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EGUNGUN: Ancestral Spirits…

                    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.

Opa Iku

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. 

 Egungun DanXome Fon...

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 DanXome Fon...

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.

 Egungun DanXome Fon...

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.

 Egungun DanXome Fon...

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. The Egungun ensemble acts as the medium for the masker’s transformation into his Ancestors.

An Egungun society is composed of Men and Women whose lineages have the right to present the Masquerade. **Men do the masking. ***Women never wear the costume, although they participate in the chorus that sings the oriki – praise poems and histories of the families. Elder Women of high title also perform invocations, prayers, and offerings. The Masker is kept at a distance from the surrounding crowd with the help of attendants dressed in Masquerade costumes of different types… 

 Egungun DanXome Fon...

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.

 Egungun DanXome Fon...

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. 

The Yoruba afterlife consists of Reincarnation. However, Africans explain that you reincarnate from your Ancestors and into your descendants. The truth is that you can only reincarnate thru your clan or extended-family descendants. It doesn’t have to be your direct great grandchild. It just has to have enough of your DNA code for you to transfer your spirit into it. In theory, you can transfer to anyone who shares your ethnic group DNA code. However, most genetic DNA theories are racist manipulation of science. DNA is not just a physical code but like a keyhole lows you to open doors in the next reincarnation.This is why many Yoruba names point to the reincarnation of people, but always thru the extended-family. Names like Babatunde – father has returned reflect the Yoruba notion that reincarnation is a family affair.


This is why Ancestral veneration is important in Yoruba. You are not just talking to dead people; you are remembering and learning from your past. If you do not learn from your past, in this life and in former ones you will repeat mistakes. That is the purpose of Ancestral veneration – Egungun) in Ifa. The Odu Ifa tells us that we will all reincarnate until every single human has reached enlightenment. We are a communal species.


When you don’t understand this truth about reincarnation, you will not take efforts to improve the conditions of your clan or ethnic group because you think you will escape it in death’s heaven or join another ethnic group in reincarnation. Then when you return to Earth in the same oppressed ethnic group, you complain even though in your former life you did not fight to liberate your ethnic group. 


This is why their clans establish strong dynasties and they accumulate wealth not just for them, but for the next three generations after them. They know they are coming back and they want to be wealthy while they sell you the lie that you can die and go to heaven to escape this cycle. A true devotee of the Egungun plans for the next 16 generations of prosperity.

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…

Egungun also we all know is the deity of the departed Ancestors. The belief of Yoruba people and Ifa is that even departed ancestors are still part and parcel to the larger family. Below are ten facts you should know about Egungun. They are present in the family and they guide the living member of the family. – Egungun Maternal and Paternal are fed so that will continue to guarantee protection, safety, prosperity, good health and all ire for the living.


Egugun should be fed at least twice in a year – Egungun comes out in the form of Masquerades which are called “Ara-Orun-Kinkin” that is, “The inhabitants of heaven”. – Egungun symbols are: Decorated switches and whips, a hand woven coarse cloth used as Egungun, socks and foot wear. This cloth is known as “Aso Iyamoje”.

Egungun taboos: Palm kernel oil. Women are declined to enter Egungun’s shrine. Obatala devotee must not carry Egungun Masquarade. Egungun face must not been seen or disclosed to anyone. Egun Masquerade must not enter a blacksmith  – Egungun is fed in three forms; while kneeling, sitting or bending.- If the Egungun to be fed is a specific Ancestor all the feeding materials will be taken to the tomb site of the Ancestor and all the necessary ritual performed there.


There are various types of Egungun  among  are; Egungun Eleru, Egungun Olopon (Masqurade with big load on thier head), Egungun Janduku (switch carrying Masquarade), Egungun Alate also known as Tombolo etc. other categories of Masquarades are Gelede and Aabe. The hunters Egungun are known as “Egungun ode”.


