“In the Kemetic Tree of Life, each sphere and its divinity represent a particular human and / or a transcendental philosophical issue ( lower 5 spheres) and cosmic issues ( upper 5 spheres) that must be experienced and mastered in order to progress. Once the aspirant progresses to mastery of the 10 spheres ( branches of the tree), they can transcend all and enter into the realm of cosmic-consciousness, in other words the mystical awakening, oneness with the Absolute ...” – Sabau Muata Ashby, cht n ank
A Brief Background:
There is a song by a Reggae band from St Croix, called Midnite, the chorus goes “Drastically resistant to Rome / drastically resistant to brush and comb …”, we will return to the meaning of these lyrics on Part 2 of this telling. We will strive to make the essays as brief as possible, as we are going to be telling a story that spans almost 30 years of Soul-searching.
It has been about 13 years since I began studying the deeper knowledge of one of Afrika’s most enigmatic civilizations. I specifically begin to count from the year 2009, since that was about the time I had undergone a kind of existential recalibration, a crisis of religious and philosophical proportions.
In simpler terms I had been looking for a Spiritual discipline that is as authentically Afrikan/Sintu as possible. But all I had been taught about Isintu had included matters of slaughtering and appeasing ancestors. As a practicing Rastafarian, the thought of animal sacrifice and having intermediaries between myself and the Creator did not sit well. Surely there must be something in Afrikan traditional spirituality that did not require me to sacrifice innocent beasts. Of course I knew that it is more complex than that. This was just the simplistic view that I had acquired from my Christian upbringing.
In addition to this, it was clear from just observation and listening in, that many Afrikan people simply did not delve very deeply into the practices that had been passed on from their forebears. But there were things that I desired to know or to learn regarding rites of passage for boys, rites of passage for men and how to conduct certain simple rituals that connect the Self to Nature and to the Spiritual world.
I had been a fervent Rastafarian / Christian since 2001, but there was a strong pull towards the more Afrocentric way of living, as my soul searching had constantly created friction between my zealously Christian family and friends, it began to dawn on me that one could not continue to be ‘luke-warm’ or serve two masters as the Christian bible had warned.
Even though I had always viewed the Rastafari way of living as the best middle-path between Ancient Afrika and modern messianic expressions, I had struggled to reconcile some of the glaring contradictions between a colonial or borrowed religion and the social realities pertaining t Afrikan people in particular. Even earlier in my Christian life, I would question my parents and my fellow church members about the dichotomous relationship between what the Word of God is supposed to represent and the harsh realities of being Black in a world that was so aggressively anti-Black.
There is a lot that I can write that is positive about the journey through Rastafari, the many rural community and urban social development projects that my brothers and sisters and I began or envisioned but never quite brought into total fulfilment; there are many positive personal habits that I learned through adherence to what we call Ital-livity or a Natural and vitally righteous lifestyle. There are also many stories of negative or heartbreaking events where humans were just being our fallible selves in-spite of external or verbal posturing. The reality is that any alternative lifestyle that questions and attempts to upend the status quo is bound to face all kinds of resistance, depending on the levels of discipline and organization that the practitioners display.
It was in the midst of personal and social upheavals that I kept on finding the wisdom of Ancient Afrika, the East Afrikan region and Nile Valley civilizations more intriguing than the shouting and testimonies of Christians. Rastafari, despite the many redeeming aspects, began to seem like all other Bible based ways of being in this world. The petty and self-righteous behavior of the believers in either Jesus Christ or in Emperor Haile Selassie I, all displayed a similar intolerance for new knowledge, even when that knowledge was clearly part of the Ancient Afrikan variety. Until this day, I have been trying to find a Rasta who is interested in the Oromo or Waaqeffaanaa religion of the most populous and most historically afflicted people of Ethiopia.
While an increasing number of Rastafari and people of Afrikans in general do dabble into the Kemetic yoga, meditation and symbolic space, there appears to still be a reluctance to become fully submerged in the Tree of Life as a holistic and complete way of being. It is mostly the Rasta’s who have totally turned away from biblical interpretation of life who have begun to embrace the Nile Valley renaissance as something that is truly ours. There are a few who still romanticize and are still stuck in the Pharaonic phases, but there are also some earnest seekers who are manifesting in the truest sense of Kemetic magical/cosmic reality. It is after all in our Nature to become one with Ntr.