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Here is my guide to Rastafari beliefs.

Key Figures

Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia (1930 – 1974), Marcus Garvey, Dr. Vernon “Prophet Gad” Carrington, Prince Emmanuel Charles Edwards, Leonard Howell, Joseph Hibbert.

Key Beliefs/Concepts

- His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie the First of Ethiopia, (formerly known as Ras Tafari Makonnen) is divine. Some believe he is God (JAH), others believe he is Iyesos Kristos (Jesus Christ), still others believe he is both

- Ethiopia/Africa is Heaven (Zion) on Earth

- Babylon, the system, must fall before JAH can at last return for the Judgment. At that time we can return to Africa. Babylon consists of things such as materialism, discrimination, and other forms of oppression

Major Sects

Twelve Tribes of Israel – Founded by Prophet Gad, they very much Christian. They generally believe they descendant of the Lost Tribes, an astrological system is employed to sort members into the various tribes. In 1997, they (read Prophet Gad) officially declared Haile Selassie was Christ alone, and not JAH.

Theocratic Order of the Nyabinghi – the original sect of Rastafari. They place an emphasis on Ethiopia and living Rastafari levity (see below). Several respected Rastafari elders (i.e. Ras Pidow, Ras Sam Brown etc.) are members of the Order.

Bobo Shanti – Prince Emmanuel founded this sect and he is worshipped as the Black Christ in a priestly form. He, Haile Selassie, and their descendants are worshipped as Gods. The Bobo Shanti demand monetary reparations for the slavery of black people. They are essentially Black Supremacists.

Holy Texts

The Bible – the Ethiopian Orthodox canon with the King James text. All other versions are considered to be tainted by Babylon, in an attempt to hide the truth.

The Kebra Nagast – Relates the story of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, who had a son together, Menelik. Menelik would found the Solomonic Dynasty in Ethiopia and would also bring the Ark of the Covenant to the Cathedral at Axum.

The Fetha Nagast – A book of laws, provided the basis for the legal system under the Solomonic Dynasty. Not widely used in Rasta circles.

The Rasta Ible, the Holy Piby

Rasta Livity

Dreadlocks. The cutting of hair or into flesh is to be avoided whenever possible. It is not mandatory just strongly emphasized.

I-tal food. A diet of pure food. Products to be avoided: processed, preserved, and/or genetically modified food. Salt is only allowed if it is natural sea salt. Other restrictions include pork or the meat from any other animal that scavenges off the earth (i.e. shellfish). Also not mandatory.

Ganja/Marijuana – Misunderstood. It is honoured as a sacrament by most members. The aim is not to get high, stoned etc. but rather to be closer to JAH and to meditate. Definitely not required.


Conquering Lion of Judah – Symbolizes Selassie and Christ, as well as Ethiopia

Imperial Ethiopian Flag – Vertical stripes of green, gold, red with a Lion in the center.

Green, Gold, Red – Have various representations. Green is the land of Africa, gold is the sun and/or the mineral wealth of Africa, and red is the blood of martyrs/patriots.


Marijuana – Rastafari is not an excuse to smoke. It is just as illegal for a Rasta to smoke than any other person. Not every Rasta smokes (I don’t).

Colour of Skin – Anyone can be a Rasta. Some brethren don't want whites to be Rastas but the majority don’t mind. I am white by the way.

I would be happy to answer any questions.

JAH Bless,


Kindest Regards, CanuckRasta, and a warm welcome to CR!

I haven't any specific questions just now, but I am greatful for your contribution. Thanks! :)
Hello and welcome.

I have a question. How do you understand the nature of Jah? Is Jah's nature in any way understandable?


dauer, you have a great question. It is complex and hopefully I can answer it. I will also post it on the rasta forum(s) I am on; the idren (brethren) and sistren should find an answer for you which I will post here.

Eventhough JAH was for a time physically on this earth (1892 - 1974/5), he has of course always been here spiritually and mystically. He is everywhere at once. I would say though, that JAH has a limited influence over life per se. Rastas don't usually pray to ask for something, rather we give "thanks and praises" as the saying goes.

There is an excellent quote by a reggae artist that says Rastafari means to see the Creator in the wind, surf, and sun. To take a Nyahbinghi perspective, a person can become One with JAH by living the livity of Rastafari.

This is as close as I come to an answer for now.
Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia (1930 – 1974)

I have a quick question, why do you see this man as divine? He wasn't even a rasta, nor did he ever agree with what the rasta's believed? Actually, I've read somewhere that he disagreed completely with them. I also read that before Haile took office, a man prophecised that a great leader would come. And alot of rasta's just thought he was the one. What is your take on this?
I am interested in this because all I have ever heard from people that were intolerant of other religions and what I heard is insulting. So welcome to CR and I look forward to your contributions. :)

Master Vigil, I am glad you asked. I am going to cover the events that led to the beginning of the movement (i.e. the prophecy of Marcus Garvey that you mentioned) and then summarize some Biblical passages believed to refer to Haile Selassie.

