Definitions starting with O

ID #2207


Obeah in the Bahamas is not a religion like voodoo in Haiti, but the two do have elements in common. Both involve a belief in magic that a practitioner can use to help his clients or harm their enemies. In fact, Bahamians sometimes consult HITIANS known to WORK WITCH . Especially on the more remote islands of the Bahamas, the BUSH DOCTOR or GRANNY may practise not only BUSH MEDICINE but also EYAK or Moro.

Often this is nothing more complicated than DRESSING a fruit tree Or field to protect the crop from thieves. STUFFS like CROSS-ROAD DIRT and FOOT GRASS are used to protect women when they are BIG or iii STRAWBED . An OBEAH MAN can also help in affairs of the heart, concocting CUCKOO SOUP to snare a sweetheart or FIX   an unfaithful husband. Such a WITCHMAN can TAME people with MACASEE or bring misfortune to them by BURNING BAD-LAMP or calling the SPERITS  for aid. If a person thinks he is being CARRIED DOWN or CROSSED by a DOSE, he can go to a DOCTOR for a GUARD. If it is feared that a ROOT DOCTOR intends to put a ghost on some-one, it is best to SPIKE DOWN the coffin of a DEAD to prevent him from TRAVELLING. If a SPERIT should HANT a house, the rooms can be SMOKE and the doors and windows protected with BENNY. HAGS wanting to get in to RIDE sleeping people must count these before entering, but cannot say "ten" (the Roman numeral X having the protective power of the Christian cross) and will have to start counting over again and again; hence the magic protective force of the chant, 'TEN,TEN,THE BIBLE TEN!

The practice of OBEAH  has always been sup-pressed and was even made illegal at one time, but belief in it persists. With the recent influx of Haitian refugees, its practice may even be growing. See McCartney 1976.

Tags: Encyclopedia definition, noun, Obeah, religion

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Last update: 2012-10-21 19:15
Author: Holm and Shilling, DBE, 1982
Revision: 1.9

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