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African Spirituality



African Masks

There is no one form of African spirituality. In reality, Africa is perhaps the most diverse continent on the planet when it comes to languages, cultures, religions, and even physiognomy. However, due to African Americans being made up of a mixture of several African nations and ethnicities, those conjoined practices are referred to as African Spirituality.

Millennials and Gen Z are finding rootwork, hoodoo, and voodoo to be less taboo than their predecessors found them to be. Many among them have become jaded with the Abrahamic faiths. Some online forums are full of new African American witches asking where Jesus was during 400 years of slavery, others still are calling out Islam as a religion of colonizers that enslaved Africans long before the Europeans did.

While some have completely jumped ship leaving their mother’s religion altogether. Many are facing a Renaissance of sorts. Hoodoo combines elements of Christianity, Judaism, Native American spirituality, and African spirituality. According to hoodoo practitioners, some of the most powerful spell work is done by using The book of Psalms, from the bible.

Hoodoo, Santeria, Brujeria, Palo Mayombe, and Ifa were all carried to the Americas and its surrounding islands in the hearts of enslaved captives from up and down the continental west coast of Africa. The process of assimilation led to syncretized saints. This means that during slavery, enslaved Africans to practice these faith traditions hid them in the religions forced upon them like Catholicism, for example.

For example, those who wanted to call upon African water “Mami Wata” also known as “la siren” in Haitian voodoo, would bow before an image of Saint Martha (Santa Marta) making their intention to beseech Mami Wata without being caught; the consequences being certain death. Many African Americans with roots in Louisiana are finding that hoodoo practices were passed down to them unwittingly. Spitting on a broom when it hits your feet, sweeping the home from front to back, throwing salt over one’s shoulder, etc. These all have their roots in hoodoo, not to be confused with the religion, Voodoo.


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