk's toe, a bit of wire, and a piece of flesh.'

"On 22d February, 183 I, William Jones was tried and sentenced to death 'for conspiring and contriving to destroy William Ogilvie, overseer of Fairy Hill estate in the Parish of Portland.' The notes of the evidence taken at the trial state: 'This prosecution arises out of the confession of Thomas Lindsey, who was shot to death pursuant to the sentence of a court-martial, on the 31st day of January, 1832. The part of the confession which inculpates Williams Jones is as follows: About three weeks before

[87. Labat, Nouveau Voyage aux Isles de l'Amérique, Vol. II, p. 46.

88. Note:--The real Negro who has remained uncontaminated by Mohammedan influence has a degree of morality that puts the average white to shame, e.g.;--Cfr. J. H. Driberg, The Lango, London, 1923, p. 209f., especially the Notes. Here we find the death penalty for those sensual acts which are usually classified as being "against nature."]

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Christmas me and David Anderson; and William Rainey, and Alexander Simpson being together, the devil took hold of us, tell us we must destroy the overseer; and we agreed to go to a man named William Jones, belonging to Providence Mountain, an Obeah man, to give us something to kill the busha, so that his horse may throw him down and break his neck in a hole. Jones said as this was a great thing he could not do it for less than a doubloon, and we had only five shillings to give him. But we agreed to carry him a barrow (hog) with five dollars, and a three-gallon jug of rum, and three dollars in cash. He then gave us something and told us to give it to the waiting-boy to throw it in the water, and that would kill him. The waiting-boy, James Oliver, did throw it into the water, but it did the busha no harm and the waiting-boy said the Obeah man was only laughing at us. We then went to the Obeah man, and he said the waiting-boy could not have put the things into the water. And then he came himself one day, took the bag of an ant's house, etc. etc. etc.' 'Here,' says the report, 'follows an account of Obeah tricks practiced.'"[89]

Finally Rampini warns us: "The Obeah man must not be confounded with the Myal man, who is to the former what the antidote is to the poison. He professes to undo what the other has done; to cure where the other has injured, but it must be confessed that, both in its operation and its results, the cure is often worse than the disease. In truth, the boundary line between the two classes of professors is oftentimes but a shadowy one."[90]

We have already seen that the Ashanti Obayifo is in league with Sasabonsam, the forest monster or evil spirit.[91] Now, Bryan Edwards, in his day recognized as a result of his direct inquiries among the Gold Coast slaves that besides their belief in Accompong, the Nyankopon of the Ashanti, the God of the Heavens

[89. Rampini, l. c., p. 135.

90. Ditto, p. 142.

91. Note:--Cfr. also J. G. Wood, The Uncivilized Races of Man, Vol. I, p. 550: 'Sasabonsam is the friend of witch and wizard, hates priests and missionaries, and inhabits huge silk-cotton trees in the gloomiest forests; he is a monstrous being, of human shape, of red colour and with long hair."]

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and the Creator of all things, they lived in fear of a malicious deity, the author of all evil, whom he calls Obboney.[92] The very title, which is Edwards' attempt to transliterate the name as he heard it from the slaves, is suggestive of the deity's connection with the Obayifo, or witch, and in many respects this evil spirit corresponds with the Sasabonsam of the Ashanti. Hence it is that we find modern Obeah classified at times as devil worship, in which guise it poses more and more as a religion.

It would seem that during the days of slavery, with the drastic suppression of Myalistic meetings, the need was felt more imperative of placating the other deity. And so it came to pass that Obeah did in a sense develop more and more as a religion in which, of course, the object of worship was not the Divine Being but rather the evil spirit whether we refer to him as Sasabonsam or Obboney, and whom we must regard either as the Evil One, or perhaps more properly one of his satellites. The act of worship, however, is not really one of adoration, but pacification or propitiation, wherein an effort is made to assuage his enmity and restrain his vindictiveness.

