“Christians look toward the sky. We look toward the ground.” That's what Baba Oluwale Ifakunle said as he poured an ancestral libation at the Divine Space and Sacred Territories conference that was recently held at Harvard University.

Organized by the African and Diasporic Religious Studies Association, the conference featured scholars from around the world and focused on beliefs that are central to our sacred traditions. (Read more about the Divine Space and Sacred Territories Conference here: )

I didn't get a chance to attend this conference, but I had the good fortune of meeting Baba Oluwale Ifakunle last year, and I'm reflecting on what he says about “looking to the ground.”

In the book, Ifa Will Mend Our Broken World, Yoruba scholar, Dr. Wande Abimbola, also talks about looking to the ground.

“With the exception of the Orisa Sango, all the other Orisas dwell on the surface of the earth or in the earth's crust,” says Abimbola. “The planet earth is a very sacred place.”

Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon

All of this talk about looking to the ground and the sacredness of the earth makes me think of my childhood in the Caribbean. I'm from the island of St. Croix and loved to run around barefoot as a kid.

I still do.

In fact, one of my favorite rituals when I go home is to take off my sandals and sink my bare feet in the rich, dark Caribbean soil. It soothes my soul as I look at the rolling hills, the trees and the plants.

And I think about the wisdom of my ancestors. Their struggles, their vision, their spirit, and how I vow never to sell the land that has been passed down to me.

I do my barefoot ritual each time I go home. Rituals can be as a complex as you need them to be or very simple.

I prefer simple.

It's a powerful way to stay grounded and connected in a crazy world that's trying it's best night and day to uproot you from who you are and what you came to earth to do.


James Weeks