Garifuna Religion

Garifuna Religion – The Garifuna (also known as Black Caribs) are the descendents of Africans and the indigenous Carib people of Saint Vincent in the Caribbean. The survivors of a British deportation to Honduras continued the evolution of Carib religion and language. Paul Johnson summarizes their traditional religion as having aspects typically associated with some West African groups, like the use of drums to induce possession trance by ancestors. It also shows Carib features, like the shaman (buyei) who blows smoke on a patient’s afflicted body to extract penetrations. And it reveals Catholic features, like the importance of baptism and images of the Virgin and saints in homes.

As in other Caribbean, South American, and Central American shamanic religions, the main ceremonial event, the dügü, involves spirit possession so that aggrieved ancestors who are causing illness become present to be offered “food, rum, praises, and even simulated sex.” For their performance in this multiday event, shamans dress in “clothing ordered from ‘African’ clothiers of New York” and compare their “work to more well-known African systems of Yoruba and Vodou.” The ceremony is also marked as “traditional” by its demonization by evangelical Christians.


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


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Grim, John

Grim, John (1946– ) Professor of religion at Harvard University and cofounder and codirector (with Mary Evelyn Tucker) of the Forum on Religion and Ecology.…