For the last 25 years I have been on my own spiritual journey, but along the way and continuing today, I delight in learning more and more about Earthlings’ belief systems, and non-belief systems. Although I consider myself a neo-Buddhist (a term I coined), I have no issues with looking into the panorama of beliefs around the world.
One such spiritual system – call it a religion if you wish – is that which is of the Yoruba peoples of Nigeria. The Yoruba have been around for centuries B.C., and have their own creation story. Readers may know that when Africans from many tribes were brought to the Americas against their will and enslaved, those same Africans who survived the Middle Passage brought with them their beliefs. What white masters found is that you can take an African out of Africa, but you can’t take the Africa out of Africans.
Africans were soon shown the white man’s religion in North America, Protestant and Catholic Christianity – and the White Jesus. By exposing Africans to this religion, there were two goals, one to “pacify” slaves, and the other to control them. Remember Africans were not even regarded as fully human, so the masters really did not care what happened to the souls of their chattel after they were hung or beat to death.
However, Africans accepted the Christian system and the white Jesus, but in a variety of ways, many of which either adapted Christianity to serve their own spiritual and emotional needs, with lots of singing and dancing, and for many, Christianity – particularly Catholicism – was secretly combined with their African practices, hence today’s Santeria, for example. Such practices were much more common in South America, Cuba, and Haiti.
Here in North America grew a strong, yet diverse, African American-centered Christianity, but reflecting many innate aspects of African culture.
But today the attraction and magnetic hold on many Christians at large is waning. Christians are leaving their churches in large numbers, and young people especially are leaving. Many of these “leavers” are now in the “noner” category, having a religious affiliation of “none.” However, among young Black Americans, more and more they are seeing themselves as Africans in America, and finding what their hearts are yearning for, in various forms of Yoruban Ifa and other practices.
I personally am acquainted with many such young people of color, and the attraction is not limited to only Blacks, for many Whites are also studying and being initiated into these spiritual systems.
The main elements of Ifa, sometimes referred to as ancestral worship, is the belief in venerating ancestors, divination and identification/initiation as followers of various Orishas (“gods”). Moreover, the practices, ceremonies, initiation rituals and dancing, and identification with nature, is a powerful call to many looking for a touchstone in their troubled lives.
My best friend is a fully-initiated Osun priestess. Osun is one of the Ifa orishas, the Goddess of love and sensuality, fertility, rivers and caring for children. Our home has her altars and mine, so it is a happy mix of loving understanding on the highest plane.
The point of this post is just to inform the readers about aspects of available spiritual practices they may be missing.
Painting of Goddess Osun
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