(Essay Part 3) Iyami and the Female Roots of Power in the IfaOrisha Tradition by Ayele Kumari, PhD

Ayele Kumari

Ayele Kumari

Invocation Libation African Goddess

In the name of the Great Mother Divine who comes as the Goddess within in all forms I call your names:

IyaMiAjeOshoronga, Mother Creator
IyaNla, the great mother
Nut, Maat, Auset, Sekhert, Hethert of Kemet
Sati, Shekmet, Anuke Shu of Nubia
Nana Baruku, primordial Mother of the Fon
NaneEsi, Nana Soonkwa, Mami Sika, Abenasika, AsaseYa of the Akan Continue reading

(Essay Part 2) Iyami and the Female Roots of Power in the IfaOrisha Tradition by Ayele Kumari, Ph.D.

Palm Nuts

Palm Nuts

An OponIfa and Odu binary language

Ifa utilizes palm nuts and a divination chain called Opele to secure answers or Odu. The entire system is extremely feminine in nature in that the diviner sits on a mat symbolizing the weaving found in the fabric of existence. The initiation itself takes the person through a process that includes a river rebirthing, a red feather at the third eye, symbolizing menstrual blood, among others. Male initiates actually receive an artificial womb called Odu to awaken the female intuitive process within that will support their ability to divine and bring balance to their lives. The diviners sit with legs spread open as if giving birth with an OponIfa between their legs. It is a round wooden divination Continue reading

(Special Post Isis 3) Why the Color of Isis Matters by Mago Circle Members

[Editor’s note: The discussion took place in Mago Circle during the month of July, 2013. Our heartfelt thanks go to the members who participated in this discussion with openness and courage.]

Part 3 Isis, Arab Women Revolution, and Black Goddesses

Naa Ayele Kumari Going back to the original topic of the post…. Some quotes ” Women are in half the society… How come there are only 7 in the Assembly… and they are all Islamist! ” I can’t beat up my wife and almost kill her and call it discipline… this is not discipline… this is abuse and insanity”


12-Year Old Explains Egyptian Revolution in Under 3 Minutes


Max Dashu It is tremendously heartening to see these insights being expressed, and spread. The Salafis have made such inroads, and now the pushback is happening.

Harita Meenee Dear Naa Ayele Kumari, thank you actually reading my post and commenting something relevant to it. It’s refreshing when someone does hear what we have to say instead of projecting their own notions. Building a solidarity movement with those who are oppressed but fighting is very important during these critical times!

Harita Meenee See also:


The uprising of women in the Arab world انتفاضة المرأة في العالم العربي

حرية الفكر ، حرية

التعبير ، حرية الاعتقاد ، حرية التنقل ، حرية الجسد ، حرية اللب…See More

Glenys Livingstone … as you say Max …” way too much of it going on” – amongst people who should know better (I would have thought): “Dark goddess as terrifying, challenging, white goddess as benign; “black magic” as harmful; I see way, way too much of this going on out there.” And related to that in my mind is all the “love and light” business that is so common: the Ground of Being is Dark … it seems to me that mystics have always understood the quintessential darkness of Love/Deity.

Max Dashu Sure. I would just like to add that the critique raised here addressed issues much broader than the substance of the article, which made some good points. But once the choice of graphics flagged the issue of representation, people had much more to say about that old yet still very fresh wound which is constantly reopened by the cultural habit of whitening Egypt, or interpreting Africa through a eurocentric lens. It is not on any one person to carry the weight of that; we all have a responsibility to address the issues, but especially those of us of European heritage need to familiarize ourselves with how this plays out over and over. Just as men have a responsibility to speak up in support of women when patriarchal assumptions are on board. We all can learn something from each other, along all the various axes of domination, and overthrow them in coalition.

Naa Ayele Kumari I have often considered where the roots of this psychology comes from. It is dualistic thinking that causes us to compare and contrast, then sum up judgement of good or bad and place a value on each. It extends into competition and justification for war. It also doesn’t escape me that often this came with certain civilizations who systematically destroyed others. It didn’t just happen with blacks in Africa… but blacks in Asia and the Indus Valley as well.

