The Divine Feminine Principle

Afr (7)

In the context of traditional Africa, people are surrounded not by things but by beings; the first in rank being GOD . Although in many parts of Africa, God is conceived as male, in other instances there are feminine images.  For example, the Supreme gods of the Ewe of Ghana are Mawu-Lisa.  They are twins.   Mawu, the female is represented by the moon, while Lisa the male is represented by the sun.  As husband and wife , Mawu-Lisa had seven pairs of twins which became the major gods of the Ewe.  What is of major interest to us is the red wooden statue with large breasts and a crescent  in one hand found among the Ewe. This image of Mawu is the only known image of the Supreme Being in Africa.

The Akan of Ghana have a similar view  of God.  The  Ashanti  for example, have sometimes thought of [Nyame ] the SUPREME BEING as both male and female.  The female principle is symbolized by the moon which created human beings with water.  The male principle is symbolized by the sun.  The sun shot life-giving fire into the human veins and made human beings live.  Generally however, the women is seen as the MOTHER of humankind, from whom all people originated.  The Akposso  tell  that when God made human beings, he first made woman on the earth and bore her the first child, the first human being.  The main idea here , says Mbiti, is to link human life directly with God through the woman.  The woman herself is created by God and in turn becomes the instrument of human life.

Although the life of the first human beings is generally depicted as having been in a form of paradise, with God providing all the necessities of life, this paradise got lost.  EARTH and HEAVEN separated from each other and God went to live in heaven while human beings lived on the earth. And in place of the lost gifts came diseases  suffering, and death. Incidentally, the blame for this unfortunate tragedy is always put on the woman.   These myths of origin however, often give us a picture of the woman as someone placed in a special relationship with God with whom she shares the creative process of life and also the misfortunes, and death which in various ways came into the world.
THE DIVINITIES

Apart from belief in the Supreme Being, Africans do recognize lesser categories of spiritual forces.  These are considered more responsive to the needs of human beings in their secular and religious lives.  These divinities were created by God to fulfill specific functions.  They are regarded as the children of God or the messengers of God, or his agents.  They may be male or female, good or evil, may have their abode in the environment, such as trees, rocks, rivers, the sea and even certain animals.  They are however not confined to the physical objects in which they reside, since they have unlimited mobility and can move anywhere.  They are treated with respect when they fulfill human expectations.  However, they may be despised when they fail to deliver the goods.  In the cult of these divinities, there are both priests and priestesses who serve at their shrines or temples. However, the sex of the minister is not an indication of the sex of the divinity.  Each sex can operate as the messenger of the deity.  African traditional religion, is therefore less sexist in its image of the spiritual world as compared to other world religions.

It is this factor which has made it possible for both men and women to perform their sacred functions in the worship of God and his functionaries, the divinities, who incidentally are in both sexes.
SPIRIT OF THE EARTH

Next after the Supreme Being is the EARTH DEITY.  In most African societies, the earth is given a feminine image. The Akan of Ghana and the Igbo of Nigeria regard the earth as a goddess.  Among the Akan, she ranks next after the Supreme Being and the second deity to be offered a drink during worship.  Her day of rest is Thursday and severe punishment was meted out in the past to those who infringed this taboo.  Although there are no temples, shrines or priests dedicated to her, because her bounty is accessible to all,  She nonetheless receives offerings and sacrifices at the planting season.
The land generally cannot be farmed without asking for her permission.  When a grave is about to be dug the Spirit of the earth is offered sacrifice. The Igbo of Nigeria, unlike the Akan, dedicate shrines and priestesses to the Mother goddess, the Queen of the underworld who is responsible for public morality.  Homicide, kidnapping , stealing farm products, adultery and giving birth to twins or abnormal children are all offenses against her.  Laws are made and oaths sworn in her name.   According to Parrinder, Ani  is the most-loved deity, and the one who is closest to the people.  She helps them if they are in trouble with other divinities, but punishes hardened criminals.  Also the most important festival, the yam [harvest] festival is held in her honor receives offerings during the planting season, and  also when the first fruits are harvested.

