What is Obeah?

How do I learn Obeah?

Though this is, surprisingly, not a frequently asked question, it is an important one.  Few people are interested in becoming Obeah practitioners because it is not a very glamorous life.  No matter how much we have in the bank, most of us lead very austere lives, much like other scholarly types.  Some of us are shamanistic and choose to live in tents or shacks in the wilderness to be away from people unless they come to us for services.  Some of us are more urban, but still a bit reclusive.  Some very few are capable of being very public, engaging, and charismatic without suffering overmuch from it.  Generally though, we’re solitary people because this particular path makes one very sensitive to the thoughts and emotions of others.

So if you choose to go this way, just be aware that you are not likely to be one of the fortunate who can live a “normal” life, much less enjoy fame.  You may achieve fame, but it will probably not be something you enjoy.  You’ll consider it the price you pay for being good at what you do.

To begin the path of Obeah, if you were not born into a line or don’t have a mentor, start a personal relationship with Eshu.  The Yoruba belief system is widespread and cosmopolitan enough that it makes a good introduction for late learners to African spirituality. You will also have a whole community and guidance from priests and babalawos.  You may decide that it is better for you to stick to that. You probably will. So start with Eshu. Make a small altar for him in your home, and ask him to teach you.  Then brace yourself.  It will be a wild ride.

If you find what you need in Ifa, stick with that. If you’ve tried it already, and it didn’t quite fit, or if you already have roots in that or some other African traditional system, and that doesn’t fit, then innovate.

Obeah is a regional style. The only reason I got it is because otherwise I would be in prison. It was just what was available around me. Had I had the same signs and been elsewhere, I would have a different style. Other things are available around you, and if not then build your own thing. Acquire knowledge from whatever sources you can and get inspiration and blessing wherever you can. Who knows? You may build a system more powerful than Obeah.

If you’re not quite sure what that means, and you’ve never done any kind of witchcraft before, then you should start with the absolute basics.  Read the Witchcraft 101 series to find out what it is you’re getting into in the first place, and learn your personal pantheon, and get some experienced advice.

Eshu will teach you and bring you knowledge about the Universe and yourself that you need.  He will send people into your life to guide you, and he will remove people from your life who hold you back.  It is not always a pleasant situation.  You may learn things that are difficult for you to accept.

Once your eyes are open, you cannot un-know what you know.  You may have difficult dilemmas about how to use the knowledge that you gain.  Just remember that none of us is stronger than Nature.  Your ideals may not match up to the reality.  Once you have accepted Truth and begun to use it to help others and yourself, your success rate will skyrocket because you are truly working in line with Nature, not politics or tradition.  You then become like a force of Nature.  If your practice comes from the particular line you become an Obeah person. If it comes from something else like spiritual alchemy, you become an adept alchemist. You get where I’m going here? You get Obeah from the islands. You get power wherever you are through knowledge, practice, and doing the work to serve a community. Build your case for obtaining and sustaining an Akh by being useful and remembered as such. You don’t need Obeah for that.

Is there initiation and priesthood?

Well, there are some groups and houses in which there is a sort of hierarchy.  Again, we are usually somewhat solitary and loathe to give away knowledge that may be misused, so it is rare to see a large group of actual practitioners as opposed to adherents.  There is another reason aside of “stinginess” with information though, that isn’t often discussed, but is very relevant.  That is the Obi itself.

There is initiation though, and this is the process of a person who has the Obia transmitting or sometimes even passing it to another, usually a student or descendant.

To be clear, there is Obeah as a belief system, and then there is Obeah as a state of being.  The two are related, but not exactly the same.  In a group of Obeah practitioners and people close to them, there is a higher likelihood than normal of a person being born with the Obia, but not everyone who practices Obeah has the calling to service or duty that someone who has the Obia does.  It’s like there are many Christians, but not every Christian is called to dedicate their life to service in the way of a monk or nun.

Many are initiated into Obeah as a belief system, but merging with the Obia is something else.

What is the Obi/Obia?

It is a special vein of the Great Mystery that comes from the Earth in an area stretching across northern and western and central Africa, that drives a person to spiritual service and esoteric practices.  There is no real division between the Earth Forces in Africa and elsewhere, but in the human consciousness, there needs to be some sort of designation because there is some in the physical realm’s climate and resulting life and mineral “profile” of varying areas.  There isn’t a specific geographical border where someone can say, “Here is where the Obi is, and here is where it isn’t,” but it just happens that people from certain areas got it, and in other areas, they got something else with a different “flavor”.  It is somewhat similar to the classical Roman concept of “daemon”, only it’s a sort of cycling, multiplying, spreading something.

At some point in human evolution and development, this Force reached out to man, and since then, people have been passing it.  I will not say that it is impossible for the Obi to jump into a person, as it apparently does have a will of its own that no human can truly comprehend.  This is likely how it happened to the first few people to catch it.  It is just unlikely.  Usually it is transmitted from live person to live person…sort of.  The receiver may have to die, at least for a short while, to receive Obi or in the process of receiving Obi.

