The “KING TUT: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh” tour ends its world premiere today [January 13th, 2019] before moving on to Europe and eventually back to Africa where the exhibition will remain permanently at the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Since March 24th, 2018, the California Science Center has been hosting the only scheduled US exhibition of over 150 personal belongings from 18th Dynasty King Tutankhamun’s 3,300 year-old burial site that were among those removed after the 1922 European discovery and raid of his tomb in Africa’s Valley of the Kings, west of the Nile River. Each of King Tutankhamun’s burial artifacts are presented in the exhibition as narrative pieces of the pharaoh’s quest for immortality as he journeyed through the underworld after his death at the young age of 19 to find his place in the afterlife.

Of the several culturally-significant pieces in the exhibition, two are particularly striking:

1. King Tutankhamun’s gilded ankh-shaped mirror case ~ One of the best-known ancient symbols that is often depicted in the firm grip of a Khemetic deity’s hand is the ankh. With its feminine oval and masculine crucifix, the ankh represents what the ancients regarded as the key of life. When used in hieroglyphic writing, the ankh may mean “mirror,” “floral bouquet,” and/or “life.” Several ankh-shaped mirrors were created in ancient times and, like the one now missing from King Tut’s belongings, were thought by many to reflect eternity. Mirrors were believed to possess magical properties which would respond to the user’s intent, ranging from superficial vanity [Old-School ‘selfies’?] to revelations of the light/shadow afterlife from the reflected physical prism…

Click to hear “Be My Mirror” by Prince [unreleased track]

The Khemetic mirror thus potentially became an imaginative portal to the multi-dimensional realms expressed in the words “as above, so below… as within, so without” – words which are also reflected in proverbs from Amun~Mut’s temple: “All is within yourself. Know your most inward self and look for what corresponds with it in nature… Men need images. Lacking them they invent idols. Better then to found the images on realities that lead the true seeker to the source… The key to all problems is the problem of consciousness… The Kingdom of Heaven is within you…” The Festival of Lanterns honoring Goddess Neith involved the burning of oil lamps through the night to create a reflection of heaven on earth… a scene depicting a feminine portal opening, or a parting of the veil between mirrored worlds. Similarly, Goddess Seshat – dressed in her signature panther-skin dress – is known in her own right as the “opener of Heaven’s door.” Thus the key of life [‘ankh’] in essence infers the creative interplay between multidimensional and complementary creative forces – within/without… above/below – which in turn confer special standing upon rulers in the earthly realm such as King Tutankhamun.

Tut’ankh’amun was originally named Tut’ankh’aten [“living image of Aten”] after his father Akhenaten, the controversial King who upended Khemet’s centuries-old religious system in Uaset [Gr. ‘Thebes’], to the worship of the singular sun disc Aten from a new religious center in Amarna. Following Akhenaten’s death and a brief intervening period of rule by two pharaohs, aided by powerful advisers, the 9-year-old prince ascended the throne his father had held. During his own 10-year reign, the young pharaoh reversed his father King Akhenaten’s legacy by restoring Khemet’s long-standing god Amun to supremacy and its religious capital to Uaset. He then reaffirmed this allegiance by formally renaming himself Tut’ankh’amun – the name we’re most accustomed to, meaning “living image of Amun.” Thus, the king chose the image ‘above’ and ‘within’ that he wanted to mirror and/or to become as…

2. The King’s mode of underworld/afterlife transportation ~ The black panther depicted in this artifact from Tutankhamun’s tomb acts as a fascinating spiritual and cultural “mirror” between past and present. The biggest movie of 2018, Black Panther, was released in the month just prior to the “KING TUT: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh” exhibition opening at the California Science Center. As I wrote in a previous post, the scene in the movie in which a presumed-dead King T’Challa journeys through the plane of his Wakanda ancestors… mirrors this specific rendering of King Tutankhamun whose other, signature golden image is itself a “death mask” – perhaps implying that his physical death was an illusion.