Temporary houses [Mbari] made to accommodate sacred sculptures and other statues representing deities always contain  the statue of Ani which stands in the middle.  Here, she is depicted as a mother with a child in her arms or knees and a sword in her hand.  Facing Ala is the storm god a subordinate counterpart of the goddess.  The Mende of Sierra Leone also regard Mother earth as a goddess, the common mother of mankind  and the wife of God [Maa-ndoo].  Like the Akan, the Mende do not worship the Spirit of the earth, although she is invoked together with God [NGEWO]  during important occasions.  Laws are made to protect her sanctity, for example, sexual intercourse in the bush is a violation of her sacredness and offenders were severely punished.  Apart from the Earth goddess, several other deities are found residing in bodies of water.
SPIRITS OF WATER

It is alleged that the sexual identity of spiritual beings suggest that female deities like their human counterparts, ordinarily have domestic rather than communal orientation. Evidence at our disposal, however does not in any way point to the subordination of female deities to male deities.  All over Africa, water bodies like the sea, rivers lakes and lagoons are regarded as the habitats of deities and are thus treated with great reverence and sometimes worshipped at shrines with specially appointed priests and priestesses.  Yemoja,  the most prominent of the river divinities among the Yoruba, for example, is not only the mother of numerous river deities, but also the ruler of the Ogun river in Abeokuta.  She is also the mother of fishes  and the giver of children.  Women therefore pray to her for children, with yams and fowls.

There are other prominent river goddesses like Oya the goddess of the Niger river who is believed to be the companion , or one of the wives of SHANGO, the god of thunder.  She is so fierce and terrible that no  one can look upon her.  Oya is often identified with the wind that blows when no rain follows.  There are others like Orisha OKO, an important farm goddess.  Temples erected for her are the  most common of all the Yoruba divinities.  Women are her principal worshippers, especially during the yam festival.  There is no doubt that African traditional religion is life- affirming.

The religion seeks  to insure the fertility and vitality of human beings and the land on which  their own and other creatures’ livelihood depends. It is therefore reasonable that women pray to these divinities who are in direct control of fertility.

W0MEN IN RITES OF PASSAGE

Women frequently play important roles in personal rituals of status transformation associated with  birth, puberty and death.  At childbirth, women express gratitude to God with prayers and sacrifices, and at death they sing dirges to express their sorrow.  The most significant role of women is seen during girls nubility rites.  Marion Kilson has observed that “Wherever they occur  the principal officiants and participants are women.  Moreover, the symbolism of these rituals  vividly portray the essential cultural meaning of mature womanhood.  Such rituals express the dualistic  nature of women’s sexuality and the means by which the positive aspects of fertility may be harnessed for  social good and the negative aspects  of sexuality may be contained and socially controlled.

In Ghana,  the most well-preserved female puberty rites are the Dipo of the Krobo, and the Bragoro of the Asante.  So important were the ideals of these rites that its violation in former times constituted a crime.   A girl who became pregnant before the performance of the puberty rites was banished together with the man who was responsible for it.     Purification rites were performed to rid the society of its evil consequences.   It must be noted that not only did the puberty rites prepare the young for marriage, it also prepared them for procreation without which marriage was incomplete.  The ceremonies therefore, marked the entry of young girls into adulthood.  During the period of their ritual seclusion the young girls are taught the secrets of the society and also brought closely to the supernatural forces which are supposed to ensure their protection, blessing and fertility during their period of motherhood.   Mothers of such concerned girls usually pray that their daughters grow to full maturity and bear children.
MUSICAL ROLE OF WOMEN IN TRADITIONAL RELIGION

A lot of festivals  abound in African traditional religions.  A good number of them are in honor of the most important divinities and ancestors.  Of relevance to us is the phenomenon of singing and dancing by well-dressed women during the celebrations of these festivals.  Although the songs and dancing add luster to the  celebrations, they have a veiled but more important effect of curbing recalcitrant and criminally minded members of the community who during the year had broken the norms, convictions and customs prevalent in the community.  The songs are deliberately composed to highlight the abuses and crimes committed and expose the criminals.The singing groups, protected by the community’s traditions, perform the role of ‘the people’s court’  to whose verdict the culprits and their relations cannot pretend to be indifferent and against which they have no appeal.

In Ghana, the popular APOO festival  and others  share the same characteristics with some festivals in Nigeria.  The gaily dressed women, armed with well- rehearsed abusive songs move from house to house, mentioning names and coming down heavily on the social miscreants within the community.

