OBEAH: Unexplained Mysteries TV - The New York Times online - BBC online -
13,675. Cat Island the Bahamas. Here there is a set of beliefs that rule over the islands. It is a religion known as Obeah and it’s based on white-like magic and curses. Unexplained Mysteries
133,776. On Barbados, an 18‐year‐old girl is awakened by a tapping at her window. She recognizes the rings on the hand waving good‐by as her grandmother’s, hut when she rushes outside, no one is there. Later the girl learns that her grandmother has died at that very moment … on the other side of the island.
In Jamaica, a dying woman warns her husband that if he mistreats their son, she will come back to haunt him. He remarries and has a second family. Then his first wife begins showing up at the front gate. The night fishermen see her, standing there in the same white dress in which she was married and buried. It is not until her husband sets down rules for his second wife concerning the upbringing of the first wife's son that the ghost vanishes.
In Georgetown, Guyana, a live black chicken is found under the clothes of a not‐yet‐buried corpse. With it are slips of paper bearing the names, birth dates and addresses of certain people. Those mourner,: who are named flee the scene in panic. They know they were expected to suffocate and die within nine days, like the chicken that was to have bean buried with the body.
This is obeah, the black magic of the Caribbean. It is too secret, too mercurial for statistical study, but it found everywhere in the West Indies, and believers consider it effective both in matters of life and death and in day‐to‐day affairs. A person might turn to obeah if he yearns to see his competitor’s business fold, or if he wants to clinch a promotion, or if he needs spell that will make him irresistible to the opposite sex. Man’s scientific advancements may have taken him to the moon, but witchcraft remains alive and hexing in the West Indies. Peace of mind is still something to be worn around your neck.
Tourists seldom realize how powerful and persistent this obeah, or necromancy, is throughout the Caribbean islands. Brought over centuries ago by African slaves, it has thrived, enhanced by superstitions prevalent among Scotch and Irish Highlanders, interlaced with Christian ritual and aided by an expert botanical knowledge inherited from the Carib Indians.
Obeah is a private pursuit, something just between a fellow and his fears. Since obeah is technically illegal on most islands, its believers maintain a conspiracy of silence. Caribbean obeahmen live in seclusion in the bush, out of the eye of the law, which is forever on their trail. They speak in unknown tongues, which not even they themselves can always understand. Their powers can both heal and harm and are for hire by rich, poor, black and white. The New York Times article 10 September 1972, ‘Obeah is a fact of life, or afterlife, in the Caribbean’
13,676. For hundreds of years Jamaicans have been prevented by law from practising Obeah, a belief system with similarities to Haiti's Voodoo. Now, campaigners and practitioners believe they have a chance to overturn the law.
Until recently, the practice of Obeah was punishable by flogging or imprisonment, among other penalties. The government recently abolished such colonial-era punishments, prompting calls for a decriminalisation of Obeah to follow.
But Jamaica is a highly religious country. Christianity dominates nearly every aspect of life; and it is practiced everywhere from small, wooden meeting halls through to mega-churches with congregations that number in the thousands.
The island claims to have the highest ratio of churches to people in the world.
So the proposal to decriminalise what many Christians regard as black magic, a scam, or even evil, is highly controversial. BBC online article 13th August 2013 Nick Davis, ‘Obeah: Resurgence of Jamaican Voodoo’