The fictional name ‘Wakanda’ in turn reflects the names of real-life kingdoms such as Buganda through which the source of the great Nile River flows, and from where powerful panther kings – entitled Kabaka – still hold sway. As the earthly mirror of the Milky Way in heaven [called Maziwa Mkuu in Kiswahili, meaning ‘great milk’] this sacred River is the true, nature-based Ma’atrix that gave rise to the spiritual-consciousness of ancient Nile Valley civilizations  such as Khemet and Buganda. Black panthers are a melanistic variant of the African leopard whose skin features significantly in the regalia of Kabakas and royalty of surrounding kingdoms in present-day Uganda, as well as in the dress of Khemetic deity Seshat – the above-mentioned “opener of Heaven’s door.” Conferring high status on the wearer, this skin [which may also lie beneath a royal leader’s feet] represents the musambwa or territorial spirit in the Uganda region who appears in the form of a panther/leopard and acts as a supernatural guide and protector of the kingdom…

The Baganda have a saying about their royals: A Kabaka does not die, but gets lost in the forest.” It alludes to their immortality and the possibility of return for those chosen ones who are able to find their way through the forest. Depending on how one examines the mirror/ankh, this ‘forest’ could metaphorically reflect the prophesied 400-year wilderness period [Genesis 15: 13-14] since enslaved Africans first set foot in America. The timing of Black Panther‘s release, T’Challa’s mirrored visual of King Tutankhamun’s crossed crook and flail which are symbols of the biblically-mirrored Great Shepherd – reflects this larger, multi-layered Savior narrative… A true visionary, Ryan Coogler re-links the cultural elements while critiquing the European world’s appropriations, e.g. through Eric Killmonger’s retort to the British Museum director: “How do you think your ancestors got these? Do you think they paid a fair price? Or did they take it… like they took everything else?” 

Now, as the “KING TUT: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh” exhibition moves on from America for the last time, I can’t help wondering what happened to the King’s priceless mirror…?

May this Year of Return  reawaken humanity to its best reflection and most magnificent Heaven-on-Earth manifestations…

Woyaya – the catchy title song of the second album by Osibisa, a London-based Ghanaian and Caribbean Afro-pop band led by Teddy Osei – was released in 1971 and would frequently be heard in various settings throughout 1970-80’s Africa. By the time it was reissued in 2004 along with the self-titled first album [Osibisa], the song had been covered by musicians such as The 5th Dimension and Art Garfunkel [click on pics for music]. For many Osibisa fans, the uplifting expression “woyaya” has since come to literally mean “we are going…”

Woyaya [lyrics] ~ by Osibisa

We are going,
Heaven knows where we are going,
[But] we know within…
We will get there,
Heaven knows how we will get there,
[But] we know we will…
It will be hard, we know,
And the road will be muddy and rough,
But we’ll get there,
Heaven knows how we will get there,
[But] we know we will…
Woyaya… woyaye… woyaya… woyaye…!

The name “Osibisa” derives from osibisaba – the Fante word for a proto-highlife African rhythm. Interpreted in album notes and interviews as “criss-cross rhythms that explode with happiness,” Osibisa’s blend of African roots, Caribbean influences and foreign pop made them Africa’s best-known band and inspiration to struggling musicians for several years. However, music industry changes [punk, disco…] and Sunny Ade’s rise with his undiluted Nigerian juju music began to eclipse Osibisa in the 1980s.

The artistry which nevertheless helped Osibisa captivate the popular imagination and retain their global renown over the years is in the band’s logo and album cover art, thanks in part to English artist Roger Dean whose professional training included architecture. His art on Osibisa’s earliest albums became a signature style for the band [see gallery below] and a career breakthrough for him… a design Dean described as “credible African fairytale imagery” which features “flying elephants and not architecture.”

Though it’s not clear to me what the elephant may represent in Dean’s architecturally-trained artistic imagination, during my subsequent online research on this majestic animal I grew up as a neighbor to, I was astounded by my own new lesson… the elephant-as-artist. How completely ironic!

I grew up knowing my elephant-neighbor as a revered symbol of maternal strength, power, longevity, stamina, loyalty, cooperative spirit, wisdom, moderation, patience, happiness, clarity, dignity, status, and royalty. Elephants have been used in wars such as the one led by Hannibal, a General from Carthage, against Rome in 218 BCE. Legendary in Africa for their excellent memory, there’s a saying that goes “women and elephants never forget an injury.” As reported in the Scientific American, this adage has a basis in the fact that remarkable power of recall is critical to the survival of elephants. Studies conducted at Amboseli National Park in Kenya have demonstrated that elephant matriarchs in particular maintain and use their store of social knowledge for their family/community welfare. As a species, elephants are endangered because of the destruction of their environment, and the killing of them for their tusks which are traded on the illegal $$$billion ivory-market.

