African religions were pluralistic and dynamic, practical and adaptable. These characteristics gave African religions a fluidity and resiliency. This allowed African people to fit in new beliefs and deities in accordance with their particular situation, in this case, plantation slavery in the Countrys. Best vacation places in the USA In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, there were several sorts of revelation. Augury and divination relied upon the study of worldly events to define otherworldly intentions. One wide-ranging form of divination was the Yoruba tradition of Ifa, in which cowry shells were tossed on a special board. In the pattern made by the shells, the diviner found answers to specific questions. Similar divination rituals in other parts of Africa used teeth or bones to prophesy in a similar way. Dream interpretation was another way in which people gained access to the spirit world. People with special gifts also could hear voices or receive visions.
The most intense form of revelation was possession. Spirits were capable of possessing animals, people, or objects to reveal their presence. Mediums in Angola and Kongo were revered for their ability to convey the wishes of spirits. In Kongo, the nganga ngombo (spirit medium) would stand entranced in the middle of a ring of singers and deal with their spiritual concerns. In Angola, the xingila would enter a trance induced by clapping, drumming, and dancing. Although priests and mediums were powerful, their continued power was not assured; if they failed to produce results, they might lose their positions of esteem. Continuous revelation prevented any one African religion from gaining orthodox status and contributed to the multiplicity of religions. Early European observers dismissed many African religious forms as witchcraft and the work of the devil. In fact, African religions and Christianity did not meet for the first time on Country plantations. Many Africans had been exposed to Christianity in Africa. While the word conversion does not adequately describe the process that took place, some Africans had already begun to pick and choose Christian precepts and saints that appealed to them. This process would accelerate and expand in the Countrys.