Egungun feeding materials are: 
Obi-kolanuts, Orogbo-bitter kola, Atare-alligator pepper, Water, Wine, Palm Oil, Smoked rat, Smoked fish, Rooster, Goat,Ram, and Edible food offerings etc .

Worshipers of Egungun: Alapinni  =  The head chief priest of Egungun – Alagba =   The head of the Oje – Alaran =  Third in command  – Eesorun =  Mostly Women, they are fourth, most important title , and revered position in the cult of Egungun – Oje =  The name given to all Egungun worshipers…

Reference Sources:  Ogunsina Olayinka Adewuyi = Wikipedia = Awo Falokun = Les plus Belle Egungun Benin =

Aje-Witches = Elders Of The Night

  Witchcraft Territory of Malignant Women-Magic Words & Practices Territory of Wizards…

***My sacred Mothers, they are everywhere – They have it all, they give it all, not to everybody  only to the faithful devotees, you always see them but you don’t know them. Sacred birds children of my Mothers – Eye that see the World, legs that walks the Earth – Giant rat makes them smile -Palm oil is the water, Liver is the food, Night is the day, Day is the night.
They call them “Witches” To me they are the sacred Mothers with the master key of Earth…     
Mojuba Iyami o
!!!!

” Mysterious Mother Osoronga Who Kills Without Sharing. The Dominant Force At Midnight. One Who Devours Human Livers Without Vomiting. One Who Vacates Only When The Market Closes. One Who Terrifies In Dreams.”

The Aje – Witches On Earth Fall Into Two Categories: Osho – Male Aje  &  Eleiye – Female Aje.

“No one can choose to initiate Aje-Iyaami; they choose who they want to initiate.” No one can say they have initiated to Iyaami or say they can initiate you. No one can have or give a shrine to the Iyami or Aje. If someone claims to have an Iyaami shrine, can give a shrine, to have been initiated to Iyaami or wants to initiate you, they are speaking falsely. It is impossible to truthfully make these claims.There is no specific shrine to Aje. To feed the Aje one must either feed them through Eshu, Orita Meta-3 road junction or the Iroko tree.

No one knows the actual Aje shrine, however according to Elders and what Ifa says, we know that the name of their house is called Ota and the name of their shrine is called Idi. No one knows the actual place of the Idi and if they do they can never say…

** According to Ifa, the difference between Men and Women is that Women are born with Ofo – Ashe or the power of the word. This power is called Aje and is rooted in the concept of Female Ashe.

Witchcraft is a Feminine art and has its power from Eshu. This power is generally attributed to older women but young women or even girls can sometimes be involved. Witchcraft power is a kind of immaterial substance which may be kept in a calabash hidden in a hole in the wall of a witch’s house or in a hollow tree. The power itself may be lodged in the roots of a tree or even in a young child. In the latter case the witchcraft power will not harm the child but on the contrary will protect the child from other witches as the child is serving one of them as a refuge.

The red tail feather of the parrot is used as a sign of witchcraft power and may be placed in the calabash or in the tree containing witchcraft power.

Yoruba cosmology is heavy in duality and polarities that are constantly seeking balance in unity. Just as there exists the polarity of Male-Female energy, within female energy itself exists a polarity that is create and destroy. Many focus on the destructive power of the mothers, giving the impression that they are destructive. However, they are also needed for all creative pursuits. The mothers are believed to possess a spiritual life force (Ashe) equal or superior to that of the deities (Orisha).

A central figure that embodies the dual nature of the mothers, and arguably the most powerful Orisha, is Oshun (leader of the Iyaami cult). Knowing that she was the source of all good things as stated in the Ifa literary corpus, Oshun never needs to vie for position among her fellow Orisha. Compared with the other Orisha, Oshun represents a higher and more inclusive religio-aesthetic concept immediately relevant to the solution of human problems, regardless of their origin, nature, or severity.

