ALSO KNOWN AS:
Zemi is a Taino word for “spirits.” The Taino are an indigenous people of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, encompassing Haiti and the Dominican Republic. (There were also Taino settlements in the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, and elsewhere in the Caribbean.) The most prominent Zemi spirits include Atabey and Yucahu, but the word refers to all kinds of sacred beings, including ancestors.
Spirits are Zemis, but so are images and objects, which contain and possess the power of Zemis. According to Taino cosmology, natural objects possess indwelling spirits. These objects are also known as zemis. These include shells and rocks left intact, exactly as found in nature, but also images formed from fabric, stone, wood, and shells.
Zemis were prized possessions, sacred objects, considered incredibly precious, and their indwelling spirits were venerated. Zemis possessed gender, unique personalities, and were able to communicate with people. The owner of a zemi could sell it, give it as a gift or pass it down to a family member as an heirloom. To own the zemi was to have access to the power within. Households traditionally kept the zemis of all family members on a low table or within a niche.
Anacaona; Atabey; Yucahu
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by :Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.