Egbe = Heavenly Mates…

***Self Spiritual Component***

Ẹgbe also known as Alaragbo in certain areas designates the heavenly comrades or astral fraternities which are one of the pillars of the Yorùbá indigenous spirituality according to which every human being possesses a “spiritual double” (ẹnikéjì orun) which is formed during the process of creation of the humanly body commonly referred to as “spiritual double” at the moment in which the primordial Source (Olódùmarè) infuses the vital breath (èmi) into the physical bodies from which we are separated at the moment of coming into existence in the earthly realm which remain in the primordial realm. Our ẹnikéjì orun organize themselves into fraternities or societies (Ẹgbe) according to their affinity.

Nŭɖoyεswímὲ= Ifáfọnàhanmí Fátóògùn

Divergences concerning the moment of the separation persist: whether it is at the moment in which the divine breath is infused into the clay by creating a pair – with its symbolic connotation or the separation occurs at the moment of assigning earthly parents which in principle will participate to providing the means & structure necessary to the fulfillment of destiny, no doubt is entertained about the existence of a component of the Self that remains in the non localized realm to which we are connected through a prenatal bond.

Ẹnikéjì orun or “spiritual doubles” are believed to have an advantage over their counterparts in the physical realm by not being subject to the constraints of the physical experience and therefore endowed with an additional degree of freedom. It is traditionally believed that our astral counterparts are identical to their physical projections and carry out numerous activities in similar ways in the non localized realm. It is the part of the Self that remains in the spiritual, non localized, invisible, unknown dimension and which symbolizes our natural bond with such dimension.

As a Spiritual Component of the Self, ẹnikéjì orun is a source of guidance along the earthly journey as a constant reminder of our spiritual nature: we are spiritual beings having temporary humanly experiences. It is the individual bond that connects each individual to higher levels of Consciousness, a bond that each human being possesses since the moment of creation and that each and every one of us has the responsibility to maintain, cherish, nurture. It must be said at this point that the intensity of such bond varies from individual to individual, in some cases very intense which translates in vivid experiences as they can influence the physical realm usually by making items disappear, in having a particular sensitivity to spiritual phenomena, the ability to interact with in the astral realm, while in many others very subtle.

Our “heavenly mates” play a significant role in our lives as previously mentioned not subject to the constraints of the physical realm, they are a source of: guidance, protection, support; awakening, development and exploitation of inner potentialities and access to the vortex of blessings in Nature. A force to be reckoned with in order to have a fulfilling humanly experience. Ẹgbe manifest themselves in our lives through different mechanisms: either by communicating certain messages or simply making themselves present through dreams, making items disappear in the house, through divination or by incarnating in Masquerades under specific conditions.
“Spiritual doubles” or “heavenly comrades” are traditionally organized in very distinctive groups or fraternities. While many of these fraternities are well known, it is said that there are uncountable fraternities which is why no reductionist approach should ever be taken as we often witness nowadays for reasons such as convenience or lack of knowledge when seeking to determine the affiliation to a kind or another.

Among the most notorious Ẹgbe we find: Ìyálóde, Eléékò, Jagun or Jagunjagun, Baálè, Asípa, Olúgbógeró, Móohún, Adétayànyá, Ajisafe, Alesinloye, Amori Apa, Traditionally, the affiliation to a particular astral fraternity was first made by observing the behavioral pattern displayed by a child as the corresponding rites were performed at an early age – which is still practiced among the Yorùbá that remain loyal to their indigenous heritage and then confirmed through oracular means and members of the society of worship to astral fraternities. Each type of Ẹgbe is therefore associated with attributes & characteristics with which its members are impregnated and identifiable.

Ẹgbe are honored & revered through libations, prayers, offerings and sacrifices either by personal discipline when initiated or devoted to maintaining, nurturing, cherishing or reinforcing a communication channel with them, oracular prescription or directly requested by through dreams or other means of communication. The shrine of Ẹgbe (ojúbo) is characterized by the terracotta pots known as ààwè, an assemblage of tree branches, feathers and additional materials known as Isan and some types of Ẹgbe contain additional elements such as fans or swords for example.

Ẹgbe shrines can be found both inside the houses or outside, at very specific places in which they are believed to inhabit or come when summoned as for instance specific trees, river banks, where bonfires are lit (location),…Among the materials used to feed Ẹgbe we find omi tútù (fresh water), ọtí (alcohol), epo (palm oil), ori (shea butter), obi (kolanuts) obifin (white), obi ipa (red), oyin (honey), irèké (sugarcane), agbon (coconut), ogede (plantain), èso (assorted fruit), àkàrà (pounded beans fried in palm oil), àádùn (pounded sweet maize mixed with palm oil and sugar), èkuru funfun (steamed white bean paste), ekọ (yam or maize paste), àmàlà (pounded yam), àsáró  (yam porridge, epa síse tabi yíyan (cooked or roasted groundnuts), wara (cheese)…in addition to animals offered in specific occasions.

***Each type of Ẹgbe has its own taboos which can vary as well according to the family, community, town or region. Ẹgbe can turn into a potential source of imbalance in the life of human beings (ènìyàn) which manifests in a vast spectrum of possibilities among which we can find the following cases:
*During birth rites (ìkọsèdáyé – ìkọsèjáyé – ẹseńtáyé) – or even during the pregnancy, the oracle may warn that the new born baby belongs to Ẹgbe Olúgbógeró (Gbogero), also known as Paaka inu Abikú from which we find the Abikú literally translated as “we are born to die” which are characterized by exerting a strong influence on the earthly counterparts which often translate in death at a premature age (either causing miscarriage or infant death) even though Abikú relates in a larger perspective to all those who die before their parents by breaking the natural course of life as experienced on Earth.
*Experiencing nightmares can also be induced by Ẹgbe when seeking to call someone’s attention which is later confirmed through oracular consultation as other forces in Nature can induce sleep disturbance or nightmares. Ẹgbe characteristic signature is dreaming about having sexual intercourse. Having wet dreams is associated with the influence of Ẹgbe.

*Certain people have made covenants with their spiritual counterpart or “spiritual double” prior to embarking on their journey to the earthly realm, and even some people have oko/aya orun “spiritual spouses” who can cause all sorts of difficulties when their counterparts plan to marry someone on Earth (even causing the death of their earthly partners or spouses). Even though it is generally associated with women, the phenomenon also exists in the case of certain men. That is why the planning of traditional weddings includes an oracular exploration to determine whether the future bride & groom have spiritual covenants with their counterparts or not – which must be treated through spiritual technology in the positive case – in order to ensure a successful marriage. Some people have their ẹnikéjì orun associated with potentially harmful, toxic, wicked or dangerous Ẹgbe as not all Ẹgbe work in favor of their counterparts and therefore for the welfare of humankind but instead as disruptive or destabilizing forces in which case the bond must be cut or interrupted for the person to evolve and progress in life.

*In the case of children, certain characteristic behavioral patterns displayed and identified by parents and the family may suggest the influence of their Ẹgbe. Among such behavioral patterns we find: kleptomaniac or nymphomaniac tendencies, stubbornness, violence, insolence, running away from home…
*As previously mentioned, certain Ẹgbe cause the disappearance of physical objects or items for which a person makes others responsible causing all sorts of problems, suspicion, conflict…
*Some people may be called by their Ẹgbe generally during the night by hearing  voices calling their name but unable to identify the source which can be disturbing to some…

*When Ẹgbe are persistently ignored, they can block the access to the vortex of blessings in Nature and provoke at will all sorts of setbacks, problems, misfortune, calamity, or disaster in the life of the person concerned as often illustrated through the following verse of Ifa Ògúndáfún: When he was having a dispute with his astral comrades They said: “when you were farming We were together” Àjànkúlú mokúlú why do you curse us When you were making the heaps We assisted you – When we were harvesting yams We were together –
When you were harvesting sorghum We assisted you – Àjànkúlú mokúlú why do you curse us.