It is not surprising then to find the Reverend R. Thomas Banbury, writing towards the close of the last century, thus describing the Obeah man: "He is the agent incarnate of Satan, the Simon Magus of these good gospel days, the embodiment of all that is wicked, immoral and deceitful. You may easily at times distinguish him by his sinister looks and slouching gait. An Obeah man seldom looks you in the face. Generally he is a dirty-looking fellow with a sore foot. But some few are known to be decent in appearance and well clad. He never goes without a wallet or bag in which he carries his things. He is a professional man that is as well paid as the lawyer or doctor, and sometimes better. It is a well known fact that in cases of law-suits the Obeah man is retained as well as the lawyer, and at times he not only works at home on the case but goes to the court with his client for the purpose of stopping

[92. Edwards, History of the British Colonies in the West Indies, Vol. II, p. 71. Note:--Trouillot, Esquisse Ethnographique: Le Vaudoux, p. 39, tells us that in Haiti Sassa-Boussa is recognized as "the devil of the Bambaras."]

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the mouth of the prosecutor and his witnesses and of influencing the judge and jury."[93]

A more recent writer remarks: "Obeah! What's in an imposing name? Evidently a good deal; for, though owing to the attitude taken by the law in Jamaica with regard to these esoteric principles, the high priests and high priestesses of the cult efface themselves as much as possible, it would appear from what can be ascertained that their system is rudimentary compared with the complicated forms of devil worship that obtain in India and elsewhere.

"Obeah is an ignorant, superstitious foreigner, but owing to 'man's eternal sense of awe,' to the indestructible desire deep down in the breast of most human beings to connect themselves with the unseen world, and to that most powerful of all reasons, the thirst of revenge, it has not died out. There are outward and visible signs of this mangrove-rooted curse well known to the police. A white cock, it would seem, plays a similar rôle to that personated by the black cat of the witch in medieval times. Whether the prime movers in this money-making business really believe in all the accessories of their trade, or whether their by-play resembles merely the conjurer's arts, when he attempts to divert the attention of the onlookers while he performs his tricks, I have not heard, but this is sure: that the strength of their influence lies in one word--poisons." 94

A few pages later Miss Cook thus describes a part of a conversation which was held at the home of a resident magistrate in Jamaica, just after his return from Court where he had tried a case of Obeah: "'Oh! Obeah!' said the winter tourist, 'I have heard of that, I think, a ridiculous superstitious idea. How very stupid all these people must be!' 'I beg your pardon,' objected the pen-keeper's wife, 'that only states half the case. These Obeah men and women (whom you can so seldom catch) do, no doubt, pretend to cure diseases which they know little or nothing of, shamelessly extracting money from a too credulous public, though

[93. Banbury, Jamaica Superstitions.

94. E. M. Cook, Jamaica: The Lodestone of the Caribbean, Bristol, 1924, p. 115 f.]

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it is a fact that they well understand the preparation of simples; but the dread of Obeah, which is another name for witchcraft, is not altogether caused by superstitious fear. Obeah often means poison. When anyone wishes to be revenged on his enemy he puts Obeah on him: that is, he first consults the Obeah man as to the best mode of procedure, with the result that poison is administered in such a cunning manner that it is almost impossible to find it out. The strange thing is that those who give the poison hardly realize what they are doing, but attribute the result to supernatural agency.' 'That is true ' corroborated the hostess."[95]

We cannot close this chapter without quoting again from the experienced missionary who threw so much light on the question of Myalism. Father Emerick is speaking from eleven years of experience and close study in some of the most pronounced Obeah districts of Jamaica. Space, however, restricts us to a few of the more striking passages taken from his valuable and careful study. Thus he says: "The West Indies are like so many little Africas or African colonies, with many of the customs, ideas, words, observances and superstitions of their home country, Africa, still clinging to them. Since a nation's religion exerts the strongest influence upon its people, for they cling with greater tenacity to it than to anything else, it is natural to suppose that the last thing that they would give up, and that only after a great struggle, would be what to them was their religion, their fetish worship and superstitious practices. Thus it is that the Africans brought with them their African superstitions, which soon became prevalent in all the West Indies, and I can assure you that Jamaica has its share of them.

