Cudjoe’s Rum Soaked Celebrations

Every year, on January 6th, the Accompong Town Maroons of St Elizabeth, Jamaica celebrate the birthday of Captain Cudjoe and their victory over the British. As part of the celebrations, ancestral spirits are appeased with offerings of rum and food, and humans willingly allow themselves to be possessed by these spirits. Although outsiders are generally not permitted to witness these rituals, this article offers an inside look at the festivities.

Honoring Captain Cudjoe

Captain Cudjoe (who was named either Kojo or Kwadwo) was a Jamaican Maroon leader who is best known for his role in leading the Maroons to victory over the British in the First Maroon War. The Maroons were runaway slaves who had formed independent communities in the mountains of Jamaica. They were skilled warriors and fierce fighters, and they were able to repel the British forces who tried to recapture them.

In 1739, the British offered a treaty to the Maroons, promising them their freedom and land in exchange for their help in capturing runaway slaves. Cudjoe was one of the leaders who signed the treaty on behalf of the Maroons, and he played a key role in ensuring that the Maroons were able to hold on to their freedom and their land.

Cudjoe’s victory over the British was an important moment in Jamaican history, and it is celebrated every year on January 6th by the Accompong Town Maroons of St Elizabeth. The Maroons continue to hold their land and maintain their independence to this day, thanks in large part to the leadership of Captain Cudjoe.

A Young Child is Possessed

A few years back while the feeding of the ancestral spirits was going on in the Peace Cave, some outsiders gathered just beyond the entrance to enjoy unsalted food amid spirited drumming, dancing and singing under the Kinda Tree.

Suddenly, an alarm was raised which results in people running over to a spot above the Kinda Tree where a little girl had collapsed and was lying motionless.

As the crowd gathered, she laid motionless. Anxious shouts and exclamations were made, as she was said to be in a myal, a trance-like state in which the subjects are unresponsive to stimuli around them and are not aware of their actions. The drum and rum were summoned. People shouted, asking onlookers to clear the spot.

Women knelt beside her, fanning and shaking her, but she would not budge. Confusion reigned as everyone, including police officers, were shouting instructions. There was the flashing of rum. the child stirred, and listless and dazed. A woman, appearing to be her mother, took her up and whisked her away with the police as some onlookers trailed them. On the woman’s shoulder, the child raised her head, and opened her eyes. They were glazed.

And, as if nothing had just happened, it was immediately back to the singing and drumming. Soon, the procession from the Peace Cave was back. But just when people were joining it to the parade ground, it made a U-turn back towards the Kinda Tree. Then, unannounced, the sounds of gunfire rang out.

It was actually a gun salute from the JCF.

Spirits in Rhythm

As the procession at Accompong Town prepared to make its way to the parade ground, the energy among the participants heightened…

Drumming, singing and dancing under the Kinda Tree.
(c) Paul Williams

A male Maroon dancer and drummer began to move vigorously, with the dancer basically performing acrobatics, furthermore dancing on his head, while being in a trance-like state. The drummer lost control of his drum as his body convulsed, but eventually regained possession of it and played with another drummer. The dancer calmed down, but the drummer was appeared dazed.

As the procession was about to move again, a Revivalist man fell into a gully and had to be rescued. Another woman who became possessed had to be brought back to reality. Eventually, the procession continued, with the participants singing “clear road, oh” as they made their way toward lunch.

Pros And Cons Of Drunken Ghost Hunting

‘Pros And Cons Of Drunken Ghost Hunting’ is an article by Andrew Arnett, with updates in 2023 by Anthony Long.

“It was two years ago, right around this time, close to Halloween, when Sonja and I found ourselves walking down Atlantic Avenue and, a mimeographed advertisement hanging on a street lamp caught our attention. It was a flyer for a drunken ghost hunting event with the Brooklyn Paranormal Society. Both drinking and ghost hunting are remarkable pastimes, each in their own right, but the combination seemed irresistible.”

