What is Obeah?

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?

As far as witchcraft and sorcery in general, the real are doing the work, and have proof of it.  The fake are not doing the work, and therefore have no proof that they are doing it.

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. 😉

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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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