Have You Been Called? Understanding African Cosmology and the Calling Amongst African Americans

6 05 2013

Hetepu (Peace) Family.

Hope all is well. This is something that has really been on my mind since Malcolm X’s birthday is nearing and the rising disturbing actions and behaviors perpetrated by our youth in their desperate attempt to make money.  I have also wanted to address this issue about because some people have been asking if Kamta is a New Age thing.  So I have been letting this subject run around in my mind for a minute in order to address is appropriately.

Kamitic priest in leopard pelt

Kamitic priest in leopard pelt

Because shamanism has become such a very popular term to throw around by anyone claiming to be spiritual and not religious or refusing to follow the order of organized religion. I have decided to write this post to clarify, specify and distinguish Kamta from the New Age shamanistic movements. Please understand that I have nothing against New Agers because everything has its purpose, but I want to make it clear that this is not a trend.  I have to keep telling this story in order to raise consciousness, not because it is the trendy thing that is in fashion now, but because it is a Way of Life pertaining to my survival.

Portuguese ship

Portuguese ship

Kamta is a Spirit – led shamanic tradition based upon Kamitic (Ancient Egyptian) philosophy and Afrospiritual thought.  When the Africans were enslaved and brought to North America, unlike those taken to the Caribbean and South America, they were unable to maintain and retain all of their religious beliefs because their formal introduction spiritual system had been disrupted or simply destroyed. This along with the fact that there were various ethnic groups with different cultures and spiritual beliefs also made it difficult for the spiritual systems transported to Protestant Christian North America from Africa to survive. Fortunately, prior to the advent of the Slave Trade, many of the people from the Kongo region had willingly converted to Roman Catholicism or were at least familiar with the Christian faith due to their encounter with Portuguese merchants and missionaries.  Consequently, those Africans brought from the Kongo Angolan region were able to retain majority of their spiritual beliefs under the guise of Christianity. Although, they were not able to create or recreate a formal initiation system such as the ones that exist throughout the Afro diaspora, they were able to maintain an informal initiation system that follows what is commonly referred to as the Rule of the Sun.

Kongo_Cross

Kongo Cross (also called the Dikenga or Yowa)

The Rule of the Sun is based upon African Cosmology particularly the Yowa, Dikenga also called the Congo or Kongo Cross. The general understanding of the Kongo Cross is that the human soul like the sun rises, zeniths, sets and is reborn again to create another dawn. Spiritually speaking, we rise and peak in our awareness, but when we experience problems, setbacks, calamity, dishonor, illness, etc.  It is because we are spiritually dying or our sun/soul is setting in the West. The reason we spiritually die is because we have picked up impurities (egocentricities) from dwelling amongst the living in the physical world like selfishness, egotism, fear, etc.. So, spiritual death occurs in order to purify our soul. If we survive the problem, illness, fall from grace, etc.  It is believed that we have traveled to the spiritual world and were reborn like the dawning sun. So along with this core belief, early African Americans believed that when someone experienced a spiritual death.  It was because they were being Called to the spiritual world to obtain their spiritual gifts.  Although good and evil existed in the Kongo mind, the whole battle between the good and evil was seen as a way in which one finds his or her true Self.  In other words, it was seen as way to establish and maintain balance, so that an individual could learn to stand on the edge of both worlds.

Basic Kongo Cosmogram

Basic Kongo Cosmogram

Now the Calling in the African American community was similar to other shamanic societies, in the sense that those who were called at an early age displayed unusual birth signs such as being breeched, born with a caul over their head, having uncommon birthmarks and so on.  But, the most common form of calling in the African American community  was the fall from grace in which the individual after experiencing problems had some sort of epiphany or revelation.  This is because all adversity was seen as an individual going through a dying phase, because as one elder told me “You have to go through something, in order to get something.” This something that the individual must go through is of course the adversity and hardship of the physical world.  The something that the individual is going to get refers to their reward, their talent, purpose, destiny, etc. that will be obtained spiritually (or from the spiritual world).  This is why it is not uncommon to hear of individuals within the African American community today being “Called” to the pulpit to be a preacher.  In the olden days, the Calling was not just about being an evangelist.  The Calling pertained to doing any type of ministry (God or Spirit-led) work in regards to helping people in the community such as being a seer, a healer, prayer warrior, and so on.

