Three Powerful Ways to Use the Kemetic Kongo Cross for Spiritual Healing

10 11 2018

Hetepu (Peace & Blessings) Family.

When the Africans were kidnapped and brought to the Americas, contrary to popular belief, the Africans taken to North America did not lose their culture. What the Africans taken to North America loss was the philosophy and theology behind their cultural practices, which regressed into a superstition.Never Forget

“Superstition” Luisah Teish author of Jambalaya: The Natural Woman’s Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals defines as “…a belief or practice whose origin and context has been lost to us and/or is in conflict with the beliefs of the dominating culture”.

So when I learned that the first Africans brought to the Americas and North America were from the Kongo-Angolan region, and that remnants of their culture survived through slavery such as: 1) the cultural practice of placing images of deceased loved ones in the western direction of the home; 2) the belief that ancestors visit us in our dreams and reincarnate as “old souls” through our children; and. 3) Most African Americans have a common understanding of the crossroad concept, and much more.  I was very excited to learn about the Kongo religion in hopes of learning about my loss heritage.

Kongo Cross used for Ventilation during Underground Railroad at First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia.

But, because the Kongo-Angolan people were the first of the Africans to be brought to the Americas, their region was also the most devastated through slavery, imperialism and later ravaged by various civil wars. Consequently, this meant that most of the Old Kongo cultural beliefs were either lost and/or obsolete.

Thankfully, understanding that the Kongo-Angolan people were Bantu speaking people and that the Bantu or Ba-Ntu migrated from Kemet, helped me to understand my ancestral heritage from a more profound perspective. Through one-ton-one correspondence between the Kemetic and Kongo traditions I discovered a cosmogram, which became known as the Maa Aankh.

Maa Aankh with Utchat

The Maa Aankh cosmogram is based upon the remnants of the Bantu-Kongo spirituality that survived in North America that has been syncretized with Kemetic (Ancient Egyptian) philosophy.  Like most cosmograms or medicine wheels, the Maa Aankh can be interpreted in numerous ways. The general understanding is that our universe is composed of two worlds or two lands and they are: above the imperfect world of the living called TASETT (the Red Lands or the Land of Set/Set-an and Ku Nseke in KiKongo), and below. The perfect world of dead called KAMTA (the Black Lands also known as the Land or Kingdom of Osar/Osiris, hence the Underworld and Ku Mpemba/the Land of White in KiKongo). These two lands are divided by a thin veil called Nyun, but are bridged together through Maa.

Surrounding these two lands are four discs symbolizing the four attributes of Ra (the Life Force) and the four moments of the Sun: Khepe Ra (Sunrise or Kala in KiKongo), Ra (Midday or Tukula in KiKongo), Ra Atum (Sunset or Luvemba in KiKongo) and Amun Ra (Midnight or Musoni in KiKongo).

The Four Ras also signify:

  • The Evolution of the Soul: Khepera (Sunrise/Birth), Ra (Midday/Life), Ra Atum (Sunset/Death) and Amun Ra (Midnight/Rebirth)
  • The Four Directions: Khepera (East), Ra (North), Ra Atum (West) and Amun Ra (South)
  • The Four Seasons: Khepera (Spring), Ra (Summer), Ra Atum (Fall) and Amun Ra (Winter)
  • The Four Elements: Khepera (Air), Ra (Fire), Ra Atum (Earth), and Amun Ra (Water)
  • The Four Phases of Life: Khepera (intellectual), Ra (physical), Ra Atum (emotional) and Amun Ra (spiritual)
  • The Four Stages of Life: Khepera (infancy), Ra (adolescences), Ra Atum (elder-hood) and Amun Ra (ancestors)
  • The Four Temperaments/Humors: Khepera (Black Bile), Ra (Blood), Ra Atum (Yellow Bile) and Amun Ra (Phlegm)
  • The Four Sons of Hru (Heru or Horus): Khepera (Tuamatef protects the stomach and guide the dead), Ra (Hapi protects the lungs and navigated the dead), Ra Atum (Qebehsenuf protects the intestines and refreshed the dead) and Amun Ra (Amset protects the liver and was used to revive the corpse of the dead.)

And there are other correlations that can be made as well such as the stages of consciousness,  family dynamics, etc. but to mention them all would take us beyond the scope of this post.

The center of the Maa Aankh represents a culmination of one’s spiritual and physical gifts, one’s physical and spiritual balance, and/or one’s ability to ascend from the Four Ra to an enlightened position in the center.

Therefore, there are numerous ways you can use the Maa Aankh all depending on what feels right to you.  However, below are three powerful ways that I have benefited from the Maa Aankh.

