Spirits of Obeah: Papa Bones, The Lady of the Pitch Lake & Anima Sola

* This information is given by me in good faith and is my understanding and experience of the spirits. Obeah is not a one size fits all practice. An understanding of the horrors of the slave trade and the spread and mixation of peoples and practices gives something of an understanding of how practices are shaped by the land and times they find themselves in. I offer my take on these spirits for information only.

If Sasabonsam is the Lord of the Wild Forest and Obeah, then Papa Bones is the guardian and protector of them. While it is Sasabonsam who ultimately gives the power of obeah, it is through Papa Bones that it fuses with the skeleton, filling the bones of the obeahman or woman and while Sasabonsam chooses whether one is worthy of such knowledge and power, it is Papa Bones who chooses worthy initiates to go before Sasabonsam.

Papa Bones is often seen or regarded as a spirit of death and is often equated with the Guede of Vodoun, the lwa of fertility and death. There is something of a trend in equating various African derived spirits with others in the diaspora and while there are often some similarities between those spirits and beings, viewing them as the same spirit is lazy and offensive and ignores the diversity and vibrancy of African spiritualities and the many different peoples from which such practices ultimately emerged. But Papa Bones is not just a spirit of death. He is the guardian and protector of the wild wood, the green forest and nature and within those realms, the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth is most potent, for indeed such cycles are the basis of life.

There are many aspects of Papa Bones, as many as the bones that make up our skeletons, each one with a specific purpose and which aspect you work with or appears to you will depend on your own specific practice and area of expertise.

There are many other spirits who fall beneath Papa Bones including Anansi the Spider god or who, more specifically, represents the spider mind of the distant creator god Nyame and we will come to learn more about these spirits as we progress through the course.

Papa Bones is ‘married’ to the Lady of the Pitch Lake, sometimes called Kumama or Asase however this is not a marriage in how we might understand the term but should instead be seen as a mysterious connection. We would do well to see this connection between the two in the same way as the land is related to water, the differences they have between them and their relationship to one another.

Anima Sola, Abysina Clarissa, is the daughter of Papa Bones and Anima Sola and acts as an intermediary between them and for them. Anima Sola is a product of assault and aggression and so do not make the mistake of thinking of the female spirits as being gentle earth mother types…they are not! Anima Sola and Kumama are spirits of suffering. Sola Anima is hot and fiery while Kumama is cold and distant and both represent different types of suffering and thus the lessons learnt from each are very different. Sola Anima is associated with pain and rage while Kumama is the desolation of feelings of hopelessness. However, with that said, they are not so one-sided and shallow, their mysteries are deep.

If Papa Bones is associated with the land through the aspect of the forest, and Kumama Water via the Pitch Lake, then Anima Sola is associated with the moon. As each phase of the moon has its own energy and aspect, so too does Anima Sola and this is a mystery that one learns through working with her, though be warned, she is no serene moon goddess!

Obeah is the often misunderstood and perhaps the least well known of the African Diaspora traditions and practices. It’s mysteries are those of spirit and magic, the relationship between ourselves and all the realms of being. To practice obeah is to traverse them all.

Published by Emma Kathryn

Emma Kathryn practises Traditional British Witchcraft and Obeah and is also an initiate of Vodoun, a mixture that fully encompasses her heritage. She lives in the middle of England in a rural town where she reads tarot, throws shells and drinks copious amounts of coffee!

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