Ẹse (verse) that reveals a situation in which Ọ̀rúnmìlà stopped to acknowledge, serve and honor his astral fraternity which began to generate their anger making him lose valuable items. Ọ̀rúnmìlà thought that thieves had to be responsible for such losses over time and in anger decided to place a curse onto them by relying upon medico-magical preparations for such purpose. After producing no substantial effect, he decided to consult the oracle that revealed the nature of the problems that he was experiencing. He was advised to appease his heavenly comrades accordingly and complied with the prescription. By so doing, balance was restored and his valuable effects were returned.

In order to correct such situations after oracular inquiry and confirmation, initiates rely upon sacrificial technology a type of ritual meant to correct any imbalance generated by the Ẹgbe which is known as Idiru Ẹgbe or Igba didi and medico-magical preparations àkóse to through which to restore balance with heavenly comrades. In certain cases however, sacrifices and special devices or charms won’t suffice and the person will require to establish another form of covenant with astral peers by undergoing the initiatory rite known as Irari Ẹgbe.

Egbe: Spiritual fraternity – neutral energy is a plural energy, considered as our great savior. Worshiping Egbe can mean the breaking of a pact with our suffering. Regardless of the source of one’s problem, regardless of the type of one’s suffering, our spiritual friends and brothers from the parallel invisible world will help us, they will give us health, make us strong, so our life will be valuable to us, our life will be important to us, so that we will liberate ourselves from destructive ideas and feelings. Through the fraternity of Egbe we can receive useful messages and visions even better.

Taboos: *Adin oil – *Swearing/Cursing while feeding Egbe – *Mode of feeding Egbe is fed with singing, dancing, while either kneeling or sitting….

Foods:

Reference Sources: Ayo Salami = Fáyẹmí Fátúndé Fákáyodé = Nŭɖoyεswímὲ= Ifáfọnàhanmí Fátóògùn = Oluwo Ifadamilare Ifaniyi = Iyalode Egbe Agbaye = Aare Oba Asa Agbaye = Sholanke Anifao Olabameji = Yorubahood Araba TV = Google Search/Photo = Babalawo Obanifa = Adulawo TV

Kutiro-Balafon-Sabar = Drums Ensemble…

****Music of the Mande – Gambian Tantango = Kutiro Drumming

Drum troupes play for recreational dances and various festivities. The Mandinka, descendants of the Mande peoples of western Africa, now reside primarily in Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau. Among the Mande people in general, rhythm expressed as drumming is linked with all forms of movement, be it dancing, wrestling, procession, or agricultural labor. 

There is a defined hierarchy within the ensemble where the Sabaro takes the fore, both musically, and socially. A Drummer will begin a long apprenticeship, usually starting in youth, gradually working from Kutiros to Sabaro as his skill increases. The Tantango ensemble is employed in many life-cycle rituals circumcisions, fertility, agricultural and recreational, wrestling events.  The most prominent such event is recreational dance Bantaba and singing held in a wide-open space in the center of a village or at a crossroads in town. Participants amass in circles which can vary in size: sometimes with barely enough room for dancers, at other times as large as city blocks with rented folding chairs placed along the sides of the street for guests. The Bantaba events begin with a signature recreational dance – Lenjengo, danced primarily by women and girls, and which typically includes a collection of rhythms, songs, and dances leading up to the “Lenjengo” a fully engaged dance-music gathering that could go on indefinitely. The term Tantango is often used to refer to any of these Drums, and sometimes the ensemble is called a Seruba ensemble after the name of an important dance event in which they are played. The ensemble is used throughout the Gambia and Cassamance as far east as Tambacounda.

Evidence from neighboring Drumming traditions suggests that the Mandinka may have fashioned their Drums after models used in their new Senegambian homeland or even acquired them there. Both the name and the shape of the Mandinka Sabaro and Wolof Sabar Drums are very similar, and the method of attaching the head to the body is the same for these two as well as for the other Mandinka and Wolof Drums. But in contrast to the Mandinka ensemble, fixed at three Drums and rarely augmented, Wolof Sabar-based ensembles consist of more Drums and can accommodate large numbers of players. In the case of celebrations with many participants, the Mandinka ensemble is still not augmented; rather, many ensembles play for smaller groups within the larger crowd. In addition to Wolof influence, there is also an exchange of rhythms between Jola and Mandinka, even though the Jola play the very different Bugarabu, a group of three of four large Drums played by a single person with bare hands. The practice of wearing iron jingles (Jawungo) around the wrist is widespread among Mandinka and Jola Drummers as well as Bala.

Each Drum is played with one hand and a short stick approximately of nine inches long; the two Kutiro Drums are sometimes played with both bare hands. The minimal vocabulary necessary to play the Drums consists of two different hand strokes and two different stick strokes. The hand strokes are an open bounce (kun) where a clear tone is produced, and closed damped stroke (Ba) where the fingers press on the head and remain there. The stick strokes are a bounce (Din) and a press (Da). With two hand sounds and two stick sounds on each Drum, a strikingly full orchestral sound can be created by just the two Kutiro Drums.

As a village rather than urban event, Lenjengo can be contrasted in organization with analogous urban Jembe Drumming (Dununba)events in Mali and Guinea. In Lenjengo a long-term compositional process is at work with a specific sequence of pieces. While the Sabaro Drummer  plays the phrases linked with the entrances, exits, and other movements of the dancers, the two Kutiro Drummers play the indentifying parts that are unique to each dance.

The stage presentation Mandinka Drumming and dancing has a history that is now over half a century old. New traditions have developed, moving Drumming in a variety of directions. Although some of these traditions flourished abroad, the general recognition of Africa as a wellspring of a deeply entrenched culture of drumming and dancing still operates. The number, diversity, depth, and uniqueness of Drumming traditions in Africa are astounding. So is the musical sophistication and power that can be routinely achieved by a small ensemble of instruments with a limited palette of sounds.

***Drum Call – The Drum call begins all ceremonies. The Drums speak the opening prayer and request blessings for the dance ceremony to begin. The purpose of the drum call is to contain the spirits that would normally be invoked through the dances. The drum call is also called “Baque.” Each ethnic group has its own “Baque,” and within each ethnic group every family has its own special rhythms that are passed down from generation to generation. 

The Mandinka Drum Ensemble consists of three Drums. The leader plays the long Sabaro, assisted by two Drummers playing the Kutiro – larger Kutiriba – small Kutirindingo.

“Sabaro = 6  – 7″ Diameter 25 – 27″ Long…(4 1/4″) Kutiriba = 9  – 10″  Diameter 15 – 17″ Long…(4 1/2″) Kutirindingo = 7 – 8″ Diameter 12 – 14″ Long…(4″)

Forango: Sitick 9″ long … Jawungo = Bell – Iron Rattles … Kusango – Peg …(5″Long Hole -5/8″)  Bora or Bisango – Beard or Skirt for Sabaro… Minango – Antelope Skin… Fasango – To Lace… Manduka – Mallet…

Griot, Jaly, or Ayan (keepers of African oral traditions) dies, they literally take libraries of African music and dance to the grave where it is entombed and lost to the world forever. Since the music and dance of Africa is largely an oral tradition that is verbally passed down from one generation to the next, sheet music is not available. Younger generations of Africans no longer practice or know the traditional music and dance of their Ancestors, therefore, African music and dance is an endangered species. 

