Girls from the Ewe tribe of Ghana lined up at a traditional ceremony

Explanation of How the Four Elements Were Formed

According to the legends inherited from the Ewe Tro (Trowo pl.), (ancient ancestors), the universe is equated with the sacred calabash. It is described as an enormous calabash, in which the top is the heavens, covered by the sky, and the bottom is the earth, thus, splitting the world into opposite polarities. The sky is viewed as the masculine aspect of the universe, whereas the earth is viewed as the feminine aspect, because of its association with fertility, nurturing and nourishment.

The Ewe understood that all life is born from the active “insemination” of the sky, because it fertilizes the earth via the issuance of rain. The earth, acting as the receptor for the rain, gladly receives the water and nourishes the seeds, which germinates the plants, which creates a process of metamorphoses of both animals and men.

The ancient Ewe also believed that the world itself was a huge, feminine organic body, made up of the four very basic, but extremely important elements: Earth, Fire, Sky, and Water. They further believed that Water was generated from the interplay of the spirits of the sky, and that the Fire gushed from the Earth. But for them, the absolute essential impulse central to the release of these dynamic elements was Lightening. It was theorized that the contact of these two polarities (Earth and Sky) provoked the Lightning, and thus triggers the basic impulse of all cosmic and earthly transformations, including the process of copulation, and birth.

Additionally, the Fire, that the Ewe ancestors learned to make from rock and dry wood, is viewed as merely an extension of this divine force manifested from Thunder.” With the knowledge of Fire, the ancestors were able to transform laterite into iron, and thus master this element in order to forge tools for agriculture, weapons, hunting and war.

These cosmological concepts were often traditionally expressed in the traditional design of the royal bench, constructed from a single block of wood, in which it is cut into two base parts, supported by five legs/columns. One base representing the Earth, the other representing the Sky, the two front columns representing Fire, and Water, and the central columns representing Lightening. This same cosmological theme plays itself out in understanding the concept behind the Ewe’s belief that it is the major force that also regulates fertility, the Seasons and even Time itself.

Ancient Origins of the Solar System

According to the ancient Ewe ancestors, the cosmic concentration point for each year is situated in the sky. It consist of sixteen stars grouped (like twins) to form the constellation of Pleiades.

During the time of year when this constellation is not visible to the human eye (timed for a period of sixteen days, after which the birth of the first ancestors happened), all of nature losses it vigor.

It is considered unless to plant, to gather medicinal leaves, or to perform any vodou ceremonial rites. Most Ewe withdraw from the world, and all of life rests in what is considered a suspended lethargy, up until the constellation reappears to commence the New Year. However, this New Year is not immediately celebrated, for the Pleiades still remains relatively hidden from physical view. Back then according to legend, it was very difficult to see the Pleiades with the physical eye in the mornings, due to the heavy humidity and monsoon rains during this period.

Though the ancient Ewe would dutifully go about tending to the daily chores of the day, they worked with much vigor and anticipation of this joyful event, when it would manifest itself fully during the winter solstice. There this celestial phenomenon would rise majestically in the eastern horizon at midnight, traversing the entire sky before the early dawn. It was at this point when all would joyously celebrate the New Year! ref and Source

Haki Kweli Shakur – August Third Collective NAPLA NAIM