For almost a year I have been part of a Rites of Passage program here in Baltimore City called Egbe Akonkorin and my line is Segun whose purpose it to reconnect to your ancestors and help strenghten communiyt. For me it started in June 2017 and it was an experience. From reciting the pledge, practicing how to facilitate libations, and understanding the value of community through our Afrikan traditions. This experience, is a spiritual journey as well as a great way to connect with other great men in the community that is about restoring and building up their community. This journey was to connect with our ancestors through culture. The ancestors are beings in my family name who has passed on. Personally, I dont know their name but has always thought about them. Also as a child, I always recognized the connection I have to Afrika. These identities have traveled with everywhere I go, making Rastafari such a place to thrive and grow into my roots and culture. So in this Egbe, The spiritual system that is utilized is Ifá, which I will share later that the West Afrikan systems has always been part of Rastafari.
Ifá is a West Afrikan spiritual system that was practiced before the spread of Christianity and Islam in the colonial period. It was carried over with the ancestors during the Great Maafa which we know as the Transatlantic Slave Trade, it landed in the Carribean, and the Americas and given different names. The West Afrikan spiritual systems may not all be the same but are similar. Through these spiritual systems the ancestors fought against their enslavement, they held onto their faith and culture. Others submitted to the enslaver’s religion and god, revolutionaries ended up passing away and was not duplicated as fast as children being born.
The European Religion, Christianity made sure to give all new born children a Christian name, and belief with the intention to not follow their ancestors. Laws were created demonizing the practice, which some people call as Obeah, not realizing that our great heroes used it to fight off white supremacy. Heroes like Nanny of the Maroons, Toussaint L’ouverture, Harriet Tubman and others. I went to the Harriet Tubman museum and saw this description about her spirituality.
This book speaks of the Laws in Jamaica that were passed outlawing the home religion.
Interestingly in the Introduction, Ras McPherson writes how Leonard Howell preached Rastafari with Kumina roots and theology, and how it was evident in his drumming and chanting. Kumina is another West African Spiritual System that also incorporates the Orishas. I love how this book broke down Rastafari in the first pages, Rastafari is an ancient Ethiopian-Egyptian-Hebraic-West African religio cultural descent. Leonard Howell incorporated the West Afrikan roots, Joseph Hibbert taught the Ethiopian Coptic/Khemetic Freemasonry and Archibald Dunkley taught that Haile Selassie I is Christ returned but not the Almighty creator.
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I am a product of this racist strategy, to have a body of people to forget who they are and be under the control of a foreigner. My grandfather migrated from Jamaica to New York under the benefits of being a member of the Catholic church. From his integrity and character, being part of the ministerial staff, a family man and active Christian, he was able to migrate to the states. I give thanks because of his role and the religion I am able to write to you now. So my journey is not to run a crusade in opposing Christianity, for my journey is to find the Almighty where ever I walk and educate ones on what I find. But most of all to be free.
I saw a post the other day:
“I’m not religious, I’m spiritual.”
Translation: I don’t want to be accountable to anyone or anything. And the only moral truth I believe in is whatever I subjectively decide is moral and true.
I read that and laugh, some folks are really oblivious to the variation of people in this world, there are Shamans in this world that is way more connected to the Most High than your everyday Sunday church goer.
But once again I am the product of this age old order, which at one time was a the New World Order, Christianity has been embedded in so many minds forcibly that any remembrance of what you come from, to who you are has been viewed as temptations from the devil. Causing you to become fearful of losing your spot in Heaven and having the loving God hate you.
We must acknowledge that we have been fed the misinterpretation of scripture, we have been given life teachings that ignore our many senses.