The Maa Aankh as a Guide for Spiritual Progress

The Right Eye of Ra (Also known as the Solar Eye corresponds to literal and physical sight.)

The Right Eye of Ra (Also known as the Solar Eye corresponds to literal and physical sight.)

“Live in the moment” and “Understand your past, so you can determine your future” are all relevant sayings when it comes to contemplating on the moments of the Maa Aankh.  To perform this simple exercise simply think about which moment resonates with you the most and your spiritual spiritual progress. For instance, whenever I begin to see a lot of problems (financial, health, family, career, etc.) occurring in my life. Depending on the severity, I can look on the Maa Aankh and see that I am entering the Ra Moment.  Since the Ra Moment corresponds to the youthfulness or adolescences, which is fully of rashness and folly.  The Ra Moment signifies where most of our problems occur due to social conditionings, peer pressure and the lack of spiritual insight or wisdom, hence the Right Eye of Ra.  Therefore, during this time I am reminded that I need to seek wisdom and spiritual insight or an oracle as signified by the polar opposite to get a full or holistic picture.  (The polar opposite of the Ra Moment is the Amun Ra Moment).

 

The Maa Aankh as a Crossroad

The Maa Aankh naturally symbolizes two intersecting points thus making a crossroad where two worlds meet.  From this perspective, the Maa Aankh can be found anywhere because it represents where the known (TASETT) meets the unknown (KAMTA).  For instance, the Maa Aankh can be found where a town meets the forest/woods, the city meets the cemetery or the city meets a park, a beach shore meets the ocean, your home meets the outside of your home, and even psychologically where your subconscious meets your Superconscious.  Therefore, the threshold between these two “lands” is the powerful center, which can be used to say your prayers, to meditate, place offerings such as candles and/or express your gratitude.  Simply draw or trace it on the ground and use it as you feel.

The Maa Aankh as a Spiritual Guide

However, I personally prefer to use the Maa Aankh as a spiritual guide alongside the Story of Osar based upon African tribal history, metaphysics and spiritualism.

To understand this perspective we need to go back to a time before Kemet was a united kingdom and consisted of warring tribes. From this perspective, the Story of Osar is not a mythological legend consisting of numerous gods and goddesses, but a metaphorical story between two opposing tribal leaders.

According to legend, before Kemet was united into one kingdom, it was divided into two regions and governed by two brothers:  Upper Kemet in the southern region was symbolized by the white Hedjet crown and governed by the eldest brother Osar.  While Lower Kemet or the northernmost part of the region, which was symbolized by the red Deshret crown was ruled by the youngest brother Set.

Now, at the time when these two chieftain ruled, the people of Kemet were constantly at war with one another. Until one day Osar dreamt of ways of uniting the two lands into one country, which led him to developing spiritual teachings (or some say a religion).  After applying these teachings, Osar traveled the country teaching all of his countrymen how to live in peace with one another, and the science of agriculture, which he learned from his wife/sister Oset (Isis). Consequently, the teachings of Osar spread like wildfire and in a relatively short time, brothers ceased warring with one another.  Osar later became king and he was loved by everyone for unifying the two lands and bringing peace and prosperity to the region. All were grateful to Osar except for Set, who was so envious of Osar that he plotted and killed the first king of Kemet, then usurped the throne. 

Everyone feared Set’s tyrannical rule except for Oset (Aset) who fled and magically conceived Osar’s heir, Hru.  When Hru came of age, he challenged Set for the throne but was unable to defeat his father’s youngest brother. Then, in one critical battle, Set managed to gouge Hru’s eye, thereby forcing the young prince to barely escape with his life.  Hru fled to see his father’s old friend and vizier Djahuti, who repaired the young prince’s left eye perfectly.

The Left Eye of Ra (also called the Lunar Eye corresponds to intuition and spiritual sight, hence insight.)

The next time Hru engaged in battle with Set, he swiftly and quickly defeated him and forced his uncle to surrender.  Even after being defeated militarily Set, refused to yield and campaigned against Hru by claiming that he was not Osar’s legitimate heir.  As a result, the campaign was so successful that a tribunal was convened to decide who would rule the kingdom, but after hearing the both sides.  The tribunal still could not come to a decision for some favored Hru while others ruled in favor of Set. Finally, Djahuti made it possible for Osar to speak from beyond the grave.  After which Osar verified that Hru was his heir and encouraged the tribunal to rule truthfully because he established a kingdom in the Underworld where he was now the head judge.  Upon hearing Osar’s testimony the tribunal ruled in Hru’s favor and awarded him the white and red Pschent crown.