Robert Johnson the Blues Musician Who Supposedly Sold His Soul to Play the Guitar

Robert Johnson the Blues Musician Who Supposedly Sold His Soul to Play the Guitar

Those familiar with African American folk beliefs will not understand the basis of Robert Johnson’s Crossroad Ritual and will now understand the reason what Johnson did was considered evil is because his blues music was not helping his community. It was only going to make him richer, which is why the man who allegedly teaches him was called the devil.

The Transformation from Malcolm Little to Malcolm X to  El Hajj Malik Shabazz

The Transformation from Malcolm Little to Malcolm X to El Hajj Malik Shabazz

The Calling is a form of initiation based upon the Kongo Cross and it refers to being initiated and inducted into the spiritual fold to help the community. Like most initiations, which end of something old and the beginning or start of something new. It was understood that anytime an individual experienced any sort of unusual hardship, setbacks, obstacles, problems, etc. the individual was being Called.   This is the most accepted undocumented belief in the African American psyche.  It is the reason those individuals that have undergone a complete transformation such as the legendary Malcolm X (and a host of others), are so cherished in the African American community.  It is because African Americans like most people love a “comeback to grace” story and it is because the basis of our culture centers on the Rule of the Sun.

Because the Church became the most respected institution that white America during slavery (for the most part) would not meddle with.  Many of the people that were Called were given regular titles within the institution such as deacon, evangelist, missionary, etc. but there were also those who were known as Father, Papa, Poppa, Uncle, Brother, Mother, Momma, Auntie and Sister “so – and – so”.  Each of these individuals at some point in time assisted in the healing services that occur inside the church.

Contemporary Ring Shout

Contemporary Ring Shout

Like most shamanic traditions, African American religious service usually consists of a form of ritual called praise and worship, which consists of songs, music, dancing and trance called, filled with the Holy Ghost.  Next, the preacher that gives the congregation a message from God and at times can also include being prayed upon for healing using blessed oil.  The reason most people don’t think of it as being a shamanic trance induction service is because it is so norm and most people think that shamans are spooky witchdoctors running around with masks and bones in their nose chanting some unpronounceable language. A true shaman mediates between the spiritual world and physical world for his or her community. Everything that the shaman does is for the community because their spiritual development and advancement depends upon the people they serve. This is why typically those who were called in the African American community also did and continues to do something in regards to the church.

It is because of the Kongo Cross, anyone can participate in any form of African American spirituality (spiritual tradition, spiritual practices, folk practices, etc.) because it all centers on you going through something and surviving. It is simply put a spirituality that is based upon survival, which celebrates one’s success or victory over adversity.  And, this is what makes African American spirituality a form of shamanism.

Disney's Shadow Man of New Orleans

Disney’s Shadow Man of New Orleans

But, this form of spirituality has been steadily suppressed because in the early twentieth century, African Americans were routinely harassed and even imprisoned because of their religious beliefs. Today when people think of African religions or spirituality, it conjures up images of evil sorcerers. As a result, older African Americans familiar with this form of spirituality have often denied any association with it out of fear of being ostracized. Because African Americans were separated from the Motherland, in general unfamiliar with African cosmology and the old Kongo spiritual systems are nonexistent due to slavery and colonization. Slowly but surely, this system has continued to fade into extinction as the elders that followed and taught the system transition and are not able to pass their wisdom on to younger generations.

Emmett Till and Lil Wayne Controversy

Emmett Till and Lil Wayne Controversy

Today, a great cultural tragedy is occurring on several fronts. From one perspective, because of the lack of a cultural spiritual tradition, youths unfamiliar with their own ancestral history are mocking and ridiculing their heritage.  (i.e. the entertainer Lil Wayne).  This is also due to the fact that many still suffer from Afrohagiophobia, which according to http://www.mamiwata.com/part2.html.

“A pathological fear and irrational intimidation of African spiritual and esoteric science, ancestral veneration, and its ritual and cultural expressions. The simplest spirit manifestations that were once understood in their cosmological context, now “spooked” the newly conditioned generations of African-Americans.”