So technically, a person can learn things that Obeah practitioners who have the Obi teach, but the learning by itself does not give them the Obi.  I think one thing people don’t seem to get in all their excitement is that having the Obi is not something to pursue unless you get clear signs that this is your destiny.  It is a heavy burden.  It also means that whatever you learned before has to adjust to your new situation.  There is no going back once you have it because you can’t un-know what you know or un-be what you are.

Even some people who become devout Christians for some reason, probably because they went crazy from what they saw, can’t get rid of Obi once they have it.  They can’t suppress it.  It just shifts and adjusts itself and does what it is going to do regardless of what new frame the person attempts to put their spirituality in.

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15 Comments

  1. Pingback: Orisha Online Altar − What is Voodoo?

  2. May I enter to learn obeah please? Thank you very much!

    • Thank you for your question, Ethel. 🙂 I do not teach Obeah online, but I do teach general witchcraft. Though some elements of Obeah will shine through in my style of teaching, I have not been led to teach Obeah on the internet specifically. Others do, and I respect them for this, since it is an extremely challenging mission. It’s just that the task that I’ve been given is different: to help prospective witches, sorcerers, rootworkers, and others in this type of occupation to reconnect with the ways of their Ancestors and become effective practitioners regardless of which style they will eventually settle into. Obeah will only be the answer for a very select few, and there are already teachers for them. Our community is pretty stable. Others though, need our help to recover and stabilize.

    • How can obeah be Igbo when none of the deity are Igbo

      • We don’t generally share our personal pantheon with people. We may reveal some of it so as to teach beginners, but we aren’t going to give away the entirety of our allies. I tell people about the Yoruba pantheon because they are offering this information to the world freely and publicly. Igbo are not generally so ready to share. There is the guy with the Medicine Shell channel on YouTube, and a couple of others, but nobody I know gives very specific instructions for someone outside the community about how to deal with specific deities. I am following the rest of the community’s lead in that. I’m in the diaspora, and it is not my place to make sudden innovations in this matter. If someone is interested in Igbo spirituality, I refer them to the “orthodox” Igbo practitioners.

  3. I have much regret and apologies to have to ask. i am inquiring about the proper spelling and pronounciation regarding a spirit. It sounds like Obigetkchi. It is a soulmate matchmaker. Greatly appreciatied if you are able to help.
    Thank you.

    • This came during a time I was a bit distracted. This is a Turkic or Afro-turkish entity by the sound of the name. Be careful as there wasn’t the concept of “soulmates” when this was crystalized as there is today. You may be calling on something you don’t know how to handle.

  4. Hello.
    I am retired and still trying to acquire the path I should be on. Any suggestions or advice, excluding personal opinions?

  5. Hallo, my Name is Johann Musyl from Vienna, Austria. I have a question about obeah initiation online. Do you Know someone who is doing that. And can that obeah man or woman tell me if obeah is my path, my way?
    If you need more Information about me, please ask.
    Thank You very much for Youre answer to come.
    Johann Musyl
    musyl.johann@gmail.com
    P. S. And can you tell me more about transmission of obeah?

    • Hello Johann. 🙂 Thank you for your comment and good questions.

      Online, though it is possible to teach on some level, it is not possible to receive a full initiation online for a few reasons. Anyone can read about and learn the things that have been published, but there is a lot to Obeah that is not published, and for good reason. Some things are exclusive to particular lineages, and some thing must be passed from teacher to student live. In most lines that I’m aware of, there are things the teacher must do themselves.

      A teacher can however, initiate you specifically as an online or distance acolyte. This has been done since before the internet. One takes the vows of a student in order to begin learning. We tend not to call this “initiation” though because this word has been overused and misused to mean something that it doesn’t. People will claim to be initiated into Obeah, Vodun, or other African and diaspora systems, and take this to mean they are qualified to teach or to lord over others or claim ranks and titles that they did not earn to standard.

      The truth is that any teacher can form their own curriculum and standards and “initiate” people to their group, but that doesn’t mean what they’re teaching you will give you anything good or important. So don’t be so concerned with initiation just because some others make a big deal out of it. I’ve encountered people who were “initiated” to Orishas but had no idea what offerings to give them or how to care for any of the items they were given in the ceremony.

      As to whether or not Obeah is your path, since we have greater access now, your best place to start looking is an Ifa or Afa reading from a qualified African diviner. They will tell you more about what you should do.

