Vishuddha, what do you need?
Speak your truth, this you already know. Understand that your voice matters, and it is important that others hear what you have to say. You have a perspective that nobody else has, and sometimes what you have to say could be the answer to a question that somebody else has. You are gifted to help others understand the truth. This was noticed from you since youth, others saw it as a threat, and they suppressed you to keep your voice down. Now it is time to show them that you are not afraid, and you will not back down. You will stand up for yourself, and for others that may need it. Don’t be afraid of how others will react to your truth. They cannot hurt you. You are protected by the divine. If they are offended, in the end they will be thankful. Give yourself opportunities to let others hear you speak. Give them the opportunity to see what you have to say. It is so important that you do this. The more you speak your truth, the more you will be inclined to keep diving in deeper into the truth, and share it with the world.
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Throat Chakra 💙
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Vishuddha, what do you need?
I need you to speak your truth. Always remember that what you have to say matters. Don’t be afraid of expressing yourself. Watch your words, because how you say things also matters. Avoid speaking negatively, and stop wishing ill on others. Don’t speak for others based on assumptions, but speak for yourself based on what you know.
“I now intend to create a connection with my throat chakra. May I be in touch with my will to live and may I speak my truth in this world authentically, creatively, and easily. I release all fear that keeps me from listening to my inner voice. I ask to be supportive in all forms of personal expression, so I may communicate my needs effortlessly, and trust that I will be heard. And so it is.”
during this time, be observant and conscious of how different spiritual/religious communities react to this pandemic, how they respond to it, what are the ideas they put out and propagate in reference to its origin/purpose/lesson, and what they believe their gods say about this situation.
some religious leaders - Christian and Hasidic Jewish that i have seen thus far - have continued holding services and funerals, putting not only their congregants at risk, but all those they have to come into contact with on the way to those services. this speaks 1) to the clergy not wanting to miss that tithe, and 2) not having much regard for those outside their communities. i’m wondering about the phrase “…in the world, not of the world”, and how that may be interpreted by some as meaning that nothing that happens in this world is of significance; that nothing that happens in this world, outside of the church, means anything. i’m thinking now about the Christian/Abrahamic doctrine and what it says about non-Christians; how are they (we) regarded, and do Christians have any obligation to help others?
within the Ifa/Orisa tradition, i do see some stepping up and offering guidance, prayers, communal prayers, level-headed responses to understanding this situation, divination, ebos (sacrifices), and other helpful things. some “leaders” within this community have been offering prayers and that’s about it.
in general…if any person claiming to be a religious “leader” who hasn’t reached out to others in and outside of their communities, who haven’t given some type of spiritual understanding for this situation, who haven’t offered something to help folks cope with what’s happening (something that is safe and accessible to all)…then they ain’t about nothing. all religions attract far too many narcissists looking for attention, money, power, and respect while having no understanding of reciprocity; they have no understanding of what it means to care for their community, to LEAD their communities. they only seek to reap the benefits from their positions. and right now, many of them are just looking to maintain their positions - they don’t give a damn about their congregants and spiritual communities.
be observant of these types of “leaders”. and run from them.
i just filled out the census, and now i’m thinking about when i filled it out for the first time being an adult 10 years ago. and really processing where i’m at now and what i’ve learned.
i was 23. i lived in Flatbush, Brooklyn. i’m pretty sure i still lived with my roommate Louis - a nerdy Black dude into white girls who had been in an on/off relationship with a white girl in Florida who dumped him after her family found he was Black. i eventually left that apartment because the landlord was a perv and it had rats. i worked at Target in the clothing department. i was kinda finishing an Associate’s degree in Philosophy, but also kinda quit school and didn’t know if i wanted to go back. living in nyc was one of the highlights of my life. i felt freer, happier, and fascinated by everything and everyone in nyc. i hadn’t dated or done anything with a guy at that time, and had yet to meet my child’s father. i was an atheist. i had just started to read up on African/African American history and Black feminism, and other political stuff. i met my best friend, Yvette, while there and she still my homegirl. i became a pescatarian that year, and stopped eating the other meats. one of my favorite things to do was just ride the subway while listening to music. native new yorkers hate the subway and buses, but they’re so fascinating; there’s a vibe in them that you don’t get anywhere else. my favorite restaurant was Vegetarian Palace on Flatbush ave, and Uptown Juice Bar in Harlem.