Under the immunity graciously conferred by tradition ,the women boldly call out in songs the names of the offenders in front of their houses and contemptuously pour down condemnation on them.  By so doing these women help to cleanse society of social misfits by bringing to the open the sins committed under the cover of darkness.  Furthermore, with their ritual dances and singing women warm the hearts of the gods who by their nature, hate evil and always want to get rid of them.  Disarmed by the traditional immunity enjoyed by the women social non- conformist are either compelled to mend their ways or flee from the community.  This indeed, has been a very significant and effective mechanism of social control in many African countries.  It is important to note that as part of these celebrations, traditional rulers offer sacrifices to purify the community to remove the evils accumulated during the year, thus renewing the society.

10 thoughts on “The Divine Feminine Principle

      • Good Day, Black Man:

        The following is from a member of a site whose other members are black as well. I found her post interesting and reflective. It IS a bit long, but as I have always said, “take away from it what you will and what you cannot use? Throw away. The post is not being shared to incite debate, arguments, etc.

        Beauty: race, color….. or status? This sista re-posted this commentary from another site. Some of it, I disagree with, but this sista is so profound, I just had to re-post it. Please read for you to gain the full meaning of what she is saying. It is definitely worth reading, in my humble opionion.

        She begins:

        I was challenged by a white Professor and a White student (separately) at Cornell College in IOWA to explain my “comments” about BEAUTY in America…..and how these STANDARDS effect black women and the black community.

        The WHITE STAFF and I were in total disagreement, but I think you will truly appreciate reading this.

        Here is what I said by Speaker Phone–my statement was Pre-written:

        First of all…just like “race”–“beauty” is a social construct.

        But COLOR is not a social construct.
        Therefore, before you can understand “beauty”….you must understand “status” and the fact that STATUS…overrules beauty.

        For instance, no matter how beautiful the lips are on Lauryn Hill and Angela Bassett….those lips gain STATUS once you put them on Angelina Jolie.
        No matter how magnificent and superior Phyllis Yvonne Stickney’s rear end is…a smaller version of her rear end is celebrated and gains STATUS once you attach it to Jennifer Lopez.
        No matter how lovely the “tan” is on Jennifer Beales….that tan aquires STATUS once it appears on a white woman, and is especially valuable….because it’s TEMPORARY on a white woman and does not pass into the womb to color the child.

        The White-skinned beauty of JAPANESE…is given STATUS and considered superior…although the dark-skinned KOREAN and THAI are in actuality…far more beautiful and better built. Still, STATUS overrules Beauty.
        In communities of Color—Whiteness alone often makes a woman beautiful, no matter how FAT she is, no matter how many teeth are missing or PLAIN she is—whiteness itself is beauty, because it carries the ultimate STATUS.

        That’s Number one.

        Toni Morrison said that a “Paradise” or a “Utopia” can only be made into such by defining those things which are to be excluded–therefore making it a paradise.
        Those in charge, with power and who rule are the architects deciding exactly what the paradise will be, which is why a very dark skinned black woman in EUROPE is considered beautiful, desirable and “visible” in media…..while the opposite is true in the United States, because of rigid STATUS perimeters that must adhere to the history and goals of the country.

        As a pre-concept related to the outcome of this opinion, please note that “sexism” cannot dominate a society unless the majority of the citizens (both male and female) are…sexist. Both the father and the mother reinforce, through daily living, the tenets of “sexism”, passing it into the children as “acculturation”—thereby making it a mode of thought that is normal, where as the idea of “equality” between sexes is given lip service but is not truly considered…normal. And that is because, most people on both sides are sexists. Not just men. The religions and churches and the Bible itself back up the sexist ideology of the society and confirms that the systematic structures of Patriarchy are not just correct—but are “natural”.

        Man is to be valued and his humanity is protected….Woman, while loved emotionally, is expendable and her humanity is recognized only as a subtext for his birth.

        Everyone in the society, male and female, supports this ideology because it’s “natural order.”

        Ditto for White Supremacist Ideology.
        America is a nation that originally was supposed to be a “paradise/utopia” for White Europeans and was founded and built on slavery–an institution that was justified through very strict principles of White Supremacist Ideology. Black African slaves were brought here and deemed to be only 3/5ths of a human being.

