I have been struggling with breaking back into blogging for a number of reasons. The biggest of them is that there has been a lot in my heart and on my mind about Africana traditions that I want to share from the last year of my spiritual journey but haven’t yet… and most of those things are cups of flaming hot tea that go against the grain of what’s popular to write about online. These are mostly basic things anyone would encounter when they work with an OG, traditional practitioner or join any legitimate ATR house, but none of it is particularly exciting or good news when you’re just learning about Africana spirituality on your own. For the most part, they also aren’t things people are talking a lot about online.
So for a long time, I’ve tiptoed around or kept silent on these topics. The truth is, holding back on these areas won’t make them any less important to add to our community’s discussion. I am just one voice and one perspective among many – one that should be questioned, poked, and prodded just as much as any other. There’s potential benefit for everyone’s growth as a collective when we can have open, honest dialogue together about what’s confusing, unexpected, and difficult to confront. With that, it’s time to finally open up and spill some of my tea this year. I hope that with every post, every time I share my thoughts, it is not as an expert or with any sense of “rightness,” but rather a piece of the broader conversation that we can share and an invitation to learn and grow together on our paths wherever they may be leading.
As I see the popularity and presence of Africana spirituality growing more and more, these become an increasing concern to me about the future of our traditions. Social media and online platforms are both an incredible way to spread empowering knowledge about our traditions, history, and culture – but without the wisdom and discernment of elders dedicated to teaching it carefully, that knowledge can be just as harmful to the preservation and genuine practice of those traditions as it can be for positive spiritual transformation. If we want to tap into all the good that technology can do to truly strengthen and support the black community through increased access to our spiritual traditions, we have to understand and step up efforts to protect against the damage that can also be done with these tools. As information and access multiples, so too does the potential for appropriation outside the black community and abuse, misunderstanding, and misuse of Africana traditions within the black community.
It is a wonderful thing when the internet can connect skilled practitioners to those who can benefit from their spiritual talents and create a means for that practitioner to support themselves financially. Money is another form of energy, and payment is an energy exchange in the context of Africana traditions, but not in a good way when the spirituality is all too often watered down through toxic processes of commercialization and problematic marketing.
It is amazing when so many more beginners on their paths can learn so much more than ever before about Africana traditions, but also dangerous when the delivery of that information comes at any time about potentially any topic – not taught by an elder who has taken on the responsibility of teaching and has the beginner’s best interests and what they are ready for in mind at all times.
It is exciting and empowering that anyone – myself included – regardless of experience or qualifications can write and share about Africana spirituality… not just the initiated, priests, and elders of many decades who traditionally were the respected sources. On the flip side, this opens the flood gates for falsehoods and misunderstandings about the traditions to become widespread if enough want to believe them.
I seriously worry about all these dangers because they pose a threat to the health and well being, the financial stability, and the spiritual growth of our community – as well as to the authentic transmission and preservation of our traditions and culture themselves. I firmly believe that these are areas where we need to be as honest and aware as possible. We must do our best to hold ourselves and each other accountable for how we represent, share, practice, engage in, and sustain Africana spiritual traditions. This is not to say that there aren’t many across our different online (and offline) communities who aren’t striving towards this – there are MANY. This is simply a call to action for that to continue in earnest and become a mainstream priority for all of us. I’m looking forward to hearing other’s thoughts on this subject, and I’ll definitely be writing on more specifics in the future.
To end on a positive note, I’ve been really inspired by some of the things that well-known podcaster, diviner, rootworker, and ATR practitioner Juju picked up during her reading of the year for 2020. At the end of 2019, I went to a Palo ceremony where I heard some things about this year that really fit together well with Juju’s messages and have been inspiring. Juju talks about how in 2020, it’ll be really important for us to share our gifts with each other for uplifting the black community. So here’s to this year, and all the possibilities for collective growth that it holds for us!