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Finding truth in spirituality

by Phumelele Tshabalala

We are currently living in what seems like a spiritual revolution in South Africa with many being chosen to bring us and our people back to our African roots. What most see as a spiritual gift ‘trend’ is merely our ancestors mending the spirits of African families, bringing truth to our people, and reminding us of the power we possess. As abantsundu (black South Africans) of this generation, we are being called by amathongo (ancestors) to restore our nation. Let us heed our purpose.

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Water and candles are the most common spiritual tools. Both represent purity. The water also represents healing, and the candles represent light and positivity. Water is used for many reasons such as cleansing, and the candles are used for praying to God. Both can be used to connect to the ancestors.

Growing up in an African home means that religious beliefs are chosen for us. Our families teach us that their ways are right and that there is no other truth. However, as we all know, most of these religious beliefs are a consequence of colonisation. As one starts to navigate their own identity and purpose, such comes into question. We even question whether God exists.

In a generation where information is easily accessible and science is deemed truth, logic is all we turn to for answers. We then drown ourselves in research which leaves us with more unanswered questions, but that is where we make our first mistake. Spirituality is not a concept of logic; it is not tangible. It is a mystery of the metaphysical, connected to the part of us that has not been altered by socialisation.

If that is not enough, individuality in the current generation has become somewhat of an illusion. Society promotes popular culture over individualism; it is all about “fitting in” and being a part of “the masses”. People have become so materialistic that we have become disconnected from our true selves. As a young person in this generation, acquiring this individuality is close to impossible.

This may be even harder for people such as myself who are not religious, as we have deviant beliefs. One thing people need to learn is that spirituality does not equate to religion. Religion is simply a form of spirituality, but a lot of non-religious people are considered 'demonic' and 'sinners'. To elaborate on this ideology, we will look at the misconception behind African spirituality.

The biggest pre-existing misconception about the practice of African spirituality is that it idolizes and worships ancestors. To truly decipher this claim, we first need an accurate understanding of what ancestors are. According to the English dictionary, an ancestor is one from whom one is descended. Biologically, that ancestor is a part of your bloodline.

Spiritually, an ancestor is a God-given angel. Much like your living family, the ancestor’s role is

simply to protect and guide you. An important part of African spiritualism is acknowledging the

efforts of our people, acknowledging the ones who are always there to protect and guide us.

This misconceptions are likely to mislead one and therefore jeopardise their spiritual growth. In truth, there might be many spiritual beliefs but what most have in common is the belief in divine power. Some call it God, some Allah and some Umvelingqangi. There is no wrong or right way to be spiritual as we are all seeking healing and faith.

As most spiritually inclined people would agree, the first step to connecting to your spiritual self is through isolation and self-evaluation. People are spiritual beings. That is why we speak of a sixth sense which some may call an instinct, others call the Holy Spirit and even the “third eye”. We have many words for this sense, but we can also agree that it is like an angel created solely to guide and protect us.

Navigating spirituality is not about what is more believable or provable. Not about what is considered a truth but more about how it fulfills you. Just ask yourself what feels right. That which spiritually fulfills you is your truth. If you want to truly begin navigating your spirituality, stop listening to others and start listening to yourself.

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