With the Aryan invasions of India, came the eventual introduction to lighter divinities and more emphasis on male divinities. Southern Indians, Sri Lankans are very dark… even more so than many African Blacks. The caste systems implemented by the Aryan invaders did the same thing to them casting them as “untouchables”. With that came the marginalization of their black female divinities such as Kali. Kali actually has 10-16 forms… from compassionate mother, the fountain of wisdom, to she of great beauty but she is minimized as just destructive and terrifying… especially as Brhaman, Vishnuu, and Shiva grow in popularity. One of Kali’s statues has her black self standing on top of Shiva because she conquered him. Later there is a discussion in on of the Hindu text explaining Kali (as Parvati) after being subdued by Shiva she becomes lighter. Further they have stories about him rejecting her and calling her blackie which made her do austerities to rid herself of her black skin.

Naa Ayele Kumari It should not be overlooked that in the Story of Alice in Wonderland… a story intended to keep Goddess elements for future generations, has the Elder sister ( the Queen of Hearts) portrayed as man, ego, and power driven who cuts off heads and has a fierce dragon…a clear reference to Kali. The White goddess as the younger sister is her opponent… and her mission is to usurp the throne of the Queen of Hearts even though she was the rightful heir as the oldest … or primordial. Stories like these also reinforce the stereotypes and negative iconography.

Max Dashu Yes, it is pervasive in many cultures of domination. Demons are portrayed as black not only in Europe, which we know well, but also in China and in a lot of Buddhist iconography. In modern India, the sweet goddesses are shown as pink, the wrathful as black; and Krishna (name means “dark”) is turned powder blue. (Another of his titles, s’yam, also meaning dark, is the word translated as “green” in Green Tara.) The countercurrents (Black Mazu, loving Kali – esp in Bengal and south India, Black Madonna) bubbled up from the common people, who knew and longed for something other than the dominant racialized hierarchy.

5Naa Ayele Kumari I am just discovering Mazu ( Matzu/LuShui) in China today! Never knew about her. This discussion has led me to look deeper for black goddesses in Asia.

Max Dashu Taoist spiritual tradition often refers to Xüan Nü, which can be translated in several ways. You’ll usually see it rendered as “the Mysterious Female,” a phrase that occurs in the Dao De Jing (Tao Te Ching), and this is a valid translation; but what is less emphasized is that it also means “the Dark Woman.” In this usage she is an initiator into the Mysteries. Ultimately of course these meanings can’t be separated.

Rick Williams This thread was awesome. I intended to awaken diverse versions of TRUTH. Received much more, thank you all. Want add that SPECTRUM color variations coincide with empowerment of vibrational imagery. To see this REALM with one VISION goes against all that I REmember, as IM taught NOthing in this REALM. When any political CONflict lacks a reVIEW of SPIRITUAL imBALANCE nothing in relationship to that LIFE circumstance will be resolved. To continualy HOPE that WE may ONEDAY see TRUTH without AFFIRMING TRUTH in the SPIRIT of MER MA’AT conflicting ENERGY will reMAIN to RULE the DAY by NIGHT. HTP, LOVE and PEACE.

(End of the Discussion. Read Part 1 and Part 2)

(Special Post Isis 2) Why the Color of Isis Matters by Mago Circle Members

[Editor’s note: The discussion took place in Mago Circle during the month of July, 2013. Our heartfelt thanks go to the members who participated in this discussion with openness and courage.]

Part 2 The Color Talk in Goddesses
Isis of Egypt sits on her lion throne nursing her sacred son Horus. Her head is crowned with a snake and horns, both symbols of regeneration. Isis is often depicted in black basalt. Isis and Horus become models for the Virgin Mary and child, particularly the Black Madonnas. As it gained power, Christianity absorbed earlier myths and made their stories its own. Bronze sculpture, c. 600-400 BCE, Leiden Museum, Netherlands Goddess Banner Isis by Lydia Ruyle

Isis of Egypt sits on her lion throne nursing her sacred son Horus. Her head is crowned with a snake and horns, both symbols of regeneration. Isis is often depicted in black basalt. Isis and Horus become models for the Virgin Mary and child, particularly the Black Madonnas. As it gained power, Christianity absorbed earlier myths and made their stories its own.
Bronze sculpture, c. 600-400 BCE, Leiden Museum, Netherlands
Goddess Banner Isis by Lydia Ruyle

Kahena Dorothea Athena was also whitened which is sad. However the statues were worshiped by many women to whom they brought comfort. And their origins were later remembered by the abundance of Black Virgins that became important in Italy and other parts of Europe. I don’t see Dark Goddesses as shadows but as having depths of Creativity and Knowledge. My main Goddess is Kirke and the bast relief I have of her is a chocolate brown.

