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The continent of Africa is home to some of the world’s most valuable natural resources — wildlife, sunsets and herbs. It is also the birthplace of millions upon millions of descendants from slavery. The Homeland cultivated a people whose strength and resilience is rooted in the land. It is also the place where ancient religions took center stage. The institution of slavery helped to erase native tongues. Practices and beliefs systems were seemingly replaced with a more mainstream religion. Now, African descendants are returning to their roots and have begun to practice the religions of their ancestors; finding a new peace while being grounded through the rebirth of African faith.  


Indigenous African religions, before the introduction of Christianity and Islam which are widely practiced in Africa and by its descendants in the current day, were rooted in the elements. Earth, the spiritual realm and divine creation were acknowledged and were a driving force behind worship. Relying heavily on the ancestors, indigenous African belief systems are not monolithic, yet are based in multiple entities practiced by differing tribes and regions across Africa. As more African Americans begin to educate themselves on the ancient religious practices, many are leaving behind the constructs of America‘s faith-based beliefs and embracing what some believe to be mystical and otherworldly.  


“I’ve been on my spiritual journey since the beginning of 2018. Honestly, I don’t have a ‘name’ for what I practice. I just do what feels right. I hate labels. However, I do dip and dabble into voodoo, hoodoo and other magick practices at times,” said Angela Tait.  


For many, the return to African ancestry and religious practices came from a divine energy leading and directing their path. Generations of African descendants have been gradually removed from the ancient ways of religion. However, those who practice believe more African Americans are returning to their roots and beginning to be unapologetic in their approach.  


“I believe that we are in our ‘end of days.’ For so long now, the Black community has endured abuse and torture and unfair circumstances all the while things are left unsaid because ‘that’s the way it is.’ But now, a revolution is taking place. Something is changing — a rebirth in our DNA to reclaim our strength and power. And in order to do that, we must become who we really are. The kings and queens that birthed us thousands of generations ago,” said Tait. “We are being called to wake up and stand our ground because I truly believe humanity is depending on us. I believe there’s a war emerging within the spiritual realms and we are its last hope.” 


According to Pew Research, 79 percent of African Americans consider themselves to be Christians. With a strong foundation, Christianity often dispels practices seen as ‘evil,’ ‘demonic’ or ‘ungodly.’ Horoscope and star readings often fall under this category for Christians. Traditions that center around Orisha, spirits deriving from the Yoruba, are seen by some as witchcraft.  


“First of all, the word ‘witch’ has been white-washed and made to think of evil doings because when our ancestors were taken and the Europeans saw how powerful we were, it scared them and they did their best to ban those practices. Everything in the Christian religion is based on voodoo practice. For example, first communion: you drink the blood of Christ and eat the body of him too, but that’s not a ritual? You catch the Holy Spirit, but that’s not possession? You receive what you pray to God for, but that’s not manifesting? I believe we can do everything Jesus did if we were of the same Christ consciousness,” said Tait. “With all that power that is already installed in our DNA, it makes them afraid of us. Afraid of what we’re capable of. Therefore, they did their best to ban such practices.” 


Pop music icon Beyoncé paid homage to Oshun, the Yoruba goddess of love and fertility, in her 2017 Grammy performance and has since continued to put images related to the African Diaspora on the main stage. Though catching backlash, the actress and singer inspired conversation and invoked a new level of curiosity. As more African Americans began to seek guidance from their ancestors, they are also pushing for acceptance through knowledge.  


“We can lessen the stigma by education and having an open mind. Everything that was taught to us isn’t always what’s right,” said Tait.  


Whether it’s the Asante of Ghana, the Yoruba of Nigeria or the Dogon of Mali, African ancestral faith practices believe in a Supreme Being as the Creator of the universe. Rooted in community, belonging and ritual practices, there is no central faith practiced in Africa, but more if a divine belief in a Ruler among the nations and honoring the beings from the past who continue to guide, protect and keep its descendants safe and cherished.  


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