                     ***The  African Balafon:  Listen – Feel & Move…

    An instrument known to have existed during the Mali Empire, the Balafon has been and still is popular in West Africa. Its name has a Manding origin but the name varies in some parts like Sierra Leone, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso. Balafon means the “act of playing the Bala,” with “Balan” corresponding to the instrument, while “fo” a verb meaning “to play” in the Malinke language. Guinea’s Susu and Malinke peoples, as well as the Manding people dwelling in Senegal, Mali, and Gambia are the popular users of the instrument. Balafon traditions were also recorded in Chad, Cameroon, and around the Congo BasinIn Ancient times, the Balafon is considered a sacred instrument that is exclusive to trained and skilled caste members. It was stored in a temple for safekeeping and can only be played at certain traditional and ritual occasions such as funerals, weddings, and festivals. Not to mention that the Balafon has to be purified first before being played.

According to one of the Mandingo myths, the first inhabitant of the Earth coming down from the sky was a blacksmith. It is certainly not by chance that the Balafon played an important part in the history of the accession of the kingdom of Mali. Castes formed, and among them the blacksmith was found at the center of all craft activities and became powerful. Without him there would be no weapons for hunting, nor farming implements, nor cooking utensils. He was master of fire and wood. Traditionally, it was he who sculpted the shell of the Djembe, or the slats of the Balafon.  The Bala-Fola’s gesture is the same as the blacksmith’s. Beating with the stick is the same movement as with the hammer and the slat replaces the anvil. Everything seems to indicate that the first Balafon players were smiths.

 Amongst thousands of percussion instruments, there is an important family, the mallet instruments. Xylophones, vibraphones, marimbas,  have a common Ancestor – the African Bala. The culture of Balafon music is highly developed in the countries south of the Sahara desert and the tropical rain forest.  With the ethnic groups like the Senoufos, Bobos, Miankans, Lobis,  Toussiens, Samogos, Gouins or Tourakans (Mali, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Ghana) a large Bala can have up to 21 slats. Normally, the Balafon is tuned from the lowest to the highest note, usually in a pentatonic chord (five tones), like, for example, the black mallets on a piano keyboard. Nowadays, “western” chords can be found as well, like diatonic and chromatic. But at all times, African musicians have known how to cope with influences coming from abroad in an own, original style.

Gum-rubber mallets on a balafon: A Balafon can be either fixed-key or free-key. The Balafon is generally capable of producing 18 to 21 notes, though some are built to produce many fewer notes. Balafon keys are traditionally made from Béné wood, dried slowly over a low flame, and then tuned by shaving off bits of wood from the underside of the keys. Wood is taken off the middle to flatten the key or the end to sharpen it. In a fixed-key Balafon, the keys are suspended by leather straps just above a wooden frame, under which are hung graduated-size calabash gourd resonators. A small hole in each gourd is covered with a membrane traditionally of thin spider’s-egg sac filaments – nowadays more usually of cigarette paper or thin plastic film to produce the characteristic nasal-buzz timbre of the instrument, which is usually played with two gum-rubber-wound mallets while seated on a low stool or while standing using a shoulder or waist sling hooked to its frame. This effect is accentuated by the sound of metal bracelets attached to the player’s wrist. Mallets and resonators are fixed on a frame of wood sticks and strings made of goat’s skin.

Regional traditions: As the Balafon cultures vary across West Africa, so does the approach to the instrument itself. In many areas the Balafon is played alone in a ritual context, in others as part of an ensemble. In Guinea and Mali, the Balafon is often part of an ensemble of three, pitched low, medium and high. The Susu and Malinké people of Guinea are closely identified with the Bala, as are the other Manding peoples of Mali, Senegal, and the Gambia. Cameroon, Chad, and even the nations of the Congo Basin have a long Balafon traditions. 

The Bala, kora , and the Ngoni  are the three instruments most associated with Griot bardic traditions of West Africa. Each is more closely associated with specific areas, communities, and traditions, though all are played together in ensembles throughout the region. Guinea has been the historic heartland of solo Balafon.  The Balafon, also known as Balafo, Bala, Balani, Gyil, and Balangi, is a type of tuned percussion instrument. It is played by using two padded sticks to strike the tuned keys.

***The gyil  is the name of a buzzing  Balafon common to the Gur-speaking populations in northern Ghana, Burkina Faso, southeastern Mali and northern Ivory Coast in West Africa…

In some cultures the Balafon was and in some still is a sacred instrument, playable only by trained religious caste members and only at ritual events such as festivals, royal, funeral, or marriage celebrations. Here the Balafon is kept in a temple storehouse, and can only be removed and played after undergoing purification rites. Specific instruments may be built to be only played for specific rituals and repertoires. Young adepts are trained not on the sacred instrument, but on free-key pit Balafons.

                                     *** Sabar Wolof Drums ***

 Sabar drumming is the very exciting syncopated drumming of the Wolof tribe in Senegal and Gambia. The Djola and Mandinka Sabar is very rare. The only place to see this Sabar is in rural areas during a ceremony such as a naming ceremony, wedding, or birthday. Wolof sabar can be seen throughout Senegal and Gambia in urban areas as well as rural. Sabar is not complete without the dance. Of course this is true with most drumming in West Africa. The dance is a very beautiful style… almost even like a martial arts. Sabar dancers display incredible flexibility and agility.

The Sabar drums are traditionally peg tuned…but some players today are using the more modern method of rope tuning. There are 5 drums in the Sabar family and they all have different sounds and roles to play in the music. The M’balax drum is the main rhythm drum and is fairly high in pitch and medium size. The N’der drum is the tallest and highest in pitch and is the lead drum and plays a lot of ‘calls’ or signals to cue the group what to do. The Toongani was originally a mandinka drum called the kutiro but was in recent years added to the Sabar ensemble. This drum is the smallest drum and has a unique bass sound.  The Joll is the lowest in pitch of the bass drums. It play various patterns and is also a solo drum. The highest pitch of the bass drums is the Tahnbat. This drum plays interweaving patterns sort of opposite the Joll. All drums are played with hand and  stick. 

In Gambia and Senegal the most common place to see Sabar drumming is at a ceremony such as naming ceremony, wedding, birthday, or return from Mecca. These ceremonies typically happen in the streets. It is very popular even outside the Wolof tribe. Most ceremonies of all tribes in Gambia and Senegal will have Sabar drumming at the party. Typically Sabar drumming and dance will start after all the formal ceremonies are finished. During a naming ceremony the child is given a name one week after he or she is born. In the morning the baby will be prayed for… as well as all the family prayed for… and during this time the baby’s head is shaved. Depending on what tribe the ceremony can have different events that follow. Typical food at this ceremony is benechin…or jaybuchin. 

Reference Sources:  Wikipedia = Roderick Knight = Charry  Eric = Erik Silverman = Mosheh Milon = Stephan Monssen = Souleyman Diop =  Gert Kilian = Stream Africa = Mike Bennett = Rob Holland = Kim Atkinson = Rob Simms = Google Search/Photo

 

The Speaking Power of Altars…

An Altar In A House Of Worship To Honor Our Ancestors…

The word Altar comes from the Latin Altārium, meaning – high  and also to the Latin Adolere, which means – to ritually burn or sacrifice. Nowadays, the Altar is the place for non-sacrificial religious rites such as communion or weddings, and is a metaphor for offerings. They do not have to be big and fancy; they can be so subtle that even the people you live with can be unaware of their existence. The purpose of an Altar is an area of focus. Here is a small area within your home which serves as your outward spiritual focus. It reminds us that there is far more to life than the everyday striving for survival and success. It is a place where the small objects that are sacred and meaningful to us can be gathered together and treated with respect.

