Thursday, January 22, 2015

Joseph Hill and the Nazarite vow

Culture: "Why am I a Rastaman?" from Humble African (2000).

January 22 is the birthday of Joseph Hill of Culture, born this day in 1949.

Some of his countless inspiring songs are mentioned in this previous post from 2012.

Regarding the "big picture" of human experience, the ancient scriptures of the world depict our incarnation in this material world as a case of spirit being "crossed with" matter -- and explain that a major aspect of our mission in this life is to raise up the spirit (in ourselves, in others, and indeed in all of nature) that has been cast down and hidden by matter -- to elevate the spirit. This is the essence of "blessing," as discussed in this previous post.

The opposite would be to press down further into the material, to deny the spirit, to "force" ourselves and others to be more and more confined to the physical, to degrade -- in other words, "cursing."

Here is post containing a video examining in depth the evidence that the story of Samson, in which his hair is shorn off but then begins to grow back, expresses the above concept in terms of the hair. The scriptures explain that Samson was consecrated to the Nazarite vow from before his birth, as part of the command of the angel who visited his parents (Judges 13:5).

That video and the discussion in this previous post both reveal that the hair of Samson metaphorically connects him to the rays of the sun, and esoterically to the invisible realm of spirit: when it is shorn off, it is emblematic of being plunged into matter, incarnated in a physical or "animal" body, represented in other symbology by the horizontal bar of a cross -- and when it grows back that is emblematic of raising the spiritual side, reconnecting with the invisible, immaterial aspect of who we are, which is represented in other symbology by the vertical portion of the cross.

Songs by Joseph Hill explicitly connect his music and the concept of Rasta with the Nazarite vow, and thus with raising the spirit, raising consciousness, and ultimately with blessing.

At the opening of the song "Babylon a-Weep," from the album Trust Me, he quotes Numbers 6 and beginning in verse 2, saying:
For it has been said: "When a man or a woman vow the vow of a Nazarite, no scissors nor razor shall be upon his head" . . . Jah Rastafari!"
In the song "Why am I a Rastaman?" from the album Humble African, he sings:
When I was a boy about eight years old,
There was a certain Rastaman,
And he love all the children
And he treated us like a man.
Even the children that no one cares for,
He call up every one,
And he gave us fruit and treated every one
With a special love.
Many people see I, Many people ask I:
"Why am I a Rastaman?"
For he taught I the love
To give to every one.
Many people see I, Many people ask I:
"Why am I a Rastaman?"
There is no better way to express my love
To each and every one
One Saturday morning
A special thing happen to this man
Here comes Mystery Babylon
To take away the Rastaman
So they root up him herb
And they beat off him fruit
And throw it in a van
And straight after that for three long years
I never see the Rastaman
They took him to general penitentiary
And they send him back as a bald man
But that could not change him
His mind was not in prison
It was only his body man.
From these verses it is very clear that in the songs of Joseph Hill, the concept of the Nazarite vow is emblematic of elevating the spirit, including over the degrading or down-pressing forces of poverty, imprisonment, racism, social rejection and marginalization (all of which focus on confining to the physical, rather than uplifting the spiritual), and that in his music and his life he taught that actively extending love and blessing to every one was the antidote to these forces.

It is also clear from the second song quoted that, although allowing the hair to grow is emblematic of that spiritual concept, it transcends the physical and in the case of the man whose hair was cut off, "that could not change him."

Music and singing, in fact, can also be seen as connecting us to the world of spirit, and have been seen that way around the world since ancient times.