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Gods & Goddess

The basic Amerindian spiritual belief was animistic, which means that all objects and even the universe itself possessed personalities, souls or spirits. Some objects harboured GOOD spirits, while others possessed EVIL spirits. The world crowded with spirits was terrifying to the Amerindians. Their life was spent trying to gain the goodwill of these spirits.

Amerindian Potery MODELED FROG ON VESSEL
There were three main Gods of the Arawakan-speaking peoples. Yocahu was the supreme god, the God of Cassava. Atabeyra the Goddess of Fertility and Childbirth and Opiyel Wa'obiran was the Guardian of the spirits of the dead. This latter God usually took the form of a dog. A beautifully carved dog's head made from a Fighting Conch shell was found at Freetown in the 1960's.

Benevolent spirits were believed to have resided in Zemies. These were images made of stone, shell, coral, cotton or ceramics. Zemi controlled and influenced daily activities. They favoured crop growing, hunting and fishing.


Dried Tobacco Leaves DRIED TOBACCO LEAVES:
Shamans or Medicine men worked with the supernatural as both priest and doctor. These men were able to influence powerful spirits. Tobacco was used as a narcotic with which they intimately conversed with the Gods. A leaf was dried by fire and crumpled into a powder.

This was mixed with white ash and seawater, dampened and placed between lip and gum. At the Museum there are examples of pottery incense burners found in the various village sites of Antigua and Barbuda in which Cahoba, a narcotic plant of the Mimosa family was burned.

Drawings were carved into rock at special places, as at bathing places or cave shelters. They were intended to guard against evil spirits. A petroglyph is the present day term for a rock drawing. The only known petroglyph of Antigua and Barbuda is to be found in a cave in Barbuda.