ALTARS = An elevated place or structure, as a mound or platform, at which religious rites are performed or on which sacrifices are offered to Ancestors. A usually raised structure or place on which sacrifices are offered or incense is burned in worship —often used figuratively to describe a thing given great or undue precedence or value especially at the cost of something else sacrificed his family life on the Altar of career advancement.

Altars could be natural objects or man-made constructs. Four materials are recorded as being used in Altars: Stone – Earth – Metal & Brick. An Altar could stand alone, or it was located in the courtyard of a shrine. Altars were places where the divine and human worlds interacted. Altars were places of exchange, communication, and influence. Sacrifices were the primary medium of exchange in altar interactions & the essential act of external worship. The act of sacrifice moved the offering from the profane to the sacred, from the visible to the invisible world.

Altars can be placed anywhere, on top of a dresser, a window sill or small table. Simply create an empty space and slowly, carefully, place upon it the items which are special to you. Maybe a crystal, a cloth of inspiring color, flowers, a candle, or whatever feels appropriate. Now you have created your own personal sacred space. When you light your candle and gaze upon your Altar, it will help you to remember who you are and why we are here. Altars serve us as a great source of strength and focus for the Light.

In the fast pace of today’s world there is a growing need to reconnect to the sacred elements of life. An Altar can fulfill this need through being a powerful visible representation of the spiritual energy that surrounds and sustains us. It serves as a kind of reminder of our connection to spiritual realms.

Creating and using an Altar can be an effective means of forging a connection to higher powers. This can help infuse the most ordinary aspects of life with a divine sense of meaning. An Altar dedicated to increasing your spiritual awareness can become an energetic point of convergence for symbols that propel the human spirit forward. It can be used as a place to pray and ask for divine guidance, a place to listen to messages from the spiritual realm and a place to give thanks for blessings received.

Creating an Altar is a sacred way to call spiritual energies into your home. It reinforces your intention to invite more peace, serenity, and love into your space. It can be used for prayer, meditation, chanting, or just a place of sheer beauty and connection to the Divine. Once you create your Altar, make a daily ritual to meditate or pray near it. Use the sacred energy you’ve created to remind you of your highest spiritual intentions as you honor Mother NatureConnect with the energy of Air – Fire – Earth –  Water. Sometimes the theme for your Altar will come to you in an unexpected way.

Building Altars For Personal Transformation = Creating an Altar with the intention for transformation is a powerful way to keep your focus on your intentions. We make altars all of the time. Some we create on purpose, some out of routine habit. The photos of your family on your hearth is an altar as such as the extensive altars inside of a place of worship. “An Altar can simply reflect your spiritual truth back to you or it can be a working altar which holds your intention and prayers”. An Altar for transformation might address losing weight, healing a breakup or divorce, calling in more financial prosperity, a new relationship, a new project, or even the archetypal energy you want to invite into your life.

The very foundation of these spiritual teachings is the Law of Personal Responsibility, which states in part that we are responsible for all our experiences. By the laws that we establish with our thoughts, acts, and words, we are the creators of all our experiences. In other words, our experiences in life are reflecting back to us where we are in consciousness. In addition, great emphasis is placed upon understanding how our minds work and how we may more effectively use our minds in a way that it has been designed to be used. The teachings of this philosophy help us discern between the thoughts of our mind and the gentle promptings of our soul.

These spiritual teachings are filled with inspirational quotes, affirmations, spiritual sayings, and spiritual exercises. The spiritual light of the Living Light Philosophy illumines a path to a conscious awareness of our own soul, our own divinity, but it is up to us to make the effort to walk upon that path.

THE SPEAKING POWER OF AN ALTAR:

 Life and death lie in the tongue.  There are people who have the authority to speak over others. An instance is the authority of parents to either speak blessing or curse over their children. There are two ways of speaking over someone: Benediction and Malediction. The first means Blessing and the second means Curse. There is undoubtedly, power in speaking. Speaking does invoke or incite what is said, but there is something that gives spiritual essence to what is being spoken, and that is an Altar.

Altars give spiritual voice to every speaking. Through blood offered on an altar, spiritual entities affect physical beings. It speaks life for us over and above every malediction that any other Altar speaks against us. But we connect this altar through sacrifice. Altar is a place of sacrifice. Not all sacrifices are of blood but every sacrifice whether bloody or not, has a life! Quality time spent with Ancestors can be the Altar through which you connect the everlasting Altar. The underline is that you need to sacrifice on an altar that will connect you to Ancestor’s Altar.

The Power of a Personal Altar: Men who build and oil their Altars, never get deterred by, nor become victims of, the frictions of life. An Altar is a place not necessarily physical set apart for interaction with the spiritual. It is a place where our lives are powered. Our speed in life depends on the power of our Altar. If we don’t raise our own Altar, we’ll become a victim of another man’s altar. In a typical traditional African setting, each child has an Altar built for him by his parents. It is on this Altar that prayers, incantations, and most importantly, sacrifices are made for him until he gets to a reasonable age, when he’s left with the responsibility of running his Altar.

Quite evidently, those families that take their Altars seriously, lead more notable lives and stand out in the community. This Altar concept is also seen in most other religions. This therefore, lends credence to the fact that one’s personal Altar is the taproot of his spiritual life. The deeper this taproot, the taller your life grows; the more resilient you get, the more you boom and flourish, and the more relevant you are to your world – just like the palm tree. Little wonder the bible says “the righteous shall flourish like the palm tree.” The palm tree has an extremely deep tap root.

Finally, we learnt that it is sacrifice that makes an Altar. Without sacrifices, an Altar is powerless. There’s no access to the spiritual that costs nothing!  Our Altar is the place we first dedicate our offerings, and our seeds to Ancestors. May the holy spirit of Ifa opens our eyes to this spiritual truth.

Reference Sources: Wikipedia = Awo Falokun = Google Search/Photo

GELEDE = Powerful Mothers…

            Awon-Agba =  Mothers *  Ancestors * Deities…

Masks and other visual forms associated with these cults contain imagery evocative of Male supremacy and vengeance. Gelede imagery, in contrast, exemplifies another approach to the Mothers.
The following text from the ancient verse of the Ifa oracle known as Osa Meji re-creates the mythic origin of the Gelede masquerade. Greetings were their secret among the Ijesa Ifa told Orunmila when he was going to the grove of the Eleiye (witches), He must put on a mask, a head-wrap and leg rattles. He obeyed, he put them on, he arrived at the grove of the Witches and he was safe. He rejoiced in dancing and singing- “I have covenanted with Death, I will never die. Death, Death no more, I have covenanted with sickness, I will never die. Death, Death no more.”

Orunmila, the Deity associated with Ifa, put on a mask (Aworan), head-wrap (Oja), and leg rattles (iku)- the three essential elements found in all Gelede costuming. The regalia protect him from the negative propensities of the destructive Mothers, for as one elderly priestess reputed to be extremely knowledgeable about such matters states: “. . . these masks are an Ancestral rite that the Ancients did in the past which they called Eso. They must not do it in an uncovered way. They must not dance nakedly to allow people to see their eyes”. The regalia also provide pageantry which appeals to their positive dimension.

