**Libation Is A Powerful Spiritual Science**
Cultural survival is not about preservation, sequestering indigenous peoples in enclaves like some sort of zoological specimens. Change itself does not destroy a culture. All societies are constantly evolving. Indeed a culture survives when it has enough confidence in its past and enough say in its future to maintain its spirit and essence through all the changes it will inevitably undergo.
“Pour libation for your Father and Mother who rest in the valley of the dead. God will witness your action and accept it. Do not forget to do this even when you are away from home. For as you do for your parents, your children will do for you also”
Libation in Africa is a ritual of heritage, a drink offering to honor and appease the Creator, the lesser divinities, our sacred Ancestors, humans present and not present, as well as the environment. This ritual is also practiced in many other parts of the world. The ritual achieves this objective by promoting and The ultimate purpose is to promote the cosmic order of oneness and balance of the beings and things in the universe. Safeguarding the correct relations among and between all the beings and things in existence. The origins of libation are so old that the first records of the ritual can be found in the legends, myths, sacred literatures.
Libation is found throughout the African world: The continent as well as the Americas, the Caribbean and other parts of the world where Africans dwell. The significance of this ritual transcends its distribution across the immense time & space correlation that is occupied by the African experience of life. In fact, this ritual is a marker of African identity. Its persistence across place and places, and time and times, says much about the origin of all Africans, about their relation to each other and about cultural transmission in general.
Divinities are the central characters in the worship, which is a parable on the maintenance of the entire cosmos, not just humanity. Most of the action takes place in the realm of divinity, for in the African worldview, it is ultimately here that power lies. Humanity is initially the active source of discord, but the human role very quickly becomes purely passive and is in fact outweighed by divine intervention, ultimately with libation to save the world.
The drink offering in this myth is literally as well as figuratively an exchange for the blood of humanity and the restoration and preservation of the cosmic order. The role of liquid offering is central in the ritual of libation, the ultimate meaning of which is the necessity for the restoration and maintenance of the cosmic order. The regular performance of this ritual drama is therefore made mandatory upon all African.
The central concept in almost all these meanings arises from the state of satisfaction and even pleasure that is born from the absence of discomfort induced by the cooling property of water. It is this basic meaning that is extended to embrace the many shades of meaning that arise in all of these words. Thus, aspects of the person, places and even actions may be cool, be in a cool state or be done in a cool manner. This notion represents the meaning and objective of libation, which is to ensure the oneness of all the beings and things in the cosmos through the maintenance of this divine cosmic order. The overall emphasis is upon maintaining the correct behavior towards all beings and things in the cosmos, and therefore the correct relationships with them.
A libation may be poured with any drinkable liquid, including water, milk, wine, beer, or strong spirits, though alcohol has been the dominant choice for some generations now, especially in West Africa and the West.
In African practice there is a sharp distinction between some things that are done with the right hand and other things that are to be done only with the left hand. Libation is poured with the right hand because this is the hand reserved by African tradition for such activity as offering, eating and drinking. A libation often accompanies offerings of food and other things considered good and worthy of the higher powers, but libation should not be confused with those other offerings or with entire ceremonies of which it may form a part. For example, from the earliest known times, libations are always poured as part of the rituals which mark the African cycle of life: Naming Ceremonies, Initiation Ceremonies, Marriage Ceremonies and Transition Ceremonies. Libation is also poured at other occasions, such as to mark the settlement of a dispute, before cutting down trees, at the Installment of Chiefs, at the many festivals in the African calendar, at the opening of Vodou, Candomblé and other African spiritual gatherings, and indeed in every ceremony and gathering in the African way of life.
The general purpose is to safeguard or make amends and seek forgiveness for infracting any of the relationships in the cosmic order, but the specific occasions and themes in libation may be many. If properly done, the person, the family, the clan, the community or those present and participating and or those on whose behalf the libation is poured may receive several benefits from a libation. They may benefit through being fortified by the renewal and or restoration which this ritual offers. They may also receive benefit through the security that comes from the knowledge of the spiritual connection and oneness with the Supreme One, with the divinities, with the Ancestors, among themselves singly and collectively, and with the physical environment. It is the preservation of these connections and the beneficial results of understanding and maintaining them that this ritual represents and promotes.
Libation, like any activity that is at once both sacred and communal, is useful and important because it helps to overcome fears, anxieties and frustrations. It promotes knowledge of and respect for Elders and the Ancestors, hope and healing, unity and harmony, all through the reinforcement of common bonds. It also lends itself towards the achievement of solidarity, which results from common participation in any such communal activity. Libation also functions beneficially by helping those present to be psychologically prepared for a task at hand, especially through the self-confidence that grows from the knowledge – not only that all is well in their relationships with the higher and lesser powers in the cosmic order, but also by becoming focused upon what is to be done during a specific forthcoming undertaking.
Libation is founded upon the oneness of the universe and the relation and interdependence of all beings and things therein. Its function is to maintain: the harmony, balance and unity of the cosmos through maintaining the optimum relations among the various beings and things, preventing any of these relations from being impaired, or nullifying the threat of such impairment. The significance of libation transcends the ritual itself…
The truth is that both people and culture have made this immensely long journey, for when a people migrate, or are made to migrate, they do not leave their culture behind. That is not possible, for culture is a defining characteristic of a people and inseparable from its agents. Libation is therefore, in the terms of, both ‘trans-generational and transcontinental’. Since libation defines the temporal and physical boundaries of the African world, it may therefore help to define the boundaries of African Studies, the study of the African world.
!!! On the matter of what to offer the Ancestor or Deities, we have the choice of Water, Wine and “Hard” Liquor. The choice of liquid depends on the nature of the libation and prayer and what your aim is in invoking (awakening) the Ancestors.
Water is for cooling and healing and creating or reconciling relationships. Liquor is fiery and is usually used to rouse, cement, ignite, protect and perform strong purification. Wine is mid-way between the two and is good for friendly relations, between man and spirit. This is an important matter as many of us do not realize that when you pour libation you are awakening the Ancestors.
Ideally, once you have poured libation you should be talking to the Ancestors like you talk to any other living person. You should converse and build the relationship. Over time, you will hear messages in distinct ways. Sometimes several people will hear the message or hear parts of the message that then can be pieced together to make one complete communication from the Ancestors.
** The person officiating Libation must possess the spiritual force to open the way to Spiritual communication. We go with the safest route during this occasion and choose to allow those that are older, trained or more versed than us conduct such affairs. “Libation is a powerful spiritual science. Learn the steps well”