A Trinitarian Christian, Marcus Garvey is considered a Jamaican national hero (along with reggae star Bob Marley and freedom fighter Paul Bogle). He began to preach and attract followers early in the 20th century. He formed the African Orthodox Church in Jamaica, which would later become the Jamaican branch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. In 1910, Garvey told his followers to “look for a Black King in the East, for he shall be the Redeemer.”

On Nov 2 1930, Ras Tafari Makonnen was crowned King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah in St. George’s Cathedral, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This title is identical to that given to the Messiah in the Book of Revelation. Upon his coronation he took his baptized name as his throne name, Haile Selassie (his baptized name was not known until he was crowned). Haile Selassie translates into English as “Might of the Trinity”.

Before I summarize some Biblical passages that refer to Haile Selassie I would like to say. I have shown these passages to several Christians all who agree that the passages refer to Christ and therefore cannot be talking about Selassie. That is the point; the quotes refer to Christ as Selassie. Anyways, here goes:

- the title of every single Ethiopian emperor descended from Menelik is identical to that reserved for the Messiah. (Rev 19:16, Rev 5:2-5)

- the Messiah will supposedly be black, with hair like wool. (Daniel 7:9)

- this man will be born in Ethiopia (Psalms 87:3-4)

I have many others I will get together. The Kebra Nagast is quite useful as well. The story of God allowing the Ark to be taken to Ethiopia shows how the Ethiopian Solomonic emperors are the true kings of Israel. Selassie possessed intimate knowledge of the Ark, which he had no access to. The priests that guard the Ark told themselves they could not allow Selassie to be crowned, as he was too powerful and had too much knowledge.

It is true that Selassie was not a Rasta. However, it should be said that he never denied his divinity. When he appointed Abuna Yesaq as Archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Jamaica, this was not done to sway Rastas from him. Instead, it was to show Rastamen and Rastawombmen the value of Christ teachings.

Thanks for the welcome.
[QUOTE CanuckRasta]It is true that Selassie was not a Rasta. However, it should be said that he never denied his divinity. When he appointed Abuna Yesaq as Archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Jamaica, this was not done to sway Rastas from him. Instead, it was to show Rastamen and Rastawombmen the value of Christ teachings.[/QUOTE]
You mean Rastas are followers of Christ ? I didn't know there are Ethiopian Ortodox in Jamaica.
Very interesting Canuck, ok another question. If Selassie wasn't a Rasta, than who do you worship, Christ or Sellassie? Did Selassie ever claim to be christ? Did he ever claim the things you posted? Or was it claimed only by Rastas?
Okay, first let me go back and readdress dauer's question (this is a response from a rasta idren of mine, thanks FiyahBun):

"Blessed Love

No human can contemplate the infinite absolute spirit. I and I can only see it in a relative way. In order for I to get a glimpse into this divine nature Jah has manifested the divine mind as an example for all to see. This is the Christ. Which can manifest as a person but this seed is in all of I and I. I can never be HIM but by following HIM example I am one with HIM, one with the Almighty. For Jah is in all things at all times. I and I free will is if I and I choose to acknowledge this and resurrect this within Iself. In so doing I and I make I own judgment. No one is going to save I but I own judgment. I make that choice. Yet Jah is the supreme Judge of all things!

For many years I accepted the father, son holy spirit concept but in actuality it is really taken from: Mind=father, Body=Son, Spirit=holy spirit.
I and I cannot disRaspect the mother. Ten commandments say Honor thy Father and MOTHER. Everything has male and female aspect. This is just I relative terms. The father is the law the creative principle is feminine. This is not gender in human terms. It is more like the brain the left side is objective and the right side subjective. This is how thought get formed. Ideas created."

Hope that helps. Now I would like to clarify an earlier statement of mine. When I said Haile Selassie was not a Rasta, I meant that he did not worship himself. He is a Rastaman because he follows the Kebra, the Bible and he lived a pure life. He lived livity, and the spirit of JAH is manifested in him.

Onto your questions. Yes, Rastas are followers of Christ, just in a different image. There are a fair number of Ethiopian Orthodox in Jamaica. I would get you exact numbers but I know the "official" number of Rastas are false - Jamaica is around 10% EOC I believe.

I personally worship Haile Selassie as being God and divine. Unlike most Rastas, I do not really follow the Christ teachings. For me Christ was a prophet equal to Muhammad, Moses, Abraham, or Marcus Garvey, not the Son of God. I have no problem meditating on the teachings of other religions though. Regarding the question if Haile Selassie ever claimed the things I posted, he did claim some of them (and more).