 The Gelede spectacle of the Yoruba & Fon is a public display by colorful masks which combines art and ritual dance to amuse, educate and inspire worship. Gelede Celebrates Mothers – Awon Iya Wa, a group that includes female Ancestors and Deities as well as the Elderly Women of the community, and the power and spiritual capacity these women have in society. However, this power may also be destructive and take the form of witchcraft; therefore, Gelede serves the function of appeasing this power, as well. The Gelede social agenda rests on – life is delicate and should be lived with caution and with an emphasis on diplomacy, consideration, respect and harmony.

Most Yoruba myths of origin can be found in the divination narratives knows at Odu Ifa which contains a number of poems called Ese Ifa. An Ese Ifa explains the origins of Gelede as beginning with Yemoja, “The Mother of all the Deities and all living things.”

Yewajobi – Yemoja  could not have children and consulted an Ifa oracle, who advised her to offer sacrifices and to dance with wooden images on her head and metal anklets on her feet. After performing this ritual, she became pregnant. Her first child was a boy, nicknamed “Efe“- Humorist; the Efe mask emphasizes song and jests because of the personality of its namesake. Yewajobi – Yemoja second child was a girl, nicknamed “Gelede” – Obese like her Mother Gelede loved dancing.

After getting married themselves, neither Gelede or Efe‘s partner could have children. The Ifa oracle suggested they try the same ritual that had worked for their Mother. No sooner than Efe and Gelede performed these rituals- dancing with wooden images on their heads and metal anklets on their feet- they started having children. These rituals developed into the Gelede masked dance and was perpetuated by the descendants of Efe and Gelede.

Although Gelede ceremony may be staged at any time of the year to better the lot of an individual, to cleanse the society of pestilence, to induce rain, to enrich human fertility, to enlist the support of supernatural forces and the – Powerful Mothers in wartime, and to honor the dead, the most elaborate performance occurs during the annual festival.

Once the exact dates of the festival are fixed, usually through divination, the Chief Priestess – Iyalashe notifies the head of the community and the important chiefs. Messages then go out to all members of the Gelede society outside the town or working far away to return home for the celebration.

The festival begins with an all-night concert called Efe, which features the Efe Male mask, who uses satire to entertain and educate. Given the concern of the Gelede society with peace and social stability, it is not surprising that didactic themes recur in Efe songs. After the Efe dance, most of the attendees spend the morning sleeping in preparation for the afternoon dance, which takes place in the marketplace and features pairs of male dancers who perform to fast-paced music with a vigorous beat.

The Gelede ceremony involves carefully choreographed dance, singing and music, and especially drumming. The performances are given by Men, wearing masks that feature sculpted images of scenes including animals and people or sewing machines and drums. The pairs of Men masquerade as Women to amuse, please and placate the Mothers who are considered very powerful, and who may use their powers for good or destructive purposes. These powers are especially linked to childbirth. The abilities they possess may be activated either consciously or unconsciously.

The Gelede “Mask” is more accurately a headdress, since it rests on top of the head and the wearer’s face is covered by a cloth veil. The headdress takes the form of a human head, on top of which are motifs that are intended to entertain onlookers but, in addition, usually address social concerns that may also be expressed in songs that are part of the masquerade. Individuals or families will usually go to any length to make their headdresses as attractive and humorous as possible.

Most of the headdresses have facial adornments, ranging from lineage marks to decorative tattoos, which are either incised or painted. The headdress is to the costume what the Head – Ori is to the human body. It is an index of identification and the essence of the masker’s personality as long as he is inside the mask. In spite of the comical representations that often appear on the headdress, the face below the superstructure remains serene, as if stressing the paradox that is life-and the need to live life with special care.

The Ketu-Yoruba people are credited with the invention of Gelede sometime in the latter part of the eighteenth century according to Oral traditions throughout the region.  A popular Yoruba saying proclaims, oju to ba ri Gelede ti de opin iran – The eyes that have seen Gelede, have seen the ultimate spectacle. Gelede effective power and impact comes from its multi-media format in which the arts of song, dance, costume and music combine to create moving artistic experiences.

Gelede pays homage to the Spiritual Powers of Women, especially Elderly Women known affectionately as “Our Mothers,” Awon Iya Wa. The powers possessed by such Women, comparable to those of the Gods, Spirits, or Ancestors, may be used for the benefit or the destruction of society.  When manifesting their destructive dimension such Elderly Women are termed Aje – Witches.  If angered, they can bring down individuals and entire communities.

   The Yoruba & Fon Markets Are Controlled By Women…To honor Women’s economic power and contributions, many Gelede headdresses depict Women’s heads carrying the goods they sell in the marketplace. Many Gelede masks depict animals that serve as metaphors for human actions and attributes as well as illustrations of popular proverbs and songs that often accompany the mask’s appearance. Animals in devouring motifs are an important means of conveying the concept of competing forces in social as well as spiritual realms.

This Gelede Mask displays two snakes wrapped around gourd rattles at the sides of a peaked hairstyle.  The rattles are the regalia of priestesses whose spiritual powers are evoked by the snakes. Notice that the face of the Male performer is clearly seen through the thin veil of cloth.  Unlike other Yoruba masking traditions where the performer’s identity must be hidden because they deal with spiritual forces, Gelede maskers can be seen since they focus on forces in the world.

As dusk approaches after a dazzling array of masqueraders imaging countless aspects of Yoruba life and thought, a final masker – one that synthesizes Goddess, Ancestress, and Priestess appears to conclude and bless the Gelede spectacle.  Her white ensemble glowing in the growing darkness, Iya Odua (Mother Odua) moves with measured stride toward the marketplace accompanied by her priestess, her attire mirroring that of the masker visually to unite spiritual and earthly realms.  Iya Odua slow, stately tread conveys her Age, Wisdom, and Sacred Power. Her whiteness symbolizes her cool, covert demeanor and her post-menopausal purity for she is the creative, protective, nurturing mother of the gathered crowd, her offspring. Iya Odua appearance assures the community that the lavish spectacle has pleased and placated her, and that the Mothers will use their power and influence for the benefit of all.

Gelede masquerades are spectacles performed by the Yoruba people in Nigeria and Danxome that celebrate the Mystical Power Of WomenGelede refers to the concept of honoring Women and their innate powers so that the entire community may reap the benefits of their life-giving forces.  There are many different variations of the Gelede spectacle, which varies from region to region, but this concept remains consistent throughout all of them. 

It is an incredible artistic manifestation of the power of Women which is evident in the concepts, costumes and masks, and location of the spectacle. The World is fragile, meaning that the Gelede celebration is warring with the evil of the world without killing. The preservation of the Gelede celebration and its significance and homage to Women is a critical foundation of a community in so far as its cultural and social identity.

Gelede = The initial purpose of the Gelede ceremony is to pay tribute to the primary Mother and the role Women play in the organization and development of society among the Nago of Nigeria, Benin and Togo. They are the ones who ensure the order of the world and hold all the powers, whether they are beneficial, like fertility, or evil, like witchcraft.

The Gelede’s costume includes big breasts reflecting motherhood. Interestingly, however, the wearers of the Gelede masks with the big breasts and big buttocks are always men. The explanation given for this was that since the performance is in honor of women, it will be inappropriate for women to wear the masks as that may be interpreted to mean that the women are the ones honoring themselves.

The pot-breasted Mother with much hair on her private part the owner of a vagina that suffocates like dry yam in the throat. The eulogy suggests the two most important parts in the process of becoming a mother – the breasts and the vagina. The heavy breast is assumed to contain an inexhaustible flow of milk for her children. Because Yemọja is also referred to as the generous and the dangerous mother, the suffocating vagina may be the source of the power of life and death.

