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Rastafarian faithful can frequently be identified by their distinctive dreadlocks. Their faith allows the practice of smoking marijuana to encourage dreamlike states that help them connect to their spiritual selves.



In the Rastafarian movement, as in other prophetic and millenarian movements, dream experience represents an important source of religious inspiration. Dreams have played a considerable role in the production of Rastafarian ideology, which is based on potent biblical imagery and on the philosophy of Marcus Garvey, the Jamaican father of Pan-Africanism.

The Rastafarian movement—named after Ras Tafari (better known as Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia)—is a predominantly black form of social protest that originated in Jamaica in the early 1930s. This movement was a response to racial discrimination and to the manifestations of capitalist-imperialist domination that was the legacy of plantation slavery.

A fundamentalist approach to the Bible characterizes Rastafarian religion, which can be regarded as a form of black Zionism, with a strong emphasis on the ideology of Ethiopianism. According to Rasta, black people are to be considered the true Israelites, and have awaited the return of the Messiah, Jah Rastafari—manifested in the person of Emperor Haile Selassie I—to repatriate them to Africa. Africa is viewed in biblical terms as the ancestral Zion, which is opposed to Babylon, the white-ruled world.

The principal form of Rastafarian ritual activity, known as “reasoning,” during which elders attempt to formulate truths about a variety of social situations, is generally accompanied by the sacramental smoking of ganja—marijuana—which induces active imagination, allowing the Rastaman to be “far seeing” and to participate in a form of inter-subjective visionary communication. Besides a variety of sacred symbols, central to the speech code used during each performance is the pronoun “I,” with its sound symbolism related to “high,” “eye,” and to the idea of vision. During the communicative event of reasoning, dream experience is among the various subjects of speculation, such as historical and contemporary events and biblical prophecy. In particular, elders can draw upon recent as well as long-past dreams in order to authenticate their tutorial role.

In his 1992 report on visionary communication in the Rastafarian movement, J. Homiak discusses three dialogues that include dream accounts, interpretations, and resultant social actions undertaken by Ras Mobutu, a leader in the Jamaican Rastafarian movement. These dialogues, collected in the context of reasonings, contain a number of powerful rhetorical statements and considerable insights into the sociopolitical realities of colonial exploitation. Ras Mobutu’s visions, which illuminate specific points in Rastafarian history, are incorporated into an oral tradition in which understandings are shared by participants and consequently cannot be approached as separate from the social contexts and ritual processes through which the ideology is reproduced.

References in periodicals archive ?
To whom, where, how, and how often do Rastafarians pray for rain?
He concludes that, for Rastafarians, these journeys were complementary and mutually reinforcing.
Overall, From Garvey to Marley is a welcome addition to a growing body of literature known as Rastafarian Studies.
His commitment to the cause has also seen Bobo wearing Rastafarian colour laces in his boots on match days.
I've got Asian friends who make Asian jokes and I've performed in front of Muslims and Rastafarians with no problems.
Rastafarians complained that the use of marijuana, an aspect of their religious ritual, was prohibited.
Marley, who died of cancer in 1981, looked to Ethiopia as the spiritual home of his Rastafarian faith.
Ethiopia's evangelical churches objected to the celebrations, saying that Rastafarians are wrong to consider Ethiopia's last emperor as a living god and they would expose Ethiopian youth to marijuana.
EVEN THOUGH REPRESENTATIONS of Rastafarians and Rastafari style have grown ever more prominent in Western culture (think, for instance, of the albino dreadlock-sporting villains of The Matrix Reloaded), popular and academic knowledge of the Rastafarian movement has remained limited to a series of stereotypes.
To do this, the paper: (1) examines the Rastafarian movement and its development; (2) discusses the techniques, images, and symbolism used; (3) reviews Rastafarian artists to gain an insight into their expression; and (4) theorizes about Rastafarian art and how it has aided Rastafarians and others outside the movement to understand Rastafarians better.
In his own words, he will soon rule the planet after the creation of a new world order which will be headed by Rastafarians who he describes as God's chosen people.