In the first half of the 20th century, in Jamaica, the Rastafari spiritual movement was born. Movement that today is well known for its music, its conception and its peculiar symbology. Read on and learn more about Rastafarian symbols and their meaning.

According to the Oxford University Spanish Dictionary, the word rastafari it means “religious, social and cultural movement of Jamaican origin that defends the freedom of people of African origin and that believes in the divinity of Ras Tafari, former emperor of Ethiopia“. For his part, in the 1930s, Marcus Garvey, considered a reincarnation of Saint John the Baptist, inspired the Rastafari with the social and cultural vision of the descendants of black slaves to return to Africa; therefore his phrase «Africa for Africans» would be the slogan of the movement.

So this movement affirms that the descendants of the black race, who were scattered around the world as slaves captured by the white man, they must return to Africa and be able to achieve maximum development in their land of origin. Likewise, Jah is the god that makes up the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and Haile Selassie I who was emperor of Ethiopia, was believed to be the third reincarnation of the god Melchizedes and Jesus.

At first, Haile Selassie, before being recognized as such, was called Ras Tafari Makonnen, where Ras meant Head and Tafari Creator (creator head); but in the Amharic language, he translates as “one who deserves respect”. In such a way that the movement was left with that original name. Rastafari are monotheists and believe in Yahweh who for them is Jah and it is inside the human being, hence the phrase that is often mentioned “I & I” (I and I), which means that the Rasta have Jah Ras Tafari in the heart, inside each one.

However, as it is a very syncretic religion, there are many differences between them regarding the conception of faith, so each one is dependent on how to manifest it and there is no established and generalized rule, only some aspects. Likewise, they speak of the promised land that is called Zion. The rastas have specific ways of wearing their hair, colors and clothing, this being part of their symbology that will be seen in detail below.

Now, there are five main symbols that are the most representative in the Rastafarian movement, in order of importance, the first being the colors of the flag. Each one has a meaning, green symbolizes the fields of vegetation in Ethiopia; yellow refers to the richness of the land and red recalls the spilled blood of African martyrs.

Similarly, the sacred herb, cannabis or marijuana, is widely used as incense and also to consume, to smoke, since she allows you to meditate to find the direct connection with Jah and the wisdom that it can grant. Another important symbol for this movement is the black star, which represents the head, arms and legs of the black man, which is why it is five-pointed.

the conquering lion, which makes references to Jah; Emperor Selassie or Africa itself, is the representation of the fight against Babylon; but what does Babylon mean?

Babylon is the white patriarchy that has always humiliated and oppressed the black race by subjecting them to slavery, for centuries. Next, the so-called dreadlocks, which symbolize the clinejas of the lion, strength and the fight against Babylon; this way of wearing the hair is almost a commandment of the book of Leviticus in which we read the prohibition of showing baldness and the denial of cutting the beard. In short, the “dreadlocksW” style is close to the figure of the Lion of Judah that is part of the Ethiopian flag. Rasta hair symbolizes the Lion’s mane or the Nazirite vow.

Also, in addition to the spun hair, they wear typical hats, clothes made with vegetable fibers, very wide and comfortable with the typical colors that refer to the motherland, Ethiopia, as already mentioned. Another characteristic of Rastafarians is that they are vegetarians, They do not consume processed products, nor with preservatives, condiments or salts. They look absolutely for the natural, they don’t drink liquor, coffee, milk and soft drinks.

They use as a symbol, also the tunic and turban. The Bobo Shanti members wear them inspired by their boss Emmanuel. Regarding music, many think that Rasta music is reggae, but it really is not. Reggae is more of a Jamaican tradition, it is part of the nation’s music that is sometimes used by Rastas as a social protest, but the most representative music of them is Nyabinghi music, which is performed in ceremonies and celebrations. This genre includes praise songs that use the recitation of psalms and variations of well-known Christian hymns; prayers for the consumption of cannabis and drums are also used.

In such a way that although the closest thing to Rastafarians is the Nyabinghi genre, reggae, ska and jazz are part of the country and of the Rastafarian Conception, due to the number of Rasta musicians who perform it as part of the movement. As for the drums, which are very important as a symbol of their music, the traditional Jamaican Kumina drums, the Burri drum and the Akete stand out.

Therefore, it is stated that “Rastafari music is the union between the world of the sacred and the secular world. Nyahbinghi music is more exclusive, as it focuses on faith, while reggae is more inclusive, because faith is diluted by more humanistic sentiments, claims and protests of oppressed peoples as -victims of the system molded inside and outside of Jamaica.»

Finally, the Rastafarian spiritual movement, as well as any other religion or philosophical conception that seeks the truth, the approach to God or enlightenment, is full of representative symbols and full of meaning that are worth knowing.