Mindfulness.

The mind is thought of as a complex system, but even the most complex of systems is made up of simple building blocks which can be understood. Here are a few facts on the mind with brief explanations to back them up.The mind is a prediction machine. This is basically how worrying comes about: your mind trying to prepare, protect or warn you by coming up with scenarios on how it could possibly go. Let’s say I have an interview tomorrow, my mind will come up with predictions on how the experience could go and my thought process will be something like: what if I wake up late? What if my outfit isn’t professional enough? What if I say all the wrong things? What if I’m not qualified enough? Is my CV good? I’m I confident enough? What if I don’t impress them? What if I’m nervous and anxious then?…it could go on and on. But at the end of the day, as important as those warnings are, it’s best to remember they are your mind’s doing, and have nothing to do with how the situation will play out. So instead of missing out on that interview because you think you won’t get in, or failing to ask that girl out because you think you’ll be rejected, or turning down everybody who shows interest because you’ve predicted future heartbreaks, or putting off publishing that book because you already think no one will read it… It’s best to find out how the situation will play by forgetting what you think will happen and actually giving it a chance to happen.Your mind is your reality. I found some quote on Insta that said: you become what you constantly think about, and I couldn’t agree more. It’s easier to notice mistakes when you are always thinking of mistakes, it’s easy to find opportunities when you are always thinking of opportunities, it’s easy to be happy when you are always thinking positive… Belief is a very powerful thing, and it’s been proven that what you believe in often than not manifests in your own reality. A story I read somewhere: A man and his family lived in their home for years without anything extraordinary happening, until one distant relative visited. Now, the relative being a man who loved to prank, came up with ghost stories about one particular room in the house. He claimed the room he’d been given was haunted by the ghost of a woman who moved by tapping on the floor, going further to describe the ghost’s physical appearance. It may have been a made up story, but the next morning, the little girl who had slept in the room confirmed she’d heard the ghost tap. Soon, everyone in the family was convinced there was a ghost in the room. So they told their neighbor, and asked him to spend a night in the room and prove them otherwise, but the next day, the neighbor was also certain he’d seen the ghost. What they didn’t realize was that there was no ghost at all, but only a projection of what their minds wanted to see and hear.

When you don’t understand, you depend on reality. But when you understand, reality depends on you.

The mind lives in the past and the future and rarely in the present.The mind is a master at dwelling in the past or dreaming of the future. This may not seem bad at all on the surface, right? Especially when the present isn’t what we want it to be. But the problem with this is that you end up missing out on the present which is what we really have ( the past is gone and it’s only a memory while the future isn’t certain so it’s just an imagination: they both only exist in our minds). So instead of worrying/ planning for the future or reliving/suffering for the past, take time to exist in the present, enjoy it, give yourself permission to be happy and get things done. When you do that, you won’t have to worry about the future, because everything will kinda fall into place.The mind is a system. It is. Which is why we have habits, some deeply rooted in our unconscious selves that they become part of our identity. A story adapted from Atomic habits by James Clear: a woman, once a preschool teacher, got a new job as a corporate lady. But even then, she still found herself asking her fellow adults whether they’d washed their hands after using the washroom. Habits are therefore a big deal because at the end of the day we become what we do (habits are things we do repeatedly) and what we do often goes back to who we believe we are (see, the mind!). So if you want to change who you are, start by getting habits that align to the person you want to be, which means you start by doing things like the person you want to be. For example, if you want to be fit and healthy, start by acting like a fit and healthy person…working out, eating healthy etc. And don’t forget to watch yourself inorder to learn about those deeply-rooted, automatic, unconscious habits. I had to watch myself to learn that I often cover my mouth when I yawn, chew on my nails or anything I can get when I’m bored, apologize for literally anything, adjust my glasses when I’m nervous and so many other things which I used to do so unconsciously.The mind is a processing machine.The mind is a problem solving machine and because of that it’s always processing information, analysing and trying to ‘make sense’ or figure out what’s being fed to it. When things don’t add up, the mind is notorious for filling in the blanks inorder to make sense out of it all. Which is why we are often advised to trust memories less. The mind is always picking, choosing and altering information: so what comes out in memories is likely to be fabricated than what went in. Our brain often tends to make sense of what happened in the past by relating to the present. A true story by author Meredith Maran in her book My lie:A true story of false memory; Meredith was divorced, seeing a therapist, having a strained relationship with her father and dating a woman who’d survived sexual abuse. After a few repressed-memory therapies, Meredith discovered her father had raped her in childhood. She accused him of that in front of all her family members, he denied it, and the family was split into two: those who believed and those who didn’t. After a few months though, Meredith discovered her father had never raped her, the memory had been made up. Her brain had only been trying to make sense of her present: why she had the strained relationship with her father, her failed relationships with men, her toxic abused girlfriend, her feminist ideologies and the fact that she’d been studying the topic of child molestation . We can all prove this to be true. I mean, have you ever realized when you are dating someone, your memories with them are always so positive, but when you break up with them, you start to view the memories differently? What was once sweet and thoughtful becomes selfish and immature.

