This chapter explores black Caribbean ritual practitioners’ use, classification, and production of wonders in the seventeenth century. The chapter argues that wondrous events established the foundation upon which black Caribbean experiential epistemologies about nature became cemented. The Caribbean’s baffling realities were anything but stable. The chapter shows how Caribbean ritual practitioners drew from their own traditions while creating new meanings with their awe-inspiring acts; they did not simply duplicate representations of preordained, episteme-bounded signifiers of Old World origin. Witnesses to black Caribbean ritual practitioners’ reality-creating rituals could not help but feel viscerally amazed when these men and women flayed open the skin of the world to reveal its mysteries. Their ability to astonishingly master nature imbued each ritual practitioner with the social capital necessary to validate his or her diagnoses, healing procedures, and preparations. The wondrous nature of Caribbean lands allowed black ritual practitioners to claim authority over material truths in a world where facts remained difficult to articulate formally within multicultural and transitional societies.
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