Rasta History


Rastafari – Roots Of Culture


The Rastafarian faith, and the culture born of it, is one of the most beautiful, radiant, and expressive spiritual traditions of the Western world.

A strange mix of ancient biblical wisdom, colorful African & Caribbean culture, political revolution, mystic spiritual ideologies, and practical survival skills, Rastafarians represent one of the truly unique new religions and social movements of the modern age.

Being less than 100 years old some have suggested that Rastafari beliefs represent an emerging world religion. However many Rastas do not regard their beliefs as a religion, preferring to consider it a ‘Naturally Spiritual Lifestyle’.

Originating  in Jamaica starting in the late 19th century and formally manifesting itself by the 1930’s Rastafarians adhere to their own unique interpretations of the Holy Christian Bible.  This ‘Rastalogy’, (part religion & part mythology), represents a deeply held monotheistic belief in a single God known as JAH, (short for Jehovah) who it is believed resides in part within mankind, and who both created & empowers  all living things.

While there is no centralized authority in control of the movement, and much heterogeneity exists among practitioners, Rastafarians generally respect the former Emperor of Ethiopia and professed descendant of biblical kings Haile Selassie as a central figure in Rasta culture.

While some Rastas regard Selassie as a human incarnation of Jah on Earth, a Second Coming of Christ, others simply regard him as a holy prophet who fully recognized the inner divinity within every individual, and who, as the only Black King of the modern world  publicly spoke out for the cause of universal peace.



 Jah Livity- The Path Of Peace

Rastas refer to their spiritual lifestyle as ‘ Livity’, and tribal gatherings known as ‘Groundations’  embrace devotional drumming & music, singing & chanting, deep discussions, and the ubiquitous burning of Ganja (cannabis), long regarded as a holy sacrament and a herb with divinely ordained healing properties.

Rastas place strong emphasis on living ‘naturally’, adhering to simple ‘I-tal’ diets, allowing their uncut hair to form into long braided dreadlocks, and following traditional patriarchal social roles.

The Rasta movement is loosely organized, and there are several denominations, or “Mansions of Rastafari”, the most prominent of which are the Nyahbinghi, the Bobo Ashanti, and the Twelve Tribes of Israel, each of which offers their own interpretations of Rasta beliefs.

The Rasta philosophy has been embraced by over a million people worldwide. Naturally the most concentrated Rasta population is found in Jamaica, although communities can be found throughout the West Indies, as well as in most of the world’s major cities.

Rasta is now lovingly embraced in Asia, North America, Europe, South America, and the Pacific. While the majority of practitioners are of African descent, a significant minority of other racial groups have embraced the Rastafarian lifestyle.