           Iroko – Oak Tree Is Sacred To Iyaami…

The trees are scattered throughout the rain forest and grow in isolation, meaning a single tree and not in clusters. In traditional Yoruba culture, villages were built around the Iroko tree. The Iroko tree is the Ifa tree of life because within the shadow of the Iroko tree there are over a 1000 species of living things living in perfect harmony. The effect of all these living things creating a balanced environment, is that the Iroko tree is an inter-dimensional portal. The tree is used both for the Ancestors and for Iyaami. In Ijebu-Ode on the full moon all the women of Iyaami meet in the Iroko tree in their astral bodies. It is taboo for men to walk past the tree on a full moon.

Witchcraft power is like a breeze, you can’t see it but it has effect. A woman can’t die possessing it. When she dies, she vomits out the invisible witchcraft and it passes to her daughter. A person can buy witchcraft power or may, as well, inherit it from another person. This mostly depends on the interest or love the witchcraft woman has in the person that is going to possess it. But it is necessary and matter of must, to give this witchcraft power to somebody before she should die. Witchcraft bought with money is not given directly, it can be given through foods such as baked beans Akara , Kola, Porridge, red Yam and many other native foods. When this is taken, the power will start to grow, until when the person will start to fly at night.

Old Saying:  The witch bird chirped yesterday, the child dies today…

Witches take part in some obscure nocturnal orgies for which one member of the witch party must supply a human child. By drinking the life blood of numerous victims, the witch is able to prolong her own life and it is for this reason that old people are suspected of being witches. A pregnant woman will avoid visiting an old woman during her pregnancy and the birth of a baby will be kept a secret from a suspected old woman. In some areas the death of a young person or child is considered unnatural and all such deaths are attributed to the work of witches.

Hand Work Of Witches: One of the most common deeds attributed to witches is interference with reproduction. Impotence is common among males and it is the prevalent idea that this is the work of witches. A witch is capable of taking the penis of a man and having intercourse, using it with the man’s wife or some other woman. The witch will then return the man’s penis but it will be altered in some way and may not be able to function.

Witch Tree Kumasi Ghana

Witches Control The Menstrual Flow of Women: They may obstruct the expulsion of the child from the womb. There is some obscure fundamental relationship between witchcraft and menstrual blood. The menstruating woman and the witch both have power to render magic and the native doctor’s medicines powerless.

Most witches transform themselves into animals like Night Owl, Birds, Cats, Dogs, Rats, Bats, Snakes, Cockroaches…

When a Witch closes her eyes she can see everywhere and can observe all that is happening.

!!!— Pledge of Allegiance to “Woman” —!!!

There’s more to me than the human eye can see. I’m a woman of purpose and destiny. A perfect design, I’m special and unique. I won’t be identified by the parts that make up my physique. My beauty is not defined by my skin or my hair and my soul has more value than the clothes that I wear. I’m not a symbol of pleasure or sex appeal; I have the natural ability to comfort and the power to heal. When God made me, It created a gem, because it fashioned me in the likeness of Her and Him. I refuse to do anything that will put myself to shame. I deserve to be treated with reverence and called by my name. I can’t be purchased or sold at any price. I Am divine, A Creator of life…

Awon Agba = Elders of the Night…
Those who eat from the intestines – Those whose have menstrual flow  made divination for the Mother Witches when they were coming from Heaven to Earth….  

Aje – Witch simply refers to the use of extrasensory clairvoyance beyond normal human knowledge in other to accomplish an aim, be it positive or negative, and it also refers to the original power given by God to Iyami Osoronga who is the Mother of Witches.

CLASSIFICATION OF AWON AGBA…
In order to do the pact or harmonious relationship called Imule, it’s important to identify the following – Imule Aje-pact with witches – Imule Osho-pact with wizards – Imule Emere-pact with Egbe spirits and Abiku.
An Imule is usually done by burning or pounding some  bones of birds, cats, tree bark, parrot feather, sometimes vultures, different leaves etc, it can be made as incision in the body or soaps after the necessary invocations and prayers are made and it will restore harmony to the user and it will act as a sign that when witches sees such a person they will grant he/she favors. Most Diviners in Nigeria often use this method. 

