The Beginning | Who I Am…
I have been active in this Lifestyle since I was 19 years old. My grandmother actually introduced it to me inadvertently as a child by observing her “life coaching” skills on a neighbor. Call it “white guilt” or what not but I always wondered why the neighbor labored for my grandmother when he had his own farm but always showed up faithfully to help my grandmother with odd jobs she needed down around her property.
He seemed happy to do it which I found very strange as she resided in what many call the most racist state in the United States, Mississippi. From my understanding, no white man would be caught dead doing anything that even resembled working (or helping) for a black man or woman. When I asked her about it, she only told me that they had been “friends” for a very long time and he “knew his place”. When I asked if she paid him anything and she looked at me funny and exclaimed “hell nah!”.
I still didn’t fully understand her relationship with the white man but I got used to him being around whenever we visited over summer break. He even offered to wash my parents car during a visit. It wasn’t until he died, when I was 14, that I started to learn more about their odd arrangement. I happened to walk up the road to her mailbox, to retrieve any mail, and three white kids around my age approached me on my way back to the house. I had never noticed them before and was weary until the oldest who looked to be in his early 20’s introduced himself and his younger siblings. They were all pleasant and asked if I was related to grandmother. When I answered yes, they looked at each other, quickly got on one knee and bowed!
“Uhm… what are you doing?!” I exclaimed and took a step back.
“We humbly show respect for Nana and the Master” They all said in unison as they stood up.
I know now that they thought I was my grandmother’s son. Although what was just said shocked the hell out of me, I took the opportunity to ask questions everyone seemed reluctant to answer and what I found out was shocking. The Calloways have been serving members of my grandmother’s side of the family since slavery times (the early 1800’s). They even taught future generations to serve as well. Understandably, I was a bit uncomfortable with this information so allowed them to follow me back to the house to introduce to my grandmother. When I explained what happened at the mailbox, she looked them over.
“Are you Calloway’s kids?” She asked in a stern voice I rarely hear her use.
“Yes Ma’am! Our dad left the house to us so we were down cleaning up and saw your son at the mailbox. We only wanted to show respect. Did we do something wrong?” asked the oldest who seemed rather nervous. Almost like he was scared of her.
“No child. You did right. I’m sorry to hear about your father. He was a good man. Since you are here, there are some things I want to discuss with you all. Follow me.” She said and started walking towards the woods behind the house.
I had started to follow as well when she turned around and told me to stay at the house. I was disappointed as I really wanted to know what was going on. They came back about an hour later with full smiles and a hearty wave at me as they walked back home.
“Nana? What was that all about?” I asked as I followed her back into the house.
“Nothing you should concern yourself with just yet. They just needed direction, which I gave to them. You remember Mr. Calloway?” She asked while putting the kettle on.
“He had a debt to pay to our family and his children just wanted to know what they could do to help pay it off. And I told them.” She explained.
“So why did they…” I started to ask but grandmother put up her hand to cut me off.
“Don’t concern yourself with that right now. All will reveal itself in time.” She said with a smile and a kiss to my forehead. I knew the conversation was finished whenever she did that but I still was curious. And no one else seemed to want to talk about it.
My grandmother still didn’t open up much about her lifestyle until after my father died, shortly before I graduated high school. In her lifestyle, I became the head of household as the oldest male so thus it was time for me to step up to the role fully. She told me the name of her lifestyle was called Obeah or some variation of it specific to her family and the network of other African-American families that are involved across the southern United States and other countries.
I decided to go to college and seek my own way but promised to give what was offered great consideration. I was never pressured to do anything against my will including what I believe. I was very fortunate to grow up in an environment that promoted self-learning. Nothing was ever forced upon me but presented in a way that allowed me to come to my own conclusions… including my grandmothers lifestyle choices.
I still know very little about Obeah but incorporate what I do know into an updated version that works very well for me and those who feel drawn to my philosophies.
This isn’t the whole story, obviously… but its a start. The rest reveals itself in time.
I have never been an easy person to get to know.
The Black Sovereign Chronicles