Egungun = Life After Death
Light as a feather! This is how softly your Ancestors might speak to you. And this is why you must listen intently – not just with your ears, but with every fiber in your being. They spoke to you yesterday, they speak to you today, they will speak to you tomorrow and they are speaking to you right now. But you’ll never hear them unless you are willing to sit in silence, to hear the powerful messages that are landing as gently as feathers.
Egungun is regarded as the collective spirits of the Ancestors who occupy a space in heaven, hence they are called dwellers of heaven. These Ancestral spirits are believed to be in constant watch of their survivors on Earth.
Egun (Ancestor) = To die Of Natural Causes At An Advanced Age, Leaving Behind Numerous Progeny, Like A Tree Bent From The Weight Of Its Fruits & In Harmony With the Divinities & The Ancestors – To Be Buried With The Performance Of All The Rites That Mark The Tradition Which Permit One To Enter Orun. Where One Is Reunited With The Ancestors Of One’s Lineage (Isheshe) to be Later Reincarnated Constitute For Yoruba The Good death.
Egungun = Ancestor Masquerade – We are born with death = Without the death of the flesh, there is no resurrection, no immortality. Every birth is the rebirth of an ancestor. The spirits could be invoked collectively and individually in time of need. The place of call is usually on the grave of the Ancestors, the family shrine, or the community grove. The Ancestral spirits have collective functions that cut across lineage and family loyalty. They collectively protect the community against evil spirits, epidemics, famine, ensuring the well being, prosperity, and productivity of the general community.
Although it is regarded dangerous for the Ancestral spirits to dominate day to day activities of the people on Earth, occasional physical appearances of Egungun/masquerades visibly demonstrate the closeness of the ancestor to their survivors. The lineage or family ties become strengthened as each member displays his or her loyalty. The coming out of the lineage Egungun is a source of blessing and pride to the family. Egungun appearance is a time of festivity and entertainment, a time of apprehension of forces of evil and of engendering deep belief in divine guidance and protection. Above all, having an Egungun is a way of immortalizing one’s name because anytime the Egungun comes out, the drummers and women of the family sing in praise of one, recounting the heroic deeds of the family.
To understand Egungun mysteries one needs to understand the historical development of the cults. Every member of a community seems to be involved in the worship of Egungun, since everybody has at least one Ancestor to call upon.
In African culture it is common for the uninitiated to make direct contract with Ancestor spirits. The most prevalent process of communication is through dreams. Communication also occurs during participation in annual Ancestor festivals. Because such festivals are not common in this country. Worshipers in the West have created several viable alternatives. Using these alternative methods, the first step in the process of honoring the Ancestors is the construction of an Ancestor shrine used as a focal point for prayer and meditation. There are a number of traditional African methods for building an Ancestor shrine, some of which are very complex and require personal training. For example it is common in traditional African culture to bury revered Ancestors under the floors of the family home. The tomb of the Ancestor is the foundation of the Ancestral shrine.
ANCESTRAL SHRINES… The power to effectively invoke Spirits comes as a result of initiation and the training that is sanctioned by initiation. The exception to this rule is Egun (Ancestor spirits). Ancestor initiations (Egungun, Isegun, Ato), but everyone is believed to have the power and the ability to communicate with the spirit of those blood relatives who have passed beyond this life.
Communication with your own Ancestors is a birthright. At times this communication can simply involve remembering a revered Ancestor and making use of the memory as a basis for making life decisions. In many ways Ancestor communication is an extension of the training and wisdom we receive from our parents. You cannot know who you are if you cannot call the names of your Ancestors going back seven generations. Remembering names is more than reciting a genealogy, it is preserving the history of a family lineage and the memory of those good deeds that allowed to the family to survive and create a home for the continued cycle of reincarnation.
Before a shrine to the Ancestors can be assembled, several preliminary steps need to occur. First the room should be clean and neat. After the altar is built it should stay as clean as possible. Dirt and disorder can attract unwanted spiritual forces. This may seem simplistic, but in my experience it is a very important consideration. Our external environment reflects our internal state of being and either supports resistance to change or growth. The idea that if you are confused about anything, remove the clutter and disorder from your home and clarity will surface from the newly transformed physical environment. The boundaries which divide life from death are at best shadowed and vague. Who shall say where the one ends and where the other begins.
It Is Only After Separation With The Flesh Can Man/Woman The Creation Of God, See God Face To Face. It Is Forbidden To Unmask Any Egungun Masquerade. The Face Of The Spirit Is for the Spirit To See, Not The Human Eyes…