Freedom.

The idea of freedom is an alluring one but the sad reality is that most of us aren’t free, and none of us really wants freedom because with freedom comes great responsibility. Now you’ll say humanity has progressed over the years and freedom has been achieved along the way, but the truth it that we have simply replaced the old cruel forms of slavery with new fabricated ones. It’s hard to believe there were times when man was sold at market places just like any other commodity. It’s also hard to imagine the kind of life women led in the past centuries; being considered far lesser than men, denied their rights and viewed as property to extreme lengths. Africa and a few other continents have had a taste of slavery by being colonized for many years, and when the colonizers left, they thought they had attained freedom and democracy, which has turned out to be a pure joke as the white colonizers have been replaced by their very own.

Today, physical slavery has been done away with and replaced by mental/psychological/spiritual/mind slavery which is more dangerous because we cannot see it. Every society has a recipe on how one should live and behave: we are all dictated by societal ideologies, customs and beliefs which are borrowed and followed without really questioning or doubting. Our whole system of raising children is one of slavery; just because a child is born into a particular family they have to adopt the religious, societal, and political ideologies of that family and are highly discouraged from thinking, questioning and doing something outside what’s recommended. The child’s elders can’t be blamed though, because their own parents did the same to them and it’s something that has been going on for generations: after all, how can enslaved minds teach freedom? Children are conditioned to seek approval and validation from the society, to follow the pattern because that is the safest and easiest route whose outcomes are known, to follow ideals whose roots they don’t know, to repress their true nature which goes against what is required of them and to strive to be at the top/special/unique/extraordinary…and for what? So they could matter in the society, get attention for it or prove something?

The idea of freedom…

Freedom means being able to think for yourself and refusing to go by what you are told or what everyone else is doing until you find the why behind it. Society doesn’t want you to think, it wants machines who do what they are told and never question ‘why’ because once you start questioning you will see the lies and absurdities you have been feeding on. To question means you are willing to step out of the crowd mentality and stand alone; Socrates questioned and it got him poisoned, Jesus questioned and it got him crucified…and at the end of the day, those were the people who brought about change by dismantling the lies people lived in. So before you do anything or adopt some way of life, it’s really important to question why you are doing it, whether you are doing it out of your own accord or simply following the masses because everyone else is doing it.

Freedom means contentment with your own approval, validation, along with self acceptance.When your actions depend on outside approval and evaluation , then your life isn’t your own and it’s society pulling your strings. Once you stop caring about outside validation, then you will find the courage to truly live your life to the fullest and can be yourself without repressing anything. Letting go of societal validations, expectations and ideas will enable you to find your own individuality. You are not your beliefs, or your occupation, or your money, or your looks, or what you can do for others, or your religion etc…all those are just society-acquired personalities, your true individuality is what you are when all that is shed away. The word personality is of latin origins meaning a ‘mask that produces sound’, so everyone in the society is wearing a mask and they think it’s who they are, but the moment you take off the mask you will find your true individuality. It’s better to let go of what you think you are, the labels, the ideals and beliefs: that will be the first step towards psychological freedom and awareness of self.

Freedom means learning to not impose your ideas on other people, not taking offense when people don’t agree with your opinions, not trying to convert people to your ideals at any given chance, and the ability to look at new situations without any judgement. You may think your opinion is a fact, but so will the next person. And the fact is, everyone has their own idea of what is good/bad, right/wrong, beautiful/ugly…which all vary depending on their environment, upbringing, society, conditioning, and education system. So whatever you think is a fact might not be a fact at all, even in the world of science; what scientists thought was a fact yesterday can be disapproved tomorrow by new findings. By judging, you are simply projecting the very ideas you have accumulated from your society to the other person and that only makes you close minded and nothing else. Society advises it’s people not to judge, but the very same society goes on telling people what’s good or bad, right or wrong, what to consider beautiful or ugly etc.

THE SELF.

I came across a blog on the internet that challenged my concept of the self, and after a lot of reading and meditation I finally came to an understanding. To explain my ideas I’m going to use the biblical creation myth, hinduism concepts from the upanishad and developmental psychology. I know it doesn’t make sense using hinduism concepts to explain a Christian concept but religions, in my opinion, may appear different on the shallows but the deeper you look into them, they all point to one central entity…Yahweh/Brahman/Tao. As you read this I hope you keep an open mind and remember, this is just my understanding; I may or may not be right, and it’s okay if you have a different opinion concerning all this. At the end of the blog I’m also going to include some bonus self quotes I’ve picked along the way.

