Every since I been on my journey of critical thought and breaking spiritual bonds I began to ponder on the past. I thought about my mother for a second during a thunderstorm. I remember how she looked to the storm and smiled at it. Excited about it. In reverence of nature’s force. I remember being in awe of her stance on storms and her respect for nature in general. Due to her I never littered a day in my life. In my Christian days, I used to look at her views on nature & spirits as something highly demonic. I blamed it on her mental challenges and didn’t think about it with her anymore. Even though as a child I would always be in conversation with her about mischievous spirits and motherly spirits that might be looking out for us. I always felt bad that I distanced that connection between us. Just based off of a conservative religious duty I felt suffocated by anyway. My mother practiced & referenced more pagan views more than she ever referenced the more dominant Christian view in my area of the U.S. She was widely shunned for it by her Christian friends.
These beliefs of hers actually come out of a long deep tradition of African descent people in the Americas preserving their beliefs against the colonial and white imperialist forces. These practices manifested in many ways across the Americas. Santería in Cuba. Candomblé in Brazil. The presence of Babalu Aye in Puerto Rico. Voudon in New Orleans and Haiti. The list goes on with the carried traditions of mostly the Yoruba based Orishas. In Santería in Cuba for example, these belief and views merged with Catholic views. I gathered a striking conclusion through my current read: Even though the Catholic Saints were from the Christian religion. A religion forced on them, the people of the Orishas saw the Saints as merely how these same spirit guides manifested themselves in different cultures. They respected the fact that this was simply from the same flow of life. Not something to be bigoted about or shun. They continued to be children of the Orishas, but in forms that they could continue without persecution. Such as worship of the Saints. But in contrast the Christian church labelled them barbaric and took their practices out of context, & forced their traditions onto them without thought that their beliefs are just as valid. This religion not only kept our ancestors together as a community and a source of strength, but also as a source of resistance. African descent people exhibit remnants of these beliefs all the time & not even aware of the origins. We burn sage. We tell the children tales of trickster spirits. We make Hoppin’ John in the U.S for New Year’s Eve. Haitians make Joumou to commemorate the same. Jamaicans tell the old Ashanti stories of Anansy (Anansi) the Spider, translated through Miss. Lou (H/T to the old roomie for the Anansy knowledge). So much richness and strong rooted ways. This past year is the first time in a while I truly see my mother in a new respect as an adult. But actually the same light I saw as a child. A woman who loves nature and respects it. Someone who is a strong reflection of a long line of resistance, despite what anyone thought. Inspired by my Momma and the book Santería: African Spirits in America