When I first watched Lemonade I was like “is Bey really doing what I think she’s doing? What’s happening?!” I doubted myself because I had had my edges snatched and obviously was in shock and hallucinating.
So I watched again, with a semblence of calm. My sangoma eyes were seeing things in the videos and I don’t think they were simply visual references.
All this water, black womyn, choice of colours, drum beat and bass…it reminded me of something I know very well – sacred, feminine spiritual practice. Ah! Bey! Just like that? YAAAS! Slay us and bring us back to life!
Last night I woke alliancepartner up at like 02:00 because I finally joined the dots. Lemonade is saying exactly what I need it to say to me right now. As a young healer, I draw strength and affirmation from the work of my ancestors recognised and so beautifully presented by Beyoncé and her teams. Is she not one of the most powerful minds and voices of our generation? She is. End of story.
So I lay quitely, being snuggled by my husband (who’s in trouble like all the world’s men right now). All the while, my mind raced between 1. Yoruba sacred practice and deities; adapted& disguised practices in the Diaspora, like Santeria& Candomble which were born in the waters that were the passage of our stolen people to foreign lands. 2. Similarities and parallels between WestAfricancestral practice, her Diaspora daughters and our very own Southern African spiritual practices both in ubungoma and Postoli faith (which adapted and evolved in very similar ways to Diaspora spiritual practices) And 3. How does Beyoncé weave all this so seamlessly into her visual album and snatch the whole world’s edges and bring what I interpret as necessary and overdue healing and the beginning of a rebirth for the bodies and spirits of black womynhood.
Obviously she’s speaking as an African American womyn, but there is so much in the imagery and symbolism that I can identify in our own practices, rites rituals and experiences.
As isangoma, I interpreted some aspects of the album to be a creative representation of the ritual of Ukufemba: a ritual where a medium channels the umNdau* water spirit, which in turn embodies people, spirits, and other celestial beings to perform a cleansing ritual on a subject, or subjects, by ‘sweeping’ the body of subject/s from toe to head, picking up dis-ease, malaise and curses from the subject/s into themselves, and the medium using their body and life force to transport the curse or whatever and leave it at the water. The ritual centres around water, fire, song, the use of colours, dance, numbers and money – again, similar to the Postoli faith practices and Santeria.
I will not go into each individual song but you will feel it when you see it.
Beyoncé is the medium, the initiated healer – initiated by virtue and fire of her black womynhood. We are the subjects.
What is the link between Santeria, Orisha, Sacred Feminine, umNdau and ukufemba? Water. I also note the lunar significance of the Lemonade release.
Bey brought alladat.
Bey is invoking THE feminine archetypes that are at the very base and pinnacle of our beliefs and sacred practice from all over the continent and Diaspora – Crone, Mother, Maiden: Nomhhoyi, Yemoja, Oshun, Nomkhubulwane. I refer to both Zulu and Yoruba Deities and archetypes because I see them all in Lemonade.
She is channeling the lives of the women in her lineage including her own mother, sister and daughter (and channeling herself in those respective roles) – singing, dancing, fucking shit up and celebrating – sweeping the collective body of Us to draw out, enact, and destroy the violence, hopeless hope, defeat, whatthefuckery of all our efforts and betrayals to rebirth Us all over again in our ancient and current carnations. There’s something visceral and personal in Lemonade. This album is medicine.
It feels like she’s letting us know that she knows that all the womyn in her and our breath and bones are fed the fuck up from fighting and loving but being rewarded with murder. she’s also saying they/we are still outchea. Even though we are also dead. You know, like ancestors do.
She also served the necessary and often shunned darkness and madness of the healing path. She’s tryna wear another’s skin on her skin and confetti herself with teeth. I am here for it!
Her words “Try not to hurt yourself” are an incantation AND a threat as much as they are a statement of power reclamation and Universal Truth. “Mfkr, when you end me, you end yourself. Dafuq you think this is?” And this has basically been the motto of black Grancestry since since. Mbuya Nehanda epitomised this. You feel me?!
And the whole menses and holy book vibe? Because we know that the world’s biggest religions were butchered and removed by force from between the secret lips of the Divine Feminine. Levels.
Who can craft ancient rites – birth, death, banishment, coming of age and the madness of black womyn pain so deliberately, with both subtlety and boldness into mainstream culture and wrap it all in breathtaking music and visuals? Bey. And she knows exactly what the fuck she is doing. She’s encoded her album and woven symbols, lessons, affirmations, war and love for us to take what we need, even if it is only our blood that recognises that need. This is for us.
umNdau* water spirit : guardian spirit relayed to our bloodline through commerce or conquest. Takes care of the material and sexual aspects of out lives – resides in the root chakra