In some diaspora traditions, we call children who die young Black Angels. In Yorubaland, they are called Abiku. Iku means “death” and abiku is essentially, someone who was born to die.
Since nothing created is absolutely perfect because life could not exist in a Universe of complete rigidity, even Death does not always work exactly as it normally would. Since children are very newly physical, their connection with both the physical realm and the Egungun (Ancestors) is highly volatile. So it can happen that if a newly joined Spirit is too early extracted from its physical form, it can enter the realm of “functional” Spirits rather than re-merging with the Egungun.
Having very little or no physical life experience, for a long time in human terms, its perspective of the physical realm can be in terms of the most extreme and malignant narcissism, but without physical constraints. Even if the pregnancy and what little of childhood they experienced was very positive, this can encourage such a Spirit to be very selfish and exploitive in their interactions with physical beings.
In most cases, Abiku simply return to the Egungun to come back to us again the normal way. If they return to the same family and die early again, this is not usually cause for panic (though some do panic anyway). Most of the time, the reason is purely physical/medical, and the parents should reconsider having children through their own bodies, or seek counseling from someone who is very accepting of Death, so they don’t harden and distance themselves from children who are simply destined to have a short life. These children are quite often souls that for some reason need to be processed quickly as scouts of the Egungun. They are just here to look around for awhile and check out the situation, and return to the Egungun with a sort of emotional data so they can send the right souls to balance things to the Earth.
Some will die moments after they are conceived because they were just here to check the state of fertility in humans, and return before they have forgotten what the womb was like. Some are born with severe disabilities so they can see how people with severe disabilities are treated in an area, and report back to Obatala and the Egungun.
So on the one hand, things certainly do not always go the way we like, or “perfectly”, but on the other, the system runs exactly as it should to make sure the Forces of Nature have experiential contact with and information about e v e r y t h i n g.
Sometimes though, things do go wrong. When there is a time of great atrocity, such as a war, forced relocations, famine, rigid societies that essentially sacrifice children needlessly, and other horrors usually caused by human aggressions and/or stupidity, childrens’ souls take on damage that they do not have the life experience to process. What many don’t understand about this is that some of these souls may take many years to find their way back to the species that harmed them.
An Abiku soul who was killed a thousand years ago in a war may be just now finding its way back to humanity, and pick someone to torment because in their child-like brain, they thought the mother was somehow wrong for not being able to protect them from the sword. That the mother may have already been dead or separated from them is irrelevant. The baby or child has no idea that someone who has been stabbed or chopped up or burned alive cannot just get up and shield them. Some who made it to perhaps five years old and did understand what Death is, are angry that someone would bring them into such a horrible world at all.
As a warrior, a powerful and deeply spiritual Ancestor, or close to pure monk is able to leave behind some shards of their identity to aid the living, the child can as well. Just, unlike the warrior or monk, they do not know friend from foe. They only know pain and pleasure. So when they find their way back to humanity, it is unfortunately not their enemies who bear the brunt of their bouts of rage and greed unless the enemies have replaced them in the land or interbred with them. It is the people from whom they came.
This may seem highly unfair in human terms, but consider that what usually goes wrong is the loss of mystics who help to guide the dead back to the Ancestors. Every culture on Earth had ways to deal with death. Even if you look at it from a purely psychological and atheist point of view, grief is necessary. If people have not been properly grieved, then the psychological consequences are astronomical and can affect people many generations later.
A woman can miscarry or a child be damaged in the womb because of psychological traumas. The ceremonies and practices that developed around Death should not be minimized or dismissed as “mumbo jumbo”. We’d need them even if there were no Spirits.
How to deal with Abiku
Abiku return in three ways:
- taking form in order to communicate and usually frighten people (Black Angels)
- vampirically feeding through a child (Blood Angels)
- being repeatedly reborn and dying again (Jumpers)
Healing Black Angels
You may not feel so, but you are fortunate if the Abiku just wants to scare you. Their poltergeist like antics may be dangerous, but these children don’t have too much interest in physical pleasures, just emotional ones.
Some of the paranormal experts of today say that if you just ignore them they will go away because paying attention to them gives them energy. The problem with this is that if they don’t get it from you, they will get it from someone else, and unlike other ghosts, they are not shards but full souls. They will get what they want or they will graduate to become more aggressive vampiric Spirits or Jumpers.
So if a Vodun or diaspora priest tells you it is a child ghost, it needs healing before things get out of hand. However, remember to start with Eshu in communicating with the child. If you ask the child things directly about their life and what they want without going through Eshu, they may trick you into giving offerings or doing silly things for them forever and ever.
Whatever you say to them should be said through Eshu. Whatever messages you get from them should be through Eshu.
Most likely, what they need in order to be convinced to go back to the Egungun is whatever a proper funeral was in their culture. If the child had the orientation of a mystic at the time they were born, this may mean a proper funeral according to their ancestral culture.
