“Africa was a Land aʼ Magic Power Since de Beginninʼ a History”

Yvonne P. Chireau

in Black Magic

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780520209879
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520940277 | DOI:
“Africa was a Land aʼ Magic Power Since de Beginninʼ a History”

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This chapter discusses the potential sources of black American supernaturalism, considering the African, European, and American sources of Conjure as it emerged among blacks in the United States. The arrival of black slaves in early America and their gradual formation of religions and cultures in the New World are the beginning points of Conjure. Enslaved communities of African people carried their ancestral rituals, theological principles, and liturgical practices into new environments. With time, slave religious traditions were supplemented with practices and beliefs extracted from non-African sources, such as supernatural practices of whites, American Indians, and Europeans. Gradually, older practices merged with concepts that were extracted from newly formed Afro-Christian ideas such as radical monotheism, dualistic notions of good and evil, and concepts of spiritual intervention. The simultaneous emergence of African-based supernaturalism (later identified as Conjure and Hoodoo) and black Americans' embrace of Christianity resulted in the reinforcement of magic and religion as convergent phenomena.

Keywords: Conjure; African Americans; supernaturalism; Christianity; black slaves; United States

Chapter.  9055 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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