The emotional-awareness of elephants is highly advanced relative to other animals due to the superior development of their hippocampus from where they register and emote humor, compassion, and grief. They gather in groups to grieve the loss of a loved one who may even be of another species, exemplifying the unity-consciousness Africans refer to as UbuNtu… meaning “I am because we are.” When “elephant whisperer” Lawrence Anthony died in March 2012, for instance, two herds of elephants traveled over several hours through the South African bush to his house to mourn him. Things that make me go “Hmmm…”

…I can’t help wondering now how real elephants might react to the artistic fairytale depictions of themselves on Osibisa‘s album covers? The green reptilian in this apocalyptic composition looks like he’s about to get schooled on what time it really is by a winged pachyderm… an avenging savior-figure delivering a refresher course on Divine Feminine energy which, like elephants, are said to “never forget an injury.” Woyaya! Heaven knows…

Abundant blessings in 2019 and beyond ❤ UbuNtu

GALLERY OF SELECT OSIBISA ALBUM COVERS [1972 – 2009] :

 

 

“Nakumbuka” ~ The MA’ATrix Re-membered

kidnapping

“The Middle Passage” ~ Tom Feelings

Nakumbuka‘ means ‘I remember’ in Kiswahili. November 11th has been recognized as ‘Nakumbuka Day’ by the Pan-African Associations of America since 1994 when the first ceremony was held at San Diego State University in California. It was set aside as a day to remember the African victims of the European enslavers, colonizers and agents of genocide whose horrendous acts created a bloody trail of devastation and left families on the continent unable to lay their grief to rest after several hundred years. It has been estimated that the Middle Passage claimed upwards of 60 million African lives, not counting the huge losses on plantations in Europe, the Caribbean, North-, Central-, and South-America. In seeking free labor to build its empires, European and American Capitalism’s emergence crippled a continent and its descendants socially, culturally and economically during the timelines of African slavery, colonialism, and now neo-colonialism.Middle Passage MonumentHistorically, 11/11 marks the end of 20th-century hostilities during World War 1 between two main Western blocks: the Central Powers [Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, Turkey…] vs. the Allied Powers [Britain, France, Russia, Italy, the United States…]. Their truce, an Armistice with Germany, formally went into effect on 11/11/11: the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 [100 years ago]. In 1954, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day in the US, Lest-We-Forget-Remembrance-Day-Facebook-Cover-Picturealthough 11/11 is observed in Commonwealth of Nations member states as Remembrance Day – aka Poppy Day – honoring veterans who died [8 million+] in this so-called War to End All Wars. WW2 followed in 1939 after “Germany, angry over war reparations imposed by rivals and eager for revenge, eventually turned to Adolf Hitler.”november-11

Symbolically, the number 11 holds the dual vibration of Twins [Gemini], whose relationship acts as a barometer on the scales of Truth, Justice, & Balance [Libra] within this New Age we are said to have entered of Aquarius – the 11th House of the Zodiac. Helena Blavatsky and her disciple, Alice Bailey are credited with founding the so-called New World Religion’ which, since its unofficial start on 11/11/11, has gained many New Age adherents. In The Externalisation of the Hierarchy [1957], Bailey prefaced her New Age spiritual advocacy with an extensive critique of the [Europatriarchal] World Wars: “Intense nationalism… [a] separative outlook… [and] selfish interests have controlled the reasons for which every nation has entered this war…”  [p. 373-] maat

