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shankara

JAH

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The name JAH is found in the King James translation of Psalm 68 of the Bible. It is a short form of what is now commonly pronounced Jehovah. It is commonly combined with the name RAS TAFARI, which was the name of HAILE SELASSIE before his coronation. RAS means “lord” or “king” and TAFARI means “fearless”. Of course the Rastafari movement, or movements (being quite diverse in belief and form), are designated by this God-name, it being the primary name under which they worship God. It should be noted in passing that the word “Rastafarian” sometimes used to designate Rastafari, mispronounces “far-eye” as “fairy”.

 

Slavery brought the African people out of Africa, creating the diaspora. When official slavery ended they found themselves far from home in a racist society, a society lacking real spiritual values though it claimed to be Christian. The Rastafari believe that the Christian church has nothing to do with Christ The Nazarene, that it is corrupt and indeed anti-spiritual. The situation in which black people found and find themselves is exactly like that of the Jews in the “BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY”, under the yoke of an oppressor.

 

What is it that is now called BABYLON? It is the greed of global capitalism, the toxic society in which we live, it is the situation of suffering in which black people (and all sincere people) find themselves. It is tyranny ruling by sheer physical force, Might makes Right, police and soldiers lording it over the people. It is the unethical empire of the Whore and the Beast, “the abomination of desolation”. It is the corporate shadow government, the insane hypocrisy of a society which permits all kinds of evil to the rich and powerful yet punishes the poor for meaningless so-called crimes such as the possession of GANJA.

 

The thing the Rastafari seek, therefore, is to Leave BABYLON and Return To ZION. For some, especially more recently, this idea is metaphorical, seeking an end to the continuing spiritual and mental slavery of BABYLON, returning to ZION in a spiritual sense. Yet for others it is quite literal, seeking repatriation to ETHIOPIA.

 

HAILE SELASSIE was an emperor of ETHIOPIA. It is said in the KEBRA NAGAST that the original Ark Of The Covenant now resides there, and thus the Ethiopians are now the true Covenant People of God. Many of the Rastafari believe that Haile Selassie was the Second Coming of the Christ, others that he was a great prophet. The anniversary of the day he visited Jamaica, arriving by plane, is known as “Groundation Day”. As Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie received the title:

 

KING OF KINGS
LORD OF LORDS

CONQUERING LION OF THE TRIBE OF JUDAH

 

(Which can be spoken as a type of Prayer or Mantra). It is therefore believed by many Rastafari that Haile Selassie is the “Lion Of Judah” of the BOOK OF REVELATION, who opens the Seven Seals of Apocalypse.

 

Rastafari are widely known for the Reggae music some of them produce and for their consumption of GANJA (which they call “KALI WEED”). Reggae music has changed over the years, becoming Dancehall, Ragga, less and less spiritual. The real Reggae music though is the “ROOTS REGGAE”. This is conscious music aiming to promote spirituality and educate the listener about black history. Much of Bob Marley’s music was in this vein, however there are many, many, other Roots Reggae artists. This music is often profoundly spiritual, it may be possible to dance to it but it is primarily a way of getting closer to God.

 

One less well-known subgenre of the Roots Reggae is known as NYABINGHI. This is also the name of one of the major groups of Rastafari, the oldest and strictest “Mansion of Rastafari”, from which the music takes it’s name. The word Nyabinghi is associated with Queen Nyabinghi, who led an anti-colonial rebellion and who is venerated as an incarnation of SEKHMET. Yet in Jamaica it also means “Death To The White (and Black) Oppressor”, though the Nyabinghi don’t believe in violence. Rather they believe that as humanity comes together in prayer, the oppressor will be destroyed by JAH, who is the only one with the right to destroy. Beating the drums and singing together they summon spiritual forces to bring about the end of the Babylonian Captivity.

 

The Nyabinghi form of Roots music, inspired by these chants, is often prayerful and involving the repetition of Psalms, much of it is essentially hymns with choral vocals. It uses the Nyabinghi rhythms which are like traditional African rhythms, heavily syncopated and offbeat, rather than the more “rock” steady offbeat rhythms of most Roots Reggae.

 

GANJA is considered a sacrament to Rastafari, as REVELATION says: “the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations”. Some consider it to be a special form of incense which drives away the negative energies of all the licentiousness and immorality on the planet. It is used primarily at “Groundings”, where they come together to pray and to “reason”. The “reasoning” is a discussion of Rastafari doctrines and how they relate to the moment, it is intended to illuminate everyone present and bring about a clearer and higher perspective on spirituality and the world.

 

The Rastafari believe that the reason the GANJA is illegal (a prohibition which began with the US “War on Drugs”) is because it can open people’s minds to the realization of how Babylon is oppressing them and to true spirituality (rather than the dogmas of churches etc).

 

Effectively the RASTAFARI teaching, the ROOTS REGGAE music and the GANJA, is a very profound living spiritual path for the present time. It is a relatively new movement, and thus still has much of it’s original vitality. In truth we are in BABYLON, and we must realize this and confront the situation. GANJA can show us just how twisted the whole situation is, uplift us and give us a great deal of spiritual strength and positive force (providing that it is used respectfully, even sacramentally). The ROOTS REGGAE music, particularly in combination with the GANJA, can tune us in with positive spiritual forces and help us to develop wisdom.

 

We can at any time, but particularly when burning the herb, recite the name of JAH RAS TAFARI, which is a true Holy Name of God. We can also recite the name of the Indian God SHIVA, who is the consort of KALI and whose devotees commonly wear dreadlocks and smoke the holy herb.

 

JAH RAS TAFARI

 

Short Youtube Roots Reggae Playlist (7 Roots Tracks, 3 Nyabinghi)

 

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