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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 ?
His new name, the film shows, was not chosen by him but rather handed down by Rastafarian priests in Jamaica.
The Rastafarian mouse, who leads a band called the Easy Crew and speaks in Jamaican Patois, uses phrases such as 'me wan go' ('I want to go'), 'irie' ('happy'), 'wagwan' ('what's going on?
ALWAYS a deep thinker, Gcobani Bobo caused a sensation and almost ruined an international playing career when, having become a Rastafarian, he quit the game and disappeared into the South African mountains to find himself and discover inner peace.
Kabede says Rastafarian beliefs are often misunderstood and wants to set the record straight.
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.
In 1992, David Hinds challenged the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission in a US court, asserting that their cab drivers discriminated against black people in general and Rastafarians in particular
THOUSANDS of Ethiopians and Rastafarians were jamming on a hot Sunday in Addis Ababa's main square as Ethiopia threw a birthday bash for the late reggae star Bob Marley, in what was billed as the country's largest concert.
THOUSANDS of Ethiopians and Rastafarians joined a birthday bash for reggae star Bob Marley yesterday.
Thousands of Ethiopians and Rastafarians celebrated in Addis Ababa's main square yesterday as Ethiopia threw a birthday bash for the late reggae star Bob Marley, in what is billed as the country's largest concert.
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.