Spiritually, 11/11 allows a sacred moment for grief over the harsh realities of war… lives lost which are formally given global remembrance from western stages. We ritually observe these post-war programs …our hearts made gentle through words, tears, bouquets, wreaths and lapel poppies, many worn in solidarity by non-western officials. Lest we forget, 40,000 African American troops of the 92nd and 93rd divisions saw battle during WW1 under French command. This distinction tends to be under-acknowledged in the self-indulgent discourse-of-power and narrative of a human community made ‘global’ through Europe’s wars. Hopes for equal recognition in combat are marginalized alongside cries from slavery’s descendants for Reparations from the neo-colonial ‘matrix,’ as the intensely Eurocentric Poppy-Day program runs its annual sequel. Meanwhile, the spiritual free-quency of MA’AT-consciousness – Truth, Divine Order, Harmony, Balance, Justice, Reciprocity, UbuNtu… – will only be detained for so long as another casualty of war. At some point Africa’s cultural immune system has to recover from the induced state of sleep paralysis to reclaim its own narrative and sovereignty…

MA’AT, who links universal to terrestrial, the divine with the human is incomprehensible to the cerebral intelligence… Peace is the fruit of activity, not of sleep… The key to all problems is the problem of consciousness… If you search for the laws of harmony, you will find knowledge… The best and shortest road toward knowledge of truth is nature… If the Master teaches what is error, the disciple’s submission is slavery. If he teaches truth, this submission is ennoblement… The kingdom of Heaven is already within you; if you understand yourself you will find it… The body is the house of the God/dess. That is why it is said, ‘Wo/Man know thyself’… By knowing one reaches belief. By doing one gains conviction. When you know, dare… You will free yourself when you learn to be neutral and follow the instructions of your heart without letting things perturb you. This is the way of MA’AT…” luxor

This selection of proverbs are from God/dess Amun/Mut’s Luxor Temple [pictured right], located on the east bank of Africa’s Nile River in Uaset. It is known as Ipet-Resyt, meaning “The Southern Sanctuary” which is connected via an Avenue of Sphinxes to the Ipet-Sut – “The Most Selected of Places” in Karnak, both dedicated to the worship of Amun-Re and His Godhood with Divine Feminine Consort, Mut. Per_Ankh symbolPer-ankh – “Houses of Life” were designated as spaces for education in such Khemetic temples because knowledge was considered sacred… a divine mystery of the balance between masculine and feminine co-creatives/Twins. Bound to nature and the cosmos for all time, these proverbial teachings are written in the stone [EWF] of Luxor Temple’s walls. “People need images. Lacking them they invent idols. Better then to found the images on realities that lead the true seeker to the source.” aquariusResembling the human form in repose, the Luxor Temple’s unique design itself appears symbolically dedicated to resurrection and reparation of the sovereignty of truth, life & unity-consciousness… an architectural ‘body’ on Mother Africa’s Earth, poised as if to awaken and rise to Her Heavenly Twin.

In pop culture, this awakening is thematic to The Fifth Dimension’s 1969 ‘Age of Aquarius’ – prophetic anthem of a New Age which many believe dawned 42 years later, on November 11th, 2011 [11/11/11]. ‘42‘ is a number that is sacred to MA’AT, Goddess who serves to protect the world from chaos. [In today’s world this ‘chaos’ has occurred within the policed-state of an elite cabal’s Victorian/neo-colonial/false-matrix 3D system of control and mass-manipulation.] The Principles of Ma’at predate the ’10 Commandments’ as humanity’s oldest written sources of moral & spiritual instruction. Recorded in the Khemetic funerary Book of Going Forth by Day AKA Book of the Dead, these were based on 42 declarations made by Ani in the Hall of Judgment of his having lived in accordance with MA’AT’s principles, such as: “I have not done iniquity; I have not stolen; I have not made any to suffer pain; I have done no murder nor bid anyone to slay on my behalf; I have not spoken lies; I have not caused the shedding of tears; I have not dealt deceitfully; I have not lusted nor defiled the wife of any man; I have not caused terror; I have not done that which is abominable; I have not stopped my ears against the words of Right and Truth; I have not stirred up strife; I have not wronged the people; I have done no harm nor have I done evil; I have not worked treason; I have never fouled the waterhave not spoken scornfully; I have not behaved with arrogance…”  [Papyrus of Ani – c.1250BCE]prince symbol 

“We’re in the feminine aspect now… That’s where society is… Men have gone as far as they can, right? …I learn from women a lot quicker than I do from men. …At a certain point, you’re supposed to know what it means to be a man, but now what do you know about what it means to be a woman? Do you know how to listen? Most men don’t know how to listen.” [Prince, 2014]