The first article of the Ethiopian Constitution says he is descendant of King Solomon (he reaffirms this). He also claimed, that he could talk to animals (they could understand him and reply.) He stated that when he was baptized at three days old he saw the world through adults eyes (he could listen and comprehend).

"The first article of the Ethiopian Constitution says he is descendant of King Solomon (he reaffirms this). He also claimed, that he could talk to animals (they could understand him and reply.) He stated that when he was baptized at three days old he saw the world through adults eyes (he could listen and comprehend)."

No disrespect but this doesn't convinve me of divinity, only giftedness. I can talk to animals as well, and I wish he could back up his claim of his 3 day old comprehension. Did his parents know of this? How about this, give me a quote by him stating his divinity, and his parents affirming so.
I wish it were that easy. His mother died when he was only two and his father, I believe, did not live to see his son crowned (Selassie ascended to the throne at 38, after nearly twenty years of political games). Also, he did not fulfill the prophecy until he was crowned.

There is little detailed information regarding Haile Selassie outside of Rasta circles. Because we consider him divine, obviously we have researched his life extensively.

Here is one of the few answers given by him on this subject:

Bill Mc Neil: "there are millions of Christians throughout the world, your Imperial Majesty, who regard you as the reincarnation of Jesus Christ."
Selassie I: "I had heard of that idea. I also met certain Rastafarians. I told them clearly that 'I am a man,' that 'I am Mortal,' and that 'I would be replaced by the oncoming generation, and that they should never make a mistake in assuming or pretending that the human being is emanated from a deity.'"

You notice how he never said he wasn’t God??

JAH Bless,

But he sure made it clear that he wasn't divine. You know the whole "I am a man" not a god, "I am mortal", nothing special like a god. "Never pretend that the human being is emanated from a deity." Your leader is telling you not to believe he is descended from christ. I fear there is little or no evidence supporting the rasta belief. But I sure love the dreads!!
I am attaching a reasoning on this from a wise Rasta idren of mine.

You see, H.I.M. spiritually and H.I.M. physically are two different things. He does not emanate from the deity. He emanates to the deity.



  • Claim of Divinity.doc
    26 KB · Views: 3,158
Sorry Canuck, that claim to divinity didn't prove a thing. Only a theory with no evidence to back it up. He took a quote from Haille and turned it around to what he wanted to say. Haille said he is not divine. It is completely clear. The thing is, if any man can become one with jah, than that means we are all divine. And that means that Haille is no more special than you or me. When jesus became man, god was his father, so yes he emanated from him. All humans (in christian tradition) have the goal of being one with god, this means that Haille was just one of us. Probably gifted, but so are millions of other people. Did jesus know he was divine? Perhaps not at first, but he sure knew it when he started teaching. Haille denied it, you have no basis for belief other than a prophets obscure words causing a revolution of the black race. Sorry, I still see your leader proving you wrong.
I concede you have several points. But the author was a Nyahbinghi, and they do believe that anyone can be God.

I found a link that I thought would be interesting:


To be official you go by the Hebrew month not the Roman month. For example, I was born 29 Feb meaning I should be of the tribe Joseph but according to the Hebrew month I am the tribe of Benjamin.

This is the chart used by the TToI order.


Greetings, CanuckRasta. I had some questions about the religion as well and you answered them more eloquently than any other RasTafarian I've ever asked. I was born Christian but I claim Truth. I don't think that I'd ever be RasTafarian because it looks like a bit of an extreme culture, making the thought seem extreme as well.
But in the way you explained it, I don't think you are much different from Christians.

Dear Master Vigil,

Jesus was once a man too. Now he is divinity because he lives in the hearts of many. It took 300 years for the man to get some significant respect, and his own heritage still won't give him any.

Sounds to me like Haile Selassie I was a humble man. Jesus had his mission. Sellasie I had his as well. And because he was a descendant of Solomon, he is of God's Chosen. I'm not sure what I want to know about RasTafarianism (if that is what the belief is called - no disrespect), but I hope to see more.
You are welcome, Truthseeker. If you have any questions feel free to ask.

One Love
I have been reading up on rastafarianism, and a lot of websites have been saying that rastas believe that they are superior to the "white man". But that contradicts the whole thing about - everyone is Jah's children?
Africa is heaven?

1. Why?
2. What is so heavenly about Africa? If we put aside all the violence of political issues, gangs/tribes, put aside the starving and lack of water and mass amounts of dieseases such as AIDS. If we put aside the racial hatred of whites and blacks, if we put aside the mass amount of drugs created here, if we put aside this land used to be a real nice forest area but now it has been used up and is now a non fertile desert.... I can maybe begin to ponder how Africa can be heaven, but then when I look at the bible I can see that isn't possible.. Say when jesus was talking to his sheep before being sacraficed.... he said he was going back to the kingdom of jah... The sheep asked to go with him but he told them they couldn't as this wasn't a kingdom on this planet... Curious about your thoughts.