Can a non African Person receive the Obi?
Genetically, there are no non African people. Still, it is rare for a non African person to receive the Obi for both cultural and spiritual reasons. The cultural reasons are obvious. However, even when one does managed to encounter a non African person in the Americas who does not have some illusion of “white privilege”, they may already have something like the Obi, just from their lands of origin. It does happen though, so one should not assume that just because a person isn’t obviously recently African, they can’t have the Obi.
If the teacher is told by the Obi that they should give it to a person, this is not really up to them. Also, many people who have recent African ancestry may not look African, but they are. They could be born with the Obi.
Some things are very rare, but very little is impossible in this.
Can I Do Obeah Spells For Myself?
This is a very frequently asked question lately, since awareness of Obeah has increased due to the internet. The answer is not unless you have the Obia actively in you and/or you have been trained in Obeah as a belief and/or magickal system.
There are some spells however, designed by Obeah persons, that a layperson can do well enough. In fact, there are many Obeah practices that are common, such as home protection, ridding a place of evil, etc. You don’t have to be a fully mature Obeah sorcerer/ess to make basic protection salts or a lucky hand. However, the minimum requirement is that you be respectful and observant of the Spirits and the cultures in which Obeah developed.
For example, if you make a Go Away Evil spray without respecting the Spirits, its effectiveness will be limited to the bare energy that is left in the substances it is made of. It will expire more rapidly than it would for a mindful practitioner, and will just basically be an herbal scented air freshener. In a worst case scenario, you could end up making something that angers the Spirits.
So if you are not doing at least weekly offerings and observances of an African Gate Keeping deity, you should not attempt to do any Obeah spells or other workings or recipes without at least the supervision of an experienced Obeah person. Spells are the privilege of the observant. Period.
How do I tell who is real and who is fake?
Traditions and practices vary, and there is a lot of cultural and educational exchange between Africans in the Motherland and diaspora. So you may find a practitioner or priest of West African Vodun who uses elements of Kemetic magick, or Hoodoo to get things done. There are shrines in Africa with images of Ganesh, Shiva, and other Hindu deities. In the diaspora there are many people of mixed ancestry who draw on many sources from their own or adopted heritage. Respectful mixing is quite normal.
So the measure of who is a legitimate sorcerer or practitioner is not in how “pure” their practice is to a specific regional tradition, but whether or not they are regularly observant, doing the ceremonies they say they are doing, and meeting the standards of their craft.
So one may ask what is the Obeah standard? How does one know that they are dealing with a real Obeah person?
A heritage Obeah person is usually African or Creole, from the east coast or Caribbean. If they are not, they should have been trained by someone who is. They should know how to use the regional plants and other resources in ways that are not in any of Scott Cunningham’s books. People from the islands and the east coast recommend them to you because they have worked with them before, and know them to be legit.
With a real Obeah person, you will get tools to maintain the energy of the work and/or evidence that the ceremony you requested was done. Those on the internet also usually have photos and videos of themselves. If they are not public, they should have a way for you to contact them to receive them privately, or a less-than-public social media page or gallery you can browse at least.
Legitimate practitioners also have a physical location. You can visit us at our temple or residence for a local appointment. For privacy reasons, we don’t all post our address and other details, but if you’d like to see one of us in person, feel free to ask. If someone doesn’t take live appointments, then they are shady.
Western Influences in Obeah
In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, an occultist author named L.W. de Laurence ushered in a new style of Obeah that combined Hindu, west African, Judaic, and European styles of ritual magick. It solidified and to some degree validated the universalism of previously practiced Obeah, as well as bringing it to a wider audience. Though some may have issues with his work being associated with or overlapping with other streams of Obeah practice, he did write some very important and influential works that turned out to be very effective, and saved others from greater obscurity. He made it possible for the dedicated student to at least have where to start. Among some of his works that are considered “must read” are The Sixth and Seventh Books of Moses, The Greater Key of Solomon, and The Mystic Text Book of the Hindu Occult Chambers.
Both the de Laurence and the heritage Obeah practitioners these days read mostly the same books, so there is very little distinction between the two except what they were taught by their elders. Heritage Obeah people tend to have been brought up using more of their local herbs and other resources, natural products, and prefer to make many things by hand. The de Laurence type tend to be less averse to synthetic and mass produced items, or at least this is how it used to be. Nowadays, more who were okay with certain modern conveniences are becoming less so.
Because the west is becoming more natural in magick, the lines that used to divide and distinct us are blurring. It’s about time.
Heritage Obeah is and will remain more trusted though. It’s hands on, passed from elder to progeny or protege, and there is the security of knowing that you’re dealing with a mature person trained by mature people who are well in line with the most mature: the Ancestors. So whatever books are read to expand our knowledge, we still rely mostly on the wisdom of our elders. What I mean by that is we don’t use grimoire or ritual magick in place of herbal and holistic medicine, offerings, and faithful observance and service of the deities.
Most of us, though we may study or peruse Qabbalistic metaphysics and grimoires, consider them a supplement to rather than a substitute for practical magick. Reading the recipe is not enough. 😉