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IN JAMAICA, from time to time, we hear of cases of table-rapping, planchette-writing, ouija board, and other manifestations, pretty much as they are reported over the rest of the world, except that the circles in which they are held are restricted to a narrow group which has never really popularized the practices.

In passing, let me cite an instance, just as it was reported by eye-witnesses, that would appear to indicate diabolic control, if we can place any reliance at all in human testimony. At a séance held in one of the northern Parishes, I was told, the medium or control called up the Devil who forthwith inquired what he could do for her. "Play to me," was the request. "What shall I play?" asked the Devil. "Home, Sweet Home," was the answer. Immediately, the table around which the séance was being conducted, rose in the air, passed unsupported across the room, and turning edgewise before a piano that was open, with its corner it struck the keys and played the desired tune. This accomplished, the table returned to its former place in the midst of the circle attending the séance. The following evening,

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the same witnesses reported, that the control again called up the Devil and this time asked what she could do for him. "Sing to me," came the request. "What shall I sing?" asked the control. And the answer came, clear and distinct, "The wail of the damned in hell."

But this and similar phenomena are so clearly ingrafts of recent introduction from abroad, that they can scarcely be regarded as phenomena of Jamaica, despite the fact that they are occurring in Jamaica. Hence, strictly speaking they do not come within the scope of the present study. In other words, we have nothing to do with modern spiritism whether regarded as a psychic study or a religious mania. We are restricting ourselves to such phenomena as are distinctively Jamaican and which have consequently come down to us from the days of slavery and beyond.

While the Ashanti formed only a comparatively small percentage of the whole slave population of Jamaica, as we have seen, from earliest days, they exercised such a dominance over the natives of all other tribes, that they forcibly imposed their culture on the entire mass, and effectively blotted out whatever manners and customs were at variance with their own. Thus we find, for example, that their system of day-names became adopted generally and that regardless of tribes it was the Ashanti nomenclature that was in common use.

This paramount influence was effected on the part of the Ashanti principally through terror of their exercise of the old tribal witchcraft which attained

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its purpose through fear, judiciously supplemented by secret poisoning whenever this was found necessary.

Doctor Walter Bradford Cannon, the distinguished Physiologist of the Harvard Medical School, has just written to me concerning "the-casting of a fatal spell on a person by a king or priest or voodoo doctor exerting an influence among savage and superstitious people, with the result that the person who is credulous and terrorized by the spell is said to die." Doctor Cannon, in consequence of experiments that are being conducted under his direction among the lower animals, has come to some very interesting conclusions that will no doubt be published in due course. Suffice it to say here that his explanation: "It is as if the animal bled to death within its own tissues," satisfies in every way what I have myself observed in Jamaica. Men and women literally pine away from fear of obeah which they have heard is being worked against them, and frequently death has resulted when there was no indication whatever of poisoning. I have personally come in contact with such cases and have felt convinced that death was due entirely to the state of nervous fear that haunted the victims day and night, depriving them of all nourishment and repose until they actually wasted away, and died of exhaustion.

The Ashanti believed in a Supreme Being, but their external religious rites were chiefly concerned with spirit control. They greatly feared an evil spirit, Sasabonsam, who had much in common with the Devil of Christianity, and they suppressed in

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every way possible the servants of Sasabonsam, the abayifo or witches. However these flourished in secret in the Ashanti homeland and became perhaps the greatest single influence in the lives of the Ashanti descendants among the Jamaican slaves. For, substantially unchanged in form or practice, the old Ashanti witchcraft continued on to the end of slavery in the island, under the term obeah, and completely deleted all other systems of the black art that had been familiar to the slaves from other tribes back in Africa.