There are numerous ways that this story can be interpreted but my understanding of the Story based upon the Maa Aankh is that: 1) Hru defeated Set in battle because he had his spiritual eye repaired, and. 2) Hru reclaimed his inheritance because of his ancestor, Osar.

Therefore, the Maa Aankh can be used as a spiritual guide for working with one’s ancestors and spirits. It indicates that the relationship between the living and the dead should be more like a business partnership, where both the living and the spirits benefit. The Maa Aankh explains the difference between the living and the spirits of the dead by indicating that the living are limited because of the physical laws of time and space. Meaning although we can experience life (eating food, pleasures of friendship, sex, etc.), our physical bodies are a trap that prevent us growing spiritually, because we cannot see beyond the physical. Hence the reason we have so many problems in our life is because we lack insight and wisdom, and must rely solely upon our intellect and what we have previously learned.

On the flip side, since the spirits of the dead have the ability to see anything and everything because they are not limited by the physical laws of time and space due to not having a physical body.  However, the lack of a physical body prevents them from truly experiencing life and thus spiritually growing.

However, by forming an alliance or partnership between the living and the spirit of the dead, the living are able to use the insight and wisdom of the spirit of the dead to improve their life, while the spirit of the dead are able to use the physical body of the living to spiritually evolve.  In other words, neither the living or the spirit of the dead are more superior than the other. Both, the living and the spirit of the dead are on equal footing are suppose to profit the relationship, hence the relationship between Hru and Osar.

By using the Maa Aankh as a spiritual guide for working with spirits, we can see that many (if not most) of the spirits that give churchgoers the “gift of the Holy Ghost” via speaking-in-tongues, etc. are really trickster spirits taking advantage of peoples’ ignorance. Proof that these are trickster spirits can be seen in the fact that no true wisdom or spiritual power is being offered, which is the reason as soon as people leave Sunday worship they lose their Holy Ghost and return to their ill-behavior ways.  Another sign that trickster spirits are leeching off of uninformed churchgoers is that the physical church is steadily growing while communities they serve are steadily seeking in despair.

At the same time, benevolent spirits of the dead will only approach the living if they believe that they can profit from the relationship and offer spiritual insight in return. This is the reason everyone does not have a La Madama or Uncle/Nkisi (Bucket) spirit guide. By using the Maa Aankh as a spiritual guide, you are able to set the rule between you and your spirits that your relationship is basically a “quid pro quo” meaning “I give you something and expect to get something in return (because that’s Maa)”. Therefore, every time you pray, meditate or do a ritual, you should make an offering in return.

The Double Pschent Crown

The Double White & Red Pschent Crown

When you are working with a higher spirits you will sense flashes of insight as if suddenly the “light is coming on”, which symbolizes the white Hedjet crown of Osar.

It was through working with my ancestors in this manner that I learned that Osar corresponds to the Superconscious or Higher Self and Set to our subconscious or lower self.

So, these are some of the ways that I have truly benefitted from using the Maa Aankh. Hopefully, these methods can help you in your spiritual road as well.

Hetepu





Kongo Cross/Cosmology on Colonoware

19 07 2012

Bottom of marked Colono Ware bowl from South Carolina.

Historians argue that crosses and circles in certain contemporary African American rituals were derived from depictions of the cosmos traditional among Bakongo priests from the southwest coast of Africa (Thompson 1983:110,121; Stuckey 1983: 3–97). The basic form of this cosmogram (cosmology) is a simple cross with one line representing the boundary between the living world and that of the dead, and the other representing the path of power from below to above, as well as the vertical path across the boundary. Marks on the bases of Colono Ware bowls found in river bottoms and slave quarter sites in South Carolina suggest that more than one hundred and fifty years ago African American priests used similar symbols of the cosmos.

While cataloging thousands of Colono Ware sherds, South Carolina archaeologists began noticing marks on the bases of some bowls. Most of these marks were simple crosses. In some cases a circle or rectang le enclosed the cross; in others, “arms” extended counterclockwise from the ends of the cross. On one there was a circle without a cross, and on a few others we found more complicated marks.

Initially we called these “maker’s marks” since the first ones discovered had been in cised on the vessel bases before firing and bore a resemblance to maker’s marks on European and Asian pottery. Similar marks, however, were soon found inscribed on interior bottoms, and still others were scratched into the bowls after the vessels were fired. Some archaeologists argued that they were “owner’s marks,” but there was too little variety in the marks to suggest different owners. Interpreting the marks as either “maker’s” or “owner’s” had serious flaws.

