Most African ethnic groups believe in One God, who created the Universe and all that is contained within it.
In the beginning, God wished to behold God, and so willed Existence to come into being. Existence unfolded from the first seed that contains everything that was, is and shall be and grew down into the trunk, branch, flowers and fruit of the Tree of Life. Within Existence, there are four worlds and each world corresponds to the four elements of earth, water, air and fire. The Divine world, from which everything emanates is a world of our consciousness and light; its element is fire. The Spiritual or Cosmic world is where creation begins; its element is air. The Psychological world contains all Forms and its element is water. The Physical world is where everything is made and comes into manifest existence; the element of earth.
As we read this we might ask, “where do we as humans fit into this scheme of existence?". We who are created in the image of God, have within us the Spark of the Divine from whence we came. This spark is clothed in a Spirit and then given a Soul and finally incarnates into the world in a Physical Body.
All humanity has the same origins from the first world of Divinity. In the next world of Spirit, male and female are not differentiated; this is the ’Created Adam’. Humanity is androgynous in that realm, then separated into a male and female soul in the Psychological world of Forms. The individual soul is finally given a “coat of skin".
The Tree of Life is a map of the Universe and in it are all the laws and principles within existence. It starts with God and ends with God. I AM THAT I AM. In the world of Spirit there are parts of God which deal with the governing of the universe in general, and the affairs of humanity on earth, in particular. There are forces that build up, others that break down, and those in equilibrium. In African Traditions these forces are called Orishas, Divinities, Deities or Spirits.
The souls of humans live on after death and can reincarnate back into humanity. The world of Formation is where most of us live for much of the time. It is the realm of psychology (psyche = soul in Greek), where our thoughts, feelings and deep emotions shape our lives. In our souls we have free will and through our choices we reap what we sow. At his level we develop a personality based on our past incarnation, our upbringing, tribe and culture. Our thoughts, feelings and actions are coloured by our parents, family, tribal customs and society. As we become adult “the choices we make dictate the life we lead” so our responsibility in the first instance is to ourselves, and then to the family and society as we grow and refine the soul through experiences, crises and pleasures of everyday life. The psychological world is the realm of the newly dead and those waiting to be reborn. It is the place of the Ancestors; those who look after us and know and share the human experience. The more evolved Ancestors become the companions of the Light and they are there to guide the destiny of a people or nation. It is our interaction with them that brings about harmonious living for a family, people or nation.
In the physical world there are songs, dances and rituals concerning life experiences of birth, initiation, marriage and death. These ceremonies of initiation mark the cycles and rhythms of life. They demonstrate the human condition on earth as we evolve and grow in consciousness.
Each time we are born our souls are clothed with a physical body as a vehicle in which to live and fully experience this world. In our bodies we can see, feel, touch, taste, smell and hear the world around us. Those who are awake recognise the unique positions of human beings who are bale to be conscious of being conscious. This, with the gift of free will, enables us to ascend to the highest heaven or descend to the lowest hell. Here in physical existence, the four worlds are present in the NOW. It is the place where God can hold God in the mirror of existence.