On the other hand, many people are exploring, searching, investigating, embracing, imitating and mimicking spiritual systems that are foreign to their culture and wondering why these systems are not working and helping them to bring money, peace of mind, or harmony to their relationships.  I am very well aware of the latter because I have put in my time researching and dabbling in various faiths and traditions myself. I have firsthand experience and know that if you do not belong to a particular cultural group, contrary to what anyone tells you. You are not going to get everything as the individual who is born into that culture.   There is going to be a lot of information that is going to be lost in the cultural translation.  A person born and raise Baptist, COGIC, Pentecostal, etc. and converts to Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, etc. is just not going to get everything because those spiritual systems are tailored to the cultures they serve.  I have even witnessed and talked to people who were involved in various African and Afro-American religions and they have told me about the indifferences that exist there as well.

Colonoware

Kongo Cross on Colonoware

So, here comes Kamta to save me.

After doing all of this research and studying all of these philosophies years ago. After trying to make a dying relationship with a “spiritual person” work and trying to incorporate all of these metaphysical ideas, I became deathly ill. Meaning, I almost died twice. How I survived was by throwing out everything that didn’t work and relying upon what I knew that did. I always have to tell people my story so that they can understand what happens when you don’t accept your calling, because it is real.

Queen Nzingah

Queen Nzingah

While I was undergoing my own rebirthing process that is when I began putting rhyme to reason and that’s how I learned about the Kongo people and our ancestral tradition, which can be traced back to the Ba-Ntu people who dwelled in Kamit/Kemet (Ancient Egypt).  It was because the original Kongo systems for the most part is nonexistent that Kamit/Kemet became the inspiration behind this system and I discovered the Maa Aankh cosmogram. By the way, this is totally within the Bantu-Kongo thinking because Kongo traditions have survived throughout the diaspora by adapting and modifying existing philosophies to fit their purpose.

Maa Aankh

So, the battle between good and evil is not seen as an eternal conflict between God and the devil, but between man and woman’s higher and lower selves allegorized as the battle between the Upper and Lower Lands of Kamit. It is the same Kongo concepts of the physical world above and the spiritual world below where one has to travel and meet Osar in order to be reborn, so that he or she can be stand on the edge of both worlds.

Unify Your Kingdom Within

Unify Your Kingdom Within

Now, the key differences between Kamta and other shamanistic systems is that everyone is called to do something because the Rule of the Sun is a way of introducing and inducting everyone into the cultural fold of communal service.  For instance, I have a cousin who just celebrated being drug free for 15 years now.  His ministry is helping other drug addicts.  He had to undergo that little experience in order to fulfill his purpose in life.  As I have mentioned before, since I have overcome and survived lupus. My responsibility has been to help others to do the same thing. This is one of my callings. There is a saying and it holds true for Kamta and it is, “Everyone is Called but only a few will answer.”

Maa Aankh Cosmology

Maa Aankh Cosmology

The point that I am trying to make is that we have our own spiritual traditions, our own ancestors, our own spirits and guides that we can work with and are willing to assist us out of this bind that we find ourselves in.  We do not have to make up, create or mimic another’s cultural tradition especially when they do not share our concerns and would not dowse us with water if we were on fire.  Our ancestors left us with all sorts of guides and maps.  We just have to use them.  So, I am writing this post to help you all to understand that if you have been called what you need to do, because the only ones who can tell you about it have either transitioned into the spiritual realm or are refusing to talk about it because they are suffering from Afrohagiphobia. Hopefully, this post will help you to understand why certain systems aren’t working for you and what you need to do to find your Maa (Way).

Sincerely, I hope this helps.

Hetepu (Peace),

Rau Khu

Copyright 2013





Acknowledging the Shamanic Calling and Ignoring the Illusionary Dream

5 11 2012

Hetepu (Peace) Family,

Keanu Reeves as John Constatine, Djimon Hounsou as Papa Midnite and Shia LeBoef as Chas Kramer

Recently I received an email from an individual that wanted to know more about the Calling. In this email the individual had expressed that they believed that they were called to be a shaman but they were not sure. They told me that they were confused about the whole issue, but further inquiry into their reasoning for wanting to know more about the Calling.  Was that they were trying to use the situation to justify engaging in some illegal and harmful practices.  When I told this individual that just because some shamans engage in certain practices out of tradition doesn’t mean that we all have to. This individual had already made up their mind, and I got the impression that they already had certain paraphernalia in their possession. When I tried to contact the individual and tell them that they needed to contemplate their decision and really speak with their ancestors. This individual could no longer be reached or at least they wouldn’t respond to my emails.

