My inspiration comes first and foremost from the very essence of the Universe, the I AM within. Accessing the divinity within and operating by its magical flow is what makes Obeyah so powerful. In addition to Infinite Spirit, I have been influenced greatly by the following individuals:
I would like to acknowledge my grandmother, Violet Buchanan, for first beginning the seeds that would become what I am today. Without her guidance and spiritual mentorship, I would not have accessed the Obeyah as I do today.
I would also like to acknowledge my great-grandmother, Yaya Blackwin. Her spiritual roots and her open stance for the practice and preservation of Obeyah is an inspiration even for me today.
The words of spiritual writer and lecturer Neville Goddard retain their power to electrify more than forty years after his death. In a sonorous, clipped tone that was preserved on thousands of tape recordings made during his lifetime, and now widely circulated online, Neville asserted with complete ease what many would find fantastical: The human imagination is God – and our thoughts create our world, in the most literal sense.
Neville Goddard was perhaps the last century’s most intellectually substantive and charismatic purveyor of the philosophy generally called New Thought. He wrote more than ten books under the solitary pen name Neville and was a popular speaker on metaphysical themes from the late 1930s until his death in 1972.
Possessed of a self-educated and uncommonly sharp intellect, Neville espoused a spiritual vision that was bold and total: Everything you see and experience, including other people, is the result of your own thoughts and emotional states. Each of us dreams into existence an infinitude of realities and outcomes. When you realize this, Neville taught, you will discover yourself to be a slumbering branch of the Creator clothed in human form, and at the helm of limitless possibilities.
Neville Lancelot Goddard was born on February 19, 1905 on the then British-protectorate of Barbados in the town of St. Michael to an Anglican family of nine sons and one daughter. A 1950s gossip column described the young Neville as “enormously wealthy,” his family possessing “a whole island in the West Indies.”
The truth was far more modest. Neville depicted his own English childhood home as happy, but threadbare. There was constant jostling among his brothers for clothes and second-helpings at the dinner table. Neville came to New York City at the age of seventeen to study theater – a move that led to a successful career as a vaudeville dancer and Broadway actor. He toured America and England with dance troupes. But Neville’s theater life was hand-to-mouth; he supplemented his income by working as an elevator operator and shipping clerk.
The young performer’s ambition for the stage began to fade as he encountered an alluring range of spiritual ideas – first with self-styled occult groups, and later with the help of a life-transforming mentor. In his lectures, Neville described studying with a turbaned, Ethiopian-born rabbi named Abdullah.
Abdullah was black-nationalist mystic named Arnold Josiah Ford. Like Neville, Ford was born in Barbados, in 1877, the son of an itinerant preacher. Ford arrived in Harlem around 1910 and established himself as a leading voice in the Ethiopianism movement, a precursor to Jamaican Rastafarianism. Many believed Ford to be a practitioner of Obeyah, but this is difficult to confirm as he kept many things in ambiguity.
Their initial meeting, Neville said, had an air of kismet: When I first met my friend Abdullah back in 1931, I entered a room where he was speaking and when the speech was ended, he came over, extended his hand and said: “Neville, you are six months late.” I had never seen the man before, so I said: “I am six months late? How do you know me?” and he replied: “The brothers told me that you were coming, and you are six months late.”
According to Neville, the two studied Hebrew, Scripture, and Kabbalah together for five years – planting the seeds of Neville’s philosophy of mental creativity.
Neville said that his first understanding of the power of creative thought came while he was living in a rented room on Manhattan’s Upper West Side during the winter of 1933. The young man was depressed: his theatrical career had stalled, and his pockets were empty. “After twelve years in America, I was a failure in my own eyes,” he later said. “I was in the theater and made money one year and spent it the next month.” The 28-year-old ached to spend Christmas with his family in Barbados; but he could not afford to travel.
“Live as though you are there,” Abdullah told him, “and that you shall be.” Wandering the streets of New York City, Neville thought from his aim – as he would later urge his listeners – and adopted the feeling that he was really and truly at home on his native island. “Abdullah taught me the importance of remaining faithful to an idea and not compromising,” he recalled. “I wavered, but he remained faithful to the assumption that I was in Barbados and had traveled first class.”
