Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rastaman Vibration

Selwyn, my beautiful Rasta friend - inside and out.
Rastaman vibration, yeah. Positive! - Bob Marley

I had a completely different article written for today.  Sure, it was on Rastas and a glimpse into the Rastafarian culture, but that all changed when I met this guy, Selwyn.  Sometimes, life puts you in the path of someone on purpose.  Sometimes the Universe works to give you exactly what you need and you just gotta roll with it.   But let me back up...

I went to town the other day with the sole mission of getting a great photo of a rasta for the afore-mentioned article.  That's all.  Just one photo.  I got off my bus and immediately saw this beautiful man.  I walked right up to him and I said, "Excuse me sir, I am writing an article on Rastas and I was wondering, would you mind if I I took your picture?"

He looked at me with this puzzled expression and replied, "Sister, sister...before you take my picture, you need to slow down." He looked at me seriously, "Tell me...why do you want to write about Rasta?"  I smiled, and told him my love of the Rastafarian religion and how I wanted to paint a more realistic picture of the Rasta life - one that went beyond the dreads and the pot smoking.

Selwyn pondered this a moment and said.  "Come, we must talk first.  Please, sit down."  And we went into a little corner bar and had a seat. "Tell me what you know about Rastafari" he asked me as he pensively twirled one of his dreadlocks between two fingers.  I told him what I knew of the culture, the beliefs, lifestyle and - most important - the conviction that we are all One.  "It's more than that sister," he began, "It's about love and faith in the Almighty, our savior".  He began to tell me about his love of Jesus Christ, and how we must all accept a higher power in order to live life and love everlasting (for some Rastas this is Haile Selassie, but as in all religion, there are variations within).

We spoke back and forth for a long time, me explaining my beliefs and he articulating his.  He asked me many thoughtful, intent questions and finally he leaned back in his chair and asked with an inquisitive smile, "What made you interested in Rasta?" I explained to him my love of Bob Marley (which began many, many years ago); how I believe he was a true prophet, how his music spoke to me and continues to do so.  He put his hand up in a stopping position.  "No, not his music sister..."  Selwyn smiled kindly as he interjected, "His message." He raised his forefinger,  "His message spoke to you."  He patted his heart with his fingers in a 'peace' sign.  From that moment on, Selwyn and I were on the same page.  Then, he did something really, really cool.  He told me to close my eyes and he gently placed his hand atop my head and said a prayer.  When I opened my eyes Selwyn had tears in his as he took my face in his palms and smiled.  He pointed to his tearing eyes and said, "You see this?  This is love.  We are one."  It was beautiful.  We embraced in a huge hug and our bond was solidified.  "You okay," he said with an approving nod and a smile, "You okay".

The roots of Rastafari (often pronounced Rasta-far-EYE:  this is known as "I" talk and is the accepted lingo among Rastas) began in rebellion in the 1930's and (as a former rebel without a cause) I have always had a place in my heart for those who staunchly reject being told what to do.  More than an African hippe movement, Rastafari was a reaction against colonial rule and more of a lifestyle than organized religion though all Rastas believe in a higher power and one Almighty ruler. 

The culture is one that is often misunderstood and controversial, due in large part to the Rasta belief that 'ganja' (marijuana) is considered the "holy herb" and is smoked openly - often for enlightenment.  What a lot of people don't realize is that in addition to this, many Rastafarian's shun alcohol and other (non-natural) drugs and view them as poison; tools used by society to confuse rather then enhance people.  They believe in eating organically, and many here in the islands have their own little gardens free of chemicals and pesticides*.  They tread lightly on the earth and many adhere to a strictly vegetarian diet.  Of course, the most tell-tale sign of a Rasta is their hair - they do not believe in cutting it and wear it in "dreadlocks" which are often symbolic of a deep, spiritual journey.

There is so much more to this incredible religion - so many variations and nuances.  What I can tell you is - at it's heart - just like at the heart of all of us, it's all about LOVE.  I feel so lucky to be able to interact with these beautiful people, like my friend Selwyn, on a daily basis.  There is so much we can learn from each other and in the words of the prophetic Bob Marley, the most famous Rasta of them all, 

...None but ourselves can free our minds...

Brittany & Scott

* Incidentally, I always seek out street food sold by a Rasta...always vegetarian, nutritious and delicious! Soya pies, vegetable wraps, organic coconut bread....YUM!


Mid-Life Cruising! said...

Great post! I've been interested in this subject for a while, but don't know a whole lot. Thanks for sharing, and didn't realize it started as far back as the 1930's. Like Buddhism, we can learn a lot from this religion! "None but ourselves can free our minds" ... great quote and so true!

Unknown said...

I think the message that we hear is about love, respect, and patience. Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, and the Dali Lama all said pretty much the same message. It’s not about who said it. The message is love, respect, and patience. There are forces in this world that we as humans cannot understand. How can we pretend to understand things that are greater than humanity when we barley understand ourselves. It seems to be one mountain with many paths.

Laura (Hoosier Mama) said...

Steven said it perfectly. Thank you for the post....

I have a Rasta friend I love dearly..... :)

Bob Gough said...

Awesome article. I enjoyed it very much.

"in the words of the prophetic Bob Marley, the most famous Rasta of them all,

...None but ourselves can free our minds..."

Bob was actually paraphrasing Marcus Garvey when he wrote this.

Stephanie said...

Love this post - so cool that you already were planning on writing about the 'idea' of one love, and in the process of doing so, you experienced from Selwyn.

Travis and Maggie said...

I was wondering about the Rasta culture in Grenada. Glad to hear about it first hand.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...