Throughout West Africa, the Akan people believed the Earth spirit, Asase Yaa, fertilized the soil, and to disrespect her would bring mortal peril.
The Akan saw the soil as sacred – it’s where their ancestors rested, and Asase Yaa controlled whether they rested peacefully.
Before digging a new grave, the Akan asked Asase Yaa for permission to disrupt the soil, and to watch over the body of their ancestor. In return, they made offerings to her through prayer, libations, and sweeping the earth to rid the soil of evil spirits.
They also danced upon the soil, acknowledging that they danced upon Asase Yaa’s shoulders, carrying her within their movements. As long as the Akan honored her, their soil remained fertile and they were connected with their ancestors.
But there was one unforgivable way to disrespect her.
Asase Yaa’s sacred day was Thursdays, which meant the soil couldn’t be disrupted on Thursdays – meaning no farming and no burials. The Akan spent Thursdays either resting or blessing the soil, knowing Asase Yaa would punish them for anything else.
Today, we can learn from the Akan’s practices. We must care for and tend to the Earth – by preserving it we respect our ancestors and the soil that our bodies will inevitably rest in. What can you do to take care of the Earth?
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