Sunday, February 18, 2024

Black History Story: (Part 2) Voodoo, the Taíno Connection


Voodoo, True Zombies & Dreadlocks

Copyright by Michael Auld

Worldwide Afro-Caribbean practices began on two large Caribbean islands, French-speaking Haiti and next-door English-speaking Jamaica. However, the most pervasive concepts are Rastafarian dreadlocks, Haitian voodoo & zombies.

Zombies and Voodoo or Voudou are combined Indigenous Taíno practices which have greatly influenced popular American culture, especially through Hollywood movies, and the naming of 13 new pathogens, a set of 48,500 year old infectious viruses revitalized from thawing permafrost.

But, are zombies real?

A true zombie was the verdict of a local medicine man, a bokor, a priest of Vodou or "Voodoo", another Amerindian-African collaboration of using endemic medicinal herbs, and spiritualism. The "victim" was a man who messed up royally, given a puffer fish potion, whose toxin made him seem dead. Buried, he was later dug up by the bokor and used like a slave.


Above:The cover of the January-February 1986 issue of Harvard Magazine, based on research in Haiti.

Photo of Clairvius Narcisse raised from the grave, led ethnobiologist Wade Davis to probe the secrets of Haiti's "living dead".

Another Afro-Caribbean influence

Jamaica's reggae star, Bob Marley, was responsible for the popularizing of the wool-like natural matting of freshly washed hair, based on the teaching of the Biblical Israelite, Samson. In the Bible's Old Testament, Samson's strength was in his long, uncut hair, which, when forcefully cut by the Romans, he lost his strength. When Jamaican police arrested Rastafarians for ganja or marijuana possession, they would cruelly cut off their dreadlocks. This practice was outlawed.

The belief in dreadlocks came from the Jamaican Rastafarians belief that, "God made two animals with woolen hair, Africans, the Chosen People, and sheep. Since Christians say that Jesus the Christ was the 'Lamb of God' and (historically) described as having 'hair like a lamb' and 'feet of brass', like Black people, then, Jesus was Black like the Rasta", my late Rastafarian brother, Bobby said.

"We must locks-down to show our African strength! So, when sinners see our locks, it will put dread into their hearts!" he continued. Thus, the Rastafarian term, "Dreadlocks".

Jamaica's African Stories

Did Jamaica;s Anansi the Spider-Man want to become a Rasta after Bob Marley made that Jamaican religion popular, world-wide?

Anansi was hooked on reggae, and even sang some of Bob's songs. He especially liked "War", the Marley and the Wailers' lyric which came from a Haile Selassie speech in 1936 to the League Of Nations, that was the forerunner to the United Nations. 

(To understand the meaning of the song, "War" which was a plea by Ethiopian Emperor, Ras Tafari Makenon a.k.a. Haile Selassie, ckick here:

Alhhough Anansi began to also wear dreadlocks and carry a guitar, he was not into obeah

But his youngest tri-racial son, Ticky-Ticky whose mom was a full-blood Jamaican Taíno woman, did have a meeting with Cuffy the Obeah-Man

Anansi’s Son & Vodou:
Meeting the Obeah-Man

In my novel, "Ticky-Ticky's QUEST", when Ticky-Ticky introduced himself to Cuffy, the obeah-man, he said, to the young Spider-Boy, 

"So... your father, Anansi is the son of a god?" Cuffy challenged.

"Yes... So? " Ticky-Ticky said.

"So, this make you a 'God-let'?" Cuffy sniggered.

"A what?" Ticky-Ticky asked, not knowhing where Cuffy was coming from.

"Well, Anansi is supposed to be the son of the Ashanti sky god, N'yame and the Earth goddess,  Asase Ya... So, it stands to reason that when you have a pig. And you have it's son, it is a piglet. So this makes you a..." Cuffy jeered.

"Aww, shut up man! And gimme de potion!" Ticky-Ticky insisted.

