OMG! I can’t believed it happened but it did? Today is Easter and it is celebrated by Christians worldwide as the resurrection or ascension of Jesus Christ. And, if I had not had my unique Afro-experience. I would be celebrating Christ’s resurrection as well, but I did have that unique experience and it changed my perspective on it all.
To make a long story short, my Afro-experience began when I was searching for God. I had already read a number of books, so I knew already of the so-called “pagan” origins of Christmas, Easter, St. John the Baptist Day, etc. and how these holidays related to the solstices and equinoxes. I understood what it meant intellectually, but when I met my padrino, a little black man from Cuba. He totally gave me a different perspective on the whole picture.
Papa, I called him, was a babalawo in the Lukumi/Santeria religion, a member of the all-male exclusive Abakwa society and an omo of Ellegua. Like many practicing santeros (practitioner of Lukumi/Santeria), he was also a Catholic and his Afro-religious beliefs were blended with Catholicism. A concept that is very hard for a lot of us that weren’t raised in North America to understand.
Anyway, one day I remember while talking to Papa he told me that it was his custom (from how he learned the religion) that when it is Easter, to place white kerchiefs over the faces of the orishas/saints/spirits to recognize the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now, for an Apostolic Pentecostal, preacher kid, that raised in North America, it was very hard for me see how religious syncretism between the African and Christian ideologies could exist. So, placing anything on an object and even having such an icon was foreign to me. Fortunately, Papa somewhat seeing my confusion displayed on my face, with a smirk told me to write it down in my libro (spiritual notebook) anyway, like he knew one day it would all make sense. So, I did just that.
In time I lost contact with Papa but as the years went by I would on occasion read what I had transcribed from Papa in my libro, which helped me in the lonely times. During the time as I made my transition from the spiritual intellectual to practicing spiritual principles. I learned that the Catholic church was well-known for constructing cathedrals on top of indigenous religious sites, which helped to strengthen the Church’s agenda but it also encouraged religious syncretism. Some of the earlier churches were constructed in…Guess? That’s right Egypt, which were influenced by the Copts (Christianized Egyptians), who derived a bulk of their spiritual practices from their earlier ancient Egyptian or Kamitic ancestors. In fact, some scholars are now in agreement that most of the Christian ideologies about angels was directly due to the Copts, but that’s another post.
Anyway, when my relationship with my spirits finally began to blossom from intellectualizing them to seeing them as archetypes that represent the multi-facets of life. Osar (Asar, Ausar or Osiris) the Kamitic Obatala or Oxala became the spirit that represented the lessons learned from Kamitic communalism and ideas about peace and unity. It occurred after reading the Story of Osar so many times that it began to become a metaphorical tool used by my Spirit.
That’s when it happened. It wasn’t by design (at least I didn’t plan it)… All I know is that my Afro-spirit took over and the next thing I know Osar and Jesus were combined, because spirits aren’t supposed to represent the perfect aspects of life, but the various ways one can choose to live their life. Osar is the spirit that truly wants peace, prosperity and knowledge for all people regardless of who they are and where an individual comes from, just like Jesus. Destruction, sin, violence, war, etc. are all due to ignorance, lack of self-discipline, hatred, jealousy, etc., which are the by-products of Set, the envious and youngest brother of Osar, who later became Set-an or Satan in Christian lore.
So when Jesus was crucified by the Romans, my Afro-spirit saw it as Osar being murdered by Set. When Jesus tells his disciples to eat of the bread and wine in remembrance of him. You guessed it right… My Afro-spirit saw it as Osar’s body that was hacked up into 14 pieces by Set (See the Story of Osar), to prevent Osar from being “RE-MEMBERED.” Can, I get an Amen?
I didn’t know that this religious blending had occurred within me until I went to church today. I only did it out of respect for my mom. (Yeah, my faith is strong like that, besides I am not heartless… got to meet the people where they are at. Smile.) Anyway… they did communion and I didn’t want to participate but Spirit told me to do so anyway. When, I did…that’s when it was confirmed to me and that’s when I witnessed religious syncretism.
The next thing I knew, this salt-less, hard, tasteless cracker was indeed the body of Lord Osar and the bitter red wine, which by the way all alcoholic beverages are taboo to pure spirits of the white cloth – Osar, Obatala, Oxala, the Dravidian Tara, etc.. When I drank the wine, it reminded me of the beverage that led to Osar’s death. The partaking of this ritual gave me a closer connection to Osar because it reminded me of my responsibilities to my community and the peace that Osar expects from me.
After communion, the congregation sung a portion of a Christian hymn by Alfred H. Ackley called He Lives. Like many Black churches, they never sing the whole song only the most pertinent portion of the hymn. The words are….
I serve a risen Savior
He’s in the world today
I know that He is living,
Whatever men may say;
I see His hand of mercy,
I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him
He’s always near.
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and He talks with me
Along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He live, salvation to impart
You ask me how I know He lives:
He lives within my heart.
Religious Syncretism occurs whenever you begin making comparisons with another culture’s religious perspective. We naturally learn by associating new ideas with old ideas that we have in our personal spirit/subconscious. So, what this means is that there is nothing new under the sun. Yes, you ask me how I know Osar lives…it is because He lives within my heart. Sidebar…This means that the revolution against Set is truly on. SMILE
Happy Easter. SMILE,