Great Smithsonian Article on Obeah’s Role in Antigua’s Slave Revolt

antiguaFrom smithsonianmag.com, Antigua’s Disputed Slave Conspiracy of 1736:

Klaas is a figure of compelling interest to historians. Gaspar and others argue that his influence over his fellow slaves went further than the Antiguan planters of the day realized, since, according to the official report on the planned uprising, “it was fully proved that he had for many Years covertly assumed among his Countrymen, the Title of King, and had been by them address’d, and treated as such.”  They further identify him as an Ashanti, a member of a tribal confederation renowned for discipline and courage, not to mention abundant use of human sacrifice.

The most intriguing evidence relating to Prince Klaas concerns a public ceremony held a week before the planned rebellion. In the course of this ritual, Gaspar says, Klaas was enthroned by an “obey man”—an obeah-man, that is; a priest, shaman or sorcerer who practiced the West African folk religion known as voodoo or santería. In other Caribbean risings, it was the obeah-man who administered oaths of loyalty to would-be rebels with a mixture made of gunpowder, grave dirt and cock’s blood; strong belief in his supernatural powers helped cement loyalty. Michael Craton is not alone in arguing that the ceremony Antigua’s obeah-man presided over was actually a war dance,

Lindsay Lohan, Taylor Armstrong and Their Psychic Events For 2013

lohanJust a few celebrity psychic predictions for 2013. From entertainmentwise.com:

She’s facing legal cases in both Los Angeles and New York following a string of run ins with the law but according to Lindsay Lohan’s lawyer Mark Jay Heller, the troubled star’s future is looking up as a psychic has told the actress 2013 will be “extremely lucky”.

The lawyer made the claims yesterday following a court appearance in New York yesterday regarding charges of misdeameanor assault following a fight in a Manhattan nightclub last year.

Heller, who arrived in a luxury Rolls Royce for the appearance, appeared to be banking on good luck to get his client through the case and even had a white rabbit leg hanging off his Louis Vuitton brief case.

And from gather.com:

Taylor Armstrong has been just sad this season. She appears to be intoxicated quite often and the things she says are just off the wall. Well, she is just getting more off. She had a psychic come in and cleanse her home. Apparently, the bad energy was just building up.

On a more somber note, discovery.com commented on a parent of a child attending the Sandy Hook Elementary School, scene of the recent American mass shooting tragedy, who believes her child’s psychic abilities may have saved his life:

A mother at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Conn. is claiming that her son’s psychic powers saved him because he had panic attacks that took him out of school before the Dec. 14 shooting occurred.

According to reporter Sandra Clark, “Karen Dryer’s worst nightmare started to unravel when her young son Logan Dryer, 5, became so anxiety ridden when he went to kindergarten at Sandy Hook Elementary School that she decided to pull him out of school just two weeks before the deadly massacre.

“Logan started kindergarten in September 2012. He was perfectly fine in September and October, and then in November he started acting strange. I got an email from his teacher saying he was a little weepy and then I started getting phone calls that Logan was crying and wanted to go home. Eventually it got so bad that I took him to the doctor who ran tests, saying that Logan was perfectly healthy.”

Logan’s doctor suggested that he be home-schooled for several weeks, though he and his mother visited the school once a week so he could socialize with friends. During those visits, his mother said, the boy would become visibly upset as if he knew something bad would happen. Karen Dryer came to believe that her son’s concerns and fears revealed his gift of prophecy: “My mother, Milly, who passed away a couple of months ago was very psychic, and I know now without a doubt that my son has the same gift.”

 

Police Violate Religious Rights in Canada, Pose As Obeah Man

police-carAn undercover police sting in Ontario used an undercover officer of Caribbean ancestry, Andrew Cooper, to pose as an Obeah Priest in order to gain confessions from three suspects in the slaying of a drug dealer in Brampton. According to the-star.com:

Peel Region police breached the religious rights of a Jamaican Canadian family by having an officer pose as an Obeah spiritual adviser to extract information during a murder investigation, the Court of Appeal will hear Tuesday.

Evol Robinson, his brother Jahmar Welsh, and friend Ruben Pinnock are asking the court to overturn their first-degree murder convictions in the 2004 Brampton shooting of drug dealer Youhan Oraha.

The trial judge, Ontario Superior Court Justice Terrance O’Connor, erred in admitting statements made by Robinson and Pinnock to an undercover constable posing as Leon the Obeah Man, according to their claim.

The evidence was crucial to the Crown’s case against Robinson and Pinnock.

The Crown argues police did not play a “dirty trick” that would shock Canadians. “Deceit and manipulation are inherent in undercover operations,” it says in a written response.

The police officer, Andrew Cooper, donned a black robe and wore a head covering and chanted in a darkened room lit by candlelight. Most sessions were secretly videotaped.

To appear prescient, Cooper used information from police wiretaps. To demonstrate his power over evil, he had a dead crow placed on the Robinson family’s front steps. He broke open an egg at the murder scene with secretly pre-loaded red dye to look like blood.

The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines Obeah as a type of sorcery or witchcraft practised especially in the West Indies, but four defence experts at trial said it is a form of religious practice.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has intervened in the appeal, arguing that allowing police to impersonate religious advisers “shocks the conscience of Canadians.”

“People in Canada have a right to spiritual guidance and a right to a relationship with a religious advisor free from police interference,” the association states in written submissions.

A black man of Caribbean ancestry, Cooper had 17 sessions with Robinson, his mother, Collette, and/or Pinnock.

“Leon” claimed the Robinson family was cursed by an evil spirit, a “white boy” who had drawn police and the judiciary to them.

He offered Colette Robinson protection against the justice system (Babylon) and its stakeholders (judges, police — the “Beast man”) and engaged them in activities he claimed would quell the evil spirit.

The African Canadian Legal Clinic has intervened in the case, arguing the ruse preyed on the Robinson family’s deep-seated mistrust of police and the criminal justice system.

Police treated the Robinsons’ ethnicity-based belief in Obeah as a tool to extract information, assuming those beliefs are not worthy of equal respect, thus breaching their equality rights, the clinic argues.

Det.-Sgt. David Jarvis testified at trial that the Obeah idea was his. Obeah is not a religion, he said, and he would not have infiltrated Catholics, Buddhists, Muslims or Hindus.

According to authorities in Canada, Obeah is not a religion. Do Canadian authorities believe it is fine to use magicians tricks and deception to manipulate a criminal suspect in the name of an African religious Spirit – say, Eshu – but it would not be appropriate for them to use the same tactics claiming to be from a Christian Angel, or from Jesus Christ. Can an undercover police officer in Canada pretend to be a Minister of Christ, using wiretapped information to convince a suspect that they are communicating with Jesus?

The issue is not endorsing or excusing any criminal behaviour – especially a murder – but rather the ignorance surrounding the beliefs and practices of traditional African religions such as Obeah. It is good to see that the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the African Canadian Legal Clinic both took up the banner to fight not only for the rights of the suspects, but for the dignity of Obeah, its religious beliefs and its authenticity as a religion, a spiritual belief, equal and on par with a Catholic, Hindu or Muslim.

The Leader-Post added additional comments from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association:

Further, the association argued, “the failure to recognize a protection to the integrity of the relationship of trust and confidence with a spiritual adviser creates a chill on all Canadians’ right to engage in meaningful religious practices and expression.”