Some years ago on a Saturday afternoon in Jamaica, my mother’s friend, who was a short dark complexioned woman with watery droopy eyes, came to see my mother. I remember her from my mother’s job as the canteen lady, as she worked in the hospital of the University of the West Indies. On this particular day, it seemed as if the woman had been crying as her droopy eyes were red and the puffyness under her eyes were more pronounced that day. I felt sad for her somehow, although I did not know what was happening. As her whole body structure told me that she felt defeated, although I did not know at that time how to put my thoughts into words, I knew she was not having a good day. My mother had the woman sit on our veranda while she went inside to get something. I watched as my mother came out with a small bottle filled with a turquoise colored liquid. She went over to the woman, used her index finger to cover the mouth of the bottle and tipped it to get it’s liquid, then used her finger to place a sign (perhaps it was of a cross) on certain areas of the woman’s face, neck, and chest.
As my mother did this the woman seemed to become more distraught and the pungent smell of the liquid that my mother used permeated the air. It was pleasant. As the woman cried, my mother left to go into the back and I followed behind her. In the back of the house was my father, who was studying his racing forms and smoking a spliff. He asked my mother how was the woman?
To which she responded, “Shi nah guh live enuh, shi ah guh dead. Dem set duppy pon har.”
My father kissed his teeth as he was one who never believed in these things and prided himself on being a Doubtful Thomas. My mother went to the fridge, poured a glass of water for the woman, and we headed back to the front veranda. Hilda Willis (Miss Will), my mother’s arch nemesis who lived in the same tenement as us, had a drunkard for a brother named Alfred. Alfred did not live in the same tenement as we did, but on this day he came to visit his sister Miss Will. As my mother handed the glass to the lady who was by now sniffling and drying her tears, Alfred staggered through our gate and came towards our veranda.
It was obvious Alfred was drunk.
My mother had placed her hands onto the woman’s shoulders and was silently praying for her. The Jamaican sun beamed down on us that day and almost seemed as if it was in a cooking mode and wanted to boil us that day. Alfred staggered up the steps with all intentions of going into Miss Will’s house, but upon seeing my mother, he greeted her in a slurred speech and staggered towards her to shake her hand. But before he could do so, he looked at the woman who my mother was tending to and shouted out: “JESUS CHRIST, SI DI DUPPY DEH!”
And then immediately, we all heard a loud POW! Alfred was flattened on the ground, foaming at the mouth, as if he was undergoing an epileptic fit. My mother then shouted for my father, screaming, “Bring di rum! Duppy box dung Alfred!”
It was pandemonium on the veranda that morning, as Miss Will ran out shouting and screaming “Jesus Christ!” My father walked out lazily with the rum, his spliff at the side of his mouth, my mother grabbed the rum and began to wet Alfred with it as he thrashed about on the ground, while Miss Will held his head and Janet, her niece, held his feet. All of this happening while the droopy eyed woman bawled, shouted, and screamed. Even the sun seemed to withdraw a little as the heat which was intense before quelled slightly.
Some “prayer warriors” seemed to come out of no where but was truly in fact the higglers from across the street, rushed onto the veranda and began to pray fervently. One thing I must say about Jamaican people back then is that in times of need they acted as a community, a support for each other, no matter the circumstances.
Alfred revived eventually and he was sat up, supported by some people and he seemed to even have come back to his senses from the same alcohol that he had staggered into the yard with, the fright seemed to have driven the “drunkenness” away. After a few moments, he began to speak.
“Ah duppy box mi dung enuh, mi si di duppy tan up tiff inna di ooman.” He pointed at the droopy eyed woman who was crying and sniffling but she did not seem surprised as to what he was saying. Neither did my mother.
Alfred then said, “Lady, dem set duppy pon yuh from yuh work place an’ nuh matta weh yuh guh, nuh body not gwine able fi heal it.” To which his sister Miss will chimed in “kiba (quiet) yuh mout Alfred mine him box yuh dung agen!” Alfred shouted that day that the woman would die and very soon. And she did. She didn’t last a month after this day.
I have never forgotten that day. Many people saw Alfred as just a drunk, but he had eyes which could clearly see beyond the norm. And although my father, who still prides himself to this day as a Doubtful Thomas, witnessed all of this, and also what my mother had told him, he still kissed his teeth, unwilling to accept that this was indeed obeah that happened to the woman.
I am Jamaican so I know firsthand that Jamaicans sees all things that are not attached to the Bible and Jesus Christ, as Demon and Devil worshipping (or obeah, which they also associate with these two), yet still, there are so many powerful people in the country, as I believe that all Jamaicans are highly spiritual people. But the stigma that is placed upon anyone who has embraced their spirituality outside of Christianity, I believe was created through fear, which was taught to them by their same religion. But I ponder on their indoctrinated mindset because I have read the bible (as I was once a Christian), back and front and thoroughly, and in this book, I have seen many mystical and mysterious things which, to my understanding, solidifies that spirituality or that of the unknown are apart of our living world.