Above: Jamaica's Cuffy the Obeah or Vodou-man with his zombi-making soursop or puffer fish. He intended to use the Taíno recipe for making Osebo the Terrible Leopard into a Haitian-inspired zombie.

Once a certified doctor of medicine, Cuffy was a researcher in Taíno herbal cures, Taíno-African Vodou or "Voodoo" from nearby Haiti; Santeria from next door Cuba; and Obeah from his own Jamaican homeland. The island's medical professionals were not amused. For this, he was kicked out of his medical practice. Here, he wanted to experiment with the puffer fish's Tetrodotoxin, an extremely potent poison (toxin) found mainly in the liver and sex organs (gonads) of some fish. 

The Novel's Story

Zombies are not what Hollywood made them out to be! 

No brain-eating cannibals here. The true zombies came from Haiti's cultural mix between the Indigenous Taíno and imported West African traditions. In the story, Osebo the Terrible Leopard (below) is turned into a zombie by Cuffy the Obeah-Man, after being slipped a zombi-potion, taken for dead, buried, then dug up at night, just to do Cuffie's bidding. Ticky-Ticky gets in a few slaps to Osebo's cheeks, while the leopard is under the zombie influence. No more "killing under the influence of revenge" for Osebo.

The Story begins in a Jamaican classroom...

Anansi's son, Ticky-Ticky sat in his high school classroom on a rainy morning, daydreaming about his lost dad, who went missing just one year now, while on one of his numerous adventures. For this inattention, Ticky-Ticky's teacher, ruler in hand, admonishes him.

It all started with this classroom infraction of not paying attention. And responding rudely cutting his eyes at the teacher. Sent for a caning to the boy's school's  Headmaster, Ticky-Ticky was told that he "must bring his father in." But, was Anansi even alive? He had been away for whole year on a search for many rich American spider-relatives. Maybe his cousin, Grandmother Spider of the Cherokee in North Carolina knew? Or, maybe, Spider Woman of the Hopi? At least, she may know about gold-rich "island" of La California?

However, the only first problem is how to find Anansi, especially when his main enemy, Osebo was on a quest to also corner and confront Anansi for embarrassing him in front of a lady in whom they were both courting. So, Osebo came after Ticky-Ticky for revenge.

Luckily, Ticky-Ticky escaped!

Now, here he sits with his best friend in school, Iggi, a shape-shifting Yamaye Taíno Rock Iguana. Popped, ghostly duppy balloon seeds float around them.

In this story, "Ticky-Ticky's QUEST",  Anansi'ss son, Ticky-Ticky was forced to go to a local Onbeah-man. named Cuffy, who offered the spider-boy a way to find his father, Anansi. Cuffy uses a Taíno cohoba, a powdered snuffing tobacco-based potion to send TickyTicky to the Caribbean's Coabey, the Island of the Dead. There Ticky-Ticky meets the Lord of the Afterlife, Guayaba Maketaurea god-relative. Was Anansi dead? Living in the Caribbean, was Anansi sent to the West Indian Island of the Afterlife? 

AboveGuayaba Maketaure, Lord of the Afterlife, seated in his bohio (round house) in front of his symbol, the guayaba or guava berry, his fruit of "sweetness and delight". Is he Ticky-Ticky's relative? Can he help to find Anansi?

So, Guayaba loans Ticky-Ticky a time & reality-raveling bat-canoe along with Opiel, the Search-dog of the Afterlife, to go hunting for Anansi.

Here, above, Ticky-Ticky, had fallen asleep under some sea grape leaves in the beached canoe, when an albino bat follows Opiel, returning out of Coabey, during daylight, from the twin Island of the Dead. This takes place off the shores of Haiti. Opiel materializes from his nightly chore of rounding up the recently dead, herding the spirits back to Coabey before sunrise, when the sun would turn the opias or duppys, into wandering ghosts. Haitian canoe-jackers leaving for America in Guayaba's loaned bat-canoe, are surprised!