The biblical creation myth has parallels in other creation myths and the common idea in all of them is the idea of one supreme being (God) or a unity (father, son and holy Spirit) from whom two are created (Adam and Eve) and from the two, humanity arises. Adam and Eve, with the influence of the serpent, eat the forbidden fruit and for that, they are kicked out of the garden. God then places a guardian to guard the garden of Eden and prevent Adam and Eve from eating the fruit of the tree of life.

In my understanding; the garden of Eden represents a pure state of consciousness in which Adam and Eve lack knowledge of self…let alone knowledge of good and bad: The state a new born baby is in. With time however, the baby slowly realizes the world is made up of others too. The baby’s thinking therefore shifts from ‘only one in existence’ (God) to two (Adam and Eve): the baby and others. The baby’s sense of self further widens as he/she grows from ‘the baby and others’ to ‘the baby, family members, friends, ethnicity group, races and fellow humans (humanity).

Self identification however happens after the apple is eaten with the aid of the serpent. Now, serpents are very ancient symbols and have been used in many cultures to represent immortality, life and rejuvenation as in the case of the ouroboros (the unborn and undying serpent that eats its own tail). I’m going to use the hinduism concept of Brahman (the God) and Atman(the soul) to put across my point. In hinduism, the creator Brahman becomes the created Atman(the god who creates becomes the soul that is created). The Atman/soul is the life giving-force, conscience, inner wisdom, and the deepest purest part in us which is God. In many cultures, Atman is related to breath, such as in German where to breath is to ‘atmen’, and in christianity, where God breathes his life-giving breath into Adam. Anyway, the serpent in the garden is used to symbolize Atman. Therefore Eve, symbolizing the role of women in giving birth, is guided by her own deepest self and inner wisdom to give birth to self awareness.

God does not destroy the garden containing the tree of life (as earlier written, the garden simply represents a pure,un-aware state of consciousness), instead he employs a threshold guardian to guard the garden. In many mythologies, threshold guardians can be overcome: either by knowledge (such as the Greek Sphinx) or by doing battle. God prevents anyone from accessing the tree of life because whoever does that will become like God.

Going back to the concept of Brahman(God) and Atman(soul), we know they are one and the same but with an illusion of being different. Getting back in the garden means seeing reality for what it really is: that the only thing existing is the ONE, you are the ONE and being different from God is just an illusion of the senses. As a scientist, I like to put it simply: we are cells and God is the body. We think we are different and independent from the body but in real sense the cells make up the body and the body is what makes the cells (without the cells there will be no body, and without the body there will be no cells). Therefore you can’t separate the body from the cells because they are one. Eating the fruit of the tree of life means going back to the pure,undifferentiated state of mind in which we are one with God (garden of Eden), but this time, unlike a new born baby, we are in blissful awareness (awareness of our oneness with God).

God threw us out of the garden because he didn’t want us to be like him. But he knew all along we were him.

Self quotes.

  • The most important relationship you should ever have is one with yourself.
  • Have so much self love that you can’t help but share without expecting anything in return. If you can’t love yourself then you can’t truly love.
  • There isn’t anybody out there better qualified to take care of you than yourself.
  • Have faith in yourself and your ability to deal with whatever challenges thrown your way.
  • It takes real discipline to not compare yourself with others. After all, we can never know who we truly are if all we are is in comparison to others.
  • You are the most important thing in the world and the moment you realize you control your destiny, the power will fall in your hands.
  • Only you can know what’s truly best for you.
  • Putting yourself first is not selfish. What is selfish is expecting others to put you first instead of themselves.

Quarantine reads.

