Bad Luck and Obeah

A recent article by Chris Burns at the Jamaica Observer, titled with the claim, “No Connection Between Bad Luck and Obeah” asserted the following:

“It is often said that bad luck is worse than obeah, but this is untrue. Obeah and bad luck are unrelated because bad luck cannot produce obeah and obeah cannot make bad luck. In fact, as Murphy’s 56th law asserts, “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong.” This means there is always a possibility of things happening contrary to our expectations, particularly with things over which we have no control.

Therefore, no one should use this aphorism to explain certain outcomes or behaviour, especially when it is crystal clear that neither bad luck nor obeah had anything to do with the negative consequences that emanate from certain deeds. In a sense, application of this adage is a cop-out and a slick way of ducking personal and collective responsibility.”

Mr. Burns made a very good point – far too often people do assert that witchcraft, Obeah, or just bad luck is at fault for what they should take responsibility for. The case of criminal finally caught after a life of crime exclaiming, “Obeah did me in!” falls into this category. It is not the Obeah, but the natural outcome of living that type of lifestyle. As Mr. Burns said, it does not take Obeah or bad fortune to explain why certain results come from certain deeds. However, Mr. Burns sells the truth short when he claims that Obeah and bad luck are not related. The two are inseparably intertwined. And the aphorism that bad luck is worse than Obeah is a piece of African wisdom that has many, many secrets to tell us:

Witchcraft, Vodou, Obeah, or by whatever name you prefer to call it is the ritual part of generating a spiritual force. Bad luck is the actual spiritual force. Bad luck, misfortunes, illness, financial ruin and even death can come to any man at any time. As the Holy Bible tells us, when it rains it does not rain upon one man alone (or only upon the wicked). These spiritual forces exists and they can reach out and touch any person. Obeah can generate or invoke the spiritual forces to bring harm – Obeah can cause bad luck, as the aphorism indicates. However, bad luck can also come without Obeah. This is one meaning of the expression bad luck is worse than Obeah.

Obeah can bring healing, blessings, benefits to the individual and even spiritual salvation. However, bad luck is always bad. Behind this there is always a negative spirit. This is another meaning when we say that bad luck is worse than Obeah.

An Obeah man can place a curse upon you. He can also lift it and restore you. Bad luck that comes by itself, however, is not as easily removed. It can be lifted, but it is not the same as the bad fortune caused by an Obeah man being immediately erased by the same Obi man. And this is yet another meaning of the expression that bad luck is worse than Obeah.

Mr. Burns made the very important point that we alone are responsible for the consequences that come from our own actions. And his point is truly not in contradiction to the one made here, because not all bad luck that befalls a person is the result of their actions. Many innocent people suffer due to evil men, evil spirits and evil forces in the world. This is the most important meaning of bad luck is worse than Obeah. Obeah can be used to fight against random evil forces in the world that harm innocents. Bad Luck refers to those forces that bring nothing but evil upon all of mankind.

We must use Obeah, even if unseemly, to stamp out the truly evil forces that plague us as human beings.