Where Does Obeah Come From?

"Obeah is clearly an African Religious art and practice that survived colonial Caribbean culture"
—Nathaniel Samuel Murrell

Obeah originates from native West African religions but can claim roots in almost anywhere or anything. Practice can be traced back to the enslaved and the Maroons of Jamaica, but its practice extends throughout the Caribbean in places like Guyana (where Indian influence is most present) and through Latin America and South America.

Just like the people and language of the Caribbean, the practice is unique to its place, as the result of mixing cultures and circumstances due to colonization. While Obeah is not uniform or universal in its practice, it is inclusive. Because of the endless iterations of cultures, ethnicities, and colonizers coming together, all with different roots and belief systems, it would be nearly impossible to have uniformity in any way within the Obeah community. Instead, it sought out acceptance of all practices of Obeah.

With multiple sects and origins coming together, it created what philosopher and historian of religion Nathaniel Samuel Murrell called a cultural “symbiosis.” Many colonized people from different backgrounds were able to interact and relate through shared common beliefs and culture. Thus resulting in greater harmony and a sense of solidarity against colonizer rule.

Map of Caribbean based on Colonizer Rule, 1703.