7 years ago, 2011 Haile Selassie I came to I in a vision and awakened what was already in me, the holy spirit and since then I been on the quest to be the sun of his but first I was told that I was ushering a satanic spirit. I wrestled and tussled with the idea in my head, until I read and studied his speeches. Once I read enough information of who HE is, I began to link a few groups and people that claim HIM as their Lord and Savior and churches that uphold his name. Many thought that I was looking for some guidance and my response has always been that I was guided here by HIM. I guess you can take that phrase in a multiple of ways but what I was trying to give to the persons asking the question is that Haile Selassie I has molded me and guided to the point to come meet you.
This mission is very similar to what this essay is about, but before going any further, there is this information about HIM that supported my mission. It was that Selassie’s two favorite subjects is History and Comparative Religion.
This gem gave me the fuel to seek the truth. For example, would I find Jah in Hinduism, Buddhaism, Tao, or even in the different sects of Rastafari.
Then, I came across this book by the late Ras McPherson. It spoke of the religion that the ancestors practiced and utilize before the colonization of the European, and how the adherents of its faith fought hard and gave the slave master trouble in settling comfortably with a clear conscience of their crimes. The European marked the ancient faith as devil worship and wrote many laws condemning any people from practicing it; therefore, giving it’s current generation strick punishment for their use and an education/religious system that will only use Jesus as their new God. A God who looked nothing like the ancestors but whose name was used to justify slavery. As time went on Voodoo became “black majic” and its propaganda spread far and wide discouraging majority of the original people from being properly educated on it.
Then I read another speech by Haile Selassie I called “To Chart a Course” and HE spoke to the Nation of Afrika.
Those men who refused to accept the judgment passed upon them by the colonizers, who held unswervingly through the darkest hours to a vision of an Africa emancipated from political, economic, and spiritual domination will be remembered and revered wherever Africans meet. Many of them never set foot on this continent. Others were born, and died here. What we may utter today can add little to the heroic struggle of those who, by their example, have shown us how precious are freedom and human dignity and of how little value is life without them. Their deeds are written in history.
Now that I look back, it’s kind of sad that I needed Haile Selassie I to approve of my journey versus just going by my vibe but that is what happens when you are forced into a world view that doesn’t match with your being. You begin to seek for a higher power to exonerate you, so that you can be free and no longer a slave, at least that is how I see it, but you cannot change the past and I give thanks for each guide assigned to I to make sure that I walk into my destiny. One thing is for sure Haile Selassie I is truly divine and has turned my life around.
I have some resources at the end of this page that further explains Obatala but I would like to attempt to share with you what I have learned thus far. Obatala is the second son of the creator Oludumadre and was sent to create the earth and all of its inhabitants from the body of water. The myth says that while he creating human beings, he brewed his own palm wine from the palm seed he planted before making humans, got drunk and created human beings with flaws. As a consequence for his actions he swore a vow of sobriety, in fact, when ones offer to Obatala you should never offer alcohol for it would be offensive. When Obatala made this vow, he began to wear the white cloth to represent purity, to be an Orisha of good character and integrity. Obatala created all the Orishas because his gift is his creativity, yet the Orishas still have their own identity. The Awo (mysteries/esoteric meanings) of Obatala’s white cloth is the representation of the universe coming together. The weaving of the cloth represents creation being formed first from thought, or the light shown on the cloth bringing potential form into existence (Fatunmbi, pg. 6)