      Obeah may seem very fascinating, but it is, like any other spiritual system, very difficult for someone to get into as an adult. It is nothing like Wicca or other neopagan religions or magical disciplines. Though some have come in from other places to learn and one has reportedly received the Obia, this is extremely rare. These few instances should not be taken as normal or preferable. Unless you are connected to our community somehow, there is no real reason to pursue it. It is not the reclaiming of a dead belief system with a broken line. It is the continuation of a legacy of a very much living, unbroken, African tradition of sorcery. There are responsibilities and obligations involved that most people are not ready for, and no outsider really wants unless they have an ancestor or two prodding them towards this path.

      This is why online, I teach general witchcraft and not Obeah. Some others may, but I don’t because I don’t want to give anyone a wrong impression or be blamed for anyone taking what I taught them to claim a title they didn’t earn.

  6. I had a dream last night. Perhaps, I should lead up to this.
    I’m living in an unjust situation and under heavy oppression and persecution. Recently, I’ve been calling out, spiritually, for an energy to help me turn things around. I asked for a sign. I did this for 2 days, the sign asking. Help from spirits I’ve been asking for, for years. I made an offer in exchange for this help and I asked for a lot, but only what I feel is my Karmic due.
    Last night I had the weirdest dream. I entered a night club. There were offers of drugs and alcohol and I declined, saying I was there on business. It was loaded with people of African heritage.
    A ritual was taking place down near the stage and there was a circle in front of it. I heard the word Obeah spoken many times. People gathered around and a woman, also of African heritage appeared, within it. The ritual was a normal ritual where the being would choose her tributes. By the time she arrived, everyone but me was in a trance. Before she chose her tributes though, she summoned me and I entered the circle. She hugged me, called me old friend and said it had been a long time.
    Is this some sort of being answering me, giving me the sign I was looking for, that my offer has been accepted? I have felt ungrounded and spaced out yesterday morning and also today, like I’m here but not quite.

  7. I’ve never heard of an Obeah before and I know this is me completely. Everything in this article Explains me to a T.

    I can’t even explain how I know. But I know.
    I am a Mixed race almond woman born in Miami.

    Thank you for sharing this. All of my knowledge has been passed from spirit to me. I just keep wondering why I’m different then others. And somehow I feel this just explained me and I know who I am.
    I’ve been at this practice my entire life.

    • Hello Ezralea 🙂 If this is so, then you must rid yourself of slavery era “race” concepts and think in terms of actual lineage. Though awareness of how other people think is useful in terms of social justice, actual belief in anti scientific hierarchies of humanity do not suit a prospective mage.

      Just being categorized as Black by authorities in the occupied Maizeland has nothing to do with whether or not a type of Obeah is your path. It is connection to the specific history of the islands, and the struggles and cultures in which they developed.

      Though anyone can be called, there is no “self initiation” in this. One is either instructed by a mentor from or in the lineage of people from the islands, or promoted to a kind of mage or “Obeahman/woman” level by serving a community in the islands or families in their diaspora for some time.

      If certain aspects of it seem familiar, it is because there are many branches in the African diaspora, of people who originated from places in Africa that have the Obia concept or something like it. It is similar though not the same as the Roman “daemon” or Yoruba Aje. It may have been a branching off that happened before the concept of the Kemetic Sobek. Nobody knows. There are some pretenders out there claiming to be Iyami Aje, and Yoruba people and diaspora Ifa practitioners have plenty to say about this. The Obia concept being co-opted doesn’t generate much hype, but eventually it still catches up with people, even those who innocently misinterpret things. The spirits hear it and it’s like, “Oh really? Let’s just see how much suffering they can take.”

      So for now, if you feel that it is for you, find the non Christian folks from the West Indies, Caribbean, and other east coastal islands who are having meetings, running supply shops, etc. Eventually, if they like you then they will start teaching you. Even if the spirits are teaching you a lot, there is the concept of word power, and as soon as you speak a cultural lineage, this will signal the spirits to test your endurance compared to others who came through that culture. Better to do the slow endurance test of how much of various translations of papyrii you can commit to memory than the fast track of brutal hazing by Jamaican ancestors.

      Blessings and Ashe!

  8. My apologies first for being one of many bombarding you with questions about “how to”…I am not of Caribbean descent, and I’m not sure where I would even find a shop that supplies goods for people as you mentioned to someone in another post…I understand that you said the teachings need some one on one time to share their knowledge to students by talking with them…That certainly makes sense…If I wanted to learn this way of life do I begin by reading the information above?
    Thank you for your time and I hope to hear from you at your convenience… Kindly, Sue R

    • It’s alright. As I mentioned before, I found the Motherland non traditional folks, so the Caribbean version, while wonderful, is no longer the lonely strain of Afroscientific Spirituality available to the western world. You can learn straight from the heart of Africa from Efe West’s Master Class at https://kindoki.net/asmc

      So that you know, I don’t get paid anything from promoting him. We help each other because we’re spiritual family. Just be ready because you’re going to do a lot of reading. It’s a bit harder catching up as an adult, but it is do-able since we all have the compulsion to service to our community. It is very likely what drew you into the healthcare field in the first place.

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