I have never been one to read self-help books but I decided to give them a chance during this period and I was really surprised how useful they were. Three of the most influential were: The subtle art of not giving a fuck by Mark Manson, Men don’t love women like you by G.L. Lambert and Women who love too much by Robin Norwood. Since they have impacted my thinking by far, I thought I should review them on my blog.
Women who love too much.
This book is for women with toxic relationship patterns such as controlling and managing their partners or women hooked to destructive love games. It’s also for women who have wasted time, energy, tears, and money on men who don’t love them back and are incapable of changing. In the book, Robin brings to light stories of different women whom you can easily relate to, and not only does she help you discover the root to your own unhealthy relationships, but also how to recover and lean towards healthy ones. The book is a wake up call from the societal way of thinking that preaches sacrifice, selflessness and suffering as forms of love. Every woman should definitely have a copy!
Men don’t love women like you.
Now this one had me making notes, highlighting points and re-reading chapters. This is a book for women who want a serious, lasting relationship and are fed up with the games. The core message in the book is self confidence and self love, knowing your worth, leaving the fear behind and becoming your true self! The author urges women to step out of their comfort zones, stop settling for good enough partners, question and vet out a potential before giving them access to their hearts and willingness to walk away and unchain themselves if their partner doesn’t measure up. This book really lays out the best transforming information on how to warrior up, and go from the placeholder position where  men just love you for what you can offer, to the game changer position where you get the love you deserve.
The subtle art of not giving a fuck.
This book is not your typical motivational book and will really shift your thinking. Although Mark’s language in the book comes off a little harsh, he manages to put his points across directly. The book helps you learn not everything has to matter, we are responsible for choosing what matters and what doesn’t, life doesn’t have to be perfect and it’s okay, picking the right values to guide your life, ditching victimhood and entitlement, learning we are responsible for everything that happens in our lives down to our happiness and love while keeping death in mind as a positive fuel to enjoy life.

Story of my clan.

I’m privileged to be quarantined with my old grandmother who is not only wise, but a very rich source of knowledge on things ancient. To take full advantage of her presence, I’ve been learning everything I can about my roots, tribe, how they got by in their days and why they did what they did: information that I’m really proud to have and share with you guys. First things first, I’m a Gusii, which is a small bantu tribe in Kenya, occupying the South-West section of the western Kenya highlands; on our borders are the luo, Kipsigis, maasai and kuria. The founder of our tribe is known as Mogusii whose sons are the alleged founders of the gusii sub-tribes and clans. Mogusii was the son of Osogo and Kimanyi konyakoomogendi. He had five wives who were Nyaboke, Bonareri, Bosibori, Bwari and Mokeira. So today I’m going to write about the sub tribe Ababassi, Abagirango, Abasweta, Abagusero and Abanchari, their founders and totems.

Bassi, in Gusii is derived from the word ‘ ekebasi ‘ which means ‘ to skin an animal ‘. The bassi people therefore are famously known for their gruesome way of skinning animals without really killing them, letting the animal die from the shock. Legend has it that everytime Mogusii called his sons to slaughter a bull for him, his son Tereri would arrive first and get to skinning the animal alive before killing it even without the help of his brothers. Mogusii referred to him as Tereri Mobassi, which translates to Tereri the skinner. The bassi people’s totem is a zebra, which in gusii is called enchage. Another legend goes by: One day, a zebra being chased by hunters dared to hide in Mobassi’s kraal, among the cattle. Impressed, Mobassi not only spared the zebra’s life, but declared that his people should refrain from killing zebras or associating with people that do.

Abagirango are people who derive their name from the gusii words omugiro and engo which translates ‘to refuse to harm’ and ‘leopard’ respectively. Therefore, Abagirango are people who refuse to harm the leopard. The legend, which is so much alike to that of the bassi, goes as follows: A leopard being chased by hunters ended up in enyomba (house) of Mochorwa Singore, who is the founder of the Abagirango. Mochorwa refused to let the hunters harm the leopard, going as far as drawing his spear to defend the animal. Since then, his ancestors have held the leopard in high regard as their totem and would not associate with people who harm the leopard.

The Abasweta sub-tribe comprises of various clans such as the Abakitutu, Abanyaribari, and Abamachoge. Their legend states that one of Mogusii’s sons Oibabe was an hard-working hunter, who, during one of his hunting experiences, happened to kill a baboon despite the fact that baboons were considered to be like men therefore not supposed to be killed. His wife conceived and bore him a child, who later on died. This went on until they’d lost four children. Both Oibabe and his wife decided to seek the help of a magician. The magician instructed them to cleanse themselves, offer sacrifices to appease the ancestors and find a baboon skin to cover their next child. When the child was born, Oibabe named him Mosweta Ngoge, which translates to Mosweta the baboon. He then instructed his people to never kill baboons, making them the tribe’s totem.

The Abagusero are a scattered people who have varied beliefs on their origin. They derive their name from the gusii word okobusura, which means to scatter. One belief is that the people are descendants of Mogusii’s youngest son, Omugesero. In another belief, the Abagusero are descendants of Abakitutu rebels. The legend goes; one Kitutu chief, Tabichi, had adopted a son from a man named Mukesero, for one of his wives who’d failed to get children. The child was named Oisera, and he grew to manhood, became chief of the Abakitutu, and begot his own sons, including his sons Nyabusagi and Nyakundi. Trouble started when both Nyabusagi and his brother Nyakundi, who was chief then, wanted the same woman. The woman eventually picked Nyakundi over Nyabusagi. The heart broken Nyabusagi was forced to leave the Abakitutu, together with his small clan, who were later referred to as the Abagusero. In yet another, the Abagusero are believed to be of luo origin which is influenced by the fact that they not only co-operated with the luo but also intermarried with them and some spoke fluent dholuo. The Abagusero’s totem is a baboon, showing just how closely connected they are to the Abakitutu.

