With more and more of our time spent online, disconnected from the
earth on which we live, it’s easy for us to lose track of ourselves –
and our ability to access the energies of nature! The good news is,
reconnection is possible with just a little shift of focus and
There are a whole host of spiritual traditions that link us as human beings with our environments – starting with those that came from ancient Africa, the cradle of civilization. And best of all, you don’t have to alter your personal beliefs to take inspiration from them!
Originated in West Africa (but filtered down into spiritual practice worldwide in the hundreds of years since), the principles of “Yoruba” spirituality are among those traditions that offer us a direct line to nature – both as it is around us and as it exists within us. Believing that the concept of “god” is too expansive to explain, the Yoruba personify all Higher Powers through spiritual beings, or Orisha, who represent the earth’s natural elements such as the ocean, rivers and air. By simply paying respect to the elements, we invite their energies to enhance our lives.
Want to learn more? Then try the three ways below of using ancient Yoruba spiritual beliefs to reconnect with your own worldly power.
1. Nurture yourself
Ever notice that a quiet day at the beach washes over you, leaving you tranquil and present? The Yoruba would thank Yemoja for this experience. The Mother of us all, Yemoja is the Orisha represented by the ocean. Her influence on humanity is as deep and unfathomable as a mother’s love. She holds life within her bosom, but has the power to completely destroy life as well. In that way, we are at her mercy – unless we learn to go with her ebbs and flows, trusting that we are always where we’re meant to be. Her message is perseverance.
To channel the spirit of Yemoja – and nurture yourself – spend some quiet, reflective time at her shores. In other words, go to the ocean (or if that’s not an option, to a lake), sit quietly alone (or with a friend who wants to do the same) and focus on drawing calm and benevolence into your life. Breathe deeply, ask for guidance and say your thanks to the universe for supporting you in your journey. By doing this, you may find that you have the power to center, and to keep moving, – despite what’s going on around you. The goal is to utilize the healing, mothering energy of the water (Yemoja) to recharge.
2. Bring love (and beauty) into your life
There’s no doubting the fact that art and intimacy are interconnected – both are the result of passion. In Yoruba traditions this force is represented by Oshun, the spirit-goddess of love and beauty. Personified by rivers, Oshun teaches us not just how to love others, but how to love and please ourselves by going with the flow that is human nature. She teaches us how to love with our own highest good (and the good of others) in mind.
To bring love, beauty (or prosperity) into your life, or for help dealing with a difficult relationship, channel Oshun’s energy and blessings by creating an altar at home filled with things you find beautiful. Need help? Jewels, copper, mirrors and the color yellow are among Oshun’s favorites. Whatever you choose, by setting this altar up in a place you can see it daily (and taking a few moments to sit by it and focus your intentions on your highest good whenever you can), you create space for all that feels pleasing to you. Based in the idea that our senses are our best judge of what we need (if we truly listen to them), the goal is to appreciate what feels good – and right – so that we bring more of it into our lives.
3. Transform yourself
When we’re experiencing inner turmoil, it’s easy to get swept up, forgetting that we’re actually being presented with an opportunity to transform ourselves. Just like every storm clears the air for a new day, our struggles become our impetus for personal growth. In Yoruba tradition this principle is the domain of Oya, the spirit goddess of change, fertility and magic. She is represented by the wind and storm, and facilitates catharsis through destruction. Old beliefs have to die in order for new ones to take hold, and her message is to fight for positive growth despite the obstacles.
To give birth to a whole new you (or simply a new aspect of yourself) channel the spirit of Oya and wash (or burn) away the mindsets (or memories) that are getting in your way! Write down your old beliefs – or whatever it is you want to release – on small pieces of paper. Then light some candles and draw a bath, adding your favorite aromatic oils to the water. Climb in and cleanse yourself with the intention of washing away whatever it is you’re looking to bid farewell to. When you’re finished, burn the scraps of paper with the flames from the candles, and wash the ashes down the drain.
Now write your new intention on a larger piece of paper, and place it somewhere you can see it – with a red candle you light daily to remind yourself of your transformation. The goal here is recognizing the power you have in your own life – and grabbing hold of it, without hesitation.
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