a lot has changed in the past 10 years. i’m much more sure of myself, and what i want and who i am. i’ve come to a spirituality that grounds and elevates me, which i was, in some ways, searching for back then. i have a child, and 10 years ago, i thought i wouldn’t have a child until i was 35+. i eventually stopped eating fish as well and developed a dairy allergy. did a good amount of personal and academic education, my saturn return was a rough, but i’m at a really high point in my life right now. i feel like i was asking questions 10 years ago, that i’m now answering for myself, my life, my purpose, etc.
i’m also thinking about relatives of mine, great great grandparents whose census records i’m looking at now on ancestry.com and trying to extrapolate more from the records than just their names, ages, and ethnicities. maybe i should turn the census into a whole ritual of reflection and reassessment.
there’s a lot of lessons to gleam from this current time - one collective one is the ultimate interconnectedness of everyone and everything.
in a number of social science fields, it’s becoming more and more apparent that speaking of humans and animals and environment and land/water are not completely separate things. never have been; never will be.
and with this illness going around, it’s even more evident just how ties one human is to another. we’re separate in the sense that droplets of water are separate in the sea. what some folk in East Asia eat effects those in other parts of the globe; folks without access to clean water on a reservation in Arizona effect the entire US because if they can’t wash their hands/bodies, they can spread the disease further; people that are homeless can spread the disease because they can’t “stay at home” and “self-quarantine” when they’re looking for food and shelter; animal agriculture and diseases can and have quite often affected humans; insects (the bee, for example), becoming endangered was a wake-up call for some because it is so significant to human food agriculture.
all of these things show us that we are not separate - not from other humans, not from other non-human animals, and not from the earth. everything is connected.
so presently, i’m trying to process this situation. and one of the things that i turn to is my spirituality…and i’m trying to understand this situation within the cosmological/theological/African cultural understandings of situations like these.
from the Ifa/Orisa tradition, sicknesses and illnesses, especially those effecting large groups of people are under the governance of Babaluaye/Obaluaiye, also known as Sakpata or Shoponna. because Babaluaye is associatied with sickness, he is also associated with healing.
from a variety of African traditions, especially in West/Central Africa, pandemics like this - similar to smallpox (which Babaluye is most associated with) - are a punishment. and in these traditional situations, divination (or possibly, possession) was done to see what the transgression was that caused this punishment, and then what sacrifices need to be made in order to further rectify and appease Babaluaye (or the other gods with the same energy).
what i’m not seeing from our community is this understanding. there are people i know who “have” Babaluaye and who have simply prayed for the world. but a collective coming together, divination, rectification, and ebo has not happened and i’m not sure why.
i think a lot of people come to these various African spiritual traditions having read nothing on them; read or researched nothing of where they came from, the cultural milieu in which they rose, or how these gods were used and understood in the traditions they arose in. and without that knowledge, i’m sure it’s quite easy to think of these traditions as very individualistic. besides doing things for and with one’s ile or egbe…i’m not sure there’s a lot of conversation on the communities that we live in at large. but where these traditions arose, ebos were done for entire villages - because when the gods brought their wrath for a transgression, it was the entire town that suffered.
i’ve had conversations where i tell people what i research (Ifa/Orisa practitioner’s responses and processing of climate change and natural/human-made disasters) and a common response is to blame everything that’s happening on white people. and true, they started almost all the shit that is negatively effecting the planet. but the gods/the earth/the universe don’t exact punishment and come through plucking out all the white people. Babalu takes out whole cities, Yemoja drowns entire towns, Oya takes entire islands off the map. that is how they operate.
there has to be a collective response on some level to these issues. and maybe the issue is a lack of a blueprint. doing an ebo for a village of 1,000 people (who are all generally on the same religious/cultural page as it was in traditional African societies) is different from doing an ebo for a city of 4 million people of very diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and cultural practices - including the individuals who may or may not attempt to rectify the transgression (such as environmental degradation, trash in oceans, pollutions, etc.).
what to do in this situation requires creativity for what to do in a new situation, but also reaching back into our histories for the foundational knowledge that we then build upon. but this individualistic shit gotta go.
i had a dream last night that i was with some school folks (who i don’t know in real like) and the teacher asked our concepts of god, and everyone was going around saying their perspective, and before it was my turn, i got off at the wrong stop and then had to run down the driver, and then i woke up so i was never able to tell my perspective.
it’s been on my mind lately after noting how often i see Olodumare (Yoruba spiritual supreme being) referred to with male pronouns. i was flipping through African Religions and Philosophy by John S. Mbiti and all throughout, all of the supreme beings for all the African peoples he covers, are referred to with male pronouns. this is really the case for a number of books of Yoruba and other indigenous African spiritual traditions.
