“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
“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
~ Posted in honor of African-American Music Appreciation Month, June 2017 ~
“The artist is meant to put the objects of this world together in such a way that through them you will experience that light, that radiance which is the light of our consciousness and which all things both hide and, when properly looked upon, reveal. The hero journey is one of the universal patterns through which that radiance shows brightly.” [Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss] Read More
The biggest night in show business is the annual Academy Awards show which pulls in a television viewing audience of 40 million (give or take). It’s where the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (founded in the 1920s) recognizes the merits of its most talented artists/craftspeople and honors them with a golden idol, a statue whose nick-name Oscar means ‘divine spear.’ The specter of Hollywood as an ideological battlefield where dreams and stories as cultural artifacts fight, bleed and die for acceptance in the dream factory run by mainstream [white] gods is not farfetched from the industry’s competitive, often cut-throat reality. Harsher still are the ironic implications of the Oscar award itself whose form Read More
“Sky God… God of Hunting… Warrior God… Lord of the Horizon… Divine Falcon… He who came forth from Hapi [Africa’s Nile God]… Dweller in Sopdet [Star of Auset]… God of Kingship… Heir of his Father…” are some of the epithets ascribed to Heru, one of Africa’s most storied gods of salvation. Heru‘s hunting prowess is represented in the falcon or hawk whose right and left eyes respectively denote the sun and moon; and who is said to hold the stars in his speckled feathers as his wings create the wind. The circumstances of Heru’s placement in the Holy Trinity which includes Ausar (his father) and Auset (his mother), and his triumphant role in the battle against evil [Set], make him a model for saviors, heroes, and the super-heroes of story, religion, comic-book universes and their silver screen adaptations. The Kemetic Trinity itself may conceivably be connected to the older African Triad of Waset, namely Amun~Mut~Khonsu. Among his many epithets, Amun (“Amen” in prayer) – Lord of All, whose name means “invisible… mysterious of form… the hidden one” who encompasses every aspect of creation – is referred to as “Eldest of the Sky.” [Papyrus Boulaq 17]
The classic battle of “good versus evil” evolves in the immortal myth of Heru versus his “uncle” Set who not only murders beloved King Ausar in order to usurp the throne of Kemet, but mutilates Ausar’s body and scatters its pieces throughout the wilderness (diaspora). Auset roams the wilderness in search of her husband’s 14 pieces which she reassembles and mummifies, minus his penis which remains missing. However, through the summoning of magical powers, Ausar is enabled to posthumously impregnate Auset with the seed of their son, Heru. (In some versions, Heru is interpreted as the newborn sun rising “from a lotus bloom that expanded its leaves on the breast of the primordial deep.”) Ausar’s “resurrection” creates Auset’s “virgin birth” of “savior” Heru who, in his later years goes on to avenge his father’s murder and challenge Set for the throne of Kemet. This epic struggle – which additionally exposes the pedophilic proclivities through which Set tried to overcome his “nephew” – is eventually settled before a Council of Elder Gods in favor of Heru as Kemet’s rightful heir and victor of the battle over evil/chaos.
Over the millennia Set became associated with the Hyksos – hostile foreign invaders from the desert or wilderness who enslaved the native men along with their wives and children. Thought to have the white skin and red hair attributed to his followers, Set’s links to Africa’s parched, infertile desert (the “red place”) expanded to represent all deserts and foreign lands. His glyph appears in the words for “turmoil… confusion… illness… storm… and rage” which eventually cemented Set’s negative brand as god of the desert, storms, disorder/chaos, violence and foreign oppressors.
