Sacred libation ceremony for our lynched sisters: Calling all spiritual warriors to do the work!
By Iya Marilyn Kai Jewett, Oni Sango
Calling all spiritual warriors of African descent to gather 3:00PM sharp, Sunday, March 26, rain or shine, at Congo (Washington) Square, 7th & Walnut Streets in Philadelphia for the Fourth Sacred Libation Ceremony in remembrance of the 150 documented Black women who were lynched between 1870 and 1957.
In March 2014, I and a small group of priests of Philadelphia’s African American Yoruba/Orisha community conducted the first Sacred Libation Ceremony for the martyred ancestors. The ceremony has now been instituted as an annual ritual in March as part of Women’s History Month in memory of our ancestors.
Libation is poured and prayers are offered by female clergy in the Yoruba, the Akan, the Buddhist and the Christian traditions as prescribed by the Egun (ancestors). If weather permits a drumming is included.
How did this all come about? In 2014, while perusing stories on a Black news website, I came across a story entitled, “Black women were lynched too!” written by blogger Yolanda Spivey. The story included a link to a website (https://henriettavintondavis.wordpress.com/2009/07/22/recorded/) owned by Brother Nnamdi Azikiwe, that’s dedicated to Henrietta Vinton Davis, a prominent and fearless leader in Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) that included a listing of documented cases of 150 African American women who had been lynched between 1870 and 1957. It provides documented information on these women – their names, dates, places, the reason they were lynched and with whom they were lynched. Reading this made me angry and brought tears to my eyes. After reading details of the lynchings, the Egun spoke to me and instructed me to do more than send an email informing people about the history.
They needed libation poured for them to uplift and bring light their souls. They wanted to be remembered and have their stories told. They wouldn’t let me rest. It was physically and spiritually painful. I kept asking them why me? They replied, “why not you?” They have been with me ever since.
I contacted Brother Nnamdi who said he had been trying to get Black women to pour libation for the lynched Egun for years but no-one wanted to do it. In the 1990s he received a pamphlet by Dr. Daniel Meaders entitled “Black Women Who Were Lynched in America” that gave him details of the lynchings and posted it to his website. These “women,” many of whom were children, were not just lynched — they were raped and tortured before being hung, shot or burned by mobs of white men. Now days, African Americans ostracize Black people who are Republican. However, the first three women on the list – Mrs. John Simes lynched in 1870 in Henry County, Kentucky and Mrs. Hawkins and her daughter, lynched in 1872 in Fayette County, Kentucky, were all murdered for being Republicans!
Many were lynched for standing up for themselves and their families. If their husband or son was accused of a crime and couldn’t be found, the females in the family were lynched. Entire families, including the children were lynched together. Some were lynched merely because they were Black. Others were lynched because they dared to have a dispute with a white person.
Hannah Kearse was lynched in 1895 in Colleton, South Carolina with her mother and son for supposedly stealing a bible. Jennie McCall was lynched in 1903 in Hamilton, Florida by mistake! Mercy Hall was lynched in 1922 in Oklahoma City for strike activity. Eliza Bryant was lynched May 25, 1926 in Duplin, North Carolina for having the nerve to be successful. The last sister on the list, Mrs. Frank Clay, was lynched November 18, 1957 in Henderson, North Carolina for having a dispute with a white person. I was 3 years-old in 1957.
Most people don’t know about women like pregnant Mary Turner who was lynched May 17, 1918 in Brooks County, Georgia to teach her a lesson. After her husband was lynched, Mary threatened to have those who lynched him arrested. She fled, but the mob pursued her and found her the next morning. She was eight months pregnant when the mob of several hundred took her to a stream, tied her ankles together and hung her from a tree upside down. She was doused with gasoline and set on fire. One of the mob took a knife and split open her womb so that her unborn baby fell to the ground. The baby’s head was then crushed under the heels of her murderers. But, that wasn’t enough for the demonic mob. They finished Mary off by riddling her body with bullets – to teach her a lesson.