There is a scripture in the bible, first Samuel chapter nine from 1 to 21, where Saul’s father had sent him and a servant out to find a donkey that belonged to the family. Saul was told not to come home until the donkey was found. After being away from home after several days, Saul became tired and decided to go back home and risk the wrath of his father because the donkey was not found. The servant suggested that they seek the advice of a Seer, this particular verse is verse six where according to the servant the Seer is an “honorable man and all that he says comes to pass.”
In verse seven, Saul wondered if they went, what shall they bring the man? (Meaning that they had no money), “and there is not a present to bring to the man of God, what have we?” (NOTE that he is calling the Seer (or reader man) “a man of God” and also worried that he had no PAYMENT for the reading).
In verse eight, the servant answered Saul and said , “Behold! I have here, at hand, the fourth part of a shekel of silver that will I give to the man of God, so that he can show us our way.” They both decided it was a go and they set out to go and see the Seer (the reader man).
In verse twelve, they were pointed to the Seer’s direction and told that the he would be coming down today because there was a sacrifice to be performed for the people in the high place (meaning the community Altar).
Now, in verse fifteen it says that the Lord spoke to Samuel in his ears the day before Saul came. He told him that tomorrow, about the same time, he will send a man out of the land of Benjamin and he, Samuel, would anoint that man to be Captain over his people Israel. What this means is that unbeknownst to Saul he would be anointed the King of Israel upon his meeting with Samuel, the Seer. But for now, his business with the Seer was to know the location of the family’s donkey which was lost.
To cut the story short, upon meeting Samuel, before Saul could open his mouth and even offer an offering, the Seer confirmed who he was when they asked to be pointed in his direction, not knowing that it was him. The Seer then told them that the donkey that they lost, Saul’s father found it three days ago. This was said before even a greeting from Saul or the servant.
The point of this story is to show that although Christians look down and cast negativity upon readers, diviners, spiritual practitioners and anyone who seeks them, hypocrisy is among their names, because here lies, in their Holy Bible, ONE OF many stories proving that God sanctioned the uses of Prophets/Seers/Readers/Diviners/Practitioners and also of sacrifice as stated above.
Also, it is said in the same Bible, first Samuel fourteen verses 41 that Samuel, as the Seer, used a divination tool or an oracle which was called, the “Urim” and “Thummim,” in other words it acts like the casting of Lots and in the chapter quoted above you will see upon reading it how he used this oracle to separate a good person from a bad person.
The story I told to you all of Alfred the drunk also goes along with the story of Saul and Samuel. Here was a man who came through our gate in a drunkard state, his consciousness was altered by the liquor he consumed before he came. All that was happening there on the veranda before he walked through the gate, nobody, but perhaps my mother and the woman, knew. But clearly, Alfred could see beyond the physical and as he came, whatever he saw shook him to the core of his being that he had to through an epileptic fit (which, by the way, seizure or fits, when it happens, is light (spirits) passing through the physical body). Upon returning to himself after experiencing the seizure, he, who had no idea of what was happening, revealed the problem the woman was having and prophesied her death.
Now, I’d like to ask a question: In him doing this, was it bad? What he saw and revealed, was it something demonic and sparked by the devil?
Often times many people, even Christians, will have dreams and visions and will seek to find out what messages were being given to them through these dreams. But I would like to know if they in turn (meaning Christians or those who stigmatize spirituality) ask their priests, pastors, bishops, or whomever, to help them understand these dreams or visions, which are coded messages. If these visions are interpreted for them, and the interpretation is correct, did the interpreter (who may be the Pastor or a sister in the church), do a wrong thing in decoding the spiritual message given in the dream? Should they have rebuked the dreamer by saying if you didn’t dream Jesus, the Bible, or the Church, then I have nothing to say or do with whatever spiritual communication you connected with.
Most people are asleep and it is very sad, because walking around as Zombies with no spiritual focus, only that which has been taught to you from a book or a Pastor, and does not allow you to search within yourself as a fragment of the Creator, allows for confusion. Embracing one’s spirituality in ways of the human being connecting while on it’s earthly journey to it’s higher self or that which is consciousness, is how we find our path through the chaos of the world in which we live. My intention with this post is to highlight the stigma and fear of embracing one’s spirituality and the hypocrisy of it all through religions, which only creates confusion and holds one back from attaining their higher purpose.
However, there IS truth within all doctrines, I believe, because if the Pastors or Religious leaders taught from their holy scriptures in the way that I relayed the story of Saul and Samuel, then that fear of spirituality would be removed.
Tan and see nuh bruk nuh dance, only interference – Old time Jamaican proverb!
All religions are valid as long as it teaches peace and love – Obara Meji
There are no disappointments in life, only lessons learned! – Obara Meji