I know there are Sistren out there who are taking up various types of fasts for various reasons - whether it's a food fast or unhealthy habit or person or place fast. Fasting isn't easy, but it's worthwhile, so in the Irit of supporting the Sistren who are fasting, or are thinking of fasting, or want to know more about it, I offer another one of my writings from the Book of Ises:
Like Giving Ises in song, music and dance; fasting is one of the most powerful tools of the Irit against the Carnal body and carnal-minded mentalities. Fasting awakens a whole new relationship or gateway of communication between JAH and Man/Wombman; and empowers humanity with self-preservation and endurance in any entrapment or tribulation.
The Fetha Nagast says: “fasting is abstinence from food, and is observed by man at certain times determined by law, to attain forgiveness of sins and much reward, obeying thus the one who fixed the law. Fasting also serves to weaken the force of concupiscence so that the body may obey the rational soul” (Strauss 2002, 93).
This last sentence is a pinnacle tenet of fasting. Fasting is a method or double-edged sword used to gain Iritual strength, or energy to command the body and mind by the Irit’s Will of Righteousness. Fasting denies “My Self” to gain the “I Self.” This power is gained by the most important part of fasting which is to control the carnal appetite, with the rational mind or soul. The body is driven into a state of denial of all sustenance so it may resist the carnal appetite and temptation when it arises. Fasting is a personal vow to do better, as through fasting one forcefully purges the body of bad and unhealthy habits and mind-sets.
By fasting, basically the Irit conquers the carnal, or the God conquers the animal instinct. Fasting means that the false-ego and carnal appetite for anything unholy or unhealthy - like unhealthy foods and fetishes, gluttony, envy, revenge, fornication, acts of rage, hate, violence and crime - are severely brought under hand.
Fasting is preparation for the fight against temptation, craving, lusts, addictions and so on. Therefore fasting aims to deliver the mind and body from the temptations or physical pleasures of everything negative or sinful. After fast, one should be mentally and physically stronger, having built up Will over the body, so that I-Self can then be fed with more honourable, upright daily thoughts, habits and influences.
Next to the dreadlocks covenant, Ital Living is the biggest fast in RasTafari life. Ital requires that which is only good and natural to and for the body. Nothing foreign to the five elements of earth, air, water, fire and Irit – by which the Earth and Her children were formed – are to be imbibed or digested by the mind and body. Ital is an everyday Livity or way of life, but building up the longevity to live Ital can only come through the act of fasting and conscious denial of cravings and Babylonian culture.
Carrying out the conscious act of fast means that little food is eaten during and after fasting time. During fasting no food or water is taken, but after the allotted fasting time is over each day, some eat only fruits and vegetables natural juices and water, while some like Ethiopians take only a little bread and water. Usually meat and animal products are totally omitted during the season of fast for the Ethiopian Hebrew Nazirene. Ital takes that flesh fast into an everyday routine. Fasting can be used to help eliminate sweets, processed and bleached goods, meat and animal/dairy products from one's livity, obeying the Commandments to love all and refrain from killing.
Fasting therefore involves restricting our “diets” on two levels: no food is eaten until the allotted fasting hours or days are up; and bad foods are fasted from after the period of fasting is over because the mind and Irit have more will, knowledge and control over the carnal ego and addiction. Fasting is used to bring the body back to an Ital First Creation Perfection (Eden), where it is fed with only natural foods and utilizes its energy and mind optimally.
Fasting is therefore the act of purge or elimination – but the elimination of more than just unhealthy foods. Fasting is about eliminating negativity, unkindness; about confessing wrongs, baring one's shame in the Face of JAH. It is brings an overall washing and cleansing away of sins; emptying that negativity which is burdensome to self and others. The faithful eliminate and repent because they want forgiveness and a fresh start. The Ethiopian Orthodox fast regularly, suffering as Krist suffered in His honour; afflicting themselves so they can emotionally, physically and mentally draw closer to Him. When the conscience and body are made lighter by such fasting, one has room for reasoning and enlightenment. Instruction, guidance, forgiveness, light, love and positive vibrations of Kristos, JAH RasTafari may now flow in and be received by a ready mind and heart. Fasting in this sense kind of symbolizes a phoenix that rises in splendour from the ashes. It is ultimately therefore for a good cause to the faithful as it brings peace and joy to the mind, body and Irit.
In Scripture, it is evident that in addition to proclaiming or speaking one's Ises with song and poetry, the higher level of worship is fasting. Fasting is for those who are desperate for deliverance from tribulation, or simply want to praise the Lord and catch Yahweh’s/Jahovah’s/Yesus Kristos’ favour or prophetical guidance. Fasting was used by the Ancients in response to both the good and the bad; but more so it represented their hope and faith in deliverance. Fasting is thus the energy and action that accompanies our prayers, especially when we seek help or are repentant.