MA’AT‘s consort is DJEHUTI, the Magician archetype of the Divine masculine with whom the Goddess creates the Balance & Harmony needed to prevent the universe from falling into chaos and disorder. Symbolized by her hallmark feather, the Truth MA’AT has found in her aspect as AUSET [proverbial ‘True Seeker’ and wife of Khemet’s beloved King AUSAR who was mutilated when SET – the parasitic system’s god of chaos and disorder – usurped his throne] is key to humanity’s awakening and ascension to Heaven-on-Earth. During her seeking, AUSET hears the cries of the downtrodden, children, her beloved [now god of the afterlife]… and responds with compassion and wisdom as she awakens, ascends, dances, re-members#11/11… #UbuNtu… #Auset/Ausar… #Hathor/Heru… #Ma’at/Djehuti… #Mut/Amun [#Uaset/Sah]… #Nakumbuka… ❤

“Every strand of American music comes directly from Congo Square,” musician and trumpeter, Wynton Marsalis once said of this national treasure – the historic birthplace of jazz and Rhythm-‘n’-Blues. Situated in what is now the Louis Armstrong Park in Tremé, the oldest African-American neighborhood in the tricentennial city of New Orleans – at 2.35 acres, today Congo Square measures approximately half of what it was in its heralded 19th century years.

New Orleans, Louisiana [NOLA] is a major US port whose strategic location facilitates the trafficking of commercial goods between the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River system, which historically included trans-Atlantic cargoes of enslaved Africans. Congo Square was a gathering place Read More

Ascension ~ “Black Orchid”

“…She has touched the farthest star
Her beauty speaks of what we are
And her freedom makes us free
Her now is in eternity, infinite to all that see
And her dreams have been achieved
Now there is a sound of laughter
Nature sings out her name
For the world to know her fame… 
~ Black Orchid ~” [Stevie Wonder – from ‘Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants’]

During the months of July and August, 2018 Mother Earth is responding to an amazing shift in the Harmonics of the Spheres. The Sun’s gravitational pull has aligned to one side of itself all of the planets in the solar system, each with their own unique frequencies. Read More

UbuNtu ~ On Owning Your Masters


“If you don’t own your masters, your masters own you.” On his B’Earth’Day [June 7th] in 1993, Prince changed his name to the unpronounceable Love Symbolof his recently released 14th studio album following disagreements with Warner Brothers [WB], the label which originally signed him in 1977. It was a public act of rebellion against WB’s restrictions over him and his prolific creativity. Likening their contractual relationship to one of indentured servitude or slavery, Prince explained: Read More

Mazisi Kunene ~ Creative Power

Mazisi Kunene – freedom fighter, literary icon, Africa’s poet laureate, and South Africa’s first poet laureate – was born in Durban, in the modern-day province of KwaZulu-Natal on May 12th, 1930. Kunene championed African oral traditions, conveying their inherent value in his writings which were originally in Zulu before being translated into other languages. Read More

Water Bearers & New Age Libations

“When the moon is in the 7th House… And Jupiter aligns with Mars… Then peace will guide the planets… And love will steer the stars… This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius…” [Lyrics from “Age of Aquarius” by the 5th Dimension, 1969].

Humanity is said to be currently moving to its new astrological Age – an event which happens roughly every 2,000-plus years. We’re living through a transitional period Read More

Panther Kings, Barkcloth & Milk

From ancient times to the present day, Africa’s collective imagination has to one degree or another been influenced by the leopard as a symbol of its cultural and spiritual potency. The black panther is the melanistic color variant of leopards in Africa, so perhaps the phenomenal success of the movie of the same name can be used as a current barometer of that potency. North, south, east, west, and diaspora – the leopard is a powerful symbol of African warriors, sages, magicians, priests, gods, goddesses, queens, and kings. In West Africa, sculptures from Ife and Benin portray the leopard as a symbol of wisdom. This statue from ancient North Africa depicting King Tutankhamun riding through the underworld on the back Read More