The Ashanti did not fare so well in the preservation of their tribal religious practices. As public functions were forbidden them, they were forced to adapt themselves to circumstances and the secretiveness of the obayifo had to be employed by the priest of religion, the okomfo. Since the Ashanti religious rites had the common good in view even as the aim of witchcraft tended primarily to the harm of the individual, the age-old antagonism of okomfo and obayifo was for a time set aside and an unholy alliance was formed between the two against the common oppressor of both-the white man. This alliance was probably facilitated if not positively coerced by the martial spirits among the slaves who acted as leaders and stirred them up to the pitch of frenzy that repeatedly led to slave uprisings and rebellions. Such leaders found it necessary to make constant use of the obayifo to keep the less belligerent slaves in a state of subserviency to the Ashanti leadership.

As a group, the Ashanti and their descendants in

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Jamaica clung to the old religious traditions and beliefs, even when the external ceremonies had to be disguised under the shield of an alien dance that finally caused their adopted practices to become known as myalism.

The okomfo, or myal-man as he was now called, chafed under the forced coalition with his logical arch-enemy, and no sooner had Emancipation put an end to the need of co-operation than the old antagonism broke out again and a serious effort was made on the part of the old priestly class to annihilate the servants of Sasabonsam, under the pretence of digging up obeah. The struggle, however, was a short one. The very excesses of the myal-men only accentuated the secret pretences to spiritual power affected by their adversaries, and the popular estimation of the obeah-man did not suffer in consequence. In fact it was the obeah-man who gradually came to assert the stronger influence in the life of the "bush," just as he had gained the upper hand in the days of slavery. He better satisfied the selfish aims of the individual particularly in matters of revenge, and necessarily the myal-man as such was gradually eliminated, as myalism itself gave way to revivalism.

With the waning influence of the myal-man, as time went on, the obeah-man naturally assumed to himself the rôle of his old adversary, in great part as a cloak to his own machinations, until myalism itself became regarded as a mere offshoot or modification of obeah. There was no longer any question of public good, the individual alone was to be considered

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whether for weal or woe. But through it all, the obeah-man never wavered in his devotion to his Sasabonsam or Devil, and the forces for evil had definitely shaken off the old religious restraint of the Ashanti.

So it is at the present time in Jamaica, we usually find the same individual exercising the functions of myal-man and obeah-man alike, digging up to-day the obeah that he himself set last night, or curing in turn the very victim of his wiles.

Moreover, having absorbed the office of myal-man, what is more natural than that our up-to-date obeah-man should seek to master the more modern forms of pretended magic that are being widely advertised by "fakers" in the Press abroad. Thus he now acquires whatever books he can on the subject and endeavours to test the formulae in practice, until many of his ilk differ but little from the charlatans throughout the world who seek an easy living by their wits at the expense of the superstitious or illiterate. But there is in reality one great difference in the practice as it goes on in Jamaica from what is customary abroad. The Jamaica obeah-man still believes that, even in the use of these new-fangled methods, it is the influence of his Sasabonsam or Devil that produces the effect. Ordinarily abroad, the magician is simply a clever impostor who is fully conscious of the fact himself.

Obeah, as practised in Jamaica to-day, especially in the Metropolis and the larger towns, might well be regarded for the most part as obtaining money under false pretences, as has been advocated. But

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in the "bush" there are still many of the craft who ply their trade along the time-honoured lines. If a few shillings or a pound or two is in the making, they will stoop to the sharp practices that are becoming so popular with their brethren of the city, but as a rule they take themselves seriously and weave their spells and utter their invocations to Massa Debbil without disguise, placing their unbounded confidence in him as their chief reliance, and continuing on this phase of demonolatry that has come down in direct descent from their forebears, the servants of Sasabonsam back in Ashantiland. This does not mean that the obeah-man actually has an evil-spirit at his beck and call. But whatever his power or lack of power may be, he believes that he has such a co-operating spirit, and it is his intention to attain his end through a diabolic influence.

If any constituent part of an act is evil, the act itself is morally wrong, and what might have been indifferent or even good in itself can become vitiated by the evil intention of the one who performs it. Thus, if he thinks that he is doing evil, and deliberately goes ahead, even if the act in itself might have been good or indifferent, he is actually committing the evil of his intent.