Although we could not explain what these marks meant, over a period of several years a pattern emerged linking the marks to earthenware bowls collected underwater from rivers. What we knew was this:

The majority of marks were a cruciform or some variation of a cross or X.
All marks were on Colono Ware bowls, none on the Colono Ware cooki ng jars we commonly found. Also, there were no such marks on imported European bowls, although slaves were using large amounts of European ware as well as Colono Ware.
Marks always were located at the very bottom of the bowl, either on the inside or outside. Sometimes they were made before firing and in other cases after firing.
Marks were more commonly found on bowls with ring bases than on those with rounded or flattened bases, even though ring-based bowls comprised only a small proportion of the total number of bowls recovered.
Although marked pieces had been found around former slave quarters, most were picked up in adjacent rivers. This was true in spite of the fact that many more Colono Ware sherds had been recovered from terrestrial sites than from those underwater.
Clearly the marks were associated with bowls and with water, but what did they signify? In February 1987 at a Williamsburg symposium on African American culture, I showed illustrations of the marked pots and mentioned that while we believed these bowls were in some way associated with water, we really didn’t know how to interpret them. After the presentation, Wythe Dornman, a member of the audience, and later an associate, Elaine Nichols, called my attention to the similarity of the marks to Bakongo cosmology.

The Bakongo are a numerous and powerful people located in the southern portion of modern Democratic Republic of Congo near the Angolan border. Their homeland is in the area identified in discussions of the Atlantic slave trade as the “Congo-Angolan region.” Bakongo culture has been so influential that many non-Bakongo people have adopted Bakongo practices, especially in religion. During the time when traders brought slaves to North America, almost half of those arriving in South Carolina came from the region of Bakongo influence.

According to Bakongo religion, an almighty God emanates power that may be controlled for either good or evil by living human beings, people who make sacred medicines or minkisi. Minkisi control the spirits of the cosmos connecting the living with the powers of the dead. Making an nkisi (plural: minkisi) involves packaging a variety of “spirit-embodying materials,” which might include cemetery earth, white clay, stones, and other items. Nkisi containers include leaves, shells, bags, wooden images, cloth bundles, and ceramic vessels (MacGaffey 1986:42–51; Thompson 1983:108–131).

Bakongo philosophers explain the land of the living as a mountain over a watery barrier separating this world from the land of the dead beneath. Each day the sun rises over the earth and proceeds in a counterclockwise direction, as viewed from the southern hemisphere, across the sky to set in the water. Then, during earthly nighttime, the sun illuminates the underside of the universe, the land of the dead, until it rises again in the northeast. The cycle continues incessantly, representing the continuity of life: birth, death, and rebirth (MacGaffey 1986:42–46; Thompson 1983:108–109).

Circularity pervades West African ideology, and the circle proved equally important in African American slave religion and art. Moreover, the watery barrier, which separates the corporal and spirit worlds, also found a weighty role in African American ideology.

Considering the West African emphasis on circularity and water spirits, and the influence of Bakongo cosmology and ritual in the Congo-Angolan region, it should not be surprising that early African American religion would bear these same characteristics. The marks on bowls picked up from river bottoms in the Carolina lowCountry strongly resemble Bakongo cosmograms. The association of marks with earthenware vessels, ring bases, and underwater sites also fits the general West African model.

South Carolina’s marked bowls were made and used by American descendants of the mythical Ne Kongo who cooked medicines in earthenware pots. Although no marks have been found on Colono Ware cooking jars or pots, some marked bowls show charring from use over a fire. Overall, the traditional African association of medicines or charms with earthenware vessels, and the exclusive archaeological association of marks with handbuilt earthenware bowls, and not with imported European ware, suggests an interpretation of the bowls as receptacles in a ritual similar to those involving minkisi.

As Africans came to the Americas they arrived with a belief in water spirits and a profound respect for the cross and circularity as symbols of life and death. Again, we can read these tenets in the archaeological record: two-thirds of the marks are unquestionably cruciform and three out of four marked bowls have been recovered from underwater, bowls that embody circularity. Not only are the bowls themselves segments of spheres, and circles the dominating lines of spheres, but the ring bases add even more circles to the vessels. When they are attached to spherical bowls, the ring bases appear as circles attached to circles; when marked they appear as circles enclosing the Bakongo cosmogram.

The archaeological pattern fits the West African model quite well. The combination of marks, handbuilt earthenware, circles, and underwater context suggest that African American priests performed traditional rituals passed from Africa to South Carolina.

This is article is originally from http://www.nps.gov/ethnography/aah/aaheritage/lowCountry_furthRdg4.htm .

I am only posting it here because I have tried to contact the author in order to repost and was unsuccessful.

Hope this helps…Hetep

Derric “Rau Khu” Moore