Honoring the Spirit of Resistance!

19 11 2012

Hetepu (Peace) Family

The 20th of November marks the official death of Zumbi dos Palmares (1655-1695), the ex-slave and last leader of the Quilombo dos Palmares, who fought the Portuguese on behalf of the Maroon society in Brazil. Many people I have talked to about Zumbi asked “Why should we celebrate this event? It happened in Brazil.”

Well, I use to think the same way. I changed my thinking because the 20th of November is celebrated in Brazil as Black Awareness Day and is used as a time to reflect upon the contributions made by people of African descent, as well as erase the vicious stereotypes that have been created about blacks.  In the beginning, I found this to be a little odd because throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, there are a lot of stereotypical images that are held dear to people of African descent like the Mammy figure. I remember, the first time I met Mammy it was at my padrino’s (my spiritual godfather’s) house. She stood next to his Ellegua and he told me that she was his Ellegua’s wife according to his spiritual practice. Being an African American I was a little offended by the image until I began to really learn the cultural connection.

Mammy also called La Madama in Cuba

You see, when the Africans were brought to the Americas. Many of them finding themselves in a foreign land, living as prisoners under the yoke of a racist slave owner, tried to recreate the life they knew in their homeland.  But they were unable to do so because the same social system did not exist. So, the Africans had to create a new cultural model in order to survive slavery, racial discrimination and most importantly resist the propaganda directed at them that they were inferior to whites.  So, having no kings and queens to turn to, the Africans turned to the wisest amongst them, which was their elders.

Preto Velhos of Brazil

Contrary to popular belief, the elders in the slave community were the most beloved because they were not seen as a physical threat to the slave owners.  As a result, the slave owners were more inclined to trust them versus younger slaves. But, the elders were also the most knowledgeable about the old ways of Africa. As a result, the spirit of resistance (from my research) in the slave community began with the brave men and women that worked in the slave owner’s home. Afterwards, these same men and women would return to their community and teach what they had learned to help their people. The elders of slave community basically played a dual role and they taught everyone they knew how to do the same thing until conditions were more favorable for them to institute the desired change.  It was from the elders religious syncretism was born, along with the whole idea of masking ones true intentions.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Now, when some whites got wind of how the slaves were living.  They tried to sympathize with their plight as Harriet Beecher Stowe had done in her antislavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. What Stowe was trying to show in her book was how contradictory it was for them as Christians to enslave other Christians based upon the color of their skin.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin was made into a play, which was performed all over the country and even the world.

What ended up happening was that millions of her books were sold and a number of Uncle Tom’s Cabin plays were performed around the United States and the world. It was from this book that a lot of whites got the idea that slavery was not the Christian thing to do.  But, the book also laid the stereotypical foundation of what the African way of life was all about. This gave rise to numerous stereotypical images and icons, that blacks were either pleased being meek, happy-go-lucky, submissive, singing servants or were brute, unruly, sex-craved animals.  This stereotypical imagery of people of African descent dominated the Western world. Although, many of these images that were embraced by people who never even read Stowe’s book or saw the cinematic viewing of the story, simply perpetuated the racist belief that blacks were inferior and meant to live in servitude.

Mexican black cartoon character known as Memin Pinguin

Todays although many of these stereotypical images have been removed from the public’s eye. They continue to rear their ugly heads in the entertainment industry and other areas because of people refusing to embrace their ancestral heritage.

A Big Italian Newspaper Published A Shockingly Racist Cartoon Of Soccer Star Mario Balotelli As A Monkey

African Americans were the most damaged culturally by these stereotypical images I learned because we were outnumbered by the whites in the United States, but in places like Cuba and Brazil. Where the African descendants managed to preserve the truth about who these individuals were prior to the creation of this stereotypical attack. The images did not do much to destroy their cultural psyche because they knew that this was just a war on their cultural way of life. A war that they were determined to fight to win.

El Negro Jose

This is why an analysis of all of these ancestral archetypes will reveal the same thing, which is that these individuals were very knowledgeable slaves with high virtues and integrity. Many of which became or were the leaders of the slave community.  The darkness of their skin, as was in Kamit, symbolized that they were the original Africans of one’s lineage.  They all had white hair, indicating that they were wise.

Francisco, Francisca and La Madama on a Espirista shrine.

In Brazil the so-called Uncle Tom and Mammy figures of the United States were commemorated, honored and respectfully known as the Pretos Velhos (the old black slaves’).  In Cuba, they are sometimes known as Francisco and Francisca, or Jose Negro and La Madama.  In Puerto Rico they are known as El Congo (the Congo) and La Negra (the Black Lady). Their respectful names in Southern African American culture are Uncle Joe or Ole’ Black Joe and Auntie or Big Mamma.

A Black reader reading tea leaves for a young white patron, painted by American Artist Harry Roseland.

By the way, the real Big Mamma was usually a cook or house servant, but she was known throughout the slave community as a midwife, herbalist and a fortune teller, that was sometimes called a Black reader or Black Gypsy. Notice the similarity with the reader below.