No other divinity is able to withstand the Aje when they decide to fight. They can always subdue all of them, with the exception of Orunmila, due to the way he handled them on prior occasions. Anyone who believes that charms and other diabolical preparations can subdue witchcraft is merely deceiving himself, unless they are aware of special incantations made in the past for this purpose.

The festival involves colorful masks, striking headdresses, festive music, and miraculous performances and importantly the celebration of Womanhood.

Bend your knee for Women = Women brought us into the world = That’s what makes us humans = Women are the Spirit of the Earth. We give our reverence to Oshun the unseen Mother ever present at every gathering.

Reference Sources: Henry John Drewal = Margaret Thompson Drewal = Jean-Claude Moschetti = Google Search/Photo = Makinde  Taiwo = Lawal Babatunde =

Libation = Myth & Divinity…

            **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 literature.

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 inflicting 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.

Oduduwa Templo Dos Orixás Brazil

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.

Ejubona Ijebu Ogun State Nigeria Awo “Ogunda-Ogbe” Efuwape Olatunji

The act of pouring liquid (usually an alcoholic beverage) on the ground as a sign of reverence for friends or relatives that have passed away.
Libation is an ancient way of prayer. A petition is made while pouring water or alcohol to the Creator and to the passed over Ancestors, for their assistance with our human affairs. The libation is symbolic of invoking these energies, it is at this point where the prayer is stated plus giving thanks and appreciation for the guidance and blessings received. Libation is also carried out funerals and to commemorate loved ones.

** 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”

***In the fullness of eternity, God decided that he should create Ogbon and Oye (Wisdom and Knowledge) to live with him in his chamber of existence. When He created Wisdom and Knowledge, they began to communicate endlessly, continually disturbing the peace of God; then He sent them to live elsewhere. In Ifá, there are four pillars upon which wisdom and knowledge rest. They are honesty, patience, humility, and faith, those who seek wisdom and knowledge in life must master all aspects of these four pillars.

***Ogbon = Wisdom***
==Let us not engage the world hurriedly – Let us not grasp at the rope of wealth impatiently – That which should be treated with mature judgment – Let us not deal with in a state of anger.
When we arrive at a cool place – Let us rest fully – Let us give continuous attention to the future and let us consider the consequences of things because of our  passing.

Reference Sources: Wikipedia = Tete Kitissou = Google Search/Photo = Babalawo Obanifa

TREES = Rituals & Ceremonies…

 

“It is their belief that when a family member dies, their spirit resides in the natural environment to watch over their kin, relay messages to and from God, and grant blessings, wishes, and requests.”

In Africa the practice of Tree worship is based on the belief that Ancestor spirits live in the Trees and forests as well as any other natural formations that are considered peaceful.

Sacred Trees are highly manicured and sculpted so that they can provide a sheltered place for gatherings. In many villages they were the center of social activity—from community dances to court sessions, as well as metaphors for the strength of community bonds. And as the mythology goes, Sacred Trees represent a cosmic connection between Earth and the Heavens. The Trees helped people measure the passing of time through seasonal changes and became the centerpiece of local folklore.

In many cultures around the world, Trees are used in creation stories and myths to explain human, and spiritual, origins. Such trees frequently represent the axis of the universe that connects different realms of the cosmos.  Its branches hold up the heavens, its trunk stands in the earthly realm, and its roots descend into the underworld.

          The supernatural characters and powers of sacred trees…

In many religions, sacred places as well as Orishas were thought to possess supernatural characters and the power to carry out miracles or as having magical powers. The same attitude is found throughout history as an outcome of tree Worship-Adoration-Veneration.

Sacred Trees were sometimes described as possessing huge or unusual dimensions or miraculous physical characters.  Frequently, sacred Trees were regarded as having omnipotent magic powers to punish, cure, or to carry out miracles and to confer unusual abilities.

In many cultures around the globe sacred Trees are strictly protected, and injuring the Tree in any way is regarded as sacrilege. This deep faith has been established in the course of generations by tradition and stories of actual punishment meted out by the Gods-Souls-Orishas to which the Trees are dedicated. Injuring the Tree, especially cutting it down may leave the resident spirit homeless and it would soon take its revenge.

In some communities fear of revenge by the spirits in response to any harm to the sacred Tree is so great that special ceremonies, which may include sacrifices, prayers, ceremonies, are held to pacify the angry spirit before a Tree is cut.

Not surprisingly, any kind of harm done to the sacred Tree-Grove-Forest is feared to cause a furious punitive response by a supernatural being. This fear is so deeply imprinted in human conscience of various Tribes*Communities that the people are afraid even to pick a leaf or to collect dead wood from below the Tree, which may carry an immediate sentence of death.

Throughout history, and in many cultures, sacred Trees were regarded as omens and oracles, as well as soothsayers that may speak in human voices. Punishment of whoever violates the Tree All over the world sacred Trees are protected by a system of taboos and ceremonies which were developed to prevent any damage. These Trees are regarded as the abode of supernatural beings, gods, souls and any harm to such abodes are to be heavily punished. Cutting down sacred Trees is regarded as a particularly serious offence against the supernatural element because such an act leaves the spirit homeless. There is thus a need to repatriate these supernatural beings by means of special ceremonies.

***The manner in which clothes are tied to a sacred Tree to transfer personal troubles or using objects that “absorb” the supernatural powers of the Tree are typical examples of contact magic. Things which have once been in contact with each other at a distance after the physical contact has been severed. Practically all these manners are methods of “conveying the divine effluence” from the Tree to the devoted people. In this way the supernatural being, which is connected with the sacred Tree, has the power to grant petitions.

Sacred Trees are believed to have magic curative powers in Africa, even species of some plants or parts of it that are not known as having medicinal properties, such as the leaves of a Sacred Oak (Iroko) are regarded as omnipotent forms of medication when administered externally as a decoction. Clearly, the leaves acquire the healing powers when granted by Orishas; just as actual medicinal plants gathered in the vicinity of the sacred Tree are more potent. Most of the uses of sacred Trees for divine blessings or cure seem based on magical contact.

Baobab Tree Senegal

IROKO = Milicia Excelsa  = African Teak : Iroko is a large hardwood Tree from the west coast of tropical Africa the Tree is known to the Yoruba as Irókò or loko and is believed to have supernatural properties.  It is one of the woods sometimes referred to as African teak, although it is unrelated to the teak family. The Tree is feared in some cultures where it originates and hence is shunned or revered with offerings. Yoruba people believe that the Tree is inhabited by a spirit, and anybody who sees the Iroko-man face to face becomes insane and speedily dies. The spirit of the Iroko can be heard in houses which use Iroko wood, as the spirit of the Iroko is trapped in the wood.  It is often protected when the surrounding bush is cleared, ritual sacrifices take place underneath it and gifts are given to it. Fertility and birth are associated with it and its timber is used to make ceremonial drums and coffins.

 Benefits Of The Iroko Tree:  With the tremendous increase in human population and the need for activities such as construction, cultivation, rearing of animals, and environmental development, there has been a tremendous rise on the loss of natural habitats, ecosystems, wild animals, vegetation etc. One important tree that has suffered this sort of habitat loss is the Iroko Tree. Despite its reduction in number, researchers have revealed that there are several incredible benefits of Iroko Tree that makes it stand out from other Trees in the ecosystem.