        A single drop of their blood has the power to compromise whiteness….and because of this, and because White men greatly enjoyed the freedom of being able to rape their property (just as any man would, including the Africans who do the same thing to slaves), the Whites realized that they would have to create a STANDARD by which Whiteness would always be PRO-CREATED and PROTECTED under the normative tenet of “purity”. For more on that, just read the Dictionary Definition for Black (evil/ugly) and then read the Dictionary Definition for White (good/clean).

        This is why, regardless of Sexism, “White Supremacy” benefits White Females just as much (in fact, more) than it benefits White Males.

        And THE REASON…that White Supremacy benefits White Females more is because in order for a White Male to be born…he can only do it from a White Female.

        People of color, however, can be born from any female (although, Authentic Black People going by the Pre-Colonial African standard, cannot be born from a Non-African tribe).

        So this genetic fact forces the White Male to elevate the White Female as the World Standard for Pro-Creation…..because out of her comes….(A) White Males, (B) White Acculturation of all those who born from her, including coloreds…..which in turn, because of the genetic weakness of White Blood, sets her as the ultimate White Power STATUS symbol, being mother-seed of the White Race and its only way into existence.

        As well…..MARRIAGE and HAVING A MAN….is the highest STATUS for all races of females, for without it—-the sexist societies worldwide consider them to be “deformed”, and therefore, when a White woman marries out of her race—she is trading one STATUS for another STATUS.

        Out of Love, you can speak with straight fury
        Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it
        Choose your hypnotist well…..
        Ergo, the blue pill (illusion), or the red pill (reality)

        Mulattoes, Bi-racials, Black Men and White Supremacy

        On the other side of the Spectrum is The Black Man…who has been conquered and dominated by the White Man (both Arab and European) for so many centuries that the Black Man now has no memory of his worth or beauty—purely as himself. He has been acculturated by his masters and lives in a world where he has very, very little power—except over the Black Women (who create him) and the Black Children (who come from him).

        Because COLOR is not a social construct — but race is — the Blacker the Black Man’s Skin, the more Authentic he is…..then…..the less STATUS he has in a world that agrees that “Whiteness” is normal and superior and more HUMAN than all others.

        **Beauty is the second social construct (after race)….it backs up White Supremacy (and this is worldwide, because in Arab Nations, those Orange Skinned Arabs are classified on their identification cards as “White”–the same for Japanese and Chinese and Brazilians and Argentinians and Mexicans. EVERY SOCIETY…has a White Elite at the top that calls itself “White”).

        If you go to a Black Nation in Africa…and especially visit Black Americans and West Indians…you will find that a “Mulatto” mixed Status Symbol has been created to sit at the TOP of those various people to represent their version of “Whiteness”, “the Elite”. While the Very darkest charcoal and Blue Black blacks—-the Authentic blacks—-are relegated to the bottom rung and “disallowed” as the Representative Face to be presented to the world, because the darker they are—-the less STATUS they have and the less HUMAN they are considered.

        This is the reason why Black Men will pass over a Beautiful Chocolate Skinned Black Woman to marry an Unattractive, Fat White Woman or an Ugly “High Yellow” Black Woman….because….the lighter the woman’s skin is, the lighter the man’s children will come out and the more STATUS he will acquire through the woman’s Whiteness (regardless of what color she is). No matter how beautiful a very black skinned woman is—her beauty has no STATUS, because her beauty only creates more blackness.

        Let’s use this example:
        Vivica A. Fox is considered a dark skinned woman in America. But if you put her next to Phyllis Yvonne Stickney, Vivica is suddenly 8 shades lighter and has less Africoid facial features. She, therefore, becomes the woman considered more desirable—because she has more STATUS. Or think of Cicely Tyson’s beauty…then think of Diahann Carroll’s beauty, and although I personally find Cicely’s African beauty exquisite and superior…. Americans will find the lighter brown skin and European features/hairstyles of Diahann Carroll to carry more “STATUS”.

        But then add Halle Berry, who is Bi-racial and much lighter than Diahann Carroll or Vivica Fox and has straight hair and facial features that are even less black….. and now she has more STATUS.

        The Color Paradigm is leveled almost exclusively towards the WOMEN in the Black and Latino and Asian races—-because the men rule the societies and the men do the choosing, contrary to the claims of Matriarchy.