The Ashanti regards his nkabere or good-luck charm as the temporary receptacle of some spiritual influence, just as he looks on the shrines of his abosom or minor deities as the scat for the time being of these spiritual entities, without for a moment wavering in his monotheistic belief in the Supreme Being. But did he, as so many early travellers erroneously

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declared, intend to give to these so-called fetishes divine adoration when he sacrificed his fowl to them, then would he indeed have been guilty of the idolatry attributed to him, and that too without the slightest material change either in the object or the manner of the cult.

When, on the other hand, the Ashanti obayifo operates precisely as the servant of his Sasabonsam Devil, just as his successor the obeah-man of Jamaica places his reliance in Satan whom he personally invokes to attain his end, we have nothing more nor less than a form of demonolatry in the one as in the other. Even granting, if you wish, that both are victims of hallucination, providing only that they have sufficient use of reason to appreciate what they are doing, the culpability is there, because their intention is precisely to place themselves in communication with the Devil and through his influence they hope to effect their purposes. By this very act they have placed themselves under an obligation to their patron, and accordingly at times they surrender themselves to him in ways that are better left undescribed.

Is it, then, mere coincidence, that it is precisely in these "bush" districts where the old order of things still persists that we find the psychic phenomena which form the subject of the present study? I do not recall having ever heard of any such manifestations in Kingston or its immediate vicinity, but I would not be surprised at their occurrence in some of the slum sections where even now real obeah is worked in secret on occasions. At all events the cases

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that we now have under consideration all occurred at a distance from the city of Kingston and in neighbourhoods where genuine obeah was being practised.

I do not mean to infer that the obeah-man is the direct or immediate cause of the mysterious poltergeist and other happenings. Quite the contrary. As already stated, such a control of diabolic influence on the part of the obeah-man would appear to me as being repugnant to Divine Providence in the ordinary course of human events, although it might be permitted on rare occasions. For His own good purposes, God may permit at times some friend of Satan to exercise preternatural power as in the case of the Witch of Endor. But this is not the ordinary course of events. Certainly in all the phenomena in Jamaica that I have been able to study, not in a single instance have I found the slightest indication that the happenings were invoked by any human being. If the directing force was really diabolic, then his Satanic Majesty was seemingly conducting operations in person and not at the behest of any of his servants among the obeah-men. Of that I am convinced.

The Book of Job in the Old Testament recounts the severe afflictions that a holy man undergoes at the hands of Satan. God permits it all precisely to extol his virtue through the heroic patience that he manifests. God says to Satan: "Behold he is in thy hand, but yet spare his life." (1) So that even here bounds are set to the power of the evil one. Moreover during all the trials that follow, Job is borne

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up and strengthened by the grace of God which eventually prevails against all the wiles of Satan.

While the Book of Job is not a strictly historical narrative, it is a didactic poem with a historical basis and written under Divine inspiration. Being an integral part of the Canon of Holy Scripture, the principles that it enunciates are all in conformity with the dictates of right reason. We have authority, then, for saying that when God permits Satan to so assail his victim that he deprives him "of all his substance" and covers him "with ulcers from head to foot," even then we are not justified in arguing as did the friends of Job that this is punishment for sin. Perhaps it is to be but a contrast to what is to come, for even in a worldly way, it may be God's will, that virtue should be rewarded with the promised hundred-fold.

Nevertheless, as a general rule, this consoling aspect is not usually connected in Holy Scripture with the assailments of the Devil, who in the words of Saint Peter, "as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour." (2)

Thus, too, in the Book of Tobias, we have the case of Sara who "had been given to seven husbands, and a devil named Asmodeus had killed them, at their first going in unto her." (3)

At times evil spirits serve as; ministers of God's wrath, as in His dealings with the Egyptians: "And He sent upon them the wrath of His indignation: indignation and wrath and trouble, which He sent by evil angels." (4)

Among the bits of wisdom enunciated by Jesus,

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the son of Sirach of Jerusalem, we find: "There are spirits that are created for vengeance, and in their fury they lay on grievous torments. In the time of destruction they shall pour out their force: and they shall appease the wrath of Him that made them." (5)

Of the examples of obsession in the New Testament, we must satisfy ourselves by quoting three that are recorded by Saint Mark in his Gospel, in each of which physical violence is done by the evil spirits.

