Why Jah? (why that word)

Today’s post is -NOT- about Second Life, but about how Rastafarians refer to the most high; Jah.

This is no scholarly article, just my insights. In fact this is pretty far from scholarly. :p

You will often see Western Christians make judgmental statements such as “there is only one God and his name is God, there is only one Christ and his name is Jesus.”

– As if English was the language of the Bible.

It wasn’t. “Jesus” didn’t grow up in Jersey, he came from Galilee.

Both of these words are translations. One of them is even a pagan word.

Yet I have lost count of the many times that I have heard people accuse Rastafarians and Jehovah’s Witnesses of not being followers of the faith because we (the both of us), use the words ‘Jah’ and ‘Yeshua’ rather than the modern western-Christian English words.

Look up the etymology of the word god. It refers to pagan germanic dieties. Think about that when you use that word.

So why Jah? Why do Rastafarians (and often Jehovah’s Witnesses as well) use the word Jah?

In short, its the Hebrew word – somewhat. The etymology entry is rather brief. Wikipedia will give you a bit more information.

The spelling started with a ‘Y’ instead of ‘J’ – with the Hebrew Bible using ‘J’ some 50 times. The Hebrew letter for ‘J’ being only about 500 years old. But that doesn’t mean that, lacking a letter for ‘J’, we can just toss in any old word…

‘J’ or ‘Y’, there is importance to this word. Its tradition, its in there in that book, and it pops up over and over again for a reason. We don’t call the Lord ‘Thor’ or ‘Zeus’, or ‘Mars’ for a -reason-. We probably shouldn’t be using the title of those guys either.


As to the other comment, ‘Jesus’ – this is an improper translation. It should be Yeshua. This is not as bad as the above example. The goal here was to say ‘Yeshua’, and in old enough versions of English, you would pronounce ‘Jesus’ somewhat closer to the ‘Yeh-Shu-Ah’ that it is supposed to sound like.

Wikipedia’s entry on Yeshua is not very illuminating.
– Just has a tiny note at the top and a link to a page that only refers to him by the English name save for in footnotes.

This is more insightful:
http://jesusisajew.org/YESHUA.php
(if that URL offends you because you don’t think he was actually from Israel but from Liverpool or Brooklyn or something… just read the article anyway please…)
Various Wikipedia articles on Jesus cover the name transliteration history. But they quickly then go back to the English word.

The name Jesus is a transliteration of the Greek transliteration, that over time has lost its proper pronunciation as the English language went through significant changes in the last 2000 years at the hands of illiterate people, who, on finding Bibles and learning to reading – had to guess based on the language they spoke at what their forebears had written.

Yeshua though, is a very specific word with a very particular meaning in Hebrew:
Salvation from the Lord.

While it was not a unique name, despite that meaning… perhaps its important that we pay some respect to Christ having been given that name rather than say “Frank” or “Bubba”.

Someone might have been trying to get a bit of a message across in using that name…

When you hit rock bottom – every direction looks like up, but not all are.


Another relative passed away recently.

I’ve mentioned some violent deaths among my kin and friends of kin before. But this one is significant. Perhaps the most important. Yet I feel very little over it.

My maternal Grandfather. He passed away peacefully, at a ripe old age, in his own home, on his own terms.

He is also the sole reason that my mother was the only person in her entire family who was not a junkie. Or perhaps I should flip that to give you a better idea of things: He is the sole reason everyone in my mother’s family -IS- a junkie. My mother’s escape was quite literal: she ran away and grew up in jail after every attempt to place her somewhere resulted in yet another flight.

And I thank Jah very often that my mother grew up in jail.

This all began, as a number of my blogs do, as a comment in somebody else’s blog. But I’m holding that comment back because it really took their article in the wrong direction.

Lets just say than when you hit rock bottom – any direction appears to be up.

The topic of the day on the blog in question was about ‘negging’ as a come-on strategy. The sort who walk up to you and just demand the action, with little else to say – and often with some derogation against you included in the demand.

It reminded of a roommate from the 90s, and I had made this comment:

“Or is this the phenomenon known as “negging”, where members of what’s called the “pick-up artist community” disparage women until their self-esteem is eroded until they will sleep with, well, pick-up artists?”

Had a male roommate in the early 90s whose RL pickup lines were like that. Sort of a ‘b—-! come s— my c—‘…
(a line I saw him use and succeed with on a complete stranger outside the ‘stop and rob’ near the apartment one afternoon).

Shockingly… he was amazingly successful, and there was a different woman on his arm almost daily. Tried to chat with one waiting in our living room one night, as he was still busy with the one in line before her… and it was like speaking to a Martian… She was also one of the few I saw who I could not see signs of being ‘strung out’ on, thus my attempt at conversation…

(I did talk her into walking out the door rather than waiting, via a polite ‘WTF are doing here?’)