        And let me just say that if Matriarchy were really and truly a reality in Africa…then we would not have to get our vaginas infibulated just to be “marriagable”. The real truth is that Black women do not rule Black Communities, for if they did, then the power of Colorism would be greatly—greatly reduced.

        The men are usually exempt from the Colorist “Caste System” (notice that most Black Male Sex Symbols are chocolate and brown with nappy African hair and clearly Black Features—and both the very dark skinned Male and the light skinned Male are DESIRED and considered VALUABLE by the black community).

        On the other hand, the Dark Skinned Black Woman (the mother of the race and the authentic origin of the race) is almost never embraced as the standard of beauty or desirability and is the least valued image in the black community…. and this is mainly because she is the one who makes black people BLACK in the first place. It is her womb, genes and especially–her acculturation—-that TAKES AWAY the people’s STATUS by making them “truly black”.

        Therefore, a Mulatto or Bi-racial mixed FEMALE is risen as the Standard of Beauty—because she makes the black people LESS BLACK and gives them STATUS by giving them lighter skin, watered down facial features and a straighter texture of hair. She helps to bring “whiteness” to the group…. and for this, they appoint her over their real mother.

        A White Woman can make them even Whiter….thereby delivering even more STATUS.

        These same exact dynamics are used in Latin cultures, Asian cultures…worldwide. In other words, women are not seeking a “common goal”–that’s bullshit. What women are trying to seek is the worldwide Hollywood Goal that they have internalized from more than a century of film, magazine and literary images. Please notice that before the advent of Silent Films….women were prized for being very round, full figured and brunette…… and most people had very LOCAL ideals about what was beautiful, their conclusions reached by their own cultural tastes and traditions and mostly…by their desire to see their own looks reproduced in the offspring of their kind. Which, in actuality, is what real beauty might be.

        But the Hollywood beauty standard is dictated now to the PLANET via MEDIA. Mass Media. Which has become the most powerful weapon that America has to charm, solicit and influence the rest of the world in its quest for dominance and survival.

        White Supremacy is the root and stimulus of that weapon…because the vast majority of the world is colored, and therefore, the Whites must brainwash other races into valuing and worshipping whiteness—-so that they won’t want to destroy it, but rather protect and covet it.

        The One Drop Rule in America is proof of those fears…and as well….validity.
        Increasingly, as more and more black men are now allowed to mate outside their race, there are many Black Women in America who are so dark skinned and African featured that they’re not even considered women ….. and I’ve met many, many extremely dark skinned African looking black women who have forced themselves to become lesbians—so that they can know love—-and they are devastated by it, but NOBODY…and especially not Black People give a sh!t.

        White and other races of Light Skinned Straight Haired women are well aware of these dynamics…. and overwhelmingly support them…. because this allows the low self-esteem in White and other races of Light Skinned women to be assauged and placated by the self-hatred of Black and other Dark races of men.

        It also gives these women a Surplus of available men, and because MARRIAGE and HAVING A MAN is the highest “STATUS” for a woman—–these women trade in their color status to attain the status of marriage/having a man.

        In general, White and other races of Light Skinned women do not care, truly, about black people—and especially don’t care about black women—and delude themselves into noble, romanticized ideals of “true love”, “the evil non-worthy black woman with attitude” and “opposites attracting”. In other words, they support and protect the White Supremacist Beauty Aesthetic…..because it benefits and favors them.

        In closing, let me just say:
        Black Is Beautiful.

        As for me, in closing, “each one, teach one” as always

        Phazex_Female

      • “Because COLOR is not a social construct — but race is — the Blacker the Black Man’s Skin, the more Authentic he is…..then…..the less STATUS he has in a world that agrees that “Whiteness” is normal and superior and more HUMAN than all others.

        **Beauty is the second social construct (after race)….it backs up White Supremacy (and this is worldwide, because in Arab Nations, those Orange Skinned Arabs are classified on their identification cards as “White”–the same for Japanese and Chinese and Brazilians and Argentinians and Mexicans. EVERY SOCIETY…has a White Elite at the top that calls itself “White”).
        Wow! What a great reply! Thank you for this Phazex! I hope others will read it. This was a great breakdown!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s