Letter from the Editor:
After an exhausting election season with the “DAPL” tragedies playing out in the background it is hard to fathom we are coming upon a season of great peace and hope, yet we are, and I for one am ready for a few moments “Peace.” This month’s issue recalls some interesting people I met just a couple of weeks ago and attempts to reveal at least a little about their spiritual movement based on the teachings and practices of ancient Egyptians. As a small child in the 1970’s I recall the first post “Civil Rights” era “Back to Africa” movement and to think of that sort of spirit returning to the African diaspora again was quite compelling to me.
As a dancer, singer, and actress, I find great comfort in “making a joyful noise.” With that in mind, I wish our Jewish friends a “Happy Chanukah” and share some images of “Miriam” from the art world. A story about “Miriam” might have been better suited to “Passover” but I felt like putting her dancing shoes on anyway!
Some shopping segments include “Egyptian Glass” Christmas ornaments, African fashions, and gift baskets for friends overseas and domestically.
I also want to wish everyone a Happy Kwanzaa and a Happy New Year. May 2017 be more peaceful for all of us.
“It Takes a Village to Raise a Child”- A Visit to the Earth Center Proves the Adage
By Aziza Al-Tawil
Khefisah Nejeser and Kasabez Maakmaah.
One day last Summer, while picking up a pizza, I was very intrigued by a brochure and a newspaper I picked up touting the Charleston, WV branch of the “The Earth Center: For Promoting and Preserving the Kem Culture.” Seeing how the theme of the materials were based on Ancient Egypt I was immediately fascinated even though I had never heard of this group before. Charleston, WV has always been a unique city and really, despite alternating periods of “boom and stagnation” it’s always seemed to retain some level of the “eclectic.” So, in some ways, I was not shocked that something like “The Earth Center” was here. I said to myself, “I’ve got to meet these people and do a story on them!” Well, even though it took me several months to get around to it, I finally got the chance and attended a lecture on Ancient Egyptian Spirituality. The lecture was to be presented by Kasabez Maakmaah, a healer and teacher who came here from the Chicago location.
From Left to Right, Dre Pitts, Menzeba Hasati and baby Naba Ramez, and D’Oud Herman.
Upon arriving at the center we were greeted with great “old world” hospitality by Khefisah Nejeser, a recent graduate, and by Zaqhau, the very first person to graduate from the Charleston, WV location which has been here five years. Zaqhau, the true embodiment of a village elder and wise man told us to remove our shoes and politely hung up our coats with a warm yet serene smile. He wore a long white caftan and as more of the participants showed up all the more lovely African outfits were to be seen. As far as the center, coming here brought me back a little to the times I used to go to the Hare Krishna temple in Boston for Sunday chanting and vegetarian dinner. Even though most of my life I have considered myself an “Orthodox Christian,” I have always been interested in what other people believe and what shapes their spiritual lives.
Essentially, The Earth Center organization consists of three parts, “M’Tam” which are the “schools,” “Firefly Publications,” and “Ankhasta Herbs.” After a fun and witty opening about how everyone one was feeling after the recent “election,” Kasabez began his lecture with some sobering remarks about how mankind has really always had to deal with varying degrees of unpleasantness. It was explained to us that the spiritual path that is learned and followed through The Earth Center was Ancient Egyptian religion that was taken with people to other parts of Africa and survived, namely West Africa and Burkina Faso. The Dogon Civilization took the ancient Egyptian spirituality and way of life with them to West Africa around the time of Persian conquest around 400 BC. As the old ways died out in Egypt, they took on a new life in another part of Africa.
Khefisah Nejeser and Nezeziah Maakmaah and baby Kanafera
Menzeba Hasati, baby Nama Ramez, Zaqhau, Nezeziah Maakmaah and baby Kanafera.
