Probably everyone reading this knows the words to at least one Bob Marley song. But do you know what he means when he refers to Jah, Zion and redemption? What about those dreadlocks? Is there a spiritual reason for those? What part does cannabis play in their religious beliefs? We have done some research and have the answers.

The Rastafari movement was started in the early 1930s by Leonard Percival Howell, a mystic from the hills of Jamaica.  It is said that he traveled the world, and upon returning to his homeland, was appalled by the poverty he saw. He took to the streets preaching his spiritual and political beliefs. One such belief is the idea of modern society being the Biblical Babylon. This is why a true Rastafari will never use the word Rastafarian, because they equate the ian (which has its roots in Latin) with Babylonian society.

The name Jah comes from the New Testament and means God. Rastafaris believe that God lives within all of us and because of this, we are all equal. This is why they tend to use the terms “I and I”, instead of “we”. The former representing that, since God lives within each of us, we are all connected, or “one.”

Zion is God’s promised land, which they believe to be the continent of Africa (mainly in the area known as Ethiopia). Those that please God will find redemption and immortality in Zion.

There are several theories as to why dreadlocks are important and those in the Rastafari movement have different views on why the locks are important. They view sections of the Old Testament books Numbers (6:5)  and Leviticus (21:5) as God’s command not to cut hair. They also equate the growing of hair with the journey of the human spirit.

The smoking of cannabis is a spiritual act. They often smoke it before religious ceremonies or study. They believe cannabis to be a gift from God, given as a means to purify the soul, calm the mind, and open up passageways to God.  A reasoning is a ceremony which involves smoking cannabis and having intellectual discussion about God. It is a high honor to be chosen as the one who lights it. They see the illegality of marijuana as proof that much of modern society is Babylon, which is working towards holding humanity form the truth about God.