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.