Obeah is a mixture of folk magic imported from Central & West Africa and Christian religious beliefs taught to slaves by Europeans. Obeah men and women were believed to be able to heal the sick and make love potions, as well as use their powers for more evil ends. They held a lot of power within the black community.
Obeah magic was carried out either through curses or through herbs and poisons – the threat of poison hangs over much of Wide Sargasso Sea. Obeah practitioners were often leaders of the black community, another reason why the white population feared and persecuted them. For a nineteenth-century Western study of Obeah, read May Robinson and M. J. Walhouse's 1893 essay 'Obeah Worship in East and West Indies'.