Reference Sources: Oduduwa Templo Dos Orixás Brazil = 

 

SECRETS OF WATER…

“I Tell You The Truth, No One Can Enter The Kingdom Of God Unless He/She is Born Of Water & The Spirit”

*** Water is a mystical element that can transform our lives if we are willing to open heart and mind to its gifts. No matter what the specific health or fitness goal, one cannot achieve the maximum benefit from any health program without drinking the right kind of water in the proper amount. Without sufficient water to constantly wet all parts, your body’s drought-management system kicks into action. When histamine and its subordinate “drought managers” come across pain-sensing nerves, they cause pain.

Many religions also consider particular sources or bodies of water to be sacred or at least auspicious.

A Water Deity is a deity in mythology associated with water or various bodies of water. Water deities are common in mythology and were usually more important among civilizations in which the sea or ocean, or a great river were present.  Another important focus of worship of water deities were springs or holy wells.

Experts in the scientific communities as well as homeopathy and holistic sciences have proven the “memory” of water; the carrying capacity of water for “energy,” and the ability of water to “remember”. Experts realize that water retains information, even after the most stringent purification and filtration processes. This is termed the energy signature or vibration imprint. The vibration imprint of toxins can be picked up by the water molecule and are in turn passed on to living organisms.

The true nature of water, which is the source of life – is unknown.

We still know very little about the fascinating properties of water and its secrets. Water hides a lot of power that we are able to release and shape with the help of the energy of our strong emotions, both positive and negative.

Messages from Water – Claims that human consciousness has an effect on the molecular structure of water. Water reacts to our words and depending on what we say and what emotions accompany our words, it creates either beautiful and harmonious shapes or ugly and irregular ones. Water has a memory – a memory far longer than our transient lifetimes. Water is an amazing substance capable of efficient gathering of information from all things as soon as it comes in contact with them.

In an experiment, water was exposed to different sounds and messages of hatred, anger, love, blessings, traditional music, etc, and then analyzed it in a microscope. The results were amazing: when the words or sounds were negative, the waves emitted from these sounds generated ugly and shapeless crystals in the water and, on the other hand, when the words or sounds were kind and positive the crystals had beautiful and perfectly well defined crystals.

Water Is Powerful It Can Wash Away Earth, Put Out Fire & Even destroy Iron. Water Can Carve Its Way Through Stone. And When Trapped, Water Makes A New Path…

Water is “probably the most weird substance on Earth,” It behaves very differently from other materials.

Water is indispensable for humanity, we use it for almost all our activities. When you dream and you see water in your dream, it can mean variety of things. Seeing water in your dreams could mean Wealth – Peace of mind- Happiness – Anger…

To See: …A flowing river in your dream it mean your journey in life is clean and running fast it mean the dreamer is progressing developing with no disturbance. If the river is running slowly it mean the dreamer is not progressing in his or her journey of life.  A violent water in your dream it mean the dreamer is likely to encounter big problem beyond his or her control. It also mean the dreamers should control his/her temper.  A muddy or unclean water in your dream  mean that the dreamer dwell his or her life in negativity, the mind of the dreamer is beclouded by negative thoughts. The dreamer is experiencing halt or stoppage in his /her spiritual, physical and economic development.

A water deity is a deity in mythology associated with water or various bodies of water. Water deities are common in mythology and were usually more important among civilizations in which the sea or ocean, or a great river was more important. Another important focus of worship of water deities were springs or holy wells.