Diane Horton The worship of Isis broadened from Egypt to all the countries bordering the Mediterranean, as well as the Middle East and the isles called now the British Isles. She and Her worship were virtually everywhere in the westernly known world of the time! She IS the Goddess of 10,000 Names! And as such she was adapted to each culture’s vision of Her. She was the basis of all the” Black Madonnas”. I do not think of this as Isis/Auset representing the “dark” Goddess as something somehow bad or to be dealt with, but rather that ancient darkness represents infinite potential, eternal creativity/fertility, the beginning and ending of all things, and the always deepening knowledge of magick.

Max Dashu However, there is a politics of representation that we all need to be aware of, that pushes original African iconography down and away, and fronts Europeanized images. There is no possibility of “colorblindness” in such a system; a restoration of the original must be actively striven toward. This is incumbent on all of us not of (recent) African descent. Otherwise we perpetuate the injurious status quo, instead of overturning it.

Harita Meenee I agree with those who say that race is largely a social construct. Its roots seem to lie in colonialism and the slave trade. I would also like to add that racism is used to oppress people of different nationalities and colors. Ηere in Greece the IMF neo-liberal policies are destroying our economy (and lives); they go hand in hand with a vicious racist campaign against immigrants, along with the rise of a neo-Nazi party.

This is part of an effort to redirect people’s anger away from the government and bankers, towards those who are poor and foreign and often have a different color or religion.

Fortunately, many grassroots activists are responding to this by building a strong anti-racist, antifascist movement. You can see our Facebook page below. It’s in Greek but the photos are quite revealing. If anyone is interested in learning more about the situation here, please message me and I’ll try to find some articles in English for you.


19 Γεναρη –

ΑΘΗΝΑ ΠΟΛΗ Αντιφασιστικη

Μπροστά στη κλιμάκωση της φασιστικής

απειλής και της ρατσιστικής βίας, στη εμφάν…See More

Naa Ayele Kumari


Let me put this in the context of something you might understand. This is a goddess group that honors the feminine and the power it represents. People in this group understand the oppression and misrepresentation of women. We understand the implications of misogynistic patriarchal thinking. We understand the implications of stealing the information, rites, and traditions from goddess centered cultures and rephrasing them into male dominated themes… especially those that then went on to oppress women today.

This is the same thing that has happened as it related to race and our cultures. It infuriates us when a man may say… why do we have to focus on the goddess? Let us just accept that we are all human and no special consideration should be given to anyone because of their gender. Or, this is just a distraction or social construct and it really doesn’t matter. We understand the blatant disregard and ignorance of those statements. Yet, the same is true for race and people of other races. Your attitude and casual disregard perpetuates a lie that you are comfortable with and don’t wish to move from that comfort zone. It means you don’t have to be accountable for the injustices or oppression it continues to perpetuate in the larger culture toward people who do not look like you.

As far as I am concerned, I truly believe that the dark goddess for many with white skin IS their shadow… It is the part of themselves that they deny and fear. That you may have come from black people may scare you… even when the science proves it. That deep down… you fear what you don’t understand. To even confront it is frightening… something that you would rather ignore and deny… Yet… here we are. Black, Yellow, Red… people.. women… who have been oppressed for thousands of year because of this… and are asking… to be seen in their true likeness… not as you wish them to be… or fear them to be.

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(Special Post Isis 1) Why the Color of Isis Matters by Mago Circle Members

[Editor’s note: The discussion took place in Mago Circle during the month of July, 2013. Our heartfelt thanks go to the members who participated in this discussion with openness and courage.]