The Tree features in many myths and tales. It consistently reflects a few important symbolic images. The Tree stands between heaven and earth and is associated with creation as well as the underworld. The Tree is a maternal symbol: a protector and provider who gives fruit, other foods and medicines, provides a reservoir for water, protects against the elements and evil spirits. The Tree often symbolizes human fecundity. It may also be a phallic and paternal symbol, symbolically linking people with their ancestors while being a symbol of political unity.

Finally, the deciduous characteristic of the tree gives it an ambiguous image which reflects the tree’s power to give life and rebirth as well as to bring about death. In many African myths and stories, the tree is portrayed as an Ancestral symbol of wisdom, authority and custom, providing a bond between the dead and the living.  

It Is Dark  And The Trees In The Farm Are Silent. One Who Taps Palm Wine Must Pay Attention To His Climbing Rope.

Reference Sources:  Blessing Okpala = Wikipedia = Google Search/Photo

Blood Sacrifices = To Make Sacred

  Blood is not just Blood, it is a Sacred essence. Blood that flows to the breast to give Mother’s milk, Blood that flows to the testicles to bring the Sperm of life.

***Prayer is a form of communication with a Deity or other Spiritual being. Words addressed to a deity usually offer praise or seek guidance, blessing, forgiveness, fertility, victory, or protection. Like prayer, sacrifice is a form of communication with a deity for similar purposes. The word itself means “to make holy.” As distinct from prayer, sacrificial offerings include objects of value and symbolic significance that are given to the gods to earn their favor. The gifts can take many forms, becoming sacred themselves through ritual consecration. The Gods might be offered the most desirable foods or provided with the finest vessels, carvings, tools, and weapons. Historians, however, have often regarded blood sacrifice as the most powerful way to appease the Gods. It was not unusual for societies to engage in both animal and human sacrifice, although the historical trend has been toward a sharp reduction in the latter…

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When there is an imbalance one must give back to the Energy of the Earth. The idea of Blood as token of beliefs is powerful & for many is disturbing. Blood has a role in many Religions: In a Catholic worship of taking communion worshipers drink the Blood of Jesus Christ. Every time you take Holy Communion you are drinking human Blood.

*** A “sacrifice” is defined as the offering up of something precious for a cause or a reason. Making atonement is satisfying someone or something for an offense committed. God said, “I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves. In other words, those who are covered by the Blood sacrifice are set free from the consequences of sin.

All of the many, many Blood sacrifices seen throughout the Old Testament were foreshadowing the true, once-for-all-time sacrifice to come so that, without the Blood, there is no forgiveness. This shedding of Blood is a substituting act. Therefore “the Blood ‘makes atonement’ at the cost of the animal’s life or “makes atonement in the place of the life”

The symbolism of Blood as life and applies Blood sacrifices were temporary and only atoned for sin partially and for a short time, hence the need to repeat the sacrifices.

Blood Sacrifice – This intense ritual has been around forever and still exists today in many parts of the world. There has always been cultures throughout history that have made sacrifice to their God Deities or idols. All in order to please them and to gain favor from them.

There were many times throughout the Bible that sacrificial offerings were made to God. In most cases a virgin lamb was used. You will note that in most animal sacrifices the animal is to be virgin. This is because it is pure. You will also note that God only found Blood sacrifice pleasing. We have the story of Cain and Abel where Abel used Blood sacrifice and found the favor of God and Cain used vegetables and did not find favor with God so Cain got jealous and killed Abel. We have Abraham in the Bible who was asked to sacrifice his firstborn  son to God. Replacing animal life for human life. But then God stopped him for he was only testing him.

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Let’s face it, the Bible is full of Blood Sacrifice and killing all in the name of God. Makes you wonder doesn’t it…

Human sacrifice is the act of killing one or more humans, usually as an offering to a deity, as part of a ritual. Human sacrifice has been practiced in various cultures  throughout history. Victims were typically ritually killed in a manner that was supposed to please or appease GodsSpirits or the Deceased. For example, as a propitiatory offering or as a retainer sacrifice when a king’s servants are killed in order for them to continue to serve their master in the next life. 

We have the Aztecs who were very big on Human and Animal sacrifice. It was an integral part of their Religion. They had many Blood thirsty Gods that needed to be pleased. As they saw it, the offering of blood through human sacrifice ensured the perpetuation of the universe. Spanish observers found the practice utterly revolting for Aztecs would take their victims… make them lay perfectly still while the High Priest took a stone knife and cut out their heart.

The Aztec priests were also into self mutilation. For instance, cutting their own genitalia and worst of all they would take a rope and embed it with large thorns. Then they would pierce their tongue and thread the thorn embedded rope through the tongue. The likes would have to be such an excruciating pain that they would leave their bodies and travel to other dimensions.

But the norm is to use that of an animal. For instance, using white doves or chickens. There are many different animals that can be used according to who you are conjuring up. Remember if they are virgin animals, it is all the more pleasing to the Entity. Because Blood has an energy, a life force. Plus, it gives them some substance to take some form.

Remember… NEVER TORTURE AN ANIMAL!

**Blood sacrifice is very dangerous, especially for the inexperienced Diviner or Sorcerer.  You will probably end up the victim yourself by the hands of the Entity that you conjured up.

Reference Resources: Wikipedia =  Robert Kastenbaum =  Google Search/Photo =  

BELLS = Points of Passage

***BELLS = SUPERNATURAL ENCHANTMENT… 

From very early times, there has been a link in myths and legends between Bells, water and spirits.  Water was seen as the element that joined the world of the living and the world of the dead. Spirits could make contact through water and the idea of spirits coming out of the sea would not have seemed strange. It was also believed that the spirits of people who died suddenly or violently, or who had not had a proper burial, would not rest and would wander the earth. This included the many sailors who were drowned in stormy seas; their bodies were often never found.

This may have come from their use in real life, to be rung for good or bad times. Bells were used in celebrations such as weddings or to call people to pray. From Celtic times, they were thought to contain magic. The Celtic priests would throw bells into rivers, streams or springs to get rid of bad spirits and make the water pure. Throughout history, bells have also been used to signal good or bad news. Bells were rung at funerals or as a warning of invaders or war. They were even rung in times of plague, to tell people to bring out their dead. There are many stories of ghostly bells heard at sea or near to the sea and they are nearly always a sign of bad luck or a warning of a storm or disaster.

Bells are used in a wide variety of contexts. You probably associate Bells with religious activity, and rightly so, because they’re often ordained for some spiritual purpose. While some Bells are merely decorative or serve some benign practical function, their appearance and use usually involves idolatry and magical enchantments. The value in this study is in helping you correctly interpret the influences of the familiar world around you. Bells, chimes, jingles, cymbals and gongs are commonly said to be good luck and are often used to ward off evil spirits. Could the ringing of bells really exercise spiritual power, enabling some supernatural influence in the natural realm.

Any spiritual significance of any Bell comes from the hearer of the Bell, rather than the Bell itself. A case in point is bells rung on Sunday morning, and other times of the week. To some, the Bells are calls to prayer, and sometimes for some people, a Bell at a specific time is a call to a specific prayer. To others hearing the same sounds, the Bells simply denote the time of day, and to still others, they sometimes are only a nuisance to be endured.

“BELLS GEOGRAPHICALLY widely distributed and usually possess a clearly defined cultural status.  Legends surround them, and beliefs abound concerning their special powers to induce rain or to dissolve storm clouds; to thwart demons when worn as amulets or when placed on animals, buildings, or conveyances; or to invoke curses and lift spells. The concept of their purifying action is ancient, as is their use in ritual, especially in the religions of eastern and southern Asia. Chinese rang Bells to communicate directly with spirits. East Asia, the fading tone of the Bell is considered spiritually significant. Russian Orthodoxy, Bells directly addressed the deity–hence, huge ones were cast by both peoples to lend greater authority.

