Caribbean

Caribbean – A variety of practices evolved in the Caribbean interaction of indigenous-, African-, European-, and Asian-derived religious traditions. Some of these (e.g., Comfa, Myal, Obeah, Quimbois, Santería or Lucumí, and Vodou) involve trance and/or possession for the purposes of acquiring knowledge or ability to heal illnesses or to curse enemies. Mircea Eliade’s insistence that shamans exhibit mastery of spirits rather than becoming possessed by them has led to the denial that there are shamans in the Caribbean. However, the recognition that leaders of possession cults invite possession and do not always enter trances, but do perform acts that signal the presence of spirits or other-than-human persons, leads Ioan Lewis to counter Eliade’s construction. In addition to possession, healing, and cursing, other parallels exist between the Creole or hybrid religious traditions of the Caribbean and the practices of shamans elsewhere. These can include initiation and training, marriage to an otherworld spouse or ally (sometimes leading to distinctive gender practices), the suspicion of being a sorcerer or magical wrongdoer, and employment by clients.

SOURCE:

Historical Dictionary of Shamanism by Graham Harvey and Robert J. Wallis 2007

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