Contemplation in Africana Traditions

< 1 min

The African continent and diaspora have a rich heritage and strong contemporary practice of contemplative traditions, many of which have historically been excluded from understandings of “contemplation,” as a result of this category’s European Christian origins and more recent Euro-American Buddhist influence. Africana traditions offer an opportunity to broaden the concept of contemplation, which often centers silence and stillness, by considering how practitioners create spaces that may be, at once, alive with movement and sound and deeply contemplative. Africana traditions of contemplation often emphasize the suspension of time in which the divine and the human intersect in ritual that is paradoxically and necessarily both timeless and time-bound; ritual that unites and transcends past, present, and future. Africana practices like divination, prayer circles, spirit possession, and communal mourning, to name a few, tap into the core aims of contemplation–direct communion with the sacred and/or being–while, at the same time, remaining profoundly practical, providing pathways for better living.