Bells are consecrated before being used liturgically. Bells symbolize paradise and the voice of God. Among the most basic and widespread uses of Bells is signaling–marking significant points of ritual, calling to worship, tolling the hours, announcing events, rejoicing, warning, and mourning. It’s common around the globe to find the belling of livestock and horses. “In folk-magic brass is used to effectively repel witches and evil spirits. The protection is thought to be similar to that given by iron. It is used to make various kinds of amulets. Brass bells are hung around the necks of horses, cows and other animals to protect them against the evil eye.” The Hebrews wore crescent moons to ward off the evil eye and they attached Bells to their garments to ward off evil spirits.

 In the Middle Ages the supernatural world was believed to be very real and close. Special protective powers were desired by the superstitious and were attributed to certain objects, including Bells. The Church itself condoned the use of Bells to frighten away evil spirits and this ensured its survival and development. Bells were actually baptized, and once baptized had the power to ward off evil spells and spirits. The use of the dead Bell was typical of this belief, rung for the recently deceased to keep evil spirits from molesting the body.

       The dead Bell was therefore originally rung for two reasons: 
Firstly to seek the prayers of all Christians for a soul just departing; Secondly to drive away the evil spirits who stood at the bed’s foot and about the house, ready to seize their prey, or at least to molest and terrify the soul in its passage; but, by the ringing of the Bell evil spirits are afraid of the sounds of bells, they were kept away; and the soul, like a hunted hare, gained the head start.”

Passing Bell – The name given to the Bell which is rung in the church when a person is near to death; it is said to have the effect of frightening away the evil spirits which are ready to take the soul as it passes from the body. In the medieval period, Bells were sometimes rung to destroy witches, as it was supposed that the sound of Bells threw them off their night flight and rendered their diabolic magic ineffective. The ringing of Bells is also associated with funerals, so sounds mimicking bells were thought to forecast death. The ringing of a wine glass was such a sound, and had to be stopped before its reverberation ended. Ship’s bells were exempted from this superstition, because they signaled time and the changing of watch duties. But if they rang of their own accord, as in a storm, somebody was going to die.

Tones have a healing effect on our bodies, calm our minds and awaken our spirits. The resonance and vibration of sound releases stress and emotional blockages in the body and calms the mind. The calming of mind expands conscious awareness and connection with spirit. Wind chimes thereby help enhance the mind/body/spirit connection bringing us a sense of peace and well being.

 A clock is an instrument for measuring, indicating and maintaining the time. The word “Clock” is derived ultimately from the Celtic words Clagan and Clocca meaning “bell”. For horologists and other specialists the term “Clock” continues to mean exclusively a device with a striking mechanism for announcing intervals of time acoustically, by ringing a Bell, a set of chimes, or a gong.

In the Middle Ages, however, members of religious orders were expected to pray at definite times. Failure to maintain godly habits because of cloudiness or variable flames was not acceptable. The monks and nuns were summoned to prayer by a bell. Soon someone realized that the elaborate astronomical model was not needed; a system of striking the hour with a series of rings of the Bell was sufficient. Sometime after that, people added a dial to show the hours with a pointer (hand). A similar pointer for minutes was not needed until clocks greatly improved in accuracy. Although the first clocks were installed for use in religion, within a few years people began to keep time by the hours, since the ringing of the Bell often could be heard or the dial seen all over a village.

The Agogo/ Gankogui is comprised of two conical-shaped flange Bells of differing size joined at their apexes. Each Bell is made from two arched pieces of sheet iron with a pronounced tapering so that when their edges are welded together a deep cone-shaped vessel results. The larger Bell is approximately twice as long as the smaller one. The apex of each Bell is welded to the flared end of an elongated piece of iron that serves as the Bell’s handle. A wood stick is used to strike the rims of theBells, which are what vibrates most energetically when the Bells are played. The Agogo/Gankogui player holds the handle of the Bell in one hand with the Bells facing either upwards or downwards. The wood beater used to strike the Bells near their rims is held in the player’s other hand. Each Bell produces one basic pitch, and the larger Bell is noticeably lower in pitch than the smaller one. When held facing downwards, a seated player can, in addition to allowing the larger Bell to ring at full volume, also press it against her/his thigh to achieve subtle timbres effects.  

The Agogo/Gankogui is sometimes referred to as Ga-Kpe-Vi  “forged iron carrying a child”. The larger Bell is considered to be the parent of the smaller one. The larger Bell of the Agogo/Gankogui is tuned approximately one octave (Tin) below the smaller one (Go) – The person playing Agogo/Gankogui must have excellent time and not be distracted easily.

The Atoke/Apitua Bell, also known as a banana Bell, is common throughout West Africa. It is made from hand-forged iron and resembles a small boat or, as its other name suggests, a banana. The Bell is held in the palm of one hand, and sound is produced by striking it with a metal stick. Think of the characteristics associated with Bells. They usually were associated with carrying messages through the air and over distances. Clearing the air…changing the frequency in the air…clear messages as associated with the prophetic…these are the main ones that I connect with when it comes to Bells.

TimeKeepersIn our dream we may see Bells, or hear them or both. Bells are important to many religions and cultures around the world. They may be deep and resonant, light and joyous, sad or celebration. Bells are not things we see or hear as often as we might have in previous generations, but their symbolic significance still holds a profound sway over many of us. And while we may not see actual Bells so often in day to day life, we still have more abstract Bells around us in many forms – door Bells, the “ring tones” on our phones, the alarm clock and so on.


   The Meaning of a Bell in a Dream…  Bells call us to prayer, so in a dream they may symbolize a spiritual calling, or even a special message we are about to receive. Bells are used by town criers to announce important events, so in a dream we may hear Bells when our subconscious is trying to ensure we pay attention to an important piece of information it is trying to impart.

Bells at their most celebration signal an end to war, the highest of holy days or a wedding. To dream of such joyous Bells as this is a wonderful sign of exceptional and blessed transition. It may be an end to warning parts of our own personalities, a sign that we are reconciling deeply held internal conflicts. Dreams of such celebration Bells may signify a sacred union, a merging of our opposing male and female sides. These dreams can remind us of the very best that being alive is about. Bells can be joyous, celebration or even sacred. But Bells can be warnings, a call to action, a call for help or a symbol of passing. Bells help communicate between the world of matter and the world of spirit. If we dream of Bells we would do well to heed their message, whatever it may be. The ringing of a Bell or Bells can represent a message being delivered. For example, the ringing of a school Bell sends the message that class is beginning or ending. The ringing of church Bells sends a message that a significant event has occurred. The ringing of a delicate Bell or chime could mean there’s a message you need to pay attention to, either in the dream or in real life.

Throughout society and culture around the world, Bells have a multitude of meanings and purposes. Bells symbolize beginnings and endings. Bells are rung at weddings, funerals and to kick off boxing rounds. Church Bells gather people by summoning them to church or events. Bells announce that someone’s at the door or on the phone and warn us not to cross railroad tracks. Chimes tinkling in the breeze can relax us and help us guess the speed of the wind. Bells even have the power to tell us what to do! Alarm clocks tell us to wake up and school Bells tell us to get to class.

Reference Sources: Wikipedia = Bob Schlenker = Google Search/Photo =  

 

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 = Sangodele Ibuowo = King Bolarinwa Olayemi = Oluogunjobi = Egungun Sakete =  Oludamola Adebowale = Google Search/Photo =

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 symbolize 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: Wikipedia = Google Search/Photo