Rasta Mon Kit

Rasta Mon Kit: Kit Includes Knit Cap w/attached Dread Locks, Marijuana Leaf Sunglasses and Marijuana Leaf Necklace

I had seen this before but not to this extent that is people misusing spiritual traditions to justify their lower self-ambitions. The first time I witnessed this was when I met a young man who wanted to be a Rastafarian, only later to discover that the reason Rastafarianism appeared to him was because he wanted to smoke weed (marijuana).

REAL SPIRITS

I am not angry or upset with this individual because I understand with all the New Age material that has been published lately about shamanism. It is very easy to believe that anytime you feel a strong urge to do something, to mistake it as your calling, but I want people to be warned because in the West.  People have a bad habit of taking parts of other people’s cultures and traditions to suit their egotistic purposes. Don’t do this with shamanism. Don’t mess with the ancestors and other spirits like that. I don’t care how cliche’ or superstitious it may sound. When you offend REAL SPIRITS they will have you walking around thinking you are all that, not realizing that you are a making a serious fool of yourself.

REAL SPIRITS will back and support you when they want you to do something. Why? I don’t know. In fact I stopped trying to figure out why and how things work on the other side in KAMTA anyway.  The reason I stopped trying to figure out why is because I noticed that every time I did, I got more and more confused. In fact, every time I pressed the issue. I got more and more confused. It comes to now that the reason this was happening is because I was not dead, so I functioned with a different vibe then them. So let me be clear.

Shamanism is a Beautiful yet Dangerous Fire

Shamanism is great! I love everything about it.  It is the only tradition that I have found that is both mystical and practical.   Besides that, shamanism is one of the few traditions that anyone can practice and you don’t have to be initiated in order to practice it. In fact you don’t have to follow any particular path or system or mimic what other people do. All you have to do is listen to your ancestral spirits. This is what I tried to explain to the individual that contacted me trying to get my approval. But, here is where the danger lies, in its simplicity. Because no one comes out and physically tells an individual that they can or cannot call them self a shaman, People are going out in the world claiming to be a shaman and they haven’t been authorized by their ancestral spirits to do so.  Simply put these individuals have not been baptized by the spirits. If you are wondering if you have been authorized by the spirits to be a shaman. You most likely have not because you would know and no one has to tell you. This doesn’t mean that you can’t practice shamanism such as honoring your ancestors and the various guardian spirits in your life, because you can. Shamanism from this perspective and for you is simply meant to be a family practice.  It just means at this level you are not authorized to help other people at the present. For instance, in Cuba, just about everyone knows a little something about the spirits. Many of the people will share with you what worked for them because the Afro-Cuban spiritual traditions are passed around like folk traditions. But, when real problems occur, they will tell you to go see a babalawo, the high priest or some other spiritual authority.  These are individuals that have gone through some training or have at least had some experience dealing with spiritual matters.

If you haven’t gone through the rigorous training or overcome your lower self and you are declaring that you have spiritual authority. You are preparing yourself to go into gunfight without a bulletproof vest or even a weapon, just book knowledge like Shia LeBoef’s character in the cult classic Constantine.

I am not trying to scare you away, but if you are scared you should be, because that is what will make you respect your spirits and all of the other spirits you encounter.   Shamanism is nothing to play around with. If you are serious, respectful and responsible, you will do well, but if not.  You will find yourself days, weeks, months or sometimes even years later waking up wondering, “How the hell did I get here?”

 The Calling

Now there’s a bit of confusion on really what the Calling is about. I will not go into why this confusion exist because we don’t have time, but let me explain what the Calling is about from my perspective.    We have all been in situations where an idea comes to us or a little small voice tell us, “Turn down that road”, “Don’t say that”, “Don’t forget this,” and so on. Then when we don’t listen to it, we find ourselves wishing we had. The reason this occurs is because according to the maa aankh when our ab – soul awareness is introverted and at the Amun Ra moment.  We are open and our aakhu (ancestral spirits), netcharu (guardian spirits) or (as some choose to believe) God, is able to provide us with quick counsel, because the automatic lower part of our being – the sahu – is busy focusing on us walking or some other mundane activity.

Maa Aankh

When we receive this quick counsel it appears in our awareness as a bright idea, flash of insight, intuitive thought, premonition, an epiphany or an A-ha moment because it is reminiscent of the lunar brilliance of Amun Ra.

