The Garifuna people, descendants of the indigenous Arawak and Carib tribes, and enslaved Africans who were shipwrecked on the island of St. Vincent in the 17th century, have developed a unique and vibrant culture that has persisted and thrived in the Caribbean. With a deep connection to their heritage, the Garifuna people's beliefs, mythology, and rituals provide a fascinating insight into their worldview, spiritual life, and practices.


In Garifuna mythology, deities play a crucial role in shaping the spiritual and cultural life of the people. The pantheon of Garifuna gods and goddesses is vast, with each deity possessing their own unique characteristics, abilities, and attributes. Some of the most prominent deities include:

  • Buguya Garinagu: Considered the supreme deity, Buguya Garinagu is the creator of the world, the Garifuna people, and all living beings. This god is often invoked during rituals, prayers, and ceremonies as the ultimate authority and protector.

  • Sérêmei: The goddess of fertility and agriculture, Sérêmei is associated with the bountiful harvests and the growth of crops. She is often revered in ceremonies that promote and celebrate abundance, as well as in rituals that seek to ensure a successful growing season.

  • Nubuwá: A goddess of the sea, Nubuwá is believed to have dominion over marine life and is known for her ability to protect fishermen, sailors, and those who depend on the sea for their livelihood. She is often invoked during sea-related ceremonies and rituals.

  • Lirahunu: This deity is the goddess of love, passion, and sexuality, and plays an essential role in Garifuna society by promoting strong relationships and maintaining the balance between the sexes. Lirahunu is often venerated in rituals that encourage love, companionship, and procreation.

Unique Beliefs

The Garifuna people's belief system is characterized by its syncretism, blending indigenous Caribbean, African, and Catholic elements to create a distinctive spiritual framework. One particularly unique belief within the Garifuna culture is the concept of ancestral reverence and communication with the deceased. The Garifuna people believe that their ancestors continue to play an active role in their lives, offering guidance, protection, and wisdom from the spirit world.

Dügü, a central Garifuna ritual, exemplifies this belief in ancestral communion. This ceremony, conducted by a spiritual leader known as a buyei, serves to appease and communicate with the spirits of deceased family members. The dügü is a complex, multi-day event, featuring music, dancing, feasting, and offerings to the spirits. Participants believe that through these rituals, they can restore harmony within the family, heal ailments, and receive blessings from their ancestors.

Heroes and Mythological Figures

Garifuna mythology is also home to a diverse array of heroes and mythological creatures that populate the many stories and legends passed down through generations. These figures often serve as symbols of cultural values, embodying traits such as courage, wisdom, and perseverance.

  • Chatoyer: A historical figure and Garifuna chief who resisted British colonization in the 18th century, Chatoyer is celebrated as a national hero in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. His bravery and dedication to preserving Garifuna culture have elevated him to the status of a mythic figure, embodying the Garifuna spirit of resistance and determination.

  • Güiris: These supernatural beings are shape-shifters, capable of taking the form of animals or humans to move among the living unnoticed. Güiris are often associated with mischief and trickery, serving as cautionary tales that emphasize the importance of honesty, integrity, and discernment.

  • Amürü: The Amürü is a mythical sea serpent believed to inhabit the depths of the Caribbean Sea. This creature is often depicted as a powerful and fearsome entity, embodying the awe-inspiring forces of nature that the Garifuna people have learned to respect and coexist with.

  • Isieni: These spirit beings are considered guardians of the forest, responsible for maintaining the balance of the natural world. Isieni are invoked during ceremonies and rituals that honor the environment, emphasizing the Garifuna people's deep connection to the land and their commitment to preserving it.