What is worship?
Christmas season is here. There is a certain feeling of lightness that cascades through bodies of millions of us human beings in several parts of the world, Christendom in particular.
Christmas season is here. There is a certain feeling of lightness that cascades through bodies of millions of us human beings in several parts of the world, Christendom in particular. There is a certain inexplicable joy looking forward to the stupendous Event that is Christmas. Companies, factories begin to shut down from the middle of the month of December. Families plan big; transporters are busy; flight reservations are made well in advance. No group advertises the impending season than children, and they ask their mothers: “Mommy, what are you buying for us this Christmas?” Is it not instructive that it is their mothers they approach first! The mother may then say: “Go and ask Daddy?” It is simply because women are closer to Nature than men, equipped with abundant and richer spiritual endowments which connect them with Light Power more than with men for the fulfillment of their high tasks in our world. What I am getting at is that observation of simple things around us will prove to us that man is more than his physical body. You are in Jebba sleeping, and you find yourself in New Orleans attending a meeting. You have not left your bed and the eyes are closed. On awakening you discover the experience was only a dream! With what faculty does a man go through such an experience? As with nearly all things that have suffered decline in the affairs of the modern man, the faculty to dream has not been spared. Dreams are to guide and to warn, but they have been interfered with such that in a majority of cases, what may have been dreamt does not come to pass; the warning is distorted, the guidance is of no avail having been mangled.
All around us are activities by the unseen servants of the Creator, the Almighty Father. The conception of Almighty God by many a man is that He is a bearded old man close by who watches every movement, every activity, He is present at every meeting and listens to every conversation. He rewards and dishes out punishment. Many clerics claim that He speaks to them every now and then; indeed they had dinner with Him a few days back. Such is the audacity of man!! This evinces lack of the knowledge of the structure of Creation which is multi-layered into planes and Realms, the vastness of which is beyond human contemplation, comprehension and grasp. It could not have been for nothing that the Lord, Jesus Christ, said in His Father’s House “are many mansions…” The mansions refer to Planes and Realms in the material as well as in the Spiritual. The Divine Realm, primarily the abode of Archangels and Angels, is outside of Creation. As we now know from the enlightenment of the higher knowledge made available to mankind today, the Abode of the Almighty is even outside the Divine Realm. They are separated by an ocean of fire that has no possibility of cooling as it is the natural consequence of the radiations of God Who is Life, Light and Truth. Only His Two Sons, the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit Who are Parts of Him—Christ as Love and the Holy Spirit as His Will and Justice Arms—can cross the ocean of fire because the essence of the Father is their essence, too, being Parts of Him in Holy Trinity. It cannot be so difficult to see that if the Lord Jesus Christ had stepped into this world with all His Powers and in all His Glory, it would have melted under His feet into nothingness. We can see from the foregoing what love and how much sacrifice He made in His coming, accompanied by angels to show human beings the way out of their derangement, chaos and confusion.
Peoples in different regions and cultures long came into recognition of the structure of Creation. The people of South West, for example, recognise the Spiritual Realm as First Creation –Akokoda Aiye and the Material Realm as Subsequent Creation–Asehinda Aiye! They also long recognised the different planes and Realms as Dark Region, Orun Apadi; Ethereal Region, Orun Alakeji; Light Region as Ojude Orun, the Fore Court; Paradise, Orun; Azure Island, Isalu Orun; Primordial Spiritual Realm, Ajule Orun; Summit of Creation, Oke Orun. The Ifa corpus speaks of Agbagba Merindinlogun, the Elders at the boundary of the Divine Realm. It was not the Whiteman who brought the knowledge to them. If the Realms did not exist, they would not have recognised them. They gained recognition of them in their development and gave them names, helped in all these by Nature Beings. The eyes of some of them opened and they gave the planes names in their own language. It cannot be surprising that they made deities of these helpers and they formed religions to worship them, one of the deities being the Masquerade they call Ara Orun, that is a native of the Beyond who brought them tidings and knowledge, principal among which is that there is life after earthly life. The masquerader is usually thought to be a departed former member of the family. He may even have come to settle misunderstanding that ensued in the family after his departure, especially on land matters. The worship and celebration of masquerade is wide in many a culture in Nigeria—in the south East, South-South, North-Central, South-West, Republic of Benin and Ghana.
