Spiritual Healing as an African American-Descendant of enslaved Africans
Understanding the holistic impact of religious oppression and systems of domination on our cultural and spiritual identity
“In the modern world, people have abandoned connection to ancestors… The biggest damage religion has done to people is disconnecting them from their ancestors.”
Muang’ Akili Tugmakvu, 5 Insightful African Shamanic Healing Keys
My Spiritual Healing and Self Liberation Journey
Studying African Indigenous Spirituality, values, and sacred traditions, I am grateful to be making more healing connections at a personal and collective level, specific to our shared experience as African Americans but also broadly as people born in the U.S. I have always felt intuitively that America is a desacralized society. So many social norms have always felt wrong to me-capitalism, materialism, excessiveness in all forms, putting more emphasis on physical appearance and external gain than personal growth and integrity. Feeling these things as a young person in a religious, super-traditional African American family, I did not have the words to express my internal conflicts with the society and culture around me, but I knew there was another path waiting for me to discover.
For the past four years, I have been on a path of self liberation, letting go of the ideologies I inherited and discovering my own path of truth and spiritual connection. African dance has always been my connection to my Indigenous Spirit. Digging deeper into African Dance and Indigenous studies, I am finally understanding the foundations of African Spirituality and values. One of the most important truths I have discovered is that people are not meant to face the challenges of physical life and the spiritual realm on their own. We are meant to learn from the wisdom of our elders and ancestors as was done in ancient times.
Spiritual Disconnection to Ancestral Healing
The disconnect for African Americans, those of us who are descendants of African enslaved peoples, is that all of our Indigneous practices were taken from us centuries ago. African enslaved peoples were forced to abandon their spiritual practices and convert to Christianity. Fast forward to modern days, African Americans have adopted Christianity as a means of survival. This is not entirely bad or meant to be a judgement because it allowed us to maintain our spiritual resilience and faith that things would be better for us someday. However, there are a whole mess of consequences to assimilating to the same religion that enslaved our ancestors and caused massive harm at the physical, level, spiritual and psychological levels. I won’t dive into this whole situation right now, but I will say that the thing that harmed us cannot be the thing that heals us.
Because of the legacy of slavery and racial terrorism, our ancestors and elders had to assimilate to Christianity and modern American social norms in order to survive life in America, a life paved with social, economic struggle with no supportive resources. Speaking for myself, my parents could not teach me anything about Africa or ancestral connections. Sadly, my Christian parents and most of my family adapted the racist American rhetoric that demonized African culture. I grew up without any sense of cultural identity and had to figure out the religious-spiritual-social-cultural matrix mostly on my own as an adult. I am still putting the pieces together. There are still many things I don’t understand, but here is what I do know.
Observing my own life and that of my peers, I have witnessed the chaos, confusion, and extreme energetic imbalance that comes with a severed connection to one’s true spiritual power. The majority of African American people are still spiritually and psychologically enslaved to a society, a culture, and a religion that has sought to destroy us from the beginning.
The Path Forward-Spiritual Healing
Our path of healing requires reclaiming our Authentic spirituality. Not everyone feels led toward African ancestral healing and that is ok. Each person’s spiritual journey is different. What I know for sure is that we all must stand up and start asking the bigger questions,
Who am I? What do I believe? Am I living in this truth?
If not, what is stopping me from being in alignment with my truth?
“To exploit people, you must veil their minds and create conflicts and wars between them. This is happening today in our life as happened in earlier societies. Religion is the best tool to veil the minds of the people and divide them.”
Nawal El Saawadi-My Childhood in Egypt,not knowing I was in Africa.