Of Many Names and No Name

Woke up this morning feeling the chill of Britain’s Artic ‘white out’, but my friend up in the American North West tells me it simply does not compare with her ‘white out’.

My mood is lightened, as it always is, by a long conversation with a Hindu friend about reincarnation. Hindus believe in all that don’t they, and so do I. That’s because I am Hindu, and Buddhist, and Sufi and Christian.

I was baptised Roman Catholic, taught to meditate by Buddhist monks, attended a Sufi Centre every week for over six years, and make an annual pilgrimage for a 10-day silent retreat mainly with Hindus and Buddhists, but with people of all faiths.

Although it has happened for millennia, it’s simply unimaginable to me that anyone would travel across the world to kill others simply because they were of a different religious persuasion or referred to the Divine by another name. How absurd. There’s something distinctly ‘not well in the head’ about that.

I’ll stick to the West African version of a Supreme Creator:

There was once a Supreme Creator who had many names and no name, who freely interacted with humankind and with whom it was possible to be in direct communication.  Everyone honoured the sacred, participated in daily worship which included the pouring of libations as an offering to both the ancestors who are buried in the land and to the spirits that are everywhere.

Alas, the Supreme Creator had to split after being continually struck by the pestle of an old woman pounding fufu[1].The Spirit aspect of the Oneness moved far up into the sky, while the Soul nature descended into the world but remained largely invisible to the people. However, although very present and accessible to the people at all times, the ‘fallen’ Divine Feminine remained largely invisible. But the people honoured the earth seen as a female deity, the Mother Goddess, directly connected to fertility, fecundity and wellbeing.

Unfortunately the space between the Great Spirit and the Mother Goddess created an opportunity for lesser gods to emerge acting as intermediaries between the Supreme Creator and the people. Some of these lesser gods were false prophets who abused the people and taught them false doctrines. 

Many believed that they needed a mediator to intercede with the Creator on their behalf. As the people’s value system changed, what they believed so they became. After long years many of the people began to forget who they were and descended into madness. But the Supreme Creator continued to speak directly to those who had ears to hear and eyes to see.

I love this version of the Divine, a god with many names and no name. I have no idea where all that came from today, but there it is.

[1] In Western and Central Africa, ‘fufu’ or ‘banku’ is usually made from yams, sometimes combined with plantains and cassava flour. Making ‘fufu’ or ‘banku’ involves boiling and either pounding the ingredients together; or vigorously stirring the mixture until it is thick and smooth.  Africans captured and exported as slaves to the Caribbean islands continued the tradition of ‘pound’ food known variously as ‘funji’ or ‘ku-ku’ and a host of other names.


  1. Very love this today - think your eyes were pointing up to see the pregnant slow clouds!


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