"There was a saying in vogue that the African Obeah man carried his Obeah magic under the, hair of his head when he was imported; for this reason the heads of Africans were shaved before landing. It was also said that before leaving Africa he swallowed his magical instrument. These imported superstitious practices flourished in the island, in spite of the fact that these people have been under the civilizing influence of a christian nation for 400

[95. Ditto, p. 125.]

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years, and in spite of the fact that slavery in Jamaica has been abolished since August 1, 1824, Obeah flourishes in Jamaica although the most drastic laws have been passed against it. . . . and in spite of the fact that twelve months' hard labour and the lashes of the cat-o'-nine-tails are inflicted upon those found guilty of practicing it. Obeah may be defined in general to be a superstitious belief that certain men and women, known as Obeah men and Obeah women, can exercise certain preternatural power over places, persons and things and produce effects beyond the natural powers of man, by agencies other than divine. It seems to be a combination of magic and witchcraft. Magic, we are told, is an attempt to work miracles by the use of hidden forces beyond man's control, so it is in Obi; it is an attempt to produce by some undetermined, invisible power, effects out of proportion to and beyond the capabilities of the things and activities employed. In witchcraft, we are told, . . . there is involved the idea of a diabolical pact, or at least an appeal to the intervention of the spirits. In the history and make up and practice of Obi there is involved the idea of association with the devil. . . .

"His Satanic majesty is the invisible head of Obeah. The visible agent, head and front of Obeah is the Obeah man or Obeah woman, more often and more characteristically the Obeah man. Who and what is the Obeah man? In general the Obi man or woman is any man or woman who is supposed to have communication with some invisible agent through which he or she can exert preternatural power over animate and inanimate beings. You have Obi men of all sorts, just as you have professional doctors and quack-doctors. As Obeahism is so common among the people and is a form of religion, it comes natural for any individual to practice it as he would practice any religious rite. From this you can easily understand how any rascal who wants to gratify his revenge, avarice or lust, can work upon the superstitious, practice Obi and get a following as an Obi man. Hence Obi-working is very common. . . .

"The Obi man's incantation is generally the muttering of strange sounds, often meaningless, the pronouncing of some word

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or words over the objects to be Obeahed, joined with some grotesque actions. It may consist in words or actions alone.

"The following lines which I find in my notes on Obeah, by a Jamaican poet describe an Obi man at work:

Crouched in a cave I saw thee and thy beard,
    White against black, gleamed out; and thy gaunt hand
Mixed lizard skins, rum, parrots' tongues and sand
    Found where the sinking tombstone disappeared.
Sleek galli-wasps looked on thee; grimly peered
    Blood-christened John Crows with a hissed demand
Who art thou? then like ghouls to a dim land
    Fled for they saw thee working and they feared.

"Compare this description of the Obi man making Obeah or an Obi charm with that given by Shakespeare in Macbeth of the witches making a charm through which they raised spirits and deceivingly foretold to Macbeth his future; and you will find that they have much in common. . . .

"If a gentleman in Jamaica find a rusty nail or knife hanging over his door he knows that it is an obeah, it has been placed there by one of his servants who has been offended or discharged. The idea of placing it there is that when the master passes under it he will meet with a violent death, or be afflicted with some misery, or that he will be compelled to reemploy the discharged servant. If you should happen to go to Jamaica and find under your pillow at night some grave dirt, or a bit of feather in your soup, or a few lizard bones in your coat pockets, you had better look out, someone is trying to work Obeah on you. It is the custom in Jamaica in the coloured Protestant Churches to expell members who are guilty of certain crimes, or as the Jamaica peasants says, 'Cratch der name off der church book.' If the minister, after one of these suspensions, finds when he opens the bible on the pulpit for his text, a quaint collection of cat claws, feathers, dried leaves, eggshells, etc., he is not puzzled as to the meaning of it all. He knows that is expresses 'Quashie's' desire to be received back into the membership of the church. Teachers will sometimes scatter obeahs over the school floor to compel

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the government inspector of schools to give the school good marks. . . .