"And there was in the synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying: What have we to do with thee, Jesus of Nazareth? Art Thou come to destroy us? I know who Thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus threatened him, saying: Speak no more, and go out of the man. And the unclean spirit tearing him, and crying out with a loud voice, went out of him." (6)

"And they came over the strait of the sea into the country of the Gerasens. And as He went out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the monuments a man with an unclean spirit. Who had his dwelling in the tombs, and no man now could bind him, not even with chains. For having been often bound with fetters and chains, he had burst the chains and broken the fetters in pieces, and no one could tame him. And he was always day and night in the monuments and in the mountains, crying and cutting himself with stones. And seeing Jesus afar off, he ran and adored Him. And crying with a loud voice, he said: What have I to do with Thee, Jesus

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the Son of the most high God? I adjure Thee by God that Thou torment me not. For He said unto him: Go out of the man, thou unclean spirit. And He asked him: What is thy name? And he saith to Him: My name is Legion, for we are many. And he besought Him much, that He would not drive him away out of the country. And there was there near the mountain a great herd of swine feeding. And the spirits besought Him, saying: Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. And Jesus immediately gave them leave. And the unclean spirits going out, entered into the swine: and the herd with great violence was carried headlong into the sea, being about two thousand and were stifled in the sea. And they that fed them fled, and told it in the city and in the fields. And they went out to see what was done." (7)

"And one of the multitude, answering, said: Master, I have brought my son to Thee, having a dumb spirit, who, wheresoever he taketh him, dasheth him, and he foameth, and gnasheth with the teeth, and pineth away; and I spoke to Thy disciples to cast him out, and they could not. Who answering them, said: O incredulous generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? Bring him unto Me. And they brought him. And when He had seen him, immediately the spirit troubled him; and being thrown down upon the ground, he rolled about foaming. And He asked his father: How long time is it since this hath happened unto him? But he said: From infancy: and oftentimes hath he cast him into the fire and into waters to destroy him. But

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if Thou canst do any thing, help us, having compassion on us. And Jesus saith to him: If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And immediately the father of the boy crying out, with tears said: I do believe, Lord; help my unbelief. And when Jesus saw the multitude running together, He threatened the unclean spirit, saying to him. Deaf and dumb spirit, I command thee, go out of him; and enter not any more into him. And crying out, and greatly tearing him, he went out of him, and he became as dead, so that many said: He is dead. But Jesus taking him by the hand, lifted him up; and he arose. And when He was come into the house, his disciples secretly asked Him: Why could not we cast him out? And He said to them: This kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting." (8)

The Reverend Simon Augustine Blackmore, S.J. has well said: "A Christian knows, on the authority of divine revelation as well as from the nature of certain phenomena, that God, by His extraordinary providence, sometimes allows evil spirits to intervene in human affairs. But he also knows that such intervention is not a regular and fixed institution by which men may communicate with spirits whensoever they will. Philosophically, the notion is contrary to the divine attributes of God, and is disproved by all moralists in the treatise on magic. Moreover, spiritistic séances are always wicked by their very nature, because of the evil intention of communicating with spirits, contrary to the Divine Law. Hence, any alleged intervention of spirits

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must be examined into in every instance or be judged on its own merits according to the evidence, as to its probability or certainty, as the case may be.