Each year Nnamdi and I work together to carry-out the Egun’s instructions. The Egun plans every aspect of the ritual. The first year, neither Nnamdi nor I could sleep for weeks until it was done. We realized that we were chosen by the Egun to bring this to the people and that the Egun were speaking through us. They are channeling through us to do what needs to be done for them and our communities – healing. The Egun are not an abstract notion. They are just as alive as they were here in this realm we call Earth. Many of us can hear and communicate with them, but most people ignore them. However, they have determined that they are no longer going be ignored. The ancestors are commanding our attention. What was hidden is now being brought forth.
“The Egun/Ndiichie/ancestors are reaching out to us,” explained Azikiwe, a staunch Garveyite who lives in Washington, DC. “ They are calling us to use them in the struggle for the triumph of the righteous. The sacred libation ceremony opened me spiritually to view life from a whole new perspective. It is happening because we heeded the call of the ancestors to engage in a process to condition us spiritually for the work that needs being done.”
Let all those who have ears listen! The Egun wants people to innerstand that we are engaged in a spiritual war that is manifesting on Earth and that it’s time to put on our spiritual armor and use our spiritual weapons to defend and protect the children of the Diaspora. They are saying that we must be on one accord spiritually – “no more divisions among the children of Africa regarding religion or nationality/culture. Stop dividing and elevating yourselves above your brethren because of the way they worship the God. You are all God’s children and everyone in the family must work together.” Work is the operative word this year. Do what you have to do spiritually and do it NOW for the good of our people! They are commanding us to “do the work, do the work!”
Each January, Yoruba/Orisa priests around the world conduct divinations for the new year. The 2017 Reading of the Year for the U.S. conducted by the Philadelphia community of Orisa priests revealed that we must work together across the different traditions to do the important spiritual work that is needed this year. It also revealed that the feminine energy is very strong this year and must be recognized and respected. The feminine energy will be our saving grace. Victory over adversity will come through the Iyaami (E-ya-Mee) – the Mothers of the World. They are the powerful primordial mothers sent by Olódùmarè (Almighty Universal Creator) to rule the Earth. They oversee the control and balance of nature, hence “Mother Earth.” Everything comes to Earth through the Mothers. The Iyaami are coming to remove the obstacles and purge the malevolent energy. Accompanying them in the fight against the evil ones are the ruling Orisa (angelic forces) of the year – Sango, God’s avenging angel who is always victorious over his enemies, and Oshun, leader of the Iyaami. Oshun is Mother of Civilization and Culture — the Orisa of fresh waters which we need to live.
This year Sango, Oshun, the Iyaami and the Egun have prescribed an additional prayer ritual for the protection of the children of the Diaspora living in the U.S. and for the future of this nation. Olódùmarè’s angels are fighting on our behalf, but we must do our part. The most important component of this ritual is the feminine energy/female spiritual warriors. I am especially calling women of African descent from all spiritual traditions who are spiritual/prayer warriors to join us in this important ritual for the future of our nation and against the evil ones. There is nothing more formidable than a praying Black woman – a powerful force that raised nations! Our words have increased power this year, so we must be very careful what we speak. Keep your thoughts and words lofty.
We have to elevate ourselves to a higher spiritual vibratory level at this time in order to be in tune with the Universal Creative Force and its positive energy. It is imperative that we lift ourselves above the destructive energy that is being purged in order to survive. There is no need to react to the malevolent because they now have physical control. NO FEAR! Olódùmarè has spiritual control of the outcome – but we must do the work!
We must raise the vibration level of the Earth – the mother of us all. So, I’m calling on all of the clergy of our community – Babas, Iyas, Nanas, Mambos, Hougans, Tatas, Yayis, Imans, Rabbis and Reverends – to come together to pray for our Egun and the future of our people on Sunday, March 26. Those who are ready and willing to do the work step forward. This is not an event and is not for spectators. It is a serious ritual. Please wear white or light colors and bring your instruments.