 Nothing Is Softer or More Flexible Than Water – Yet Nothing Can Resist It…

Without Hands & Feet This Mighty Water Can Drive Mountains… 

 

ZANGBETO = Enforcement & Order…

 Zangbeto Masquerade Have Supernatural Powers

Zangbeto are the traditional Vodun guardians of the night in the Yoruba religion of Benin and Togo which are known as the “Night- Watchmen”. As a nominal, it represents a group of men who are involved in policing the community and who also double as members of Zangbeto as a cultural masquerade group during public performances. Zangbeto is also used to convey the notion of a socio-cultural phenomenon made up of a series of beliefs and practices. As an institution, it is backed by an oral history that accentuates its origin as an Egun concept, not an alien or imported one. Sources consulted on the origin and history of Zangbeto asserts that it has existed before we were born and was handed down to us by our forefathers .

In centuries past, The Zangbeto masquerade provided security for the community and ensured discipline among the Egun society (the people of Badagry), and although it is no longer relied on to play these roles, it is still a cherished cultural icon in Badagry, particularly in Ajido-Zangbeto festival is celebrated every three or four years, during which the Zangbeto appease the gods, pray for the immediate community and generally offer good wishes for all households, after which the people expect to reap a plentiful harvest, farmers and fishermen alike. The Zangbeto masquerade is clothed in Asho-Gbeto, made from locally sourced palm fronds and is dedicated to breathtaking showmanship, dazzling its audiences with spirited and ‘magical’ displays. During a Zangbeto performance, you are likely to see fire burn in dry sand or white cloth sprout from underground!. Watching the Zangbeto wade through the water, spinning and shuffling is a rare thrill in itself. Zangbeto never walk alone and are always accompanied by minders know as Kregbeto, whose role it is to guide the masquerade’s every step.

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Zangbeto is believed to have supernatural powers, and is communal, rather than the initiative of private individuals or a self-defined group. Its origins lie in the pre-colonial history of the Egun people of Badagry and the coastal region of PortoNovo in neighbouring Benin.

*** One of the responses given by the head of the group in Yeketome, Badagry, is that Zangbeto dates back several centuries to when an Egun man was said to have been pursued by his enemies and needed to flee from his hometown unnoticed in the night. Using supernatural powers, he disguised himself by covering his body with dried leaves and raffia and by making scary sounds with the horn of an animal. Thus he was eventually able to leave the town unharmed and undetected by his enemies. He later founded a settlement, which he named Hugbonu (Porto Novo, Benin) and subsequently had the men with him dress in a similar manner and keep watch over the new settlement by night to ensure that his enemies did not attack him in his new home. Since then, Zangbeto has been used to keep watch over settlements and towns of the Egun community.***

As regards traditional precolonial ‘night watch’ institutions, the Oro and Egun cults of the Yoruba are the closest masquerade groups to Zangbeto. Earlier studies of both institutions have shown that in precolonial times, in addition to other cultural and religious functions, they were also security outfits mandated to guard the community against foreign or enemy invasion. They are also both regarded in their respective communities as personified representations of ancestral spirits, and their presence is an assurance of the ever-protective and supportive help of the ancestors for their descendants. The Ancestral spirits have collective functions that cut across lineage and family loyalty. They collectively protect the community against evil spirits, epidemics, famine, witchcraft and evildoers, ensuring the well-being, prosperity, and productivity of the whole community generally.

Form and Content of Zangbeto In contemporary Badagry, including the Egun villages surrounding the coastal town, the Zangbeto society is headed by the Zanga, a highly respected elderly man who is well tested and reliable. The Zanga occupies a position of responsibility in dealing with sensitive issues affecting individuals, families and the larger community. Zanga is not just the head of the Zangbeto group, but is also a representative of the people. The Zanga is in effect a traditional chief who functions within the Zangbeto group and in the larger community.

Traditionally, the Zangbeto were the policemen of Benin and were the main guardians of law in the country before the official law establishment. They are said to form a secret society which can only be strictly attended by Zangbeto, and when in a trance are said to have magical abilities such as swallowing splinters of glass without coming to any harm and scaring away even witches.