"The Obeah credulous entertain the greatest dread of anything supposed to be an Obeah, an egg seen on the road, or anywhere, supposed to be placed designedly, would not be touched; they would not walk near it. It would be accounted madness to step over an egg or any parcel wrapped up with a string, found in the yard or on the path. They will not walk near it, but take a circuitous way to avoid it. Even money would not be picked up if there was a suspicion that it had been used by the Obi man in washing some diseased person and cast in the road to transfer the disease to the person picking it up. But of all things an egg is perhaps the most dreaded. The story is told of an old woman giving her parting advice to her son going far away from home; 'James, my bwoy, you do go wa fra mi, alla warra you da go, no li, no tief, no swa, but if you do even tief, my bwoy, no tief fole egg; because if you do tek people's fole egg, my bwoy, dem tek narra fole egg go trowa same ina sea, same fassion de sea rowl as so you belly bottom da rowl.' That is: 'James my boy, you are going far away from me; but wherever you go, do not lie, do not steal, do not swear, but if you do even so forget yourself as to steal, do not steal a fowl egg, because if you do the person from whom you steal the fowl egg will take another fowl's egg and throw it in the sea, and as the sea waves roll so will the bottom of your belly roll' . . .

"Very frequently Obeah is used to bring about an influence over the mind of another, in order to gain some advantage from or over the person. It is a sort of hypnotism. This they call, 'Turn him yeye,' that is "Turn his eye,' the eye in the phrase meaning his mind or will, or the controlling of his actions. This frequently happens in law-suits. The Obi man at times is retained as well as the lawyer and the former is considered as indispensable, if not more so, than the later. The Obi man sometimes not only works on the case at home but also goes to the court with his client for the purpose, as, they call it, of 'Topping de mouts'--stopping the mouths, of the prosecutor and his witnesses and influencing

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the judge and jury. This is understood to be 'turning dem yeyes.'

"There is a 'Turn him yeye' Obeah, which is the equivalent of the 'Love Potion' in witchcraft: the Jamaicans call it 'De tempting powder.' Men and women use this 'Turn him yeye' Obeah in fits of jealousy. A Lady Clara de Vere must be very careful about breaking the heart of some country swain. He might get a 'Tempting powder' from the Obi man and put it in her tea and then she will fall madly in love with the broken-hearted swain. It is said that the making of this love potion is unspeakably filthy and disgusting. . . .

"Here is a case of an Obi man undertaking to force an undesirable lodger to leave a man's house: 'An old Obi man heard a respectable Negro proprietor say that he wished he could make a lodger leave his house as he was a nuisance. The Obi man offered to manage it for a price. The proprietor must get two white fowls, a white shirt, a pint of rum, some black thread, a bundle of wood, two nails and a hammer. It was then arranged that they meet at the proprietor's house. The proprietor pretending to agree, went and told the police. At the appointed time he concealed two policemen in some coffee bushes where they could see all that went on. After some weird incantations, the Obi man drove one nail into the front door and another into the back door of the house, tying the black thread from nail to nail. He then produced a flask filled with a mixture of oil, rum and fowl's blood and lubricated the string, at the same time monotonously chanting. The remnants of the liquid he threw into the fire. The next part of the ceremony was to kill the two white fowls and sprinkle their blood on the floor. The Obi man then demanded seventeen shillings and three bangles, remarking at the same time, "I gib dat fellow one day fe clear out, if him don't go, I catch bin, shadow and him go fe tru." The detectives then stepped in and arrested him.'"[96]

In rejecting the Slave Act of 1826, one reason assigned was. as we have seen, the restriction placed on preaching and teaching

[96. A. J. Emerick, Obeah and Duppyism in Jamaica, p. 190 ff.]