The Abanchari legends closely connect them to the luo. Their legend begins with a luo elder, Chieni, who had a son called Machabe. One day, an ill Chieni asked his son to go chase away birds that were in habit of eating grain from the garden. Machabe refused, saying he was too tired. Completely disrespected, Chieni went to scare off the birds while sitted under a shady tree. Later, Machabe changed his mind and decided to go help his father. Taking his spear, he took to the garden, and noticed a writhing figure under the tree which he mistook for an animal. He speared the figure instantly, only to find out it was his father. Afraid, he ran away, wondered in the forest, until a troop of gusii hunters found him and took him to gusiiland. When asked where he came from, since he couldn’t speak gusii, Machabe pointed to the direction of lake Victoria. The people speculated he was from the deep cold waters, or a brother of the hippopotamus. He therefore became known as Omache Engubo, with Omache derived from the gusii word amachi meaning water, and engubo being the gusii word for hippo. Machabe was given a gusii wife, Monchari, whom he had many sons with. For the Abanchari to feel at home with the other gusiis, Machabe and Monchari’s sons adopted their mother’s name so they could be able to trace geneaology back to Mogusii. The group’s totem became the hippo since Machabe was considered brother of the hippos.

This is irrelevant information I can’t help but share; My father is from the Bassi sub tribe while my mother is an Omogirango, which makes me and my siblings zebra protectors who will always refuse to harm the leopard😁.

THE ANCIENT AMERICAS ( 1500B.C. – A.D.1500 ).

Ancient America was inhabited by a number of tribes. The Olmecs, Chavìns, Mayas, Moches, Anasazi, Teotihuacáns, Aztecs, Hopewells, Mississippians, Navajos, and Incas are among the most commonly known tribes. It’s established that the early inhabitants of America migrated from Asia by the Beringia land bridge 75,000 years ago. So on this blog I’ll be writing about my four favourite aspects of the ancient Americans, hoping to help thrust out a little of your quarantine boredom, or put you to sleep: either way works for me.

Rise of the Inca.

Around A.D. 1200, the Inca settled in Cuzco, which later on became their capital city. Expansion began during the reign of Pachacuti, the ninth Inca ruler, who, along with his son, Topa Inca Yupanqui, expanded their boundaries north and south by applying force. Historians have compared the both to the great Alexander of Macedonia. The empire was built on military might and a good road system. A common language, quechua, was established which further united the people under the emperor. Incas believed in many deities and priests offered sacrifices to please the deities,including human sacrifices. The Inca kept records by using a rope with knoted cords of different length and color called a quipu.The knots represented a different item or number. The Inca’s chief means of transport were the llamas.Machu Picchu ~ An Incan town.The great mounds.

In the 1800s, people believed the great earthworks to be the works of a race of giants. Some of the mounds are so large they can be recognized from air, others are ornate, and represent animals. The most mysterious one of them all is the great serpent mound; unlike others, it contains no graves or artifacts and the serpent is about to swallow a huge oval.The speculations are:The mound was used to mark time or seasons for planting and harvesting since the serpent’s head aligns with the summer solstice sunset and the tail points to the winter solstice sunrise. Scholars also suggested that the curves on the snake’s body align to the two solstices and equinoxes. Another speculation is that the mound was used to determine the true north and served as a compass, since the first curve on the snake’s torso after the head matches the Pole star of the Draco constellation. Another, is that it’s a documentation of a solar eclipse with the oval representing the sun. Or maybe just a place of worship for the snake god or goddess. We may never know for sure.

A Mayan creation myth.

Mayan beliefs are all based on the fact that everything is k’uh, sacred. Mayan creation myths are contained in two books; the Popol vuh and Chilam Balam. According to the Mayans, everything was in suspense, motionless and still and nothing but the creators existed. By nature, they were great thinkers, and they decided when the day dawned for the first time, the human being must appear. Thus they spoke, ” let there be light, let there be dawn in the sky and on earth, “. Mayans believed there were three humans’ creations; At first, people were made out of mud, but the gods realized they had no minds, therefore destroying them. They then made man out of wood and woman out of reeds before realizing their creations had no souls and therefore destroyed them by boiling water ( the few who survived became the monkeys of today ), the gods then made man and woman out of maize with the blood of the gods, after which they realized the men and women were too wise and a threat to their authority, and therefore wanted to destroy them. However, Huracán, the heart of heaven, made the humans less wise by clouding their minds and eyes.

