Obeah

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          Obeah is a folk religion of African origin that uses the tradition of sorcery.  The word Obeah or Obi is itself a word obscured in secrecy.  The meaning is translated as being the "occult power" meaning a powerful way of using spells for witchcraft as well as other forms for practical magic.  There are many names for this type of religion in Brazil they call it Umbanda, Condomble de Congo or Angola.  In Caribbean countries such as Guyana where I am from they call it Obeah and in Jamica they call it Kumina.

       In Guyana you will find Muslims, Hindus, and Christians who use Obeah and their religious books such as the Quran to perform powerful magic with the help of Jinn's and Angels.  Those who practice Obeah help people with problems concerning their work, romance, domestic life, and health, but they can also do harm to those who they want revenge on or is jealous of.  In other words they are good and bad Obeah man.  Some people are given charms to protect them from evil or harm.  Obeah is very close to Wicca and Voodoo which contain many elements of shamanism. 

       The shaman's is  believed to communicate with the world of the spirits in order to fight evil.  The shaman is also considered a healer and an advisor.  In the Obeah religion the spiritual leader is called an Obeah man.  He or she is the one that helps those who are said to be possessed by evil or cannot find a medical excuse for their illnesses.  He or she can talk with the spirits upon which have possessed the human being and try to perform some type of exorcist to remove the evil from that person. 

     In order to make my research effective I interviewed six Guyanese people, in which three were women and three were men.  All of which are either Hindu, Muslim, or Christian.  I had two Muslims, two Christian, and two Hindu's.  The age's ranged from 22-56.  Four of the interviewees had college degrees, and the other two had high school diplomas.  Two of the interviewees were born in America, but is highly influenced by the Guyanese culture.  The other four were born in Guyana.

     In asking a series of questions I first asked if they believed Obeah was evil or good.  They all believed Obeah is evil.  They do believe that in some cases people need help with matters that are unexplainable and therefore must go to an Obeah man for help.  Yet they generally believe that Obeah is used out of spite, hatred, and jealousy to harm people.  When asked if they had people "priest" in their religion that helped people who are possessed or harmed by Obeah, they all said yes.   

     All of the interviewees agreed that they knew someone that has practiced Obeah and tried to harm someone.  All of my interviewees didn't practice any type of Obeah.   One of my interviewee's was actually affected by Obeah, she said that one of her family members was jealous of her so they put a spell on her.  She said that weird things were happening to her and she was feeling sick.  She went to doctors and they couldn't find out what was wrong with her, so she saw an obeah man who gave her a charm to protect her from the evil that had been done to her.    

    Two other interviewees also wore charms called a Tabeejah.  Out of all my interviewees, only one didn't believe in Obeah much, he stated "it's nonsense".  He said if you don't believe in it theirs no chance it will affect you.  I also found out through the interviewees that in Guyana, babies that are born with an extra piece of skin over their faces are said to be able to see spirits.  One of my interviewees was born with that veil and says that she sees sprits and that veil is called kal.       

     Overall the interview was very interesting and open up a lot of interesting views to a whole another world that we are not use to.  The interview were all conducted on the telephone, and I thank all of the interviewees for their time and effort.  This research helped me understand a lot more about Obeah that I didn't know before, and opened up my eyes to a new world full of possibilities.                                                            

      

 

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