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Library - Theology - Rastafarianism


Rastafarianism (a word comprised of the title "Ras" meaning "Emperor," and "Tafari" meaning "person to be feared") is a polytheistic religion that originated in c. 1930 CE in Jamaica, which was influenced by the local Christian culture in place before it.  People who practice Rastafarianism are sometimes also referred to as Rastafari or Rastas.

Deities:   Supernatural agents:   Beliefs:   Traditions:
  • Jah (all-powerful creator deity)
  • Niyabinghi (goddess of Jah's wisdom)
  • Emperor Haile Selassie I (son of God who also rules as Emperor of Jamaica)
  • Ark of the Covenant (transported the Ten Commandments to Moses)
  • Moses (messenger who presented the Ten Commandments)
  • Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia was Jesus
  • Everyone has a divine right to the spiritual act of smoking marijuana (a.k.a., "ganja"), although this isn't specifically sanctioned by the religion, references to grass as a herb yielding seed are interpreted as cannabis
    • Marijuana is a powerful substance that opens peoples' minds to "the truth"
    • Babylon doesn't want people to open their minds and see the truth
  • Alochol and illicit drugs destroy the human mind
  • The Holy Bible (with the caveat that its message was corrupted both intentionally and due to errors in translation)
  • Faith is a private matter that requires no intermediary
  • Smoking marijuana to accompany Bible studies
  • Drinking marijuana from a wooden pestle (this drink is known as "bhang")

There are three main branches of Rastafarianism which are a reflection of the words "in my father's house are many mansions" (see John 14:2, The Holy Bible).  The predominant "mansions" are the first three in following list of tribes:

  • Niyabinghi Order ("niya" means black, and "binghi" means victory); this is the oldest tribe
  • Bobo Shanti
  • Twelve Tribes of Israel (Ysrayl)
  • Iyesus Dreads
  • Messianic Dreads
  • Remi Rastafari (originated in c. 2000 CE)
  • Selassian
  • Zion Rastafari (a small sect of Jews who also believe that Selassie I is a divine spirit who descended from King David)
  • Muslim Rastas

In keeping with the value of "freedom of conscience" which is motivated by a general distrust of institutionalism, many Rastafarians aren't strongly affiliated with any particular "mansion."

See also

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