In the book, titled Tributes on ULLI BEIER, edited by Wole Ogundele, the renowned poet, Niyi Osundare, wrote an enrapturing poem he captioned ‘Iwa L’ewa, A Preface in Verse’. Other contributors were Bruce Onabrakpeya who was introduced as “definitely one of the most creative and best known Nigerian artists today. He has also established a successful art school, the Harmattan Workshop, at Agbarha-Otor, Delta State; Jimoh Buraimoh, said to be one of the “pioneer Osogbo artists and member of the Duro Ladipo Theatre…he has his own gallery in Osogbo, where he also trains young artists and Wole Ogundele himself who taught African and English Literature for almost three decades at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, and in the universities in the USA and Germany.” Osundare wandered near and far paying glowing tribute to whom it is due—from Pius Okigbo to JP Clark, from Wole Soyinka to Nwoko. What caught my attention more is Ulli Beier’s foray into understanding and familiarity with the culture and deities of his community in Nigeria, Osogbo. In what he titled Glossary of the Yoruba pantheon in the poem, Osundare explained Osun is the goddess of River Osun also goddess of fertility, compassion, and justice; Oya as the goddess of River Niger and Commerce renowned as the most powerful of Sango’ wives; Sango…the god of thunder and lightning and Ogun as god of iron and metallic lore of technology. Obatala is…god of creation and guardian of spiritual and communal ethos; Ifa, Yoruba supreme medium of divination, is the source of wisdom, knowledge, and the science of being.
This is saying, therefore, that the knowledge of the elemental beings is world-wide and this arose as here and there gifted men beheld them. Because they do not wear physical bodies they are not seen by the generality of the people—even more so today than in ancient times. Those frequently seen are Gnomes who build hills, mountains, form rocks and sands as well as water Sprites. They are more in density than those with finer consistency. Uncorrupted children who are enthralled by nature, children who are excited in playing with sand, moulding birds with clay see, and talk with them, instead of they getting carried away by toy guns and toy cars. The children are more likely to see them who run after reptiles and who pester their parents they would like to own dogs and who are in their elements running after their cats and taking care of them. Children who would like to visit zoological gardens. Alas, what modern parents do today is to rush the children to school at the age of three years to make them precocious.
Cicero said in “The Nature of the Gods”:
“For the belief in the gods has not been established by authority, customs, or law, but rests on the unanimous and abiding consensus of mankind; their existence is therefore a necessary inference, since we possess an instinctive or rather an innate concept of them; but a belief which all men by nature share must necessarily be true; therefore it must be admitted that the gods exist.”
The people of old marveled at the love, efficiency and precision of these beings and they began to worship them and they would not heed the admonitions, warning and protestations by the beings themselves to desist from doing so pointing out to them that only God Almighty is to be worshipped. The beings guide herdsmen giving them signals as may be necessary on routes and water; same to fishermen as to where to cast their nets for appreciable harvest and to potters which clay will make solid pots; and which plant fibres should be used for weaving, principal among these which turned out to be what man was later to call cotton. The Beings formed the foundation for good character, loyalty and hard work as people strove to emulate them. As the Greeks were way ahead of others with their sharper perception, it is believed that the Beings inspired the early great philosophers—Socrates, Plato, Aristotle to name only three, indeed to the extent that Plato admonished a skeptical youth that “ his good or bad behaviour would have consequences” It is said of him that he regarded belief in the existence of the Nature Beings as “the most important thing for the human being.” .
The knowledge of the Nature Beings is depicted in the scriptures both in the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament for example, it is said “God standeth in the congregation of the Almighty; he judgeth among the gods (Psalm 82:1). Again in Psalm 135: 5), we read: “For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods:” In Psalm (36:2) we have stated: “God of gods.” The gods in reference are the elemental beings which the early people called gods and goddesses. The experience of Balaam and his donkey is well known when his animal refused to move on at a point on seeing a Nature Being that gave a warning signal to it. But Balaam could not see the being. He kicked the donkey three times but the animal refused to continue. The narration is contained in Numbers 22, 28-34 and it reads:
“And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?
“And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee.
“And the ass said unto Balaam, am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? Was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay.
“Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.
“And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten ass these three times? Behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me:
“And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times; unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive.
“And Balaam said unto the angel of the Lord, I have sinned; for I knew not thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again.”
In the New testament, Apostle Paul wrote (1 Corinthians 8, 5-6): “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) but to us there is but one God, the father, of whom are all things, and we in him: and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.”
Similarly, there is the account of the Lord Christ himself rebuking the wind and the Sea of Galilee when a violent storm headed to sink the ship in which the Lord was: “And He saith unto them: Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea: and there was a great calm. But the men marveled, saying: What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him! (Matthew 8: 26-27).
I have gone this far to demonstrate the imperative of being conscious of the primary teachers of man and the help they still render to mankind till this day, building and forming. There is so much to say about them; they are numerous and they are in hierarchies. Indeed without them life would have been impossible on earth. The Lords of the Nature Beings are in higher Realms, principal among them being Mercury. The beauty, size and majesty of some of them and their swinging in the radiance from the Power of the All-Highest got men to come to the conclusion that they were gods and in admiration and homage began to worship them. But it should be made plain that they are not God, but only the faithful servants of the Most High.
This leads me to ask the question once more: What is true worship? I apologise I cannot cover the ground today to lead to the subject, constrained by space and time. It will unfailingly be treated next week).
(References: GONE TO JOIN OBATALA: Tributes on Ulli Beier; and Gnomes, Elves, Nixies…A World-wide Knowledge by Christopher Vasey).
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