Andrew Arnett, co-founder of the Brooklyn Paranormal Society

Anthony Long, Chief Ectoplasm Officer (CEO) of the Brooklyn Paranormal Society, offered a remarkable proposition – he would, through the means of alcoholic inebriation, open himself up to demonic possession, all for the sake of paranormal science. It seemed like a brave, if foolhardy undertaking, but there is in fact method behind this madness.

The Brooklyn Paranormal Society
The Brooklyn Paranormal Society in anaglyph 3D.

Looking at the word “alcohol,” we find that the term originated in the Middle East (interestingly enough, a place that prohibits the use of alcohol) and comes from the Arabic “al-kuhl,” or “al-kuhul,” which originally meant a fine black powder.

This powder was used as mascara and was obtained by sublimation, which refers to a process of heating a solid to a vapor and then condensing it down again to a very fine powder. The Arabic term “ghūl,” and the English “ghoul,” referring to a flesh consuming evil spirit, are also derived from the original “al-kuhl.”

By the 16th century, the English co-opted the term, compressing it into one word – alcohol – referring to anything formed through sublimation, and in terms of a liquid – distillation and fermentation. “Spirits” then, were created through distillation and fermentation. By modern times, the term was parred down to refer only to distilled spirits, or liquor.

Pros And Cons Of Drunken Ghost Hunting

Health writer and enthusiast Jason Christoff has an interesting take on alcohol and its effects on the human body. He states:

“In alchemy, alcohol is used to extract the soul essence of an entity. Hence, its use in extracting essences for essential oils, and the sterilization of medical instruments. By consuming alcohol into the body, it in effect extracts the very essence of the soul, allowing the body to be more susceptible to neighboring entities most of which are of low frequencies. That is why people who consume excessive amounts of alcohol often black out, not remembering what happened.”

Alcohol, in effect, kicks the spirit out of its physical vehicle, making it vulnerable to be taken for a joy ride by other, malevolent spirits. This may be effective but, as a method for hunting ghosts, has its obvious drawbacks. The idea of using oneself as bait for evil spirits is not a very good one. It’s dangerous. Things can get messy and who knows what disembodied parasitic entity you’ll drag back to the house.

“Alchohol is a con on the ‘Pros And Cons Of Drunken Ghost Hunting’ list” says founder, Anthony Long.

Pros And Cons Of Drunken Ghost Hunting
(Image via Robert Steven Connett)

“We’ve had some negative results from alcohol,” Long stated. “Things have, on occasion, gotten out of hand. We’ve been kicked out of a few bars. We have basically moved on from using alcohol as a method for ghost hunting but, we still like to have a few drinks beforehand.”

Fortunately, in our modern day and age, there are a plethora of means by which one can get out there and track down the elusive spirit. Hunting ghosts, ultimately, is really just like hunting anything else – it is a matter of time, place and energy. Time and place are self explanatory – you find a paranormal hot spot and you go there after midnight.

Energy refers to a number of things. It can refer to the “Chi,” or magnetism, of the ghost hunter, medium, psychic, shaman or brujo wishing to make contact with the spirit world.

Energy also refers to the spirit itself. Ghosts are nothing if not energy itself, having shuffled of the mortal coil, and exiting this three dimensional, physical universe, all together.

Finally, on Pros And Cons Of Drunken Ghost Hunting there is the energy which surrounds us, such as electricity and radio waves, which spirits can manipulate. Energy is a type of interface, if you will, with the other side. With today’s advanced technology, we have at our disposal, many new devices which can measure these disparate energies and, help us “talk to the dead.”

One such device is Franks “ghost box,” also known as the “telephone to the dead.” The device is used extensively in Brooklyn Paranormal Society Ghost Hunts, it scans AM or FM radio frequencies, allowing you to hear a brief glimpse of the output as they are being scanned. Through this EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon), you can ask the spirit questions and they can “answer” back.

Could such a device actually put us in contact with the other side? Perhaps. In subsequent installments, we shall take a closer look at these devices, and test, to the best of our abilities, their relative efficacy.

Written by Andrew Arnett