Tag Archives: spiritual

Orisha On The Horizon

The year is 1619. On a voyage across the Atlantic ocean towards Jamestown, Virginia, captured African slaves carried with them a disabling sense of loss and a nagging uncertainty about their forthcoming destinies on their journey to the new world. Among the pain these resilient people also held onto various spiritual traditions and ways of relating themselves to the world from their perspective homelands which helped them sustain some sense of sanity within the hellish conditions they were forced to endure.

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Amidst European Christian and Spanish Catholic indoctrination, enslaved West Africans who were transported to various parts of the Americas had enough dignity and audacity to secretly practice various indigenous African spiritual belief systems against the will of their captors. Most prominent of these indigenous beliefs was the worship of Orishas, a Yoruba practice known as Ifa, with origin in present-day Nigeria and surrounding areas. Ifa is a potent method for displaced Africans to rediscover their true identities, claim access to birth-right cultural memories, and empower the world with a religion rooted in humanism, ancestor reverence, and the preservation of Earth. Ifa evolved over time into several distinct spiritual systems known today as Regla De Ocha (also known as “Santeria”) in Cuba, Candomble in Brazil, and Haitian Vodou.

Ifa stands out from the reigning religions of the day, some of which encourage separatism, because of its humanistic aspect. Practitioners of Ifa place all power into the people. While the Orishas are worshipped, it is clear that they are not merely outside entities, but symbols of nature and representations of ancestors. Here is where the value lies, because unlike most European religions where energy is invested into mere ideas, Ifa seeks to empower the individual, the community, and the world at large.

The rediscovery of our true spiritual traditions, rooted in West Africa, begins with the resurrection and globalization of the Black gods known as Orishas, who were almost successfully wiped clean from the communal memory banks of enslaved African peoples by colonizers. Profoundly described by Wole Soyinka as “paradigms of existence,” the following mythical symbols are, in my opinion, the most beneficial to know: Osanyin, Oya, Oshun, and Yemaya. Each of these Orishas teaches a valuable lesson through their various stories and what they represent which can prove to be useful in the evolution of oppressed Black peoples across the globe.

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During these times of critical health crisis’s and medical apartheid within the global Black community, a proper knowledge and respect for the healing powers of nature is necessary. Osanyin, known to be the god who has dominion over wild plant life, especially herbs, serves as a bridge into ancestral medicinal wisdom. Consider him Father Nature who rules all flora and fauna. The spirit of Osanyin can be found at the core of Blacks like famous botanist George Washington Carver, urban gardener and food activist Ron Finley, and the many other “healers” around the globe. Osanyin’s ashe, or life force, peaks Black interest in the field of medicine in addition to the cultivation and nurturance of plants and herbs. All of which are needed today with the spread of HIV/AIDS, Ebola, mental health disorders, and preventable diseases like diabetes that plague the Black community.

Yemaya and Oshun are two goddesses embody the power of motherhood, protection, and hold the memories of our fallen ancestors. In the Yoruba tradition where spiritual baths and cleansings are commonplace, water, like herbs, is a constant necessity. Though both embodiments of water, each Orisha has a distinct purpose when called upon. While Yemaya reigns over the oceans, full of purifying salt water, Oshun is the essence of rivers and fresh waters.

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It is widely known that Black women are among the most oppressed and disrespected individuals in the world. “Misogynoir,” a term coined by Myo Bailey, is used to describe how racism coupled with misogyny specifically affects Black women. Faced against powerful forces such as racism and misogynoir, the goddess image can be extremely empowering for Black women of the Diaspora. Yemaya and Oshun are not passive mothers. They can be gentle, but are fierce protectors of women and children. These goddesses, as well as Oya, divinity that guards the cemetery, are warrior spirits who not only give birth to nations, but are just as powerful as their male counterparts. Having female warrior goddesses to turn to in moments of strife and hopelessness, for Black women, can prove to be affirming and earn them proper respect from all others.

Ifa is a beautiful religion rich in ritual and adornment, but what’s most important is the devotee’s connection to spirit, the earth, and a respect for the past. Ifa forces its followers to open up to the worldwide community, being a religion of undoubted acceptance and care of fellow man, regardless of sex, gender, religious affiliation, or race. At the core of worship, Ifa would be most rewarding as a dominant force in the world because of its promotion of healing, loving, and respect, for self and others. As a people so stricken with pain, these Yoruba religious practices maintained and taught by those dragged unwillingly across the Atlantic ocean, provide for Black people a home in foreign lands.

Change is spreading across the Diaspora like germinated seeds blowing in wind produced by Oya, searching for fertile ground in which to settle. My ancestors and I share a common surety about the rising of the Orishas, who, like the Costus Spectabilis, are destined to flower in the minds and spirits of reawakening oppressed peoples.