Mayan ball game.

The Mayan ball game was one of the most important rituals. A rubber ball was kept bouncing by the players using the leather pads on their elbows, wrist, hips, torso and shoulders to symbolize the order of the universe.

Making a goal by passing the ball through a hoop was so rare that when a player scored, the crowd rewarded him with clothing and jewelry. In some cases, the losing team members were sacrificed to the gods. Human sacrifices could either be carried out by decapitation, removal of the heart from a living person, or throwing the person into a cenote, a natural well, as a sacrifice to the gods.

Voodoo.

For the longest time I can remember, I have had this notion that voodoo is all about black magic, dolls, zombies and nothing more…therefore never really given it a thought. Recently though, I came across a documentary on Papa Doc Duverlier and it changed everything. So here I am, writing about the new found object of my research in summary of course.

Voodoo is a religion that originated from West Africa and incorporates beliefs from other religions such as catholicism, free masonary,and American mysticism. Voodooists believe that the world is made up of lwa/loa (spirits) both in the material and the unseen.The role of humans therefore is to sevilwa (serve the spirits) which they do by giving offerings to the lwa, singing and praying,spirit possessions, religious rites, building alters, use of talismans and devotional items. The lwa are called upon during rituals by houngans who are the priests and mambo who are the priestesses and in return for the offerings are expected to give good health, money, advice and so on. Bokors are the practitioners of black magic such as creation of talismans that house spirits. In New Orleans voodoo, the devotees are led by voodoo Kings and queens such as the famous voodoo king and queen Bayou John and Marie Laveau respectively.

The main voodoo deities.

Bondye is the chief spirit and all the other spirits answer to him. He however isn’t involved  human affairs.

Damballa is a lwa associated with serpents, water, rain and life. He helped Bondye create the earth and is portrayed as a large serpent. He is also in charge of healing magic, knowledge and wisdom. He’s depicted circling the earth, entertwined with his wife or among the branches of the sacred tree. He is known as the protector of physically challenged people. The humans possessed by him do not speak but hiss instead.

Ayida is the female consort of Damballa and is the lwa associated with rainbows, snakes, fertility,and water. She’s depicted as a large rainbow coloured serpent wearing a jeweled headdress and most of the time she’s entertwined with her husband Damballa.

Erzuli is the lwa of love,beauty, femininity and womanhood. She’s portrayed in different forms such as the black madonna or mulatto woman with expensive clothing and jewelry. She’s called upon when it comes to motherhood or feminine sexuality.

Papa legba is a spirit depicted as an old man with a straw hat, tattered clothing, cane and is escorted with a dog. He is the spirit in charge of crossroads and is believed to grant access to the spirit world. In other places he’s a fertility spirit depicted with an erect penis and in others he’s seen as the protector of children and a trickster.

Bawon Samdi is the spirit in charge of graveyards and is associated with death. He’s depicted in formal clothing that involves a top hat, tailcoat, black cane with a skull handle and dark glasses which are believed to protect his eyes from the bright light once he’s out of his dark realm. The firstborn male to be buried in the cemetery is believed to become the manifestation of Bawon Samdi. Bawon is also believed to be associated with resurrection. He is the lwa connected to powerful acts of magic such as calling upon long dead ancestors.

Maman Brigitte is the wife to Bawon Samdi and therefore associated with death and the afterlife. She is the only lwa depicted as a white woman with fiery red hair in bright sexual clothing. She is believed to be a protector of women and a powerful healer (if an illness is to great for her to heal, then she eases the pain by guiding her believer to the afterlife). The first female to be buried in a cemetery is believed to be the manifestation of maman Brigitte.

Ogou is the lwa of metals and is associated with blacksmiths and warriors. He is depicted as a big handsome masculine man with a machete and a three legged iron couldron. He’s also in charge of guarding sacred temples, protecting of his followers and punishing unjust people especially those who break oaths sworn in his name. Ogou is known for his passion to beautiful women and cigars.

Others include Agwe who is lwa of the sea and waters, Mami wata who is a water spirit in form of a mermaid and Agassou who is the half human-half leopard spirit who makes money out of cigars.

Voodoo zombies.
Zombies are believed to be people brought back from the world of the dead and controlled by bokors to carry out tasks or labor. The idea of a soul trapped in its body and yet has no control of its own body strikes fear in the hearts of many.


Voodoo dolls
Voodoo dolls serve a different purpose in the religion which does not include inflicting pain on enemies. The dolls are used in rituals such as healing, they are hung from trees in cemeteries to open and maintain communication with long dead ancestors and attract lwas and invoke their influence on a person.

