Metaphysical Bridges carry Symbols from the Source to the Receiver. This concept derived from the earliest Africans using a tree trunk fallen across a stream; by holding fast to a twisted vine in swinging across a chasm; by a rock formation stretching across a gorge; and later by chopping down trees and laying them across streams. Suspension bridges were built of vines twisted together and fastened to solid supports on either side of a chasm. Primitive African Shamans (priest/medicine men) migrated north from Africa to places like Siberia; later across land-bridges to enter Alaska and on down into North and then South America. Prior to 12, 500 BC in Europe’s Ice Age, the Mediterranean sea was shallow and had land bridges in places. Though Europe’s Cro-Magnons did not tend to move around, Africans were adventurers, migrating all over Europe and Asia. As a result, the Aurignacian culture, and its Art located in Europe was contributed to by both the African Grimaldi Negro and Cro-Magnons (prototype of the White race starting c45,000 BC). Examples include cave paintings of animals in the Chauvet Cave in France (and elsewhere) 35,000 years ago and a carved stone figurine with a skirt of loose strings in Europe 25,000 years ago. After ice melting deepened the Mediterranean Sea, Black Africans’ Art became more isolated and readily distinguishable from European Art. Meanwhile, Primitive Africans created Metaphysical Brigdes.
An early form was in their first attempts to explain why things happened by means of Myths (chiefly stories of deities and the origin of natural things)–which became the ancestors of science and partners with Religion + Philosophy + Legends (stories recounting the origins of family and clan Ancestors). These bridged the audience back to the very dream morning of creation and also explained the rituals and taboos fashioned by their Ancestors. Out of these arose many rituals to bridge the human world and the “Other” world. Ancestor rituals, especially surrounding death and burial, helped to heal the Ancestors themselves and people’s connection with them. The importance of this–foundational to including everybody and of Manners–was based on the belief that African Ancestors serve as keepers of the ethnic past. Thus, the duty of the living is to stay in contact so as to enable them to continue feeling the presence and importance of their Ancestors in their lives. Respect was/is shown by observations of proper rites towards the departed. In the Opening of the Mouth ceremony, the idea is to restore to the corpse the abilities it had enjoyed during life. In the Ancient African experience of performing Libations, any words given are in the form of prayer, invocations, or instructions to the departed. These words are the bridge of communion and people’s witness (to observe and testify to) that they recognize the departed as alive in the Other World. By performing rites and rituals, the performers transcend time, space, and limitation to connect not only with their fellow African people but also with their dead Ancestors who created those rites and rituals. The reason is that the performer(s) is a necessary part of the Afrocentric “Group Spirit.” Those who fail to understand how the “Group Spirit” of African Tradition can bridge two entirely different spheres–like heaven and earth–like the individual’s soul with God–will never be able to know who Black People are, what they are about, where they are going, and how they go about getting to their destination. Thus, related Spiritual Symbols bridge these two realities–man and the spirit world.
Whereas “Bridge’s” etymological meaning is a ‘road made of logs,’ its metaphorical meaning is the “inner story” carrying one into higher planes of existence. For example, religious singing–whether among Africans or African Americans–is both instructive on an earth world plane as well as palliative (by soothing the emotions) and unifying in a “Group Spirit” sense (by drawing the audience together). In rituals, Dance serves as a bridge between the Metaphysical and the Objective Realms or between ideas and phenomena. In other words, Dance is the vehicle for conveying abstract ideas into concrete form (i.e. communicating thought as matter). Music’s link to the dance derives from the presence of its rhythmic component and is supported by the belief in sound being evocative–i.e. having mystical powers able to evoke psychic forces of tremendous potency. So, what matters is not so much the movements as it is their evocative power. jabaileymd.com
Joseph A. Bailey II, MD, FACS
To create, maintain, and enhance HARMONY