While Heru represented Lower Kemet, his eventual victory over Set gave him the distinction of being a unification god, which is symbolized in the pschent crown the avenging hero/Heru is typically portrayed wearing. The deshret (red portion of the crown) represents the North/Lower Kemet, while the hedjet (white portion) represents South/Upper Kemet. Sema-tawy – an expression meaning “Uniter of the Two Lands” – was an alternative depiction, showing the human trachea (like the Nile) unifying Kemet with the entwined plants of the papyrus (native to Lower Kemet) and lily (native to Upper Kemet). Heru, the falcon sky god, was worshipped at KomOmbo in a temple which was also dedicated to Sobek, a crocodile god associated with Set. There are depictions of Heru alternatively wearing the double feather crown that is characteristically associated with Amun – “Eldest of the Sky” – who in his own right also holds the title “Lord of the Throne (Nst) of the Two Lands.” [Papyrus Boulaq 17]
A proverb from the Luxor Temple of Amun~Mut~Khonsu adjures: “Popular beliefs on essential matters must be examined in order to discover the original thought.” Several scholars have discussed at length the relationships one finds between original African mythology and the later popular beliefs of Christianity, including those mentioned above (“holy trinity… resurrection… virgin birth… savior…”) and Heru’s association with the Messianic star of Auset – Sopdet – which heralds the annual flooding of the Nile. A related proverb from the Luxor Temple advises: “Men need images. Lacking them they invent idols. Better then to found the images on realities that lead the true seeker to the source” …
One only need look at the Oscar statue to begin to understand how deeply bound the American image industry is to African Gods and their mythologies. So it’s unfortunate that the silver screen has become a showcase for white self-idolatry with scripts that continue this type of exploitation and cultural imperialism including (i) Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Heru in the 2016 release of Director Alex Proyas’ vision of Gods of Egypt; (ii) Superman – as some would argue (ref: “Atlanta Black Star” article); and of course (iii) Star Wars:
Djedi were Masters of the Force in Kemet (ancient Egypt), magician priests who guarded powerful kings and their immortality. As with Star Wars, “Holy Grail” legends such as those of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table evolved much, much later out of these Djedi histories from Kemet. The Djed – meaning pillar or backbone – is one of the symbols carried by kings of Kemet which is key to their immortality. The ‘dj’ root of the word denotes the serpent which has been awakened by the Djedi, and is raised up through the pillar to the crown of the Djedi King. Harnessing the Force for this inner ascension thus distinguished the Djedi, enabling successful initiates to advance in their abilities to access supernatural powers for use in feats of magic, overcoming enemies, healing, teleportation, resurrection, and so on. The ultimate Djedi Master of the Force is said to be Djehuti (“Thoth” in the later Greek appropriations), Chief Scribe to the Gods of Kemet who himself mentored Heru and intervened in his struggles against Set. Djehuti is consort to Ma’at – goddess who represents the Kemetic concept of truth, balance, order, harmony and justice. It was Ma’at who is said to have decreed Heru as the rightful ruler of Kemet over Set, thus dispensing one of her main roles of defending the order of the universe from the chaos of the dark side.
In the alternate Star Wars universe, the battle between good and evil is waged by the “Jedi”/Djedi knights such as Luke Skywalker against the “Sith”/Set forces of darkness. Thus, some would extrapolate that this highly popular franchise is just another example of how Tinseltown’s “entertainment”-industry elite itself, and through such practices, acts as Set – profiting while programming consumer masses for dysfunction in its questionable custodianship of Africa’s cultural and spiritual resources; at the very least by not attributing proper credit, but also with its racist circumscriptions of “black” versus “white” roles…
Enter the “True Seeker” mentioned in the proverb – AKA the African Djed-I Queen! (Note: the linked post discusses the bond between the Djed pillar and one of the African Queen’s roles.) As yet another proverb from the Luxor Temple of Amun~Mut~Khonsu states: “A phenomenon always arises from the interaction of complementarity. If you want something, look for the complement that will elicit it. Set causes Heru. Heru redeems Set.” Queens of the First Dynasty bore the title “She Who Sees Heru and Set” in relation to the Djed-I Queen’s ideal consort being worthy as Heru (in His divine-masculine/higher nature) who has overcome Set (his chaos-inducing dysfunctional-shadow/lower nature). As discussed more fully in my post “Pyramid Wisdom & Story” – which offers an interpretation of the “true love written in the stone” [EW&F] (see music video link, plus interior design of the Great Pyramid of Giza below) – the archetypes actively embodied in the Djed-I Queen’s Heru/Hero are: (i) King; (ii) Warrior; (iii) Magician; & (iv) Lover.