The Book With All the Answers

Above: Part 1 of a trilogy of the author's book on Anansi's son, Ticky-Ticky's Caribbean adventure. (Parts 2 & 3 which take Ticky-Ticky to North and Central American relatives, are in production.)

And remember...

Anansi the Entertainer with his back-up posse. The Con-doms, Me. Myself. and I&I

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

A Black History Month Story: PART 1.

How A Spider Saved Slaves from Insanity

An Anansi rag doll by the author.

Well… not only those from his country of Ghana! But in some places in the Americas, such as Jamaica, as well as in North, South & Central America! 

His name is Kweku Anansi, a Spider-Man, meaning “spider” and that he is Wednesday’s child. However, with other known names.

Anansi Alias(es): Ananse, from the Twi language for spider.  AKA: Anansi / Annancy / Annansay / Annancey / Anancyi / Anawnsy / Hanansi / Hanaansi / Compe Anansi / John Anansi / Nansi / Nance / Nancy / Mr. Nancy / Brother Anansi / Bro' Anancy / Bra' Nancy / Bre-Nancy / Aunt Nancy in South Carolina, also Miss Nancy / Anansi-Tori / Ti Malice in Haiti, as well as Uncle Bouki / The Spider / Spider-man

(From my website,

Treatment of the Enslaved P.O.W.

Do you know how it could feel being enslaved from capture to becoming a Prisoner Of War, seeing many relatives killed? This could drive you insane! 

Then facing a foul-smelling ship’s hold with dying and dead captives next to you, some thrown overboard to the slave-ship-following sharks. Then arriving to the enslaving horrors of a new strange land, where flesh-removing whipping was the norm, or the cutting off of skin on the soles of your feet when you tried to escape! This was a Jamaica practice where it was easier to replace a salve than it was to save the life of one.

Q: What saved the sanity of many captives, and allowed a disrupted African society to teach their children the concepts of good and evil?

A: Entertainment through the art of Storytelling, where these ancestral ideals were continued in the form of a spider.

Here's how enslaved Jamaican's did it.

Our folkloric hero saved the sanity of millions of people of African descent. 

And this honor goes to one spider, well, actually one ancient Spider-Man named Anansi

Kweku Anansi
was once a man, the son of Nyame the Great Sky God and Asase Ya, the Earth Goddess. The story is that Kweku disrespected his father, who, for this infraction, turned him into a small spider-man. However, Anansi used his brain to outsmart everyone, and he later won his father's contest to become the Keeper of all stories, which are called 

Meaning, AnansiStories in Ghana's Twi language. My comic strip recalled some methods still being used today. Here are a couple of examples. These panels are from my graphic novel titled

"How Anansi Came to the Americas from Africa"


Anansi stole a hunted wild pig killed by his archenemy Osebo the Terrible Leopard. Osebo tried to kill Anansi, but missed.

So, Anansi ran for his life, where he encountered some warriors, leading their P.O.W. war captives.

However, this is the part of the African Slave Trade story nobody likes to tell!  The Emglish could not venture inland from the West African coastline. So, they and the Portuguese built forts and traded with the nearby tribal nations.  After capturing P.O.Ws…

The story continues as Anansi is transported to the Americas in a medicine bag.
Anansi scurried into the medicine bag of a captive woman on her march to a coastal English fort from which she would be shipped to Jamaica.

On board the slave ship.

The argument with N’yame the Great Sky God for a return home.

The argument for Anansi to stay with the captives.

The story continues with...

The graphic novel which tells it all.

Click on this cover to get a paperback or an instant eBook storyline

Also, a 


Anansi stories explain why certain things occur in life. 

Have you ever wondered, "Why dogs have narrow behinds?".  

Click on this YouTube video to see the story.

Also, sometimes Anansi is a cool guy, and he often looks out for us! For example, take the COVID campaign.

Reggae star Anansi with the I-Threes backup singers, a.k.a. The Condoms "ME, Myself, and I & I.