What I find even more interesting about Obatala is his symbolism when compared to other religious systems, his role and responsibility is very much in line or similar to Jesus Christ, for Obatala is the creator of earth and all of its inhabitants. Also Obatala is an androgynous being meaning that Obatala can be male or female, so this Orisha can also be viewed as Lady Mary of Zion, Yeshua’s mother. Reading this information brought joy to me because my own spiritual journey has kept me in line with the Messiah. Briefly, I will share with you that when I was in my early twenties, I walked into my grandmothers church and one of her sisters, who has transitioned, prayed for me. Her prayer was powerful, for when I closed my eyes and listened to her words, I felt the room shake, it sounded like marching and thunder, it was very loud in my ears. It made my knees buckle and when I was about to fall, I opened my eyes and saw everything was back to normal. The noise stopped but when I closed my eyes, the thunder and the weakness in my knees continued. It was very bizarre but not abnormal for me, I always felt a very strong connection with the Most High. After this experience in the church, I became a student of Christianity, studying the bible and joining a church with my soon to be wife, got married in the church and had children. Everything that we did was based off of that experience, I hold the spirit of Yeshua to be true, self-evident but a calling and I’m not ashamed of it. As time moved on, around 7 years later I received another vision on March 22, 2011. Haile Selassie I came to my dream, HE bent over grabbed my neck and instantly I began speaking in tongues. The Holy Spirit radiated throughout my whole body and lifted me up off of the floor as I laid their on my back, an experience I shall never forget, that I became open to seeing Rastafari as the evolution of Christianity. I boldly declare that we are in the time of Revelations. I am a Rasta man to the bone, Haile Selassie is my guide. As I wrote above about the Speech HE gave to Chart a Course, HE speaks of the Spiritual Domination that the ancestors has experienced and how these ancestors will be <strong>remembered and revered</strong> whenever Afrikans meet. These profound words from the Christian Emperor really opened me up to the Spirituality of the Ancestors. That 7 years from my vision of HIM, I would be initiated into Ifa and Obatala the Chief of the White cloth as my Ori/Head. I am an unofficial Priest to the world but ordained Priest by the Most High, my compassion and creativity for people is from up above and I am honored that I am being used for this work. In Rastafari, we always say <strong>Know thyself! </strong>I am overjoyed that I have gone deeper knowing who I am, and my purpose. I pray that I can help you find yours.
Receiving my marks
One of the hardest things that I ever done in my life, this test represented the will and fight for freedom, my ancestors fought their way during slavery, pulling themselves over obstacles only meant for the determined. This is a test the Egbe took in South Carolina, we had to move through the Bog, attain a reed and bring it back to shore. The mud was the perfect home for Oysters, these organisms were stacked all through the out the mud and were razor sharp. Trying to make it shore, I was cut a few times but the adrenaline and determination to survive and make it ashore was my only focus. I truly felt the ancestors with me, A Dupe!
Lastly I was given a name, for being Omo Obatala (Child of Obatala) my name is Oladiípò which means Honor becomes many.
Here are a few things that speak of the characteristic of Obatala:
When I read this, I saw a lot of things in common with myself.
Areas of Influence: Knowledge, leadership, fatherhood, justice and the legal system, geology, people with special needs, the military
Entities associated with: Our Lady of Mercy
Symbols: Mountains, snail shells, short whip made with white horsehair and cowrie shells, quartz crystals, white rocks, frogs, white animals
Offerings: White bland food (either the meat or the milk of a coconut, potatoes, eggs, rice, mushrooms, milk, water, etc), crushed up egg shells, cotton, snail shells, frankincense, myrrh or sandalwood incense, tobacco
Feast Day: September 24th
Tarot: Justice, the Emperor
Chakra: Crown Chakra
The children of Obatala are intellectual, methodical organizers. They like to think their decisions through. They have strong ideas of what is right and wrong. They hold themselves to high standards. They can also be neurotic clean freaks. Many times, children of Obatala are impetuous and hot-headed when younger and then grow up to be cool, calm adults. They can suffer from frequent headaches or sinus problems and do not hold their liquor well. Many times they will be drawn to legal, military or careers involving geology and/or engineering. They like to get outdoors. Normally, their relationships (romantic and otherwise) will be very long-term. They are slow to anger but watch out when they do, it’s going to get ugly!
Peace and love, Jah Rastafari blessings
For today is April 3rd but the 2nd was the anniversary of Haile Selassie being named Emperor of Ethiopia in 1930.
Fatunmbi, F. (1993). Obatala: Ifa and the Spirit of the Chief of the White Cloth. New York: Original Publications.Continue reading "My Rites of Passage"