Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/273

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Obeah in the West Indies. 263

cockroach floating on the top. Apparently they nearly all contained exactly the same things ; some may have besides the cockroach a few rusty nails and a bit of red flannel or such-like rubbish.

Another powerful instrument, says Sir Henry, in the hands of the obeahman is the " criboe," or large black non- venomous serpent, very common in the island, and not- withstanding the size, quite harmless. The natives firmly believe that when one of these sorcerers " dresses " a garden or field he lets go in it by means of his spells and incanta- tions a large number of the most ferocious " criboes," which would infallibly destroy anyone venturing into the place for the purpose of stealing.

Snakes, although non-venomous, are held in the greatest dread by the natives, this fear and veneration being, it is supposed, due to the ideas inculcated into them by the serpent worship of their fathers and mothers in Africa.

From this it would seem that the ofl"ence of "proedial larceny " is as common in Grenada as in Antigua, or any other island of the Leeward group. Before I came out to these islands considerable agitation had been going on amongst the planters for the introduction of more severe enactments in order to prevent the serious depredations amongst growing crops. The natives, however, like those in Grenada, seem to set more store upon the assistance of their own fellow-creatures in the shape of obeahmen, and by very much the same means. It is a very common sight in one's walks about to see the provision grounds " dressed " in the way described as existing in Grenada, one of the most effective-looking, at all events, being the skulls of animals, particularly of cattle, — sometimes with branching horns, — fastened to the top of a stake in the ground. I wonder what the natives must have thought as they passed by, and sometimes stood and watched me in silence — me, their highest legal authority and protector in the island — in my efforts to knock these most fascinating targets from off