Running to 'Mother' - Thugs seek guard rings and divine protection
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
THE 'MOTHER woman' of mythical fame is a source of refuge for many Jamaicans seeking help or protection. Among those who run to these mother women are so-called 'gangsters' and 'shottas' who seek any assistance that they can get.
When a Sunday Gleaner team went in search of two of these mother women, we found that the difference between Acacia Road and Acacia Lane in Lyssons, St Thomas, is more than just the name and location.
The reaction of a man we asked for directions was stark when it was specified that the mother woman was the news team's objective.
His smile slips, he steps back from the car, looks at the logo on the door and says, "Oh, a she you want."
The St Gabriel Mount Miracle Healing Temple is not hard to find, though the incline is steep and the road surface dilapidated in places.
It is not a mysterious place. There is something as mundane as a garage close to the gate.
The telltale flag is hoisted high on a long, flexible pole anchored by an open car bonnet.
Monica 'Mother' Bent welcomes The Sunday Gleaner into the temple after she has communion with the spirits.
Inside there are multi-coloured flags hanging near the zinc ceiling. Bottles of water are on the altar, and the crossed swords are in position, with drawings of the arch-angels Rafael, Miriam, and Mikal on the walls.
It is soon clear that those coming to her for the famed 'guarding', by a ceremony or a physical ring, as protection from harm would be disappointed if they expected protection from all physical harm.
Mother Bent says she uses olive oil, her sword, and "if the spirit come over me, me bus a cream soda" in her ceremonies to protect a person from evil.
She gives a brief demonstration on an unrelated man, Donald Bent, passing the implements around parts of his body while making firm contact with others.
Added to the actions are the words: "You speak your words and then say what the messenger tell you. When you do that you lick the spirit," Mother Bent said.
Mother Bent said her work is for protection. "If a evil is upon you and it can't leave you, the Lord will speak to you to leave that person. It will turn away that spirit ... . They will come to me if they feel some dark clouds stick around them ... . They may need some sort out. They come."
But it is not protection from physical harm, she makes clear.
She said the guard ring protects persons from evil and witchcraft. "Like people might want to 'fling blow' and send them evil spirit, so you protect yourself from them.
"A man will send on a spirit on you to lick you and because you have your protection, it can't."
"The guard ring has to be new. We give jeweller to buil'. Any jeweller can buil' them," says the spiritual healer.
The ring can be had within two days of a request, after consecration.
Sometimes people approach her for a ring; at other times she makes the recommendation, as "sometimes in the spiritual realm you talk to them and you find a problem".
"It work both ways, physical or spiritual, but only if people send evil forces against you," Mother Bent said.
"Physical danger is like if you doing some business and it down, like pure darkness. Everything you do, it can't come through. You just can't see your way out sometimes," she said.
There is a bit of ambiguity, though, as Mother Bent leaves some interpretation of physical danger to the listener. "When somebody guard you for evilness, shooting is evilness," Mother Bent said.
In Leith Hall, at the St Peter Healing Temple, also in St Thomas, another mother woman, Linda Grace, says that she does not do 'guarding' against physical harm such as gunshots or stab wounds.
She also makes it clear that she is not involved in helping the gangsters.
"Some of them want to change them life, but some of them gone too far," she said.
So there are 'badmen' who 'pass through' for services. Grace says she will "read to them and tell them what God say". Then she prays with them and "send them off".
"Some of them will cry," she said.
But despite their tears, Mother Grace will not give in, and these gangsters will have to look elsewhere to get their protection.