Heru – as “God of Kingship” and African Hero – is the Djedi Sky Walker represented in the Hunter/Warrior constellation that the shaft in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid of Giza points to. In Her aspect as Auset, the Djed-I Queen is the “Divine Mourner” and “True Seeker” who searches through the wilderness for Her true beloved – as Heru, in turn, hunts for His Djed-I Queen. She partners in the reparation of their Royal and Holy consortium, which weakens Set the stronger it gets. In Her aspect of Ma’at, the Djed-I Queen has discovered Her Truth and the Balance that must exist with Her beloved (Heru in His aspect of Djehuti ~ Magician & Scribe to the Gods) that will instill the Heavenly Order which prevents the universe from returning to a state of chaos (represented by “evil” Set). Her Lover – the Djedi King – is her Amun/Amen, and perhaps their Heru–S/Hero journey is the quintessential telling of the epic and timeless story of the Love-of-Power [Set] being overcome by UBUNTU ~ the Power-of-Love ❤ ❤ ❤
A color with mystical and noble qualities, purple/violet is associated with royalty, spirituality, creativity, and magic. Representing the upper end of the visible color spectrum of Light, purple/violet is both a completion (spiritual mastery) as well as a beginning of the energy vibration beyond the physical. This is the energy field in which one realizes the eternal union that exists between one’s self and the All (one’s infinite/higher/pure consciousness) – which is the goal of the soul’s journey in this life and beyond. Purple/violet governs love and the crown chakra, at the top of the head…
This post offers a brief look at the symbolism and meaning in the crowns worn by some of Africa’s royalty – gods and goddesses from Kemet (ancient Egypt) – along with some of the fundamental cultural wisdom that governs their being and evolution. It’s posted during African American Music Appreciation Month (June), in remembrance of the late Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016 … “Sometimes It Snows In April”) – Purple Rain composer, performer and interpreter [*] of African symbols of love and royalty. This post honors the god(dess) who meets, supports and delivers us with such gifts of genius in our epic life quest for truth/consciousness/light, repair, and harmony. Read More
Extremely popular throughout East Africa, the kanga (sometimes called leso) is a colorful rectangular piece of fabric that is distinguished by the different Kiswahili sayings or proverbs adorning each piece. Artifacts of the Swahili culture dating back to the mid 19th century, kangas are a well-admired form of clothing worn by women and often paired as shawls or headdresses, but are also used as curtains, tablecloths, bedding, mats, etc. Used by people of all faiths, kangas also often play a key role in major life passages such as birth, puberty, and marriage. Read More
ADINKRA are ancient visual symbols created by the Akan of Ghana that represent and convey essential cultural concepts, values and traditional wisdom. As such, each Adinkra often has a corresponding proverb which imbues the symbol with rich meaning. According to Akan oral tradition, Adinkra images came into existence in the early 1800s as a design element on fabric. Traditionally Adinkra cloths were only worn by royalty and spiritual leaders on special occasions such as funerals. Read More
“KNOW THY SELF” is one of the cardinal concepts in ancient African sacred wisdom which underlie many of the Proverbs that are inscribed into the walls of the Temple of Luxor in Egypt. There are six great temples in that area, the most renowned being Karnak and Luxor – both headed by Amun – which are on the east bank of Africa’s sacred Nile River at the fourth Upper nome in Waset (Thebes in Greek). Built during the New Kingdom, the Luxor Temple was dedicated to the Kemetic Sacred Triad: Amun~Mut~Montu/Khonsu Read More
When the humble among us do great things reflecting a path to the greater good for the collective, those deeds are usually the gifts inspired by the ancestral realm reminding us of their guidance, living in us. Every time we find ourselves in the past attempting to remember stories of our true selves or jump into the future imagining where we can be as a people, we come closer to the possibilities which motivate what we have to do now. Read More