The reason we receive this quick counsel is because we are in danger of wandering off course and altering our destiny our purpose – our maa.  So, this quick counsel comes to us like a siren going off breaking the silence. When we receive this quick counsel we need to act upon it because as the maa aankh illustrates the maa connects Amun Ra with the Ra.  This means when we have that premonition, flash of insight, bright idea, an A-ha moment. If we do not act upon it, symbolized as the Ra moment.  It will lead to us having unfortunate circumstances, since the Ra leads to Ra Atum – the setting sun, death or drastic change.

Well, the same thing occurs when we are Called. Many people think that the Calling only refers to being Called to be a shaman or to enter into the pulpit to be a preacher, but the Calling actually refers to be called to implement any physical change as dictated by the Spirit(s). When an individual is Called, they are actually called to be a problem fixer. The reason they are Called is because they are in a position to make things right or bring balance to a situation where there is none.  This is why when you received the calling; you have a sudden awakening or change in consciousness that something is not right. So the things you use to do, you don’t do anymore because you don’t see the logic or see it benefiting anyone.  That’s really what the Calling is about.

We have all heard that if you don’t answer the Calling you will experience setbacks. Well, the reason when you don’t acknowledge the Calling and don’t work to accept it by implementing change you experience problems. Is because remember, when you have an epiphany, a-ha moment, etc. and you don’t act upon it, you have problems for not following your intuition.  Well, the same occurs when you ignore the Calling because you are responsible for making change and it rests on your conscience. You become just as responsible for those creating the problem by not working to eradicate it. The only way to answer the Calling is to work at creating the change that Called you in the first place.

For instance, I have a cousin who was a drug addict but now runs a successful substance abuse program helping others to overcome their addiction. When I asked him what made him change his life and decide to become a substance abuse counselor. He told me that while doing drugs he basically had a vision telling him that he need to stop and help others, but he refused to follow his intuition. He kept having the same vision but he refused to follow it. Then after ignoring his intuition for so long, he had an accident and caught on fire.  After his accident, while recovering he began to go through the proper channels to overcome his addiction and in addition help others. After being clean for several years he began helping others to do the same. So you see, his Calling was also his cure or salvation.

This is rarely mentioned in books, but most people that are Called often find that the solution to their problem lies within them. Most shamans didn’t want to be a shaman. They grew into that role because it was something that they had to do. They overcame certain obstacles and as a result were authorized to help others. An individual that is Called helps themselves by helping others.

So if no one told you or you never read it in a book. I am telling you that your Calling has nothing to do with servicing your selfish lower desires.  It is all about serving and helping others because something within you made you aware of an impending problem that exists in your life and the lives of others. If what you are doing is not helping or benefiting the lives of others, most likely it has nothing to do with your Calling, but rather your ego.  As a matter of fact, if you are trying to pursue or find your Calling, most likely this is ego driven as well, because your Calling is not a goal. It is who you are.

Let me give you an example of what I mean by this and then we will bring this to a close. There is this young man I know who wanted to be an EMT and drive ambulances, but wasn’t sure how to become one because he didn’t have the money to attend school. Then, one day he attended a Pentecostal revival in hopes of getting answers and the minister prophesized that it wasn’t his calling, but that he was called to be a healer. So, this young man began devoting himself to reading the bible and trying to learn how to exorcize demons (or negative spirits) like the preacher he met. When he came to me and told me that he wanted to heal with his hands and be able to exorcise spirits. I told him,

“Listen to me carefully. Be careful what you ask for.  We are put in situations to develop certain skills so that we can manifest the divine in our life.  God (and your spirits) know what you can handle and what you can’t because they can see you maa (purpose).  But, when you go trying to force things to happen that are not part of your maa, you are not following your maa.  The reason you aren’t able to do those things that that ‘healer’ was able to do is because it is not your Calling. If you are Called to do something, a way will be made.”

Of course, he was young and didn’t heed my warning, and kept trying to pursue his dream of being a healer. Then one day I got a call from him. He and his wife had separated then divorced. He was fired from a good paying job he was at, while he bounced back and forth between the part-time jobs he had found. With no money, he ended up moving back in with his parents. Fortunately, things cleared up as soon as he stopped trying to be a healer. His remarried his wife, moved into a new home and got a better paying job, where the company was willing to pay for him to return to school to get his EMT license and certifications.

Clearly the pursuit to be a healer was an illusionary dream and not his Calling or at least at the present.

I hope this helps.

Peace and blessings.

Derric “Rau Khu” Moore