Note from BBT: I know that millions of people around the world are celebrating or celebrated today as Christmas, but as I thought about what I wanted to discuss today, I re-visit the memory of an old episode of the classic 1970s American sitcom, Good Times. I was too young to really remember many of the old programs from era when they first aired, so like million of African-Americans, my memory of the program was via its run in syndication.
There are many classic episodes that I remember from this mainstay in the black American cultural experience, but one particular fits perfectly for today’s topic. The plot to the second episode of season one of the series had the youngest son, Michael, an advocate for black rights even being less than 10 years of age, finding a painting that his older brother J.J. had done and stored away in a closet. Although J.J. had painted the figure using the image of a neighborhood wino, Michael saw him as “Black Jesus”.
Michael, seeing the image of the photo being something that would psychologically benefit black people, hung the painting on the wall replacing the image of the white, blond, blue-eyed Jesus portrait that the family was accustomed to. When his mother Florida returned home and saw the painting was replaced, she clearly wasn’t pleased. She had grown up with that portrait in her family and declared that that was the Jesus she knew and loved.
In a previous post, I discussed attending a Catholic Church weekly with my mother in Detroit and the effect of seeing an enormous portrait of what was supposed to be God and Jesus Christ on the wall of that church had on my young, impressionable mind. With certainty, such images have had a similar effect on the minds of millions of black people around the world. It’s no accident. Religion is one of the most powerful weapons used by West to maintain the non-white population in a position of subservience. I mean, if god and Jesus supposedly had a European phenotype, it would logically follow that black people are taught to idolize, worship and adore the people who look most like these images in daily life.
It’s funny, you can talk to black people all day long about racism, inequality and the dictatorship of whiteness in nearly every aspect of life, but they ain’t giving up white Jesus. No Lawd! It ain’t hap’nin. I’ve had this discussion with too many people and gotta say, this is one area of the indoctrination process that is near perfect. When the Europeans sought to destroy African cultural and religious practices, when you see the effects on people, you can understand why.
Millions of black people are familiar with mythical stories from Greek, Jewish and Nordic sources but where are our African gods? Better yet, why do certain stories get told and divulged globally through television, film, cartoons, etc. but others are ignored? It ain’t hard to tell. But what if I told that many of the same stories that you hold near and dear can be found in other cultures that are, in some cases, much older than ones you know?
That’s a bigger discussion that I won’t get into today.
I’ll just say that, the mythical figures we find in Afro-Brazilian religions are the perfect example of this. As the Portuguese had prohibited the worship of the gods of Africans, the enslaved discovered that many of their own deities had similarities to the saints of the Catholic Church, which made it easy for them to disguise the worship of their gods by pretending to honor the similar Catholic saints.
As today, December 25th, is Christmas, the summer/winter solstice, let’s explore the orixá that followers of the Umbanda religion connect with Jesus himself.
So, what’chu know about Oxalá?
Christmas, December 25th is Oxalá Day, syncretized with Jesus!
Christmas, December 25th is Oxalá day! Syncretism with Jesus Christ gave the first orixá, and father of all others, the commemorative date.
Christmas as we know it today is not, or rather, cannot be proven; the royal day of the incarnation of the spirit of Jesus. Christianity, like Umbanda, is a religion made by men and spirits, both apprentices capable of making mistakes.
For many years, Christians adopted religious dates from other peoples and adapted their calendar to win over the sympathy of non-Christian peoples.
Oxalá, the greatest orixá of Candomblé and Umbanda
There are many years and very little has been recorded, besides several changes that have always happened in religions during these more than 2000 years of Christianity and many thousands of previous years.
Jesus, Oxalá, saints and the orixás are all around us, waiting for the moment when we will meet with them, through prayers and special spiritual works.
Oxalá is a word from the Portuguese language used as an interjection to express the desire for something to happen. It is synonymous with “hopefully” or “wish God”.
The word comes from the Arabic expression in shaa Allaah, which means “God willing”. In Spanish it had a similar development and gave rise to the word ojalá, exactly with the same meaning of oxalá in Portuguese.
According to the Yoruba tradition of the myth of creation, Olodumaré sent Oxalá to create the world, thus he is the orixá associated with the creation of the world as well as the human species.
He is presented in two ways: young man (called Oxaguiã, identified in the shell game by odu ejionile) and old (called Oxalufã and identified by odu ofun). In candomblé, this is represented materially and immaterially by the sacred settlement called igba oxala.
The symbols of Oxaguiã are an idá (sword), “hand of pestle” and a shield; the symbol of Oxalufã is a kind of metal staff, called an opaxorô.
The color of Oxaguiã is white, slightly mixed with turquoise; Oxalufã’s is only white. The day consecrated for both is Friday.
His greeting is ÈPA BÀBÁ! Oxalá is considered and worshiped as the greatest and most respected of all the Orixás of the African pantheon. He symbolizes peace, he is the greatest father in the nations of religions of African tradition. He is calm, serene, peaceful; he is the creator and, therefore, is respected by all Orixás and all nations. The eyes that see everything belong to Oxalá.
Syncretized with Jesus, we find him in the following forms:
OXALÁ: syncretized with Jesus Christ
OXALUFÃ: Old Oxalá, syncretized with Jesus on the Mount of Olives.
OXAGUIÃ: Young Oxalá, that is syncretized with the Infant Jesus of Prague.
Worship to Oxalá
The children of Oxalá and all the other Orixás must keep Friday as a day devoted to the greater orixá and for this reason everyone should wear white and not eat meat, especially red meat.
On this day most of the people linked to Umbanda/Candomblé light white candles asking for protection from Oxalá. It is an excellent day to take an energizing rosemary bath, from head to toe.
Day of the week: Friday
Colors: Milky white for Oxalufã and for Oxaguiã turquoise blue is accepted together with white.
Main offerings: White corn, pile yam, pigeon, white candle.
Sacred Herbs: Boldo, rosemary, basil.
Celebration of Oxalá
In the same way that it is customary to make offerings to Iemanjá during the turn of the year, the celebration of Oxalá at Christmas parties is already rooted in Brazilian popular culture.
Oxalá has supreme power over the Earth and all spiritual matters in the universe, being present in any and all positive actions, thoughts or work.
He is the Orixá of inner peace and his vibration acts throughout the body, especially in the psychic part. His elements are the atmosphere, the air, the sky.
In the Umbanda religion Christmas is celebrated with Oxalá, thus creating an environment of good energy, attracting the vibration of Oxalá to renew and strengthen our energies.
The vibrations we received on the day of Oxalá – December 25th – cleanse us of unwanted energies, which may have influenced us during the year that has just ended, and prepare us for the New Year that is approaching.
It is time to renew our energies, spiritual and psychic, preparing for the achievements that we will achieve in the year to come.