The calendar still used in the culture is the “Sidereal” calendar and weeks are seen as “Decans”-I pointed out that it was the same in “Astrology.” In fact it was pointed out that these ancient Egyptians used “Astrology” for finding favorable times for planting, getting married, etc. November is Scorpio and indeed is presided over by the ancient Egyptian Goddess of Scorpions “Sekhet.” “The Earth Center” was first founded in Burkina Faso by Master Naba Lamoussa Morodenibig and was part of a renaissance of African culture during the time of their fight for independence (At that time the country was known as “Upper Volta”). Of course the religion is “polytheistic” in nature and has elements of ancestor worship or “respect” like “Shinto” does. The movement came to the United States in 1996.
I asked a few of the people there what first drew them to the movement. For Zaqhau, a professor of English and Philosophy speaking six languages, who came to Charleston 30 years ago, it was because he missed the “Traditions” of his native Cameroon. For Khefisah: ” Zaqhau was my favorite professor at State. One day he showed up on my FaceBook and invited me to an event at the Earth Center. I had always been interested in Kemetic culture (of course then it was just Egyptian to me) so when I came I knew immediately I was where I belonged!” Another, D’Oud Herman, found that after 30 years of being a Muslim he was not entirely comfortable with race relations in the religion and began to seek out something else. He found what he was looking for spiritually in The Earth Center. Menzeba Hasati loves to cook traditional African foods and is their resident expert now.
Zaqhau, D’Oud Herman, and Menzeba Hasati photo by Billy Jack Watkins.
Menzeba Hasati and baby Naba Ramez.
I enjoyed the afternoon with these very hospitable folks and anyone interested in learning more about them and their community projects around the world can visit their site here at http://theearthcenter.org/
“Make a Joyful Noise!”
by Aziza Al-Tawil
In celebration of Hannukah we highlight a woman from Judaism that celebrated a great triumph by making a “joyful noise” unto the Lord-Miriam and friends with their “timbrals” and tambourines: “So Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbral in her hand: and all the women went forth after her with timbrals and with dances.” Even though this story has more to do with “Passover” I couldn’t resist a story of women dancing!
Tomic Psalter, Bulgaria Circa 1360, tempura on paper, The State Historical Museum, Moscow
Miriam’s Song Unknown
Anselm Feurbach, “Miriam with Tambourine.”
Marc Chagall, “Miriam and Dancers,” 1958
Miriam, Unknown Illustration
Richard Andre, London 1884, “The Coloured Picture Bible for Children.”
Chludov Psalter Mid 9th Century Miriam Dance
Egyptian Christmas Ornaments: Display Your Passion
By Aziza Al-Tawil
Some wonderful Egyptian glass ornaments are available through Amazon. Why not share your passion for the “eclectic” during this wonderful season. Photos will link you to their deals on items shown.
African Fashions for the Whole Family
By Aziza Al-Tawil
Click on photos for clothing details and prices at Amazon.
Gypsy Christmas: Some Vintage Images
By Aziza Al-Tawil
Children’s Book about Gypsy Caravan and Christmas.
Irish Gypsy Christmas Art
Friends Overseas? How About Gift Baskets to Spread Some Holiday Cheer?
By Aziza Al-Tawil
If you are like many belly dancers who are into taking seminars with name dancers and musicians then you may be one who has made a ton of friends on your travels around the world. Thanking friends or people who have taught or inspired you may prove challenging at such distances-so why not a “gift basket” to say you are thinking of them long after the show is over?
Congratulate them with Champagne! Or even send a “Lego Toy” with a gift to the delight of a child or “the young at heart.” Even a lovely Poinsettia! “Gift Baskets Overseas” ships to over 140 countries worldwide.
Also available for our friends that celebrate “Chanukah” there are themed gifts including “Kosher.” All this and so much more (Like Holiday Specials!) at “Gift Baskets Overseas.”
Stumped about gift giving for the men in your life? If it is to be shipped domestically then “The Bro Basket” may be exactly what the doctor ordered. Just how many of us gals could put together “The Golfer’s Delight” basket without a little help?
Info on how to donate or advertise to keep “Egyptian Chick Magazine” afloat please contact the “Editor in Chief” Aziza Al-Tawil at email@example.com for further info.