What comes to your mind when this word is said around you? Weed? Dreadlocks? A track by Bob Marley? The entire nation of Jamaica?
It’s completely understandable to have conceptions about the Rastas. As a matter of fact, we all do. The only important thing is to ensure that your conception is right and not founded on the wrong notions.
Over the years, a lot of people have portrayed the Rastafarians as wasteful Jamaicans who do nothing but sit home all day and smoke weed. This is incredibly wrong. Rather the people are a freedom-loving, homely people who have certain philosophies that they abide by.
Just as it is with the rest of us.
Here, we’ll take a look at some of the philosophies and beliefs that have been entrenched into our Rastafarian friends, as well as the significance of one of their most profound symbols; marijuana.
Haile Selassie and the Second Coming of Christ
This belief has actually gown to be a major part of the Rastafari philosophy, and it is as old as the Rastafari religion itself.
Back in the early 1900s, there was a prophecy by Marcus Garvey which predicted that Africa would bring forth a new black king who will be the messiah. Soon after the prophecy was made, Haile Selassie I was crowned the king of Ethiopia.
Seeing this as a sign of the prophecy’s manifestation, the Rastafari immediately took Selassie as the second coming of Christ. They believed that he was a descendant of King Solomon, which made him directly connected to the bloodline of Jesus.
Quite notable, however, is the fact that Selassie himself denied being a reincarnation of Christ.
The Sanctity of the Body
As it is with a lot of religions, the Rastafarians believe strongly that the body is a temple as well. Ergo, you should take care of it.
However, the Rastafarians go beyond just eating Ital (a natural, almost-vegan meal that has various bodily benefits on its own). They believe that they should let their hair grow long, and they don’t taint is with anything that can be seen as “unnatural.”
In addition to that, they don’t tattoo their skin or eat bad food. Some Rastafarians who believe that marijuana is detrimental to the body also don’t smoke weed.
Paradise in Africa
Contrary to what a lot of people might believe, a lot of Rastafarians actually rely on the Holy Bible when it comes to coining their beliefs. So, they have a version of what paradise is.
Numerous members of the Rastafari religion believe that the world they live in is a purgatory, as their ancestors were uprooted from their home in Africa by the colonialists and were made to live where they are now.
So, a vast majority these people see Africa as their Zion. It is what they believe is paradise on Earth, and they aim to go back there.
However, this belief has gone beyond just a religious yearning; it’s a cultural one. It makes perfect sense their ancestors were removed from Africa and made to work away from home. So, the goal is not just to return home to Africa, but to develop their home into a modern world (while still preserving their heritage and roots, of course).
Marijuana: Much More Than Just a Recreational Activity
Marijuana- or ganja, as it is colloquially called- is considered to be very sacred in the Rastafari culture, and it is usually known as the holy herb or wisdom weed.
The Rastafarians actually believe that the Tree of Life, which was mentioned in the Bible, is the marijuana plant. They also point to several Bible passages that promote the “use of marijuana”
“Thou shalt eat the herb of the field” (Genesis 3:18)
“Eat every herb of the land” (Exodus 10:12)
“The herb is the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2).
Surprisingly, Rastas actually condemn the use of marihuana for just the recreational purpose. Rather, it is employed in religious ceremonies in a ritualized manner to enhance the camaraderie and generate visions of a soothing and spiritual nature.
Their “reasoning sessions” are meetings that include group mediation, and marijuana is seen as a means to get followers into a solemn state. The ganja is smoked in a pipe, and a prayer is said before it is smoked.
The Rastas see the reasoning sessions as very important. They come together to debate living right according to the Rasta way. With marijuana, a user can reach a state of closeness to “Jah,” and they can see the world differently- the right way.