Auset ~ Divine Seeker

Born in 1803 and orphaned at age 5, Maria W. Stewart was an American domestic servant who became a teacher, journalist, abolitionist, lecturer and women’s rights activist. She urged “daughters of Africa” to reject the negative images of Black womanhood that were/are so pervasive, but to instead possess the power of self-definition – in effect to seek, find, and anchor their Divinity as Goddess Auset. In an 1833 speech, Stewart said: “Like King Solomon, who put neither nail nor hammer to the temple, yet received the praise; so also have the white Americans gained themselves a name, like the names of the great men that are in the earth, whilst in reality we have been their principle foundation and support. We have pursued the shadow, they have obtained the substance; we have performed the labor, they have received the profits; we have planted the vines, they have eaten the fruits of them.”
The power of images [for good or ill] has been well-known since ancient times in Africa, as evident in the following proverb from the Luxor Temple of Amun-Mut-Montu/Khonsu: “People need images. Lacking them they invent idols. Better then to found the images on realities that lead the true seeker to the source.” The Gods of Khemet created a number of art-for-life’s-sake images that would, when properly looked upon, indeed lead the divine seeker to the source. Knowing the little strength of the angel of the church in Philadelphia, the God of Revelation encodes one of these key images in His instructions: “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it… hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown…” [Rev 3: 7-12 KJV]

The Divine Seeker or ‘true seeker’ – from a ‘daughters of Africa’ perspective – is represented in the archetype of Auset, Queen and wife of Khemet’s beloved King Ausar. According to their mythology, the respect Ausar was able to command on earth and in the nether-world as the bringer of civilization made his ‘younger brother’ – a god with pedophilic issues named Seth [Gr.] – so jealous that, in his bloody coup for the throne, Set[h] murdered and cut the king into 14 pieces which he scattered throughout the wilderness to prevent Ausar’s resurrection. In modern terms, Set [god of the wilderness, chaos, violence, foreign oppressors…] is understood to be the adversary who enslaved Africans and stole land and other treasures via colonialism. Thus the ‘wilderness’ is the diaspora where his predatory neo-colonial rule and campaign of chaos and extermination expanded. Auset must search this wilderness for the pieces of her beloved while holding fast to her crown of life which, imaged as the royal throne, represents her shero’s journey and consciousness of who she is.

Auset ~ Divine Seeker – shows up as the Shulamite in the Song of Songs, the biblical book attributed to King Solomon who, though featured in the song, is not the true ‘Majesty’ Auset seeks. Famed for wisdom, wealth, and possessing  700 wives and 300 concubines, Solomon represents the unease of one who is trapped in an excess of creature comforts, including his gross objectification of the divine feminine. It’s very clear that the Shulamite [Auset] is critical of the modalities of capitalist exploitation, including occupation and sharecropping which have created Solomon’s trappings of power and, in turn, required military guardians. She says: “Behold his bed, which is Solomon’s; threescore valiant men are about it… They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night.” [SoS 3:7-8 KJV] “Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver. My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.” [SoS 8:11-12 KJV]

The Song of Songs represents Auset’s mourning as she communicates with and searches for the pieces of her Twin Flame in a ‘wilderness’ [diaspora] caused by the misdeeds of Set, including murder, mutilation, scattering, plunder and rape. Auset’s crown of life, denoting her consciousness, purpose and allegiance, is significantly different from those which are worn in the capitals of Europe – their opulent design and materials conspicuously symbolizing conquest of peoples and control of resources. Without this Africa-centered understanding which would acknowledge Auset’s presiding role in Ausar’s resurrection and return, biblical scholars and translators promote other interpretations even while struggling to explain her divinity and/or justify her existence in ‘their’ holy book. Introducing herself to an audience of the “daughters of Jerusalem,” the Shulamite [Auset] makes clear: I am black… My beloved is mine, and I am his: he feedeth among the lilies. [SoS 2:16 KJV] Local to Upper Khemet – southern source of the Nile River – the lily is also the symbol of resurrection in Khemetic imagery. I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me. [SoS 7:10 KJV]

Euro-patriarchal translations and commentaries surrounding the Shulamite’s introduction of herself have varied from I am black and beautiful…[New Revised Standard Version Catholic Ed] to more sinister/racist ethnic notions – specifically, as Maria W. Stewart pointed out, against Black womanhood:

