|Figure 1: A Revival yard with a pool contains water, this
represent the healing waters.
is an authentic Afro-Christian religious folk form that evolved
during the eighteenth to nineteenth century. Initially, it
was the native Baptist Christians who joined forces with the
Moravians, and other non-conformist churches to become the
forerunners of the movement. However, Jamaica was said to
have experienced a religious movement called the Great Revival
in 1861, which saw the incorporation of much more African
retention in the movement. Revivalism is divided into two
groups, Zion and Pocomania. Pocomania is more African in form
while Zion is more Christian oriented. These two groups have
very clear differences, particularly with their functionaries
and the role that they play. In Pocomania for example, the
leader is always a man knows as the Shepherd while in Zion,
the leader can be either a man or a woman. The Man is referred
to as “Captain” while the woman is called the
“Mother/Madda”. There is also a difference in
their music and the form of spiritual possession.
revivalism those possessed with the spirits are generally
linked with a personal spirit. In most case, if not all, it
is the spirit who selects the individual and becomes personally
attached as a personal guardian and adviser to the possessed.
The revivalist spiritual world is categorized into three realms:
• Heavenly spirits
• Earth - bound spirits
• Ground spirits
|Figure 2: A ground table, the candles and flowers were taken
from the thanks giving or uplifting table and placed on the ground.
Earth-bound spirits are the “Fallen Angels” (satanic
powers). The Heavenly spirits consists of the triune; God,
archangels, saints and angels. The Ground spirits are those
of the human dead that are not biblically mentioned. Revival
deals mainly with Heavenly spirits and also with Apostles
and prophets of the Earth-bound group.
Revival Churches and practically all healing centers and balm
yards are decorated with high poles with flags, which are
used to attract passing spirits. Sometimes, the pole is planted
in the “Seal” or mission ground. The seal is the
center for most of their important ritual activity and is
deemed sacred. It is said that all the spirit of the dead,
that work with the revival ‘bands’ actually lives
at these spots.
|Figure 3: A thanks giving or uplifting table with fruits,
drinks, bread, candles and cakes.
revival yard has numerous features. An alter is sometimes
erected which is covered with a white cloth on which flowers,
fruits, bibles, hymnals and candles are placed, arranged in
a step format. Around the “mission,” holy pictures
or signs with biblical inscriptions are usually hung. Most
revival yards also contain a water pool or a large earthenware
jug with water. It is said that this is the source of the
water used in the rituals. In Pocomania, the water is deemed
“home” of all functionaries who perform with water,
for example the River Maid and Diver. On journeys, whenever
the group encounters a river, the River Maid would dance in
a manner simulating the motions of a swimmer to take the “bands”
across the river. The Diver, would also imitating a dance,
performing some action like diving.
than the normal church service and balm yard activities, revivalism
is characterized by major ritual forms, which can be classified
into two groups:
• Street Meeting and Prayer Meeting
• Rituals for specific purposes Feasting Tables or Duties
Prayer meetings are held for different purposes and usually
take the form of bible reading, singing and discussion. Street
meetings are held mainly to get new members, to preach biblical
doctrine. Rituals for specific purpose are “table”
or “duties” held for various purposes such as
thanks-giving for a particular events, prosperity, deliverance,
memorial, death and judgement, mourning, consecration pole-planting,
ordination, dedication, and baptism. In Pocomania the feasting
table is usually held on Sunday nights. The table is spread
with fruits, drinks, bread, candles and vegetable. After bible
reading and greetings of visitors, the table is “broken”
at midnight, the food distributed among those present. On
the other hand in Zion their feasting table is never held
on Sundays. Both groups combine Bible reading, preaching,
singing and movement in these rituals, invoking the spirits
to enter the ceremony.
A Madda or Lead Rest woman
with her bands in Watt Town St. Ann moving around the
essential part of Pocomania meetings is the tramping and the
cymbals. This occurs after the singing and Bible reading section.
The members move around the circle, counter clock-wise, each
using forward stepping motions with a forward bend of the
body. The songs that are used in revival usually vary in tempo
for example hymns and choruses. Revival also incorporates
lively songs that are of a local derivation, classified as
‘warning’ songs or non-sense songs. Singing usually
takes place to the beat of the drums. These drums are the
Kettle-drums or bass drums which are beaten with two sticks.
Tambourines might also be shaken in the rhythm along with
other instruments. Some revival songs are:
• Madda de great stone got to move.
• Daniel saw de stone, rolling into Babylon,
• My young companion fare the well,
• Rock oh! Rock holy, rock oh! Rock holy,
• No stone in the de valley, no stone,
• For me eye nuh blin, an mi ears no deaf.
Churches can be found all over Jamaica, particularly in the
deep rural areas and in the inner-city sections of the corporate
area. On specific dates, towards the end of each quarter within
the year, revivalists may be seen journeying to Watt Town,
St. Ann. This is one of the most popular revival meeting places.
At Watt Town, all aspects of the religion are usually on display:
there is the church service, which entails bible reading,
singing of hymns and choruses, trumping and the cymbals, dancing,
spiritual possessions, healing and sometimes warning.