FW.289 Yellow Trumpet, Costus spectabilis, N Zambia

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“All About Love: New Visions” (bell hooks) Final Discussion

Hello everyone! Thank you soooo much for participating in our previous discussions on bell hooks’,  All About Love! This space is solely created to get in depth with the final portion of the text. On twitter, we usually send out a series of tweets tell you how we feel about the book, but we never really get to know what’s going on in your head too much. So, we want to try something a little different. We are going to pose a few questions about the book to start the discussion off, but we want all book club participants to get the discussion rolling and connect with each other! Answer a question, comment on an opinion, create your own question, do it all!
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Questions to ponder:
Chapter 9: The Heart Of Love
-Hooks discusses the idea of “privilege of power” through the patriarchal system. In what ways does patriarchal thinking affect both men and women in relationships? Have their ever been a time when you felt that a relationship was hindered because of a reflection over power or control?
“To know love we must surrender our attachment to sexist thinking in whatever form it takes in our lives.”
Chapter 10: Sweet Love
“Sexual pleasure enhances the bonds of love, but they can exist and satisfy when sexual desire is absent.”
How do you feel about hook’s strong statement? How can this be applied to the normalcy of casual intercourse?
Chapter 11: Loving into Life and Death
“All the worship of death we see on our television screens, all the death we witness daily, does not prepare us in any way to face dying with awareness, clarity, or peace of mind. “
We never really talk about love and how it correlates to death. So how did this chapter show realization to your personal lost loved ones and the fetish that our society has over death?
Chapter 12: Redemptive Love
Probably our favorite chapter, learning how to heal a broken, misused heart to love again.
“No matter what has happened in our past, when we open our hearts love we can live as if born again, not forgetting the past but seeing it in a new way, letting it live inside us in a new way.”
What stuck out in this chapter for you? What have you learned about redeeming your own past for your own hearts sake?
Chapter 13: When Angels Speak of Love
Love and spirituality: How can those factors relate to each other? And more importantly, why is love the central commonality in all spiritual intents and religions?

Feel free to answers the questions or post final thoughts on the book in the comments section below or tweet them to us on twitter! (@AfroMadu)

Prose Poetry.

It Occured to Me One Rainy Afternoon,

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Upon hearing the singing of a bird,Maybe the question is the purpose.
The questions that crowd my mind, begging for my attention.
Perhaps my purpose is not
in answering them,
but living them out.
Here Is one:
Why do birds
sing?
I have been struggling against this wind.

Perhaps, it is that
they never cease to sing.

Neither rain nor night nor snow
Can keep them silent.
It is a brave species that will stand against the Night and
sing a song.
Perhaps,
a bird knows there is glory in his singing.

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Glory starts small.
It grows, like an ocean wave that God braids. And we are all stringed along like hairs in his palm.  Glory starts small, pebble by pebble are the questions we are patient enough to live,
in a world that demands
answers.
We breathe the questions unanswered.  We wear a glory unseen. Then it will be us who sing the song. Like the bird who knows true glory, we will give true glory.

Forty Days of Reconstruction.

Today marks the first day of lent, a tradition in many Christian denominations that observe the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for 40 days. During this time, many Christians fast, pray, and sacrifice important things in their daily routines as a form of penitence. Although many are not of this denomination or not religious, lent is a way to observe materialistic things that are used excessively to find time and space to better themselves. 

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Can these forty days create a great habit to find time for your true purpose in life without being religious? Can you use these forty days to change your thinking in certain ways? end bad habits? Forty days is more than enough time to reconstruct the habits of the mind. Ending things like procrastination and becoming more productive, picking up great habits of working out, or reading books, and of course making choices that will impact your life.

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The idea of sacrifice in itself shines light to the willpower and discipline that is self imposed upon the self. The notion of removing the most vital item or habit in your life and finding ways to continue on with your days can be very hard in the beginning, but liberating simultaneously. How good will it feel to know that you can stay off of social media for forty days, or stop drinking sugary drinks and sodas? Great, of course. 

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Allow these forty days to be your reconstruction period. Take away all the toxins in your life and replenish them with a sense of truth, purpose, and productivity. Let us know what you are giving up for this season! 

 

 

 

Observing Ramadan.

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This week begins the Muslim observation of Ramadan, a month for reflection and rejuvenating while fasting and praying before the sun goes down. 

Although I am not a Muslim, I decided to a little more research on what people actually do during the fasting time and when the sun goes down. I feel like the value and character building behind Ramadan was the most important aspect that in ANY TIME someone can decide to do slow down their lives and rethink things. 

images-73The significance of fasting, at least in my opinion, is to not only  to sacrifice eating and drinking meals, but carefully picking and choosing things to do and people to be around during this self-empowering process. Doing things like catching up on reading and just becoming in tune with thy self gives you time to detox not just your body but your mind as well. 

The idea of purification, in itself, shows the beginning of self-discipline. To mentally prepare yourself to give up normal routines in attempts to become spiritually deeper,  is a beautiful thing. 

In sum, Im eager to continue learning and researching the month of Ramadan. I’ve been so intrigued that I’ve began to continue a personal fast of detoxing my body during the sunlight. 

Ramadan Mubarak Everyone. 

Photo on 8-28-12 at 6.27 AM #2