THE SHASU OF YHWH.

I was reading on the origin and development of the worship of Yhwh right through the bronze age, iron age ,the canonization of monotheism to the present day, when I came across the mysterious Shasu of Yhwh. That had me researching on who this people were and why there is so much speculation on them by researchers. Before I get to the Shasu part, it’s interesting to note that Yhwh is the name of the state God of ancient Israel and Judah. His name is a tetragrammaton that was used to remind the people to use the epithet ‘Adonai’ ( lord ) instead of the holy name. There is so much on this topic and I’ll leave that for another day. Shasu, pronounced ‘Shaswe’, is a word that literally means ‘ people who went by foot ‘ and was used by the Egyptians to refer to lawless bandits, nomads and pastoralists or people from different middle East ancient nations be it Edomites, Hapiru, Midianites etc.The Shasu of Yhwh came into the picture when ruins of an ancient temple of the ancient city of Soleb, in Nubia were excavated ( present day northern Sudan ). The temple was built by Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III, to honour the god Amun-Ra. Within the temple there are a series of columns each with a relief sculpture of a prisoner with his hands tied at his back and a name ring identifying his territory, which were territories conquered by Amenhotep III.

The column of interest was one inscribed, ‘ The land of Shasu of Yhwh, ‘. The immediate conclusions to the inscription were; Around 15B.C, Amenhotep knew about Yhwh, the Exodus must have happened much earlier in history since the pharaoh of the exodus had no clue who Yhwh was ( Exodus 5:2 ) and that a group of people referred to as the Shasu inhabited Canaan and worshipped Yhwh. However, Soleb isn’t the only place the name Yhwh was found, the name was also found in temples built by Ramses II at Amara West and Aksha (still present day Sudan ). In Amara, the inscription read, ‘Yahu in the land of Shasu,’, it also mentioned six groups of Shasu; the Shasu of se’ir ( Edom ), the Shasu of laban, the Shasu of sam’ath, the Shasu of wady hasa, the Shasu of pysps and the Shasu of yhwh.

The Shasu word is also mentioned in the papyrus Anastasi VI, an Egyptian text from the 13th BC. It records the transfer of Shasu tribes specifically the Edomites to the eastern Egyptian delta referred to in the Bible as Goshen, inorder to keep them and their cattle alive. This corresponding to the Bible story of Jacob and his sons ( Genesis 42 – 45 ). The papyrus Anastasi I also uses the term Shasu to refer to a community of giants who lived in Canaan. Speculations link this giants with the very ones the Israelites met during their exodus.

The ifs.

The land of shasu of Yhwh could mean that the shasu of Yhwh were a settled people who had a land of their own and sometimes moved about. Yhwh could also be a geographical place where the shasu wandered such as se’ir, laban, sam’ath etc. The naming of a place by the deity worshipped in the locality not being uncommon in the ancient middle East. In the Bible, however, it’s referred to as Midian, and it’s where Moses first spoke to Yhwh in the form of a burning bush ( Exodus 3:5 and 15 ).Another speculation is that Yahu/Yhw/Jahu in the land of shasu, could also mean that the region was inhabited by two different groups; The Yahu and the Shasu. The theory could be proof of historical conflicts between the shasu, being remnants of the Turkic mongolian colonizers, and the Yahu, being the Judah tribes. The shasu therefore could be nomads who lived in co-operation with other populations but were quick to violence at times of risk.

Some scholars also argue that the worship of Yhwh started with the Edomites and Midianites. This is proven by Edomites of the mines of Timnah,who converted an earlier Egyptian temple to the worship of Yhwh. The biblical verse of judges 5:4 supports this theory by saying:

Lord when you left the mountains of se’ir, when you came out of the region of Edom, the earth shook…

The shasu of Yhwh were therefore hypothetically from northern Edom/ se’ir originally, and later on formed the community of Israel.The shasu of yhwh could also be the Israelites. Mentioned on the ancient inscriptions at Karnak, there was an uprising of a group of Shasu and Habiru who worshipped Yhwh along the border of Egypt and sinai ( 1300 – 1290B.C). Seti I along with his son Ramses II, routed them into Canaan after years of bondage in Egypt as prisoners of war( 1500 – 1200 ).They settled in Se’ir and Midian and others at the hills of Judah to form the ethnic group of Israelites. Egyptian scribes, from then onwards, adapted the term shasu for any group of people that came from the region. This theory is highly disputed since both groups of Shasu and Israelites are depicted in different clothings and hairstyles.