Card reader reading cards for a client in Cuba

 As you can see, the stereotypical images was a ruse by the oppressors to ridicule our cultural way of life. In these contemporary times it is not the oppressor that ridicules our culture, but our own out of disgrace, ignorance and shame of who and where we come from. 

The new image of Big Momma

e now, but our selves out of disgrace and ignorance of our own culture.

The new image of Uncle Joe

So you see, this is why Zumbi should be important to people throughout the Americas (and others like him such as Gaspar Yanga), because he is the epitome of what our ancestors did in order for us to live today.

Zumbi dos Palmares the celebrated hero of Capoeira

By celebrating the life of Zumbi and others that resisted in their own way. We not only honor them but erase negative imagery created to ridicule our cultural way of life and show the true power of why our culture is so beautiful.

La Madama in all her beauty

Celebrate the Day of Resistance by watching the movie Quilombo and Sankofa.

Hope that helps,

Hetep

Derric “Rau Khu” Moore

 

* P.S. Please note that I am not against Martin Lawrence, Tyler Perry or any entertainer that makes films. It is just important for people to realize the impact that negative images such as these has upon the rest of the people in the diaspora.





The Importance of the Ab (Spiritual Heart)

7 03 2011

Do you know why it is important to strengthen and develop your ab (spiritual heart)? Many don’t know or understand the concept of free will and the soul because Westerners are afraid of death and see it as being the end. In Afrospiritual traditions, death is not the end.  Death is the start of something new, but in order to make this transformation we have to have a strong ab (spiritual heart).

It is the ab that makes the entire Kamitic theology clear, because our ab is tied to the whole Kamitic spiritual hierarchy and the concept of life after death.  This is a pretty interesting yet complex concept to understand because it doesn’t correlate to Western thinking exactly. Like I said, Western thinking in linear and sees death as being the end, whereas African (and non-Western) thought is circular and holistic.  So, below is how my aakhu (ancestral spirits) explained this concept to me through a shamanic meditation and divination session.  This is what seems to make the most sense to me so, I will try to make this as simple as possible for you all.

We are all spiritual beings that have been infused into a physical body. Our spirit is composed of nine parts (incorrectly called souls) and they are : the khab, khabit, ka, sahu, ab, ren, shekhem, khu and ba. These parts of our spirit are more like consciousness and they can be grouped into three divisions called the ba, sahu and ab.

The first division of the spirit that we are given is our ba (divine conscious), which is said to be the divine spark from God. Our ba provides us with khu (divine wisdom), shekhem (divine power) and ren (our divine name, hence destiny).  The purpose of the ba is to help us to spiritually survive.  The ba was symbolized as a human headed falcon to indicate that it like a trained bird of prey will return back to its original owner or God.  So we have it the ba is closely assoicated with our breath. When body expires its last breath, the ba will return back to God. Besides providing our being with life, the ba draws all of its inspiration from the spiritual realm of the universe.  When we sleep, it is the ba that provides us with our dreams by flying wherever it needs to go and communicating the message from the spirit world to the other parts of our being. The ba corresponds to the unconscious. All living beings have a ba. The ba does not reincarnate but is new so that every living being has a fresh start or new and unique experience.

When we are born, we are also given a second divisions called a sahu (physical-body conscious) that governs our khab (physical body), khabit (emotions/animal instincts), and ka (personality), because the purpose of the sahu is to help us to physically survive.  To accomplish this feat, our sahu, which is also contains our genetic memories, draws all of what we need to know from the external environment. Our sahu corresponds to the subconscious mind. All living beings have a sahu. The sahu (and its associated parts) reincarnates but only biologically by following one’s lineage in order to provide every  living being with the genetic memory to survive. This is how animals through evolution acquire a certain distinctive pattern. In human beings this is how we acquire the physical features, behaviors, etc. of our foreparents.

We are also given an ab (spiritual heart or human conscious), which corresponds to our conscious mind but when we are born, our ab is not strong. This is the reason we have to learn right from wrong, how to be courageous and ethical in the face of fear.  We have to strengthen it, which occurs over a course of time.  For most, we do not come into the understanding of our ab until we are teenagers.  It is then that we learn that our ab is responsible for providing us with free will.  It is through our ab we are able to make choices and decisions, but our choices and decisions are influenced by the maa (divine law).  As a result, our ab grows and becomes stronger based upon the consequences of our actions and behaviors. It is through the maa that we develop a conscience or strong ab.  Only man and woman has been given ab and this is what makes us unique amongst all of the other beings and connects us to God. It is this uniqueness that intimately connects our ab to our ba. It is because of the connection between the ab and the ba that we all feel like we have a higher calling. It is our ab that is the eternal part of our being and the surviving conscious that is reborn.

When an individual physically dies, the ba, which was given to us to help us to spiritually survive, returns to the spiritual aspect of the Universe from whence it came from. The sahu, which was given to us to help us to physically survive returns to the physical aspect of the Universe from whence it came from. The ab, which is the eternal part of our being is the division of the spirit that survives the physical death experience.