Zangbeto as spirit and messenger; Zangbeto as peacemaker, moral spokesperson and custodian of Egun culture; Zangbeto as an indivisible whole; Zangbeto as a non-religious group; and Zanga as the honorable one. It is important to note that Zangbeto songs are contributed at different times by members of the group. As with most songs in African oral literature, no single person can claim sole authorship: songs are considered as creations of the group. Moreover, these songs do not possess a singular theme, but themes that underline the circumstances of the creation of such songs and their performance.

The appearance of Zangbeto masquerades during cultural festivals or public performances is usually announced by short but pungent praise. This is a kind of formulaic verse that is not so flexible, in the sense that the words and phrases used retain their structure and content in most performances. The chanter, usually a woman, stays at a distance neither too close nor too far from the masquerade.

The opening chant is translated thus: He wishes to be heard, But the horn would not let him, The horn that makes sounds, the horn that breathes. This introduces Zangbeto as a being with a ‘horn’ and a desire. The horn, located at the tip of the mask and is used to symbolise the position of Zangbeto as a leading group in the community. The masquerade is only a constitutive part of a whole. Zangbeto is a group, an institution, and even a way of life that is represented in physical form by the mask. ‘He’ is then used to represent the form under this mask.

*** Zangbeto may be chiefly about social order within traditional Egun society, using oral forms of art, rituals and cultural practices, some of which have been adapted to the security needs of the town’s inhabitants in the face of the state security agencies’ inability to satisfy the demands of law enforcement and order.

Reference Sources:

Magical Gourds…

Calabash (Gourd) History & Cultural Background…

The Myth Of The Sacred Calabash = Mankind’s Most Useful Plant…. Magical Calabash Anthology Of Sacred Wisdom From The Ancestral Mothers And Magic.

The Calabash (Gourd), was one of the first plants cultivated by humans – not for food, but for use as a container.  It came from Africa and has accompanied us around the world for thousands of years.

In Africa, the Calabash (Gourd), plant, has long been used as a food and medicine, and its hard shell as a bottle, a dipper and even an ancient musical instrument. Calabash have traditionally been used to carry medicine, wine and “magic”.  Calabash were also tied to the backs of children and boat people to serve as life preservers. Calabash is also possibly mankind’s oldest musical instrument resonator. It is the only known plant whose use by humans spanned prehistoric cultures across the entire globe, but one thing that has puzzled scientists was how – given its African origins – it came to be so widely used in the Americas.

The Calabash (Gourd) seeds drifted across the Atlantic Ocean from Africa to the Americas, then took root and grew wild in the New World. The wild African Calabash belongs at the base of the bottle Calabash family tree.  The tree then splits into two main branches: African domesticated Calabash, and Eurasian ones. Both ancient and modern American Calabash samples belong to the African branch of the tree. 

Furthermore, genetic mutations showed that the American Calabash- shared a common Ancestor with African Calabash. The seeds of wild African Calabash may have washed out to sea to successfully germinate after making landfall in the welcoming climates of places like Florida,  and Brazil.

The Calabash (Gourd) is a functional creation of nature with a wide variety of uses and traditions in cultures around the world. A fruit of varied shape and size, it commonly grows on a vine not unlike the squash, but there are also varieties that grow on bushes and trees.

  ***The most highly esteemed and favorite Calabashes (Gourds) had chants composed for them as though they were human beings, and when they were placed on the table one would hear their owner with proud countenances, chanting of the celebrated deeds of those for whom they were named.

More and more, as Western utensils and pottery became available, traditional Calabashes were not thrown away but rather, were kept and treated as valuable heritage.

Ancient Shaped Calabashes (Gourds) – after the Calabashes had been shaped and hollowed they were finished with  tung oil to enhance the grain and polish the Calabash leaving it with a soft finish. Iron tools replaced the traditional stone and coral tools for fashioning Calabashes when they became popular to collect, they were often refinished with shellac to give the surface a glossy finish, the Calabash being treated as any piece of fine woodwork. Ancient methods of polishing Calabashes fell into disuse.