One December morning before the last ship was to depart New York that year for Barbados, Neville received a letter from a long out-of-touch brother: In it was $50 and a ticket to sail. His experiment, it seemed, had worked.
Neville discovered what eventually became the hallmark of his philosophy: It is imperative to assume the feeling that one’s goal has already been attained. “It is not what you want that you attract,” he wrote. “You attract what you believe to be true.”
Franz Anton Mesmer was a doctor with an interest in astronomy . He theorized the existence of a natural energy transference occurring between all animated and inanimate objects; this he called “animal magnetism,” sometimes later referred to as mesmerism. (In modern times New Age spiritualists have revived a similar idea.) Mesmer’s theory attracted a wide following between about 1780 and 1850 and continued to have some influence until the end of the 19th century. In 1843 the Scottish doctor James Braid proposed the term “hypnosis” for a technique derived from animal magnetism; today the word “mesmerism” generally functions as a synonym of “hypnosis.”
Florence Scovel Shinn
Florence Scovel Shinn was an American artist and book illustrator who became a New Thought spiritual teacher and metaphysical writer in her middle years.
In New Thought circles, Shinn is best known for her first book, The Game of Life and How to Play It (1925). She expressed her philosophy as:
“The invisible forces are ever working for man who is always ‘pulling the strings’ himself, though he does not know it. Owing to the vibratory power of words, whatever man voices, he begins to attract.”
—The Game of Life, Florence Scovel Shinn
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby (February 16, 1802 – January 16, 1866) was an American clockmaker, mentalist and mesmerist. His work is widely recognized as foundational to the New Thought spiritual movement.
The New Thought Movement
The New Thought movement (also Higher Thought) is a spiritual movement which coalesced in the United States in the early 19th century. New Thought was preceded by “ancient thought,” accumulated wisdom and philosophy from a variety of origins, such as Ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Taoist, Vedic, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist cultures and their related belief systems, primarily regarding the interaction between thought, belief, consciousness in the human mind, and the effects of these within and beyond the human mind.
Although there have been many leaders and various offshoots of the New Thought philosophy, the origins of New Thought have often been traced back to Phineas Quimby, or even as far back as Franz Mesmer. Many of these groups are incorporated into the International New Thought Alliance. The contemporary New Thought movement is a loosely allied group of religious denominations, authors, philosophers, and individuals who share a set of beliefs concerning metaphysics, positive thinking, the law of attraction, healing, life force, creative visualization, and personal power.
New Thought holds that Infinite Intelligence, or God, is everywhere, spirit is the totality of real things, true human selfhood is divine, divine thought is a force for good, sickness originates in the mind, and “right thinking” has a healing effect. Although New Thought is neither monolithic nor doctrinaire, in general, modern-day adherents of New Thought share some core beliefs:
God or Infinite Intelligence is “supreme, universal, and everlasting”.
1. Divinity dwells within each person, that all people are spiritual beings.
2. The highest spiritual principle [is] loving one another unconditionally… and teaching and healing one another.
3. Our Mental states are carried forward into manifestation and become our experience in daily living.
William James used the term “New Thought” as synonymous with the “Mind cure movement”, in which he included many sects with diverse origins, such as idealism and Hinduism.
“Florence Scovel Shinn.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Dec. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_Scovel_Shinn.
“Franz Mesmer.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 20 Dec. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franz_Mesmer.
Harriet, et al. “Do We Live In a Mental Universe?” HarvBishop.com, 1 Jan. 2019, www.harvbishop.com/do-we-live-in-a-mental-universe/.
Jacqui, et al. “Rediscovering Neville’s Greatest Work.” HarvBishop.com, 25 May 2020, www.harvbishop.com/rediscovering-nevilles-greatest-work/.
“New Thought.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 8 Jan. 2021, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Thought.
“Phineas Parkhurst Quimby.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Jan. 2021, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phineas_Parkhurst_Quimby.