Afro-Carib Spirituality

It is important to understand how the Creolised spiritual traditions of the Caribbean arose, and what cultures came together – by force, assimilation, adaptation, and necessity – to give rise to a spectrum of traditions with just as many differences as similarities.


Many of the Afro-Caribbean/Latin American traditions such as Vodou, 21 Divisions, Sanse, Lukumi, Candomble, Umbanda and similar are the product of the appalling practices of European nations, trading in human misery through slavery.

The majority of the slaves came from Africa, from a number of distinct cultures and kingdoms whose traditions live on in these new traditions. These nations included:


Dahomey was an African kingdom in the present-day Republic of Benin, founded by the Fon people, which lasted from 1600 until 1900.


The Ewe are a people located in southern Togo, southern Benin, and south-eastern parts of the Volta Region of Ghana, and were part of the Dahomey Empire.


The Yoruba people are an ethnic group of West Africa found predominantly in Nigeria. The Oyo Empire was a Yoruba empire of what is today western and northern Nigeria.


In Dahomey,  the Gedevi were the aboriginal people of the Ahbomey plane who were  displaced by the invading Fon.


The Igbo/Ibo people are an ethnic group of southeastern Nigeria. Before British colonialism, the Igbo were a politically fragmented group. There were variations in culture such as in art styles, attire and religious practices. Various subgroups were organized by clan, lineage, village affiliation, and dialect.


The Kingdom of Kongo was an African kingdom located in west central Africa in what is now northern Angola, Cabinda, the Republic of the Congo, and the western portion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as the southernmost part of Gabon.


In addition to the slave trade, Colonial nations committed wholesale genocide on the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean and South America, some of whose spiritual traditions also found refuge and survival in the new spiritual modalities – often arising when escaped slaves joined surviving indigenous peoples in refuge.


The Arawak people include the Taíno, who occupied the Greater Antilles (Cuba. Haiti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Purto Rico) and the Bahamas (Lucayans); the Nepoya and Suppoya of Trinidad, the Lokono of Guyana; the Igneri, who were supposed to have preceded the Caribs in the Lesser Antilles (Barbados, St Kitts, St Lucia, Antigua, Grenada etc..); together with related groups (including the Lucayans) which lived along the eastern coast of South America, as far south as what is now Brazil.

The Taínos were seafaring indigenous peoples of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles.


Carib or Kalinago people, after whom the Caribbean was named, are a group of people who live in Venezuela and the Lesser Antilles islands. The Caribs are believed to have migrated from the Orinoco River area in South America to settle in the Caribbean islands about 1200 AD.


Reflected amongst the Spirits worked with in a number of these traditions, such as Espiritismo and Sanse, are entities who are neither African nor Indigenous.  These reflect the spiritual forces of other peoples who were forced into servitude under a number of different Colonial nations.

Portuguese – 16th Century Chinese and Moorish Slaves sent to West Indies.

British & Dutch – 19th Century slavery of Chinese, Indian, Sri Lankans & Malays on Caribbean and South African sugar plantations.

British – 17th C transportation of Irish Catholics and Scots to Caribbean as indentured labour.

Spain, Portugal, England, Scotland – 16th -mid 19th C transportation of Roma (Gypsies) to Americas & Caribbean as slaves & indentured labour.


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