of course, this is a borrow from Christianity (and even within that tradition, i’m curious to know what types of pronouns, if any, are used in the original Amharic or Aramaic bible) that just hasn’t been acknowledged and critiqued within the Ifa/Orisa or any indigenous African spiritual tradition.
and if i have learned nothing else from Anthropology and all its shitty history, i have learned that it is CRUCIAL for one to acknowledge their context, their positionality, their perspective, their preconceived notions of anything. anthro, and just about all other fields of study have(/are) rife with people who thought x and y about Black people and could not, even with evidence upon evidence smacking them in the face get beyond that though; they have been rife with men who thought x and y about women and again, could not get past it for centuries; and so on with dozens of other examples.
one might say that the Christian god needs a gender, in that it is much more anthropomorphized and personal than most indigenous African beliefs of a supreme being. for most African indigenous spiritual traditions, the supreme being is a being that is very distant and removed from everyday life and everyday dealings, so humans contact the intermediaries (ancestors, spirits, lesser gods, etc.) to help them on a regular basis. one might only even attempt to contact the supreme if an extraordinary calamity befell the community. when colonizers came to the continent, they didn’t believe we had concepts of supreme beings because there were no shrines to the supreme beings, only to the lesser gods/entities.
Olodumare is the totality of everything; every fish every sea every tree every leaf every bug every animal even bone every cell in every body, etc. i think about Olodumare in the same way that i do the universe. and this traditional African idea of the supreme being makes sense to me…when you look at pictures of the earth from the moon or from mars…or even flying in a plane and you look down at an entire city and it just looks so small; those moments when you realize how small you really are; when you think about how intimidatingly small the earth is compared to even the other planets in our solar system; when you think about how massive the globe is…and yet still so small. me contacting Olodumare because i want a car just seems a bit trivial.
anyway, so this…containment of placing a gender on the supreme being is like putting a gender on the universe. what gender is the universe? some have argued that Olodumare or the earth is feminine…and i would say they have some good points, even while i still believe that perspective is limiting as well. what really gets me is when you point these things out to people (as i recently did as well), and the response is “well Olodumare/god/the supreme being is both male and female”. why they use male pronouns is never addressed. it’s the normalized, default masculine of damn near everything in this society (and many others) that hasn’t even been acknowledged. i read an article a while back about how most doctors are trained and many trials are ran using male bodies to the point that certain drugs’ effects on female bodies hasn’t even been studied.
the feminine energy being disregarded, disrespected, or forgotten altogether is so entrenched in this society (and the societies it has colonized) that even when we believe we have stepped out of that mindset and into another, that there’s still a lot of work to be done. those of us that are raised in a particular religious tradition, who then go on to another…like to believe that once we commit to that other religion/spirituality, that the slate has been wiped clean and we’ve just switched over to a different spiritual mindset like one switches one or off a light. but it’s a whole complicated process to get oneself out of the spiritual beliefs one was raised in/that the majority of their society believes in. its a long and arduous process. i’m still going through it a decade after leaving the church. but it has to be started at some point.
last year this time, i was applying for doctorate programs, hoping that i would get in for this fall. on some level, for some time, i had been feeling like maybe i was on the wrong path. i was in a toxic relationship, got evicted from my apartment that i shared with him, had to move in with my parents, had every doctorate program i initially applied for reject me, and no one called me back for a job not even entry-level positions. so it took a lot of time in nature, a lot of sit downs with my ancestors and whatnot for me to realize i wasn’t on the wrong path. i just needed to learn some things, get clear, get grounded, and recenter before i made the next moves.
right now i’m in los angeles. just moved here from alabama to attend school. i’m studying basically everything i write about on this blog in anthropology and this is probably one of the best things that has ever happened to me. i’m happy and thankful to be in a new town that i haven’t lived in before and never even been to prior to this year, that i’m at a good school and i’m in anthropology, that i’m working with a Black woman in anthropology (because it could have been very very easy for me to have wound up working with a trash white man anthropologist out in Bumfuck, Idaho), that i have shelter, that my daughter is healthy and happy, and that i’m healthy and happy. my saturn return drug me to shit, but i’m out of it better, stronger, spiritually grounded. its also validation that i’m not as far off from my destiny as i thought i was.
my daughter is coming out her with me after i get settled. and i’ll be on my own with just her and me for the first time ever. which may sound daunting (and i’m sure there are times where it will be), but i look forward to learning the city with her. she’s also going to be a part of my spiritual community in ways that she has yet to be exposed to. i think she’ll love it out here.