Part 1 Is Isis White (European) or Black (African)? 

Harita Meenee

What could Isis have to do with the political situation in Egypt? Read on to find out!

1Isis, Egypt and the Revolution

For the past few years Egypt has felt like a second home to me. Some cherished friends and co-workers live there, to whom my thoughts often travel. Also, Isis, the Egyptian great goddess once worshiped all over the Mediterranean, has been an ever-present source of inspiration…

By: Harita Meenee, Author


Rick Williams Isis and that picture for me is kind of offensive in 2013. KMT [Kemet, Egypt] and AUSET [Isis] “worship” is an oxymoron.

Kahena Dorothea Can you explain, Rick Williams, how it is an oxymoron? I am curious.

Rick Williams First, Auset as a deity was not a singularly honored symbolic personage. KMT taught principles of BALANCE and UNIVERSAL COSMOLOGICAL TRUTH. There are NO images from the dawn of that age depicting her as EUROPEAN.

[Threads curtailed]

Helen Hwang I would strongly suggest that Rick and others who see Rick’s point educate us in Mago Circle. I know this is very difficult but we are here to learn and express differences from each other. We are all centers and please share your perspective and knowledge so that others can learn. I am doing that with patience and tolerance as well. Thank you all!

Rick Williams I try to be as honest and respectful when I can, Helen. I only personalize things when ONE person says something. Yet there are those who know that the people of that land now weren’t the same people who honored the deities of mythology and that image isn’t of Auset. When will folks stop promoting fictitious images and uneducated observations? I could have beat around the bush and politely asked about the statue, why that one isn’t truly the same of Auset’s time?

Helen Hwang Okay, conflicts and contradictions are everywhere. Nonetheless, we can’t be beat by those. We are exploring ways to be empowered by addressing our differences in Mago Circle. We trust that we have good intentions and yet we are not perfect. I do Mago Circle and Return to Mago because I believe there is a way for us to meet and talk with our differences, I can’t let that hope go! Thank us for talking to each other.

Naa Ayele Kumari I can see both points. Egypt has a long and ancient history… One filled with invaders.. wars.. people who stole the magic and manipulated it for their own purposes… Those invaders changed images to make them in their own reflections all the while slowly destroying the indigenous images of power and strength as well as the sacred tradition they were built on.. As a woman of African descent, it is sometimes difficult to see the Hellenistic images of our mother.. because her original images were

a woman of color. Racism… whether we chose to admit it or not has played an immense part in our oppression as a people and that includes the struggle for Egypt today. It is especially a sensitive issue because those images play a role in how people see and view black women… even today. The dark goddess is stereotyped as being a part of our shadow while the white goddess is caste as being all that is good in the world. What black women struggle to tell the world is that those projections are simply racist projections… and so we reject them.

Still, I recognize that people like to experience the divine in their own image and that our Mother has been taken around the world… and by extension absorbed many names and faces because after all, she is mother not to just Africans… but to the World.

Right now, we have dominant tradition of Islam… that at its roots has a feminine basis… (Islam came from the word Isis) all the while oppressing women by its dogma. The indigenous people of Egypt, the Badarians and Nubians… are oppressed by Arab invaders who have taken control, projected their own religions all the while wanting to destroy the remainder of the images of the ancients.

Injustice recognizes injustice… and all the ways that it shows up. At the root of Egypt…is Isis… called also Esi and Auset by the indigenous people. She has been oppressed by many layers of invaders… Her daughter’s voices have been muted… Timeless icon that she is, as the tides are turning, so are the heavy oppressions being lifted. Women are finding and re-remembering their power… and as they do… Mama Esi.. is taking back her throne.

2Naa Ayele Kumari This is the Isis on the walls and temples of Egypt.

Harita Meenee Seeing the people of Egypt as all white or all Black means stereotyping them. In fact the inhabitants of Egypt are of different colors: some are white, others are Black and many others are something in-between. The same was true in antiquity and it’s reflected in Egyptian art.

Rick Williams Harita, really? What does that have to do with your choice of misrepresentation of that image? Please enlighten me, thank you.

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