I was having a conversation with someone recently who relayed that a woman she knew was complaining about having “seven jumbies” attached to her. I found it amusing because I thought seven was quite a lot and I was curious to know how the woman came to that conclusion. It was revealed that the she had visited someone who claimed to have psychic abilities and that was her diagnosis. She needed a certain amount of money to offer that person before the process of freeing her from the “seven jumbies” could begin.
Some years ago, while doing research for a job, colleagues and I had a consultation with spiritualists. During our interactions, we were told that those who were truly anointed with the powers to see and tell the things that the ordinary man could not, never demanded payment. Instead, it was up to the person they were helping to offer them a gift in whatever form. I thought about this when I was told that the afflicted woman was having problems coming up with the money to free her from her seven jumbies.
Growing up, I heard many stories like the aforementioned. The older folk, especially, would often complain about turbulence in their lives caused by those unseen forces. Sometimes I thought it was the imagination of these folks or simply the aches of getting old. But even today these events continue. There are people who, with every little ache or irregularity, come to the conclusion that someone “wukking pon” them. They would either go to church to have the pastor pray for them, visit a psychic or do both. Often they spend a lot of money for insight and healing and sometimes they are left penniless.
There are times when people would have died mysteriously and it was said that it was evil at work orchestrated by someone who envied them or wanted them out of the way. We have heard stories like the ones of people getting promoted on their jobs and dying suddenly.
As little children we were afraid to point in the burial ground for fear that our finger would rot and when we pointed by accident we would quickly bite our finger to remain safe. I witnessed little children being passed over the coffin of relatives who would have died and it was said that this was done for protection.
You were told to leave your shoes outside when you returned home from funerals for it was not good to have the dirt from the burial ground in your home.
You were told things like to walk into the house backwards when you came home late at night so as to make sure that no “jumbies” would have followed you indoors. I recall a story where one woman related that she reached home late from a “dance” one night and had to wrestle a spirit who had followed her home. Some might say that maybe she had a little too much to drink that night but she claimed the spirit had crawled into bed with her and tried to strangle her. As a child, these stories terrified me.
Many of us grew up without realising that the reports of “jumbie-related activities” became a part of our belief systems. Sometimes, we do not realise the impact it had on us until something happens that reminds us that we too are caught up in the mysteries and fears of the spiritual realm. Like recently, I was walking along Camp Street and was going to continue my journey going east on Lamaha Street but when I came to the spot where Lee’s Funeral Parlour used to be I stopped. I did not want to walk across the space because I knew a funeral parlour used to be there. In my mind, I knew that nothing would happen to me if I did, but still I did not want to do it. It was then I recalled an experience I had when I was eleven years old. My maternal great grandmother had just passed away and there was a particular spot in the house she used to sit by a bedroom door. I recall passing by the door one evening and feeling what felt like a hand grab at my foot. I panicked and ran out the house. It was the first experience of that nature I recall having.
Then, as a teenager, I was sitting on the verandah of the family home. It was sometime after eight at night and I looked by the gate and for a moment I thought I saw a shadowy figure that disappeared. I was perplexed for days after questioning if it was my imagination or if there really was something there. Later, when I told someone what I had experienced, they said it was probably the spirit of my father who had died years earlier. I convinced myself that it had to have been that because many of the nights when I sat alone on the verandah of my home, I spent time thinking about him.
There are countless events that occur that cause us to question everything we know. There are many skeptics who dismiss all theories about the supernatural. Many Christian folks declare that there is power in the name of Jesus and the blood is all they need to cover them.
For me, it is about the collective experiences of the people. Though I question the logic in many of the reports, I cannot dismiss the experiences of countless people including myself.
I do believe, however, that sometimes people become so engrossed in the supernatural that they allow it to hinder the use of common sense; people like those who instead of visiting a medical doctor when stricken by a physical ailment conclude that they are afflicted by evil; people who claim that they are possessed by demons when in fact they might be suffering from mental illness.
But even with that, the spiritual and physical must exist together and healing in whatever form should be holistic. It is about the balance of the universe. Light and darkness must exist together and, therefore, where there is good there will also be evil. All things exist for a purpose, even though there are many things in this world that we do not understand. People will hold on to their beliefs. Their experiences will live in their memories and in their accounts. The skeptics and the believers will continue to exist together but the important thing is that we are sensible in our choices and are respectful of each other.