I was in Jamaica a few weeks ago interviewing both academics and healers who are in some way affiliated with Myal or the practice of healing.
I also spent time at the African -Caribbean library there pouring over and through literature on Myal and its evolution.
I made several discoveries, and was able to photograph some of the basic herbs used in the practice.
Tony, a RASTA Brethren, connection to the land and ancestry is undeniable.
Tony is a Maroon, a herbalist and a member of the Charles Town MAROON COMMUNITY.
Maroon is a Spanish word that means wild, and was referred to the enslaved Africans who ran away and formed independent communities. There were Maroon communities all over the NEW WORLD, including in North American, particularly in South Carolina, but Jamaica is famous for two formidable Maroon communities under the leadership of siblings, Nanny who is a national heroine and lead Nanny Town in the WINDWARD area of the Island and Cudjoe aka Kojo, her brother who led Accompong in St Elizabeth.
Accompong is derived from Acheampong, a personal name among Akan-speaking people who were brought to Jamaica in the 17th century.
Tony is a member of the Windward group, and since a young age has been studying plants for healing. He does not identify with any Myal practice,even thought this practice was popular in the Maroon community of which he is an important member.
He, however, considers himself a herbalist and healer and spent a great deal of time pointing out to me various herbs that grow on his property and their use in various treatment.
See photos of herbs that he uses, also lush mountain range that sustained and continues to sustain this community.
ROOTS OF JAMAICAN CULTURE –Mervyn Alleyne (Pluto Press), 1988.
SOULD-FORCE: AFRICAN HERITAGE IN AFRO-AMERICAN RELIGION –Leonard E. Barrett (anchorPress) , 1974
JAMAICA FOLK MEDICINE: A SOURCE OF HEALING –Arvilla Payne-Jackson & Mervyn Alleyne (Univ of the West Indies Press), 2004
THE SOCIOLOGY OF SLAVERY –Orlando Patterson (Farkeigh Dickinson Univ Press), 1967