with all that's new at My-Island-Jamaica, Click Here to subscribe
for my updates and don't miss a thing!
10 Interesting Facts About Revivalism In Jamaica
by Deon Clarke | Associate Writer
Photo: Revival Church Service in Jamaica
Spirits, angels, arch-angels, ancestors, drumming, dancing, turbans! Does this sound familiar? Revivalism for sure! As you already know, Jamaica has a very diverse culture that also extends to our religious practices and beliefs. Revivalism in Jamaica is no different. The religious practices and culture of Revivalism have been here for nearly two centuries. Revivalism is often misunderstood and out of ignorance is sometimes seen as cult-like due to its unusual customs, rituals, and practices which are somewhat different from traditional churches. But how much do you know about this religious practice in Jamaica? Here are 10 things that you should find interesting about Revivalism in Jamaica.
- Between 1860 and 1861, there was a great religious movement in Jamaica called “The Great Revival”. Out of this movement, Revivalism was born.
- Revivalism is a combination of aspects of pagan African beliefs mixed with Christianity. There are notably two major forms of Revivalism - Pocomania and Revival Zion.
- Revival Zion (also known as the 60 Order) has more elements of Orthodox European religions while Pocomania (also called the 61 Order) has mainly elements of African worship and practices.
- Revivalists believe that the earthly and spiritual realms are the same and so communication between the living and the dead is possible. They believe that the living can become possessed and even influenced by the spirits of the departed. They also believe that you can move from one realm to another through possession.
- Dreams and visions are considered to be portals through which the realms of the living and the dead are connected. When a person is possessed, they are considered to be “travelling”. In order to get into the spirit, one needs to do a lot of clapping, dancing, singing, drumming, trumping, and praying.
- Revivalists use many symbols that represent aspects of their religious practices. For example:
- The Turban - The turban (one of the most recognizable symbols) that can be styled in a variety of ways is used to wrap the head. The way it is wrapped and the accompanying ornaments are all symbolic. For example, the black turban represents power and authority. The colours and the styles are said to be done according to instructions from the angel(s) that they are working with. The turban is seen as a type of altar or seal and is used to attract a particular type of spirit. The adorning objects are also used to induce possession. Due to the wearing of the turbans, they are usually referred to as “the headwrap church”.
- The Seal – The seal is considered to be a consecrated space where the Revivalists perform their cleansing (cutting and clearing) and invoke the spirits.
- The Revival Table – This is where Revivalists feast with their ancestors and spirits. The table is elaborately set with all kinds of goodies such as cooked and baked foods, water, fruits, citrus (especially grapefruit), liqueur, alcohol (popularly rum), drinks (mostly sodas, especially cream soda), candles, and other objects. This is all done in a bid to communicate and have communion with the ancestors.
- Other Symbols - Other symbols in Revivalism include: welcoming symbols, setting symbols, warding symbols, nature’s healing symbols, and entertaining symbols.
- The Revivalists believe in the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). Though many of the churches have traditional musical instruments, they often use their voices as instruments to make percussion-like sounds and also the feet for stomping and hands for clapping.
- The leader of the Revival Zion group can be either male or female. The male is referred to as “Captain” and the female as “Mother/Madda”.
- The late Most Hon. Edward Seaga, former Prime Minister of Jamaica was known to have been a revivalist. He was fascinated, intrigued, and mesmerized by the beliefs and practices. He also studied it and became a part of its culture.
- Revival churches are located all over the island of Jamaica but mostly within the rural areas. Watt Town in the parish of St. Ann is one of the most popular meeting areas.
Revivalism, unlike any other religious movement or religion in Jamaica, has greatly influenced the arts and popular culture in the country due to its dramatic and ritualistic features. The music, the dress, general behaviour has been a source of inspiration for many poems, novels, plays, dance, theatrical events, and even popular reggae music. Interesting, isn’t it? I Bet the next time you see someone in one of these special turbans or from the conversation, you’ll know exactly what it means or at least has an idea of who they are!
I also recommend you read, Jamaican Religion An Overview
- Jamaica's Heritage in Music, Jamaica Information Service, https://jis.gov.jm/information/jamaicas-heritage-dance-music/jamaicas-heritage-music/#
- Seaga and Revivalism – Part 1 | News, Jamaica Gleaner, https://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/news/20190706/seaga-and-revivalism-part-1
- REVIVALISM - Knowledge genie, Study Lib, https://studylib.net/doc/5351396/revivalism---knowledge-genie
Share your thoughts with us! Leave your comments here
Click here to post comments
Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to article_submission.
Sharing IS Caring... Its now YOUR turn to...
If you found this page useful, please consider subscribing to my weekly newsletter, My Island Jamaica Digest here.
Back To The Top Of This Page
It tells you each week about the new information that I have added, including new developments and great stories from lovers of Jamaica!
New! Talk To Me
Was the information helpful? Something needs changing? I welcome your feedback here.
Recommended For You ...
Other Great Articles You Might Have Missed
Please help me get the message out by sharing this article with your friends on social media (links below). Thnx ;-)
Also connect with My-Island-Jamaica.com on Social Media:
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
P.S. Didn't find what you were looking for? Still need help?
Click Here to try our dependable and effective Site Search tool. It works!
Or, simply click here and here, to browse my library of over 500 questions and answers! Chances are someone already asked (and got an answer to) your question.
Back To The Top Of This Page
About The Author
A patriotic Jamaican who adore its culture, Wellesley has been using this medium to share what he calls 'the uniqueness of Jamaica with the world' since April 2007.
To date, he serves over 9,300 unique readers / viewers per day.
efforts have earned this site featured positions in local publications,
including the Jamaica Gleaner's Hospitality Jamaica, Carlong Publishers,
as well as recognition from numerous prestigious international agencies
and universities. Read more about him here.
He invites you to subscribe to this site to stay updated on all the latest and check out his unique Jamaican products on his Etsy store.
If you are on social media, here are the links to follow his latest posts
You are also invited to join his exclusive JAMHearts community where like-minded Jamaican enthusiasts discuss all things Jamaican.