“Yet I was always a visitor. All those years I was on the outside looking in while I danced their dance of spirit, chanted their words of praise, draped myself in their garments, and spoke in a foreign tongue. But now I have been blessed to find my way back home to self.” Queen Afua
We stood before the congregation, my best friend and I, as our Pastor invoked the Holy Spirit to enter our bodies and bring forth a spiritual language we called “tongues”. With my head bowed, hands raised high and eyes closed, I peeped through my right eye to see who was watching. I was so nervous, because Sunday after Sunday, I never got the urge to “jump and scream” all over the church, which was my perception of what it meant to be filled with the Holy Spirit/Ghost. Now I was being told, in front of the entire flock, to enter into this sacred place and speak the language only understood and given by God HIMself. When my Pastor asked me to open my mouth and let the words flow from my heart I began speaking in tongues; not because the Holy Spirit answered my prayers and made me finally experience HIM myself, but because I often imitated/practiced those words knowing that someday this day would come.
In addition to attending church every Sunday, I was a praise dancer and practice was every Wednesday and sometimes we were even at church on Friday and Saturday nights for what seemed liked hours upon hours! All of our holidays were also now being spent at the church, even Halloween, the one that was not supposed to be celebrated, according to Christianity, yet the church still provided a “safe alternative” to help us free ourselves from our secular ways (which is still a celebration to me but whatever). So it is safe to say that I grew up in the church like many black families today.
Simultaneously I was being drawn to Native American culture (something I learned about at summer camp) and when my mom and I would take that 20-30 minute walk to the public library I would pick up anything I could find in the children’s section with illustrations of the culture. I began trying to make dream catchers since they had offered an immediate solution to my reoccurring nightmares. I also loved television shows like Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Charmed and anything else that had to do with magic. When my mom wasn’t home, I’d mix her season salts, dance around the house, ask for magical powers and summon spirit animals to protect me. I did these things in efforts to free myself from the internal depression I couldn’t communicate to anyone.
During everyone’s childhood they are teased at some point but it seemed like mine was more excessive than my pack I traveled with as I did not have older brothers who the entire hood was scared of or several sisters who would “pop off” on anyone who’d hurt my feelings. When I got my menses at the age of 9 my body began to physically change, I was no longer slim and pretty but I became fat and ugly as acne surfaced on my face and eczema on other areas of my skin. I was told things such as I don’t know how to bathe correctly or my mom can’t afford soap for me to wash my neck where my eczema visibly plagues. In 5th grade the class bully called me a moose, everyone laughed, even my best friends. Moose stayed with me for years and it was the most painful of them all. Not only was I trying to escape jokes gone too far but also I was trying to mentally escape the projects of the Bronx, New York. I could never find peace or inspiration in those brick walls. Even at a young age I understood something wasn’t right about life in the projects and I couldn’t wait for summers to spend it on my grand grandmothers’ farm where I felt one with nature.
I began to verbally express my love for magic to my mother, “The Blood of Jesus, that devil worship will not take place in my house!” I would then have to find the scriptures that correlated with whatever I did or said and sometimes had to write reports on chapters from the bible. I was beyond confused because even though I prayed, went to church, praise danced, and lived my life according to the bible Jesus had not healed me. I prayed to HIM and asked HIM to help ME believe in MYself, to not be depressed, to help my mom with bills, etc etc etc… and day after day nothing seemed to change, but when I made my dream catcher my nightmares stopped. “What’s wrong with me? Why am I so naturally drawn to everything that is of the devil? Am I not a good person?” Constant inner turmoil and confusion! I never sought the proper help I needed for my psychological and sexual trauma I experienced throughout the years. I just gave it to Jesus and believed that in HIS timing HE would heal me.
Fast-forward to adulthood. In college I eventually began studying Neuroscience, Psychology, and African and African American studies subconsciously trying to gain a deeper understanding myself and consciously trying to understand this white patriarchal system of supremacy aka racism. After earning my degree I felt like I still didn’t achieve the goal of understanding why we do what we do, as our brains aren’t fully understood and you can be on either side of the fence with psychological dogmas. I still loved magic from afar while still loving Jesus in this complex way.
My Africana studies did offer me some answers as I learned so much about the hidden truths of Ancient Afrakan civilizations and their beliefs systems before Christianity was forced onto my ancestors. This has opened the door to covering and walking in my own truths. The fact that really got me to open my eyes was when I learned how Christianity adopted traditional voodoo practices into the bible in order to keep the slaves from revolting! Yet voodoo is frowned upon in the religion. Hhhmmmmm. I also began to notice a major difference in Afrakan spiritual beliefs vs. Eurocentric religion. All- ancient Afrakan belief systems (which still are valued in many places outside of the western world) celebrate, respects and honors both the Goddess and the God. Christianity removed this balance of worship by removing the Goddess and only focused on God; there are no books in the bible written by women, God only has a son, the Holy spirit is a male and all the angle are coincidently males too! There is no reverence for the mother creator in the Bible yet we use the terms as Mother Nature and Mother Earth to reference the NATURAL ORDER OF THE UNIVERSE. It all begins within the womb of the WOman! Genesis, in the beginning darkness was upon the face of the deep- the WOMB. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters- Amniotic Fluids. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light- Birth. You literally have to read between the lines of the scriptures.
Scroll down to Genesis 1:26 and God said; Let US make man in OUR image (KJV). Who is us??? Genesis 2:13 the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. Did the church ever explain that the 1st human being ON EARTH, an Afraka WOMAN was found here??? Of course not!
I came to realize that more than Jesus was crucified on that cross. So was my womb, and my womanhood, and my Goddess and my freedom, and my spirituality. So I decided that it is best for ME to not practice a religion that doesn’t honor the natural order of life- balance. It’s so ironic that people cant even fathom the idea that I still actually believe in God and the creator. I Just don’t beLIEve what has been taught about him and now have (and constantly) gain KNOWledge on what actually works for me. No longer do I frown upon magic or damn those to hell as Christianity has taught me to do. No longer will I allow my Womb to be crucified on that cross and years of inner turmoil and scarring is healing properly. I’m not asking you ladies (or anyone for that matter) to drop Jesus if that’s what you choose to believe, but I am asking you to really get in touch with your Goddess power instead of letting it be just another shared meme! Honor, praise and respect the Goddess.
“One goes to a Christian church to find God, one goes to an Afrakan church to become God.” Karen M. Brown