Of course I went to see “Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End”! I am a big fan of the series so I had big hopes for this heavily anticipated release.
“At Worlds End” was very diverse in that it had Asian, African, & Arab Pirates. I thought this was a good touch; especially the African Pirates because you do not hear much about them although they did exist.
In the first 2 Pirates installments the “Tia Dalma” aKa Calypso (Hyper Sexual Magical Negro (played by Naomie Harris) role was pretty small so up to the end of “Dead Man’s Chest” I questioned her real character value to the story line. Well in “At Worlds End” her significance was made very clear because the movie surrounded her mystery as the Sea Goddess Calypso not to mention that she set off the fierce pirate ship show down.
I will not give any details about the movie because I think this is a must see & if you haven’t seen the 1st 2 movies, check them out this week especially if you need an escape from real world drama like me.
One thing I will say is I am surprised no Black Bloggers are discussing the hypersexual portrayal of “Tia Dalma” who has been all over the white men in the films. Maybe this is a minor issue & I am being sensitive. Not!
Anyway during the course of the movie 1 of the pirates referred to “Tia Dalma” as an “Obeah Woman.” When I heard that reference, it made me think of the Nina Simone song by the same name. Although I sung the song many times, I never stopped to listen to what I was saying so I could not wait to get home to Google Obeah Woman to get the real meaning.
So now it is 10pm & I am Googling and I find the words to the Nina Simone’s “Obeah Woman” & I trip out because it tied to the movie by way of loose interpretation.
I find it funny how I tie most things that I encounter to a Nina Simone song; I guess that makes me the ultimate fan.
Yes, I’m the Obeah woman
Do you know what one is?
Ha do you know what an Obeah woman is?
I’m the Obeah woman from beneath the sea
To get to satan you gotta pass through me
‘Cause I know the angels name by name
I can eat thunder and drink the rain
Been through enough
Yeah they call me Nita and Pices too
There ain’t nothing that I can’t do
If I choose to, if you let me
Ha I’m the Obeah woman, above pain
I can eat thunder and drink the rain
I kiss the moon and hug the sun
And call the spirits and make ’em run
You hear me?
You hear me?
‘Cause I ain’t praying, never was
Just waiting for my time
Waiting for to die
Hackle and patience
Hackle and patience oh yeah
Obeah Woman ~ Nina Simone: It Is Finished 1974
Back-story of the Obeah
A set or system of secret beliefs in the use of supernatural forces to attain or defend against evil ends. It is African in origin but on its arrival in the Caribbean certain aspects of Christian ceremonials and sacraments were integrated into its activities. It varies greatly in kind, requirements, and practice, ranging from the simple, such as the use of items like oils, herbs, bones, grave-dirt, blessed communion wafers and fresh animal blood to more extreme ingredients. Obeah men or Obeah women are names given to its practitioners. The term Pyai, from the Carib for shaman is also used in Dominica relating to the casting of spells. Origins for the word Obeah come from the Twi: o-bayo-fo (witchcraft man). From the Nembe: obi (sickness, disease), and Igbo: obi (a mind or will to do something) and the Ibibo: abia (practitioner, herbalist).
Obeah is not a religion in the classical sense. That is to say, there are no meeting places such as a Churches, Mosques, Synagogue or any underlying infrastructure replicating such a system. Nor is there any sort of congregation or parishioners, although there are what may be called followers, albeit scattered. (Source)
Obeah, as practiced in Jamaica and the Caribbean, takes the use of and knowledge of ancient occult powers originally handed down over the centuries by word of mouth from the remnants of a once very powerful and celebrated secret religious Order emanating from a remote age that has long since been lost in the mist of time. Over the centuries most of the original tenets became watered down, with the less powerful versions of Obeah incorporating various modifications of occult spellcraft as once practiced mostly by tribal people who spoke Ashanti from West Africa. However, the most secretive, powerful and dreaded purveyors of present day Obeah comes undiluted from the old Order. Practitioners of same will sometimes use the less volatile aspects of their brethren, but usually operate well beyond the confines of any traditional witchcraft, sorcery, shamanism, voodoo (voudon), or tribal magic.
It is a dying breed shrouded in secrecy, with the most powerful versions known and practiced only by a select few. Even fewer ever truly enter the ranks of Obeah and able to successfully wield its will and awesome scope unscathed. An Obeahman can use any system and fuel it with the power of Obeah without the danger of disrespect for the gods, but, depending on circumstances, not necessarily without repercussions from the gods… (Source)
Obeah, Jamaica & Slavery
By 1760 we have early evidence for obeah in English. That year the Jamaican assembly enacted a bill “to remedy the evils arising from irregular assemblies of slaves…and for preventing the practice of Obeah.” The bill stated “any Negro or other Slave who shall pretend to any Supernatural Power and be detected in making use of any materials relating to the practice of Obeah or Witchcraft in order to delude or impose upon the Minds of others shall upon Conviction thereof before two Magistrates and three Freeholders suffer Death or Transportation.”
It was in vain; even after the introduction of Christianity to the slaves of Jamaica later in the eighteenth century, Obeah maintained its presence, as it still does today, long after the abolition of slavery. The religious practice known as Revivalism incorporates both Christianity and Obeah, and there are still Obeah men and women in Jamaica and elsewhere in the Caribbean. (Source)
Back to me
If you are from the West Indies/Caribbean or West African do you have any experience or knowledge of the Obeah.