Fasting is thus the ritual of supplication. Drawing references, Daniel 9:3 says that fasting accompanies prayer and supplication. Psalm 35:13 mentions that fasting humbles our souls so our affliction is returned to us as a blessing. Joel 2:12 says that we should turn to JAH with all our heart, with fasting and mourning. Ezra, Mordecai and Esther showed that fasting is a part of any petition we carry to JAH through the Covenant, and is more powerful in unity and numbers. Every First Monday and Wednesday of the month is a fast in the Bobo Shanty house, and all come together in the camp to reason on the Ible, give Ises, partake of communal sacrament and share positive vibes and love with the youths. Communal Fast carries the peace and sanctity of Sabbath within.
The Nazirite Vow which is a major part of the Bobo priesthood, is a fast in itself, and was probably used during times of fasting in ancient Israel. One fasts from vanity by not cutting the hair, one fasts from defilement of the body and Irit with death or dead flesh, and one fasts from means of intoxication which invite lusts and sin. It is therefore fair to say that the entire trod of Rastafari, by the vow taken in growing the dreadlocks, is about fasting from Babylon every day. Fasting is a ritual professing and invoking the power of this separation from wickedness. Fasting is one of the ways to grow closer to His Imperial Majesty and to also ready and prepare ones to repatriate home as a New Jahrusalem – cleansed of the old ways of Babylon, no longer oppressed by the evils therein.
Ezra, who was responsible for one of the first major repatriations to the Old Jerusalem City, is a prophet that showed the importance of humility and gratitude for such favours by means of fasting and beseeching JAH with prayer. In his case, it was about asking JAH for some form of protection and guidance : “Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions. For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, “The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him.” So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer.” (Ezra 8:21-23).
Binding the Nazirite vow and ritual of fasting therefore is the pledge of humility before JAH. It certainly is an important character for one who is fasting to naturally possess. In fact, learning humility is a fast in itself because one is forced to be disciplined enough to enjoy less and be strong-willed against carnal, ungodly desire. In general, fasting achieves purity through Iritual education, humility and abstinence. Hence humility conquers vanity, and fasting also conquers vanity, even through a Nazirite vow. During the time of Ises and in fasting, it is mandatory that one's vanity or ego be checked. We do not need to be adorned with jewellery, shoes, watches, anything else ornamental, or money.
It is also important for ones to abstain from thinking of sex during worship and fasting - to tune out the carnal senses and focus only on the spiritual. It is not possible to praise the Living JAH Who asks us to be holy as He is holy; with intercourse, dwelling on physical appearances, money, flesh and blood like “pagans” are known for doing. Fasting is therefore an extension of the lifestyle of the Law, as Isra’el must be strong enough to consistently refrain from these lusts for prolonged periods. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church observes these same principles according to the Fetha Nagast:
"No one shall wear ornaments on those [fast] days; woman shall put aside their ornaments. Everyone must avoid lying down with his wife during the Lenten fast and the Holy Week, because our redemption and the forgiveness of our sins occurred during this period. It is an act contrary to the law of marriage for one spouse to stay near the other in bed during the Lenten fast. Woe to him who commits this sin in the days of the Holy Week. If we will fulfil our will in pleasure in the Holy Lenten fast, where then will be our joy to see the resurrection? And fasting does not consist merely of taking bread and water only; the fast which is acceptable before God is living in purity of heart. If the body is hungry and thirsty, but the soul eats whatever it likes and the heart is entirely given to delights, what benefit derives from your fast?" (Fetha Nagast Strauss, 2002, p. 96).
Finally, fasting is not something that is to be seen by anybody but JAH. It is not something we boast about, or openly show-off. It is not something to be done in the open so that people will look upon you in pity and awe. Appear as normal but let it be that in your mind and heart, you are suffering through a conscious denial of vice, or searching your way through a deep supplication unto JAH. “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:16-18).
Being a humble supplication, atonement or affliction, fasting is therefore a personal transaction between man or woman and JAH. If one is to share the journey of fasting, it is with the humble intent to fellowship, to inspire or enlighten someone else.
It is important to remember, that by moderating material things, fasting allows every individual to develop their will to accomplish all things through JAH, not by ego or reliance in man and idols or “things.”
Fasting regenerates the body, improves body functions; and increases wisdom and intuition.
I really hope this was informative and inspiring,
Blessed Heart of Sabbath coming,