The last of the speculations is that, the Shasu of Yhwh were originally a group of people that escaped Egypt, went through some divine intervention passing through Midian where they picked up the worship of Yhwh from the Midianites . They find their way to the hills of Judea, and spread the message of liberation and Yhwh to the tribes that had fled the canaanite city states. A new community arises composed of nomads, run away slaves and canaanites all united under the freedom loving Yhwh. Their stories, first told and preserved by word of mouth, are later written down to form the Bible.

The interesting bit about the Shasu of Yhwh is that you can choose what speculation to go by!

History’s women.

Being descendants of a male dominated history, the idea of women figures leading and doing the extraordinary is not only alien but unnatural.
I however,support the notion that human societies were originally matriarchal; Women were respected for birthing children, they took up important leadership positions in the society, held together the society and most of the deities were female, but around 3000 B.C. , the patriarchy was born. Lucky for us, history has evidence of women who dared to stand out such as Hatshepsut, Zenobia, Catherine the great, Joan of Arc, Trung sisters, Cleopatra, khutulin, Noor Inayat Khan… The list is long , but in this blog I’ll write about four of my favourites;

Hatshepsut : ( 1479 B.C. – 1458 B.C. ).

After the death of her father, King Thutmose I, twelve years old Hatshepsut married her step brother Thutmose II to become queen. Hatshepsut and Thutmose II had one daughter, Neferure. He had other children through secondary wives including his heir Thutmose III. Upon Thutmose II’ s death, the throne went to his young son Thutmose III and it was Hatshepsut’s duty to handle matters of the kingdom until her step son was of age. The ambitious queen assumed the powers of a pharaoh and fought to maintain her position. She not only wore the traditional fake beard worn by pharaohs, but also had sculptors and painters portray her as a man with a beard and muscles. She was a wise ruler who surrounded herself with political supporters such as her chief minister, Senenmut. Rumor had it that Senenmut had been her lover, there is little proof to this claim… but who doesn’t love a good gossip? As pharaoh, she made great building developments in Egypt and brought back wealth through trading expeditions. Hatshepsut died in her mid forties and was buried in the valley of Kings. Her step son ruled after her death and later on during his reign, had evidence of Hatshepsut as a powerful female ruler in the lineage of the male dynasty erased.

Jeanne d’Arc : ( 1412 – 1431 ).

Jeanne ( famously known as Joan of Arc / The maid of Orléans ) was the daughter of a peasant farmer, living in medieval France. At the age of twelve, Jeanne claimed to have seen visions that were always initiated by a bright light and followed by voices of saint Margret, saint Catherine and Archangel Michael. The voices commanded her to remain a virgin and leave her home to save Orleans. She believed herself to be choosen by God to lead France to victory in the hundred years’ war with no military training and skills. Jeanne convinced the Prince, Charles of Valois, to allow her to lead an army to Orléans where they defeated English and Burgundian forces and emerged victorious. Jeanne inspired the army to win battles, worked as a battle field nurse and encouraged Charles to match to Agincourt and seize the crown. She was captured by Anglo-Burgundians and accused of witchcraft, dressing like a man and heresy. The French king Charles, distanced himself from the accused witch and heretic making no attempt to negotiate her release. At the age of nineteen, Jeanne met with her death when she was burnt at the stake and. Twenty years later, her name was cleared and was sainted by pope Benedict XV.

Theodora: ( 527 CE to 548 CE ).

Theodora’s story is the typical ‘from rags to riches kind of story ‘. She, like her mother before her, worked in the Hippodrome as an acrobat, actress, dancer and stripper. In 525 CE she left the Hippodrome and traveled to Egypt as a mistress to a man. After the love affair ended, she made her way back home a converted Christian. After returning to Constantinople, she got the attention of emperor Justinian. However, Byzantine laws did not permit aristocrats marrying actresses, therefore Justinian revoked the law and married Theodora adopting her illegitimate daughter too. The emperor demanded his wife be crowned as an equal. Theodora is portrayed as a scheming, immoral empress who used her sexuality to control the emperor, but let’s not forget that those are men’s perspectives ( any woman who dared to choose a path other than the usual submissive one was downright demonised ). She was an active politician who fought for women rights, prohibited the trafficking of young girls and made adjustments in the divorce laws. She also supported her husband and this was seen during the Nika revolt where she gave a moving speech about the honor of a ruler and saved her husband’s throne. It’s believed Theodora died of cancer at the age of fourty eight.


The Trung sisters. ( AD 39 – AD 43 ). These sisters were heroines of the first Vietnamese independence movement. Trung Trac, the elder sister, was widowed when her husband was killed by a Chinese general for plotting to overthrow the Chinese Han dynasty colonists. The spirited sisters however were no match for the well trained and equiped Chinese troops. The sisters were defeated, and unable to accept defeat, committed suicide by drowning themselves at the juncture of the Red and Day rivers.