Repairing Calabashes (Gourds)during the crafting process or during the life of the Calabash was also a skilled art and repairs were often looked upon as marks of beauty. Repairs consisted of filling holes and cracks with wooden plugs and using plugs to stop cracks from enlarging. The most commonly identified repair is the butterfly repair.

***Steps which can be taken to ensure a longer life for your Calabash (Gourd). Because Calabashes are made of wood, an organic material, they are susceptible to damage from insects, humidity, light and dust. The following is a summary of how these forces work to accelerate deterioration of Calabashes and steps which can be taken to limit them. Insects Wood-boring insects such as termites are a major source of damage to Calabashes. They should be examined periodically for the presence of holes and fine pellet or sawdust droppings. If a Calabash has any cracks, as many do, these are sites of exposed wood which are particularly vulnerable to insect infestation. 

***Calabashes (Gourds)should never receive direct sunlight – Illuminated by bright spot lights. Dust can damage Calabashes by attracting insects and mold. The goals of safe storage are to avoid insects, mold, dust, light damage and damage due to mishandling. Calabashes should be stored in a clean, dry, dark storage space.

Calabash (Gourd) are related to melons, squash, pumpkins, and cucumbers, all members of the cucumber family.  The Calabash family also includes many economically important fruits and vegetables, including pumpkins, squash, and melons. Calabash are used by people throughout Asia, Africa, the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean and the Americas for musical instruments, including shakers, maracas, drums, horns, marimbas and various string gourds resembling a banjo.

Other uses include pipes, masks, canteens, water jugs, dippers, birdhouses, bath sponges and decorative Gourds with intricate etched designs. So important were Gourds to Haitian people in the early 1800’s that gourds were made the national currency.

Musical Calabash from Africa and India, such as drums, lutes and sitars, have beautiful, polished finishes decorated with beads and carved designs. Some of the earliest guitars and violins in the United States were made from Calabash by African slaves.  Shaker Calabash are probably one of the earliest of all musical instruments.

In Africa, hollow Calabash are covered with a loose netting strung with hundreds of beads. As the beads slap against the gourd, a loud shaker sound is produced–as good as any modern instrument for this purpose. Using the neck of the Calabash as a handle, the sound is amplified by the hollow interior.

But of all the uses for Calabash, some of the most interesting are the “Penis Sheath Calabash” worn by men of New Guinea. Penis Calabashes are also known from Africa and northern South America. There is considerable speculation among anthropologists about the purpose of such Calabashes, but most agree that they are more than a protective device and serve an important social function.

***Calabash was historically used as a container for water, and still is an essential utensil in many parts of the world. In rural areas of the U.S., they are often used as birdhouses…

In Africa it is found primarily, but not exclusively, in the countries of Nigeria, Togo, Ghana, DanXome, Sierra Leone and Côte-D’Ivoire. Different language groups in each country often have their own names, styles, techniques, and traditions associated with the Shekere. It is a personal instrument and never loaned or shared, even with family members. However, a son who is a professional musician may inherit his father’s Agbe-Shekere. Ilu-Shekere among the Yoruba of Nigeria are often connected with religion, given great respect, and play a very important role in certain traditional musical forms.

Ilu Anya *Shekere – Mangala* Chief Yagbe Awolowo Onilu

In Nigeria, the very Large beaded Calabash is called  “Agbe” Medium size Calabash “Sekere“ and Small size Calabash “Akese” Traditionally these Drums are used in Religious Worship strictly attached to Ritual Ceremonial events.

A Calabash Which Has No Base Is The One Which Sits On Its Side…

Reference Sources: The Caning Shop – Jim Widess = Earlybirds Farms = Buffalo Bill Meerschaum = Przemek Krawczynski = Jordan Straker = Everwilde Farms Inc. = Encyclopedia Britannica