"That the living have at times received communications which can be explained only by the presence and activity of some intelligent agent external to our world of sense, is a proposition which no Christian will find difficult of acceptance. It may be said, indeed, to be an essential part of the dogmatic teaching of both Judaism and Christianity. From beginning to end the Bible records many interventions of angelic spirits as the messengers of God to men and hardly less emphasizes the cunning duplicity of Satan and his satellites in their conspiracy against the welfare of man." (9) While the writer is treating directly of modern Spiritism, all that he says here may be equally applied to the question of our Jamaica phenomena.

It is to be noticed that wherever devil-worship is in vogue, as for example in various parts of Africa, the evil one is allowed considerable latitude in the way of material manifestations; and even obsessions similar to those recorded in Holy Writ, occur from time to time in many parts of the world. It is my conviction, from the viewpoint of a Catholic priest, that all this is by permission of Almighty God, perhaps as punishment for dealing with the Devil and for the usual attendant vices; or, perhaps again, merely as a timely warning to others. In every instance, too, there is a limitation set to the power of the evil one beyond which he cannot pass, and even if he has entered into physical possession

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of a tortured body, he cannot control the soul and its faculties without the free consent of the victim's will.

The supposititious requirements for a practitioner of witchcraft calls for "a voluntary personal surrender to the Devil and an acquiescence in his will; being endowed with the power of divination, fortune telling, horoscopy, the casting of spells, and other mysterious achievements." (10) This assumes a certain contract with the Devil whereby the witch acquires a directive force over powerful spiritual agencies, having at beck and call one or more evil spirits with which to cast spells on persons and places. In other words, if such a state of affairs were possible, we would have an efficient medium or control, directing the external manifestations of diabolic power. Certainly as far as Jamaica is concerned, I have never seen the slightest indication of any such mediumship or control. Obeah-men may claim to have disturbed the peace of a community or of an individual by means of duppies. But, as I have already stated and now repeat by way of emphasis, every single case that I have examined of phenomena that appeared in any way preternatural was completely dissociated from any kind of mediumship or control. It simply happened nor was there even a breath of rumour connecting it with the working of obeah or any other form of magic.

When the atmosphere has been properly surcharged electrically, we may anticipate a thunderstorm with all its usual disturbances of wind and rain. So, too, once the obeah-man has created what

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I might call a diabolic atmosphere in a district, when his communications with the Devil has given his Satanic Majesty some standing in the spiritual life of the community, and the co-operation of the clients of the obeah-man has firmly established a practice which is nothing less than demonolatry, we need not be surprised if the Power of Evil begins to manifest material phenomena, perhaps of the poltergeist type, seeking to weaken church control and so gradually to augment the tendency to evil throughout the district.

I do not for a moment imply that such a condition of affairs is at all peculiar to Jamaica. It is the same the whole world over wherever similar conditions happen to exist. And let it be remembered that right here in these United States we are far from being free from communications with the Devil and other forms of demonolatry. There are many practices in vogue, not among the poor and illiterate of country districts, but actually within select circles of intellectual centres where proceedings are carried on that differ little from the séance that was mentioned at the opening of the present chapter. Moreover we have this statement from one of the most distinguished students of demonology, Montague Summers, F.A.S.L. in his contribution to The History of Civilization Series: "In the nineteenth century both Albert Pike of Charleston and his successor Adriatic, Lemmi have been identified upon abundant authority as being Grand Masters of societies practising Satanism, and as performing the hierarchical functions of 'the Devil' at the modern Sabbat." {p. 260} (11) I do not attempt to substantiate this statement of fact in any way. I merely quote it on the authority of a distinguished scholar whose writings on witchcraft have gained for him an international reputation. My sole purpose is to show that we of the outside world cannot reproach Jamaica if among the ignorant in the heart of the "bush" obeah takes the form of demonolatry.