Healing Blood Angels
These are Abiku who have gotten to the point of enjoying the pleasures of being a baby or child somewhat vicariously through other children. If your child is eating a lot and isn’t hyperactive but is still skinny as a rail, and doctors can’t find anything wrong with them, they may be carrying a Blood Angel. I don’t mean normal eating a lot and still being thin because of growing. I mean eating a whole lot of food almost all the time, and still losing weight to where you can see their ribs.
Sometimes this is not such a bad thing, especially in the case of the death of a twin. The survivors of a multiple birth in which one or more have died may be eating for two (or more). Unless real weirdness starts to happen, you can be fairly sure that you are still feeding your own children, and that at some point the one(s) who died will return to the Ancestors or maybe stay on as Guardians of the survivors. They are aware, and their experience is growing with your surviving children. This can also be the case if you had multiple miscarriages and/or stillbirths before having a healthy child who is fit enough to be able to spare some calories for their siblings.
If it goes too far though, and your surviving child becomes ill, it is clear that the Spirit plaguing them does not have an interest in the survivors’ protection. Again, get the child fully checked out by more than one conventional doctor before assuming that it is an Abiku who is responsible. Move quickly though.
In such cases, in a panic, parents and priests of the past, and some crazy ones closer to the present, have done all manner of horrors to extract Abiku from children. They have put heavy chains on children, tortured them, and put them through many traumas attempting to scare away the Abiku. They are seldom effective and usually just end up harming the child.
The way to handle a Blood Angel is to convince them, again through Eshu, that this is not the way to satisfy their hunger. They are not at the point of rebirth, so they should be convinced to return to the Egungun.
This may take some doing. Find a priest and do not balk at their instructions (so long as they’re reasonable, and if they’re not find another priest). You may have to actually count calories for your kids and only give them what they need to thrive. You may have to stop giving them any sweets and tell everyone who might do that to stop. You may have to be more strict. The point is to be aware that some other entity is capitalizing off of whatever excesses you give to your child.
By the way, not over indulging your children is protective of them. Blood Angels usually pick out children who are coddled and spoiled to the extreme. So sane discipline is the way to go for more reasons than just raising responsible adults. Teach them the value of trust and resources, and save the sugary sweets for weekends and special occasions.
In some cases, they pick out children who are not spoiled, but just disabled or ill, and have to be indulged a bit. Strictness won’t work on these children, and the Abiku does not understand that the child does not have an easy life. The Abiku envies the child. So the family has to get Eshu to explain this to them and as he guides us in the right direction when we’re messing up, guide the Abiku in the right direction to the Ancestors.
Jumpers are a special case. They are at the point of rebirth, but they are vengeful against humanity. They are angry and have no care that they are harming people when they are conceived or born and then die repeatedly.
Since they are being conceived or born and not just contacting or capitalizing off of humans, they need to be convinced to stay. This can be very difficult in a world where there is still extreme poverty, war, and hate.
In this case, again with Eshu as the intermediary, the priest and parents must convince the child to stay. In some cases, the child must be forced to stay.
Just like a person who wishes to commit suicide needs a weapon, so does the Jumper. This is usually a stone, stick, or poisonous plant or substance growing near someplace the pregnant mother is or goes day to day. For a time, the next time the mother conceives, she may need to be kept in a place with no stones that a baby or small child could pick up and throw, no pointed sticks that are or could easily be dislodged from a tree, and no plants that could be poisonous in an amount that could fill a baby’s stomach.
If all the previous children have died at specific ages, the mother and child should be watched at all times by people who are either initiated or have reached the level of practice that they are capable of easily sensing malevolent spiritual activity, until the child is seven months past the usual death age. The child should wear protection amulets until the age of 12 both for external and internal forces.
In summary, the way to heal an Abiku is to properly grieve and show them the benefit of either going back to the Egungun or being reborn. The aggressive methods of the past are highly unecessary. They may have been in the past, but they are no longer. If it is the case that they were very necessary in the past then this may be because people were less rational then, or just more brutal, so even an afflicted child needed a heavy show of force. My gutt feeling though, is that these severe means were never needed, and humans simply misinterpreted instructions to be strict to mean being brutal in the extraction process.
By the same, I am not saying that we should adhere to western style coddling when dealing with the Spirits. That would be silly since the Spirits do not care what year it is in the terms that we do. What I am saying is that certainly harming a Blood Angel afflicted child or a settled Jumper doesn’t help their view of the Earth as a good place to be born into.
In this video, Efe West, the instructor of AfroScientific Spirituality Master Class, talks about Ogbanje/Abiku, and where the legends came from. He gives a very sensitive and scientific explanation, which gives hope that we will figure out the medical reasons some families seem to be plagued with repeated loss. While these situations can benefit from caring spiritual guidance and healing, it is best to remember that physical conditions usually have physical remedies, and those should be sought and found.
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