So after death, the newly deceased remains with their body until they are able to pass into the otherworld or KAMTA with a clear conscience or strong ab. (Please note that this entire experience has been fictionized as the Kamitic Weighing of the Heart).  If the living remembers the deceased as being a purely evil individual. It will cause their ab to be so heavy, that their guilt (depicted as the Aummit monster) would totally consume their ab and prevent them from ever returning to the land of the living – TASETT to wreak havoc upon humankind. Although this is rare, this usually is what happens to individuals who in life encouraged a lot of chaos and confusion like Hitler and other beast men and women.  Most of the time, Aummit will be sent to fetch these individuals, which is why usually these individuals (like Hitler) commit suicide.

If the living remembers the deceased as being a troublemaker that attracted trouble in life usually due to ignorance, misguidance, wrong choices and decisions, etc., which resulted in the deceased dying a violent death or through suicide. It will cause the deceased to have a heavy ab, thus preventing them from passing into other world because now they have grave concerns that are on their mind. Since the choices these individuals made in life caused them to be shunned. In death they are shunned (not spoken of), which makes them visit the places they frequented in life. It is at these places (their homes, bars, clubs, alleyways, etc.) they influence the living with their negative and destructive ways. These deceased are called aapepu (snakes or worms) because they were parasites when they were alive and the maa causes them to be parasites in death. We encounter these negative spirits or ghost whenever we are walking and all of sudden for no apparent reason get an eerie chill up our spine, or for no reason at all have sudden thoughts of anxiety, depression, etc. Other times we know that we may have encountered an aapepu whenever we have an eerie hot and cold sensation, which is proof that these spirits are stuck in TASETT since the desert can become both extremely hot and cold temperature-wise.

If the living remembers the deceased as being an ethical and honorable individual in life. Then the deceased is able to pass into KAMTA with a light ab (clear conscience) where they will become an aakhu (ancestral spirit and spirit guide).   God allows the aakhu to be honored and venerated like the Christian martyrs and saints because in life these individuals chose to live a righteous life even in the face of death. It is through their courageous acts of bravery that these individals were tranformed and became emissaries for the Divine. This explains how biological, cultural, historical and mythical individuals even after dying tragically became aakhu like the Preto Velhos (Old Slaves in Brazil), known as Uncle Joe and Auntie (or Papa Joe and Big Momma in the US), El Negro Jose and La Madama in Afro-Cuban spiritual traditions.  It is because their ab has been made strong and pure.  Since, the aakhu can only address issues that they were familiar with in life.  Many aakhu choose to return to the land of the living where they are born through their descendants to master more skills. Others choose to return to the land of the living to assist their descendants by acting as spirit guides and speaking to us through our visions and dreams.

If the deceased after returning to the land of the living and dying with a light heart, numerous times, passes to KAMTA multiple times. The aakhu amongst the aakhu becomes a netcharu (netjaru, neteru, guardian spirit or principle of nature) because they have transformed beyond the organic birth-life-death-rebirth cycle. The netcharu are the masters of all technology and the guardians of God’s mysteries. They are the ones an individual must appeal to in order to master a particular skill and talent from God. The netcharu speak to us through quick flashes of insight. When they make themselves known, it renders us speechless temporarily because it is hard to literally explain what had just occurred. When we encounter the netcharu it is because our awareness had slipped into KAMTA – the underworld – and upon realizing what had occurred returned to the land of the living.

The netcharu exist as a clan of unique spirits and I believe the first and older netcharu  are the original founders and leaders of people.  It is this connection that ties the netcharu to everyone regardless if one believes in them or not. The older the netcharu the more it was associated with a particular aspect of nature and the more permanent it has become. Fortunately, new netcharu are being created everyday and these younger netcharu are more easy accessible and act as representatives of their clans. For instance, the original Osar is associated with agriculture, morality and stability, which caused him to be connected to the ground and pillars, hence foundation. Osar manifests himself in the mountains, but his representatives or spiritual children can be found in white stones like limestone.  The legendary Mother of all mothers,  Oset (Aset, Auset, Isis) is associated with the life giving waters and is identified with the sea. She as the ocean is permanent, but her representatives or spiritual child (essence) can be found in certain seashells.

Because death is not the final resting place and the maa mirrors the spiritual and physical world. Lower spirits can advance to the next level, just like human beings. They just have to work hard to do it because this is part of the maa. It is because of the maa, spirits can be offered prayers, light, water, money, the recitation of the psalms, rituals like the novena, and so on, which can elevate the ab of the spirit.

This is why it is best to work on developing and strengthening your ab now, so that upon death. You will have a light ab and be well received by the ancestors that have preceded you.

Excerpts for this post are from Kamta: A Practical Kamitic Path for Obtaining Power by Derric “Rau Khu” Moore, 2011.

All rights reserved.  Copyright Land of Kam 2010 & 2011








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