  • “I am black but beautiful…” [Douay-Rheims Bible]
  • “I am black but lovely…” [New American Standard Bible 1977]
  • “I am black, but comely…” [American KJV; American Std. V; Webster’s Bible Trans; JPS Tanakh 1917; Darby Bible Trans; English Rev. V]
  • I am very dark, but lovely…” [English Standard Version]
  • I am dark but beautiful…” [New Living Translation]
  • I am dark, but lovely…” [New KJV 2000; World English Bible; NET Bible; New Heart English Bible]
  • Dark am I, and comely…” [Young’s Literal Translation]
  • “Daughters of Jerusalem, I am dark like the tents of Kedar, yet lovely like the curtains of Solomon… [Holman Christian Standard Bible]
  • I am dark, O ye daughters of Jerusalem… desirable as the booths of Kedar, as the tents of Solomon… [Jubilee Bible 2000]
  • The word “black” does not necessarily mean that the skin is black, but rather sunburnt, dark brown… the livid or swarthy appearance of one who has suffered long from famine and wretchedness. There is certainly no reason to take the word as an argument for the bride being Pharaoh’s daughter… She has been living in the fields, and is browned with the ruddy health of a country life… The country maiden feels the greatness of the honor, that she is chosen of the king… [Pulpit Commentary]
  • …she was “black” in herself through original sin and actual transgression; in her own eyes, through indwelling sin, and many infirmities, spots, and blemishes in life; and in the eyes of the world, through afflictions, persecutions, and reproaches…: “but comely” in the eyes of Christ, called by him his “fair one”, the “fairest among women”, and even “all fair” through his comeliness put upon her, the imputation of his righteousness to her; through the beauties of his holiness upon her; through the sanctifying influences of his Spirit being in a church state, walking in Gospel order… “desirable”(y) to Christ, and to his people. [Gill’s Exposition of the Bible]

Certainly, if such white male interpretations of the black female principal in the Song of Songs prevail, then they should at the very least co-exist with culturally-centered interpretations of the African Queen. One version of the Song of Songs’ backstory – which has received extensive Jewish, Islamic, and Ethiopian elaborations – describes King Solomon being tested with hard questions during his visit from the “Queen of the South” AKA the Queen of Sheba. The Kebra Nagast [“Glory of the Kings”] tells the national saga of Ethiopian Emperors being descendants of King David as a direct outcome of their Queen’s visit with his son Solomon. Followers of the Rastafari movement believe Emperor Haile Selassie I – the last descendant of the Solomonic line to rule Ethiopia [from 1930 to 1974] – to be the Messiah and Lion of the Tribe of Judah. The African Queen’s storied visit is acknowledged in the bible thus: The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.” [Matthew 12:42 & Luke 11:31 KJV]

Told in highly symbolic language, the Song of Songs is itself a riddle worthy of the Queen of Sheba who purportedly used riddles to test Solomon’s wisdom, and to apparently expose the limitations of Euro-patriarchal translations and analyses [above]. Who knows what manner of ‘darkness’ lies in the tents of Kedar or curtains of Solomon to which the Shulamite is being compared by such biblical professionals?! She is not “original sin” in need of white male prescriptions for “salvation.” Nor does she seem particularly desirous of the kind of ‘majesty’ Solomon represents – at least not in my reading of the Song of Songs in which the Shulamite’s mission is that of the African Goddess Auset. As divine seeker who wears a distinct crown of life, it’s critical that Auset be able to distinguish between chaos/shadow/idol versus truth/substance/source as the above-mentioned proverb from the Luxor Temple states. Only in this way does she prove herself worthy of the crown and title bestowed on all true African Queens: “She Who Sees Set and Heru.”

Goddess Auset is…

Panther ~ Black Rite-of-Passage

“Great, another broken white boy for us to fix!” One of several funny lines from Black Panther delivered by Shuri in reference to CIA Agent Everett Ross. “What the hail!” My line when I left the theater on President’s Day with mixed feelings about the movie, but mostly about the droplets of ice which had just begun falling from LA’s South Bay skies onto my African head-wrap. Was this a sign? Movie promos had gone hard with Gil Scott Heron’s classic The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, I mused while trying to extract pieces of the odd weather from my son’s fro for inspection. But why not build a strategic alliance between African cousins rather than having T’Challa, in true bourgeois liberal fashion, make a Wakanda charity-case out of Killmonger’s Oakland after the fact? Mom, it’s not your story… Huh?!  Read More