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Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/218

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Obeah Worship in East and West Indies.

istered the fetish or solemn oath to the conspirators, and furnished them with a magical preparation which was to render them invulnerable, was fortunately apprehended, convicted, and hung, with all his feathers and trumperies about him, and his execution struck the insurgents with a general panic. The examinations which were taken at that time first opened the eyes of the public to the very dangerous tendency of Obeah practices, and gave birth to the law for their suppression and punishment. But neither the terror of this law, nor the strict investigation which has ever since been made after the possessors of Obi, nor the many examples of those who from time to time have been hanged or transported, have hitherto produced the desired effect. We conclude, therefore, that either this sect, like others, has flourished under persecution, or that fresh supplies are annually introduced from the African seminaries. The Obi is usually composed of a farrago of materials, most of which are enumerated in the Jamaica law passed in 1760, viz., blood, feathers, parrots' beaks, dogs' teeth, alligators' teeth, broken bottles, grave-dirt, rum, and egg-shells."

Obeah practices of the present day seem similar to those of a hundred years ago, and information about them has been kindly supplied to me by Mr. Thomas, Inspector Jamaica Constabulary, and gleaned from his interesting pamphlet, Something about Obeah. In addition to the law of 1760, another law for the suppression of Obeah was passed in 1845, which gave to the executive authorities very comprehensive powers to deal, not only with the Obeah-men themselves, but also with those who sought their services. This Act was further amended, and the powers increased. Under these Acts, prosecutions are brought up to the present day. So the fangs of the Obeah-man have been drawn, and cases of murder are rare; but he still exercises an evil and wide-spreading influence, and the difficulty of getting evidence against them is extreme:—"A strong man will turn the colour of