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on the part of the slaves, as it was claimed that "amongst some of the religious bodies who employ missionaries in Jamaica, the practice of mutual instruction is stated to be an established part of their discipline."[97] The deleterious effect of such practice is shown in an earlier protest of the Jamaica Assembly against the rejection of the Slave Act of 1807, as we find it in the Report of the Committee of the Assembly dated November 16, 1809,[98] how two dissenting ministers while making application for a license before the Magistrates of Kingston in August, 1809, admitted freely: "That they had been informed that their predecessors did, upon many occasions, conduct themselves improperly, and did inculcate improper notions in the minds of the slaves."[99] Too frequently well-meaning ministers of the gospel, especially in the first days among the slaves, easily were misled to believe that what was in reality nothing but fanatical emotionalism consequent on the arousing of the spirit of the old African religions, was to them an awakening of the spirit. Even for the experienced it is hard at times to distinguish between the hysterical dementia of an old-time camp-meeting and the obsession of Myalism in a degraded form.

"So late as 1861," as Gardner remarks, "during the revival, as it was termed, a party of young women, in a state of religious excitement, went to the house of a reputed Obeah man, residing in one of the suburbs of Kingston, and brought him, with all the implements of his art, to the parade. His box contained not only nearly all the abominations mentioned, but ... in the midst of all, sad to say, was a number of class tickets, indicating that he had been a member of a religious body for a good number of years."[100] Thus not only the persecuting Myalists but their victim the Obeah man as well, could be church members in good standing, during this weird stage of Revivalism.

And if the zealous, well-meaning Methodist missionaries were so easily deceived, why should we be surprised in our own day

[97. Slave Law of Jamaica and Documents relative thereto, p. 146.

98. Ditto, p. 249.

99. Note:--The full petition may be found, l. c., p. 252 f.

100. Gardner, History of Jamaica, p. 188.]

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that such egregious blunders are made at times by chance visitors to Jamaica or even by the more experienced folklorist who spends a few hurried months in the island interviewing the very class of individuals who are least likely to furnish correct information, since they feel themselves called upon to deal with the whole question as a foolish superstition of the low and ignorant, and usually too, out of local pride, gloss over or deny the real workings of Obeah.[101]

[101. Note:--Cfr. Martha Warren Beckwith, Black Roadways; a Study of Jamaica Folk Lore, Chapel Hill, 1929. Miss Beckwith opens her chapter on "Obeah," p. 104, with the following paragraph: "We have seen that all Jamaica Negroes believe in a spirit world. Many think that there are mischievous spirits who have the power to take animal shape and go about making themselves troublesome to men; these they say are the ghosts of evil men. Even the ghosts of good men, whose souls the Christian religion teaches them to look upon as happy in heaven, may come back to their friends on earth 'to keep holiday,' and may at times be hovering about the house where they have lived on earth. There is a general inclination today to associate these hauntings with the 'shadow' of the dead which lingers about the grave and which, if properly solicited may be persuaded to take a part in human affairs. This 'shadow,' which is the duppy, may be tempted out of the grave by a member of the dead man's family and 'set' upon someone against whom the exorciser has a grudge, or it may be made to perform other services to his disadvantage. The practice of this power over the shadow world is called obeah, and the so-called obeah religion depends on the belief that such spirits may be employed to work harm to the living or may be called off from such mischief. 'Working' obeah means to 'set' a duppy for someone; 'pulling' obeah means to extract the obeah set by another." Miss Beckwith tells us in her Foreword, p. vii: "Between the summers of 1919 and 1924 I made four visits to the island of Jamaica." If these four short visits had been lengthened out into four full years, she would not have been so ready to settle off-hand the difficult question of just what is Obeah, and her conclusions would unquestionably have differed greatly from what she has written. Again, p. 106, she asserts absolutely: "Obeah is merely sympathetic magic." In her foreword, too, p. vii, she states: "When the confidence of the people has been won and my own knowledge widened, I could question them about beliefs and customs. To three such informants I am especially indebted--to Wilfrid Bonito of Richmond (but brought up in Manderville), etc." Her friend, then, must have been amusing himself at her expense at times, if we may judge from the following, p. 108: "The real Obeah man, says Wilfrid, must kill one of his own family--it may be an infant. Wilfrid did not say so, but I suppose in this way the Obeah man secures the duppy who acts as his 'familiar' or 'control.'"]

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Next: Chapter VI: Conclusion