Transformative Self Pt 3: Personhood
Spirit of Wakanda, Verse 2
By Dalian Adofo
In our second instalment exploring the accurate representations of Indigenous African Spiritual Principles and Concepts as found in the Black Panther movie, we must return to the Female or Feminine Principle again.
In exploring how intricately tied the female is in the African conception of the Supreme Creator and as expressed in the makeup of the Dora Milaje, we must investigate the essential roles she plays not only in function, but also as a direct connection to Source and as an expression of it.
The Dora Milaje is the elite guard envoy not only charged with protecting the king but also the security of the Nation itself. Symbolically, they are a representation of the Wakanda Creator, the feline or cat that gave rise to the spirit of the Black Panther and bestows her strength and protection on him. In real life we find this correlation in the Goddess Bastat, the cat. In Ancient Kemet (Modern day Egypt and Sudan), the cat Bastat was the protector goddess archetype and also held to bring good fortune to her followers. As such cats themselves were highly revered animals in the society. (read more here)
The same traits of Bastat as identified in ancient times are also those carried over in the film – The Creator Goddess is also a feline cat and is the one who gives the heart shaped flower from which BP draws his powers. Her protection granted him is also manifested in the gender make-up of the special envoy. In these ways we see the correlating representations in the film as with original African culture.
At the king making ceremony on the river as the different clans arrive by boats, there is much singing and dancing- a representation of the various forms of invoking and opening direct communications with the Supreme, commonly called ‘praying’ by mainstream religions. More will be covered on these forms later in the article but we must return to the special significance of the Dora Mojale.
At the end of the ceremony, they knock their weapons onto the bottom of the boat, which sends a sound vibration under the water to resonate with a chamber that starts to open and instantly we witness a complete transformation of the landscape into the Waterfall scene where the Black Panther is crowned. It is literally ‘Magic’ as they transform the landscape simply by way of sound and prescribed actions; we witness transmutation in action.
It symbolises again the authority the female possesses to access the Creator easily by virtue of being the one that brings life into being – hence why she was the one to be conceptualised as the first archetype of the notion of ‘God’. It speaks to the innate power of the woman and simultaneously also explains why she is currently stigmatised in mainstream religions functioning under a patriarchal bias. M.F.C Bourdillon in his thesis ‘Witchcraft and Society’ notes that it is this power the female possesses that men fear most and underpins much of the allegations of witchcraft and subsequent abuse of women globally; historically as well as currently.
This is why it was particularly refreshing to see women represented in the manner in which they were in this film, literally flipping the script on how she is largely viewed and represented in Hollywood productions.
Revisiting the king-making scene, we touch again on singing, dancing and use of sound in the ritual to leads up to the transmutation of the landscape. Whereas these activities are now mainly understood as ‘secular’ aspects to African culture, the reality is there is no such notion in it. In the African worldview, all things are sacred by virtue of the all-pervading essence of the Creator present in all things, so ‘secularism’ does not necessarily exist in such a perspective as it implies an existence outside of the All. So really what we term ‘secular’ just implies our lack of awareness as to the essence of reality because it is largely ground in a Western empirical thought framework.
All of the forms of reverence we witness in the film during this scene serve the same functions during actual African rituals; they build up energy and potentiality, which can then be harnessed for the transmutation of reality. Foreign ideologies have largely mis-termed this as ‘Magic’, which suggests an irrational, superstitious act rather than a profound ‘scientific’, metaphysical understanding of Natural law and the interconnectedness of all things.
That is, that all in existence are innately composed of the same essence as the Creating Source and that this energy can be harnessed and re-directed to specific ends and outcomes. Detailed coverage of the various forms of veneration and communications African utilise in spiritual communications can be found here.
The drumming and singing in the ceremony produces specific sound vibrations or sound energy, the dancing likewise gives off perspiration/sweat or heat energy and the movements in dance; kinetic energy. The banging of the weapons on the bottom of the boat creates the final energetic sound frequency that aligns exactly with that of the Vibranium underneath the water and the resonance generated gradually starts to open the underwater chamber that precipitates the transformation of the physical landscape. This is a fantastic allegory for exactly how rituals work in principle and in actual practice.
Malidoma Some, Dagara healer and world renown author, reminds us of the critical importance of ritual and reverence in the worldview and reality of the African “Ritual is called for because our soul communicates things to us that the body translates as need, or want, or absence.
So we enter into ritual in order to respond to the call of the soul.”
In the next verse, we will be covering the notion of Ancestorhood, Ancestors and our direct connection to Nature and how living in tune with it empowers us as individuals, as again demonstrated in the film.