Furthermore, it ill becomes us to be hypercritical concerning superstitious beliefs of the Jamaica "bush." Recently glancing through a local paper, The Boston Post of October 20, 1934, I noticed more than two full columns devoted to advertisements connected with meetings of a psychic nature. Actually there were twenty-six separate attractions competing for public support. A professed "Non-Spiritualist" was to lecture on "Do the Dead Appear?" and a number of "Spirit Photographs" were to be shown upon a screen during the lecture, presumably in support of the affirmative side of the question. A "trance lecturer and message bearer" was to be supplemented during the week by other artists, and the Saturday evening reception was to be featured by "good mediums" and "refreshments." Another advertisement offered as an attraction for Friday "Extra Mediums and coffee and cake," while a rival attraction advertised a "Message Séance" which was naively enhanced by an "Oyster Supper." Still another advertisement was satisfied with the general statement "Refreshments served." And all this in the vicinity of cultured Boston!

Mr. Summers, whom we have just cited, opens

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the first chapter of The History of Witchcraft and Demonology by quoting from Jean Bodin, "A sorcerer is one who by commerce with the Devil has a full intention of attaining his own ends," (12) and adds: "It would be, I imagine, hardly possible to discover a more concise, exact, comprehensive and intelligent definition of a Witch." (13) Certainly we have this definition fully verified in the case of the Jamaica obeah-man as the direct descendant in theory and practice from the Ashanti obayifo.

Although I am reluctant to pass definite judgment on each phenomenon taken separately since the possibility of error or delusion in a single happening is admittedly great, still one particular instance of those already quoted may be chosen for special attention. Let us take the one that was given in the Introduction as Case II and which happened at All Saints Mission.

In addition to the written document of Father Emerick and my own personal experience as there related, I have at different times received verbally confirmatory evidence from Fathers Duarte, Prendergast and Magrath, besides oral statements from Father Emerick, each dealing with what came under his own observation. Except in details these relations varied little from the written account of Father Emerick, having for the most part to do with the unceremonious disappearance of a gentleman and lady who had called at the mission house late at night. I am quite certain that there was no collusion among them in their testimony. Others have also told me their stories about the same happenings,

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but either their evidence was only hear-say and accordingly discounted, or else the person knew of the reputation of the house before anything had happened to him there, and in consequence I have disbarred their statements from consideration as being possibly the result of overexcited imaginations.

Here then I have the evidence of four fully qualified and independent witnesses substantially agreeing in all essentials, supplemented by my own experiences which, if entirely divergent in character, supported in principle the main point at issue, that something was actually happening at the mission house that could not be explained by natural agencies. And I cannot help being forced to the conclusion that we were not all the victims of delusions, especially as I have heard of no disturbances on the premises since the reconstruction of the old mission house was undertaken some time ago.

In connexion with modern spiritism, Father Blackmore writes: "Who these invisible agents are that masquerade as the souls of the dead is clear to every Christian who knows from Sacred Scripture that the fallen angels, the outcasts of heaven, are always eager, for their own pernicious purpose, to intermeddle in the affairs of human life. By their fruits you shall know them." (15)

So, too, in such spirit manifestations as we have been discussing, the presumption is that the spiritual influence back of them must be ascribed not to the angels but to the demons. For where the effect is evil, we must look for an evil cause--truly by their fruits you shall know them.

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In conclusion, it must not be thought that these phenomena are of common occurrence in Jamaica. Needless to say, I have diligently sought out every case that was supported by first-hand information--one would never finish were he to listen to all the hear-say accounts repeated "on the best of authority." And the results of more than a quarter of a century of labour and investigation have brought to light only the instances that have been here cited, and they were actually spread out over forty years or more in the happening.

Taking them all together as a composite whole it is my unhesitating conclusion that there are times in Jamaica when phenomena occur that transcend the forces of Nature and must be attributed to spirit control, which, judged from the consequences, are of diabolic origin.

Nevertheless, I repeat again, it would be a serious mistake to stress particular instances independent of the rest and at all times in the acceptance of evidence we must play the rôle of sceptic rather than that of enthusiast, sifting carefully every word of testimony and testing out each fact as far as possible. For, it is a time-honoured proverb in Jamaica, "No ebery chain you hear a fe rollen calf," meaning, "Do not jump to conclusions too hastily."