Was only a roommate for about 2 months though… was not a scene I wanted to be around, and he was severely unstable… It was one of those sudden “Crap, I need to make rent, anybody got somebody willing to take a room?” situations.

That made me want to reflect more deeply, and expound on what sort of world this reality exists in. How I come to have been in such a place, and what sort of people are in that place… ties directly to that relative’s path through my family.

But first to the “negging” scene. The thing with the “strung out” crowd is that many ‘mind enhancing substances’ drive up the libido to the point of self-injury. And not talking just emotional self injury or risky conduct; but people who will ‘screw’ till they bleed…
– Plenty of easy action to be had outside a crack den…

I’ve been to the bottom, I was born there, and raised one precarious step above it (as I said above, momma was the -only- person in her family -not- a junkie solely because she grew up in a jail cell as a runaway).

But I kept the “substances” away, which let me figure out which of those directions actually was up. However I’ve met the “type” as a result. People who think ‘negging’ works – often skip over the details of the scene in which it works (do you REALLY want to get your action at a crack den? Think about it). Try that “negging” out of that scene and you’re not a welcome presence.

(Try it in that scene and you are aiming straight for the direction labeled “down”. And we all know how gravity works: very easy to go down, once you start falling.)

I’m pretty sensitive to these types in Second Life as well (oh yes, this is a Second Life blog article after all, not just a bio one).
– but not because I find them rude and annoying.
– because they remind of a certain world I’ve been to – and when I meet them they feel like the sorts of people who try to ‘drag you back’ when you become visibly one of the ones able to escape.

Babylon doesn’t like people finding the keys to the gate.

Seeing the scene play out, even in Second Life; one just wants to yell back:
“Buddy… you have no idea what kind of scene you’re playing with there… I’d get over that kind of thinking fast, because if you carry it into your real life, you’re headed for a world of hurt.”

Roleplay has its place, and its too far excesses. But we’re not even talking about the roleplayers here.

We’re talking about the sorts mentioned in this blog, and this one (the second blog is the example used in the first blog to explain one among many motivations for a curious -other- scene that blogger commented on – namely why so many straight folks end up in a woman only Second Life scene).

This is a sort of people who come in to Second Life with a very negative set of behavioral patterns. This is not just the narcissistic ‘me first’ ‘liberty over equal rights’ crowd… this is the sort who seek harmful conduct. They seek others to use and abuse.

There are always folks at the bottom who feel the way to stay off the floor is to feed off of those already there. But if you conduct yourself like a scumbag, you’re going to fill up with scum…

There are even more of these folks at the top of the heap on a material scale, about be-it often below the bottom in other ways.

But enough about the predators.

What about those people my once roommate was able to catch with such amazing lines as he had… “Negging” works, but on whom and why – and what’s that got to do with Second Life?

We always hear the saying that, when you’re at the top, there’s nowhere left to go but down, and conversely; when you hit rock bottom, you can only go up.

But if you’ve ever been to the bottom… and kept your wits while there…

Not every direction is up.

Its a great analogy that you can only go North from the South Pole, but the truth is, its even easier to go “Souther”. When any direction looks like up, because it just seems to be that bad – desperation can lead to very bad choices. Self esteem can come crashing down. And what might have sounded insane before, can sound almost kind and helpful in a world full of hurt.

Been there, seen the scene. Nibbled a little on the poisoned offers – everyone has their dark moments in desperation. But I’m here now because I didn’t take the full bite.

I suppose its a little like this for the abusers as well. When you hit that bottom, your sense of things gets altered. Your notions of what is right get off. You might lose the sensitivity that makes you realize the harm of your conduct. You might lose the ability to take happiness in creating happiness among those around you. That’s the point of utter desperation.

As long as you are still a victim – as long as you can still feel – you are still alive, and you can find the direction in the mess which is up. The real bottom, the real south from which there is no other path – that’s not where the victim lies. Its where those who have lost empathy stand.

In addiction therapy, those programs with all their steps, it often begins with the whole ‘higher power’ lesson. There are many ways to look at that – and in truth as a person from a background rooted among ‘subjugated people’ that lesson has always felt like ‘make yourself a slave to become redeemed.’

And here’s an Second Life connection for you. So many in Second Life seek relationships about power – submitting oneself to another as a form of shelter, protection, so-called love.

And now I’m going to get a little preachy on folks.

There is no love between a master and a slave. Only power.

That way is a path of abuse. Love is not about control. Love has no ranks. Love is about freedom, equality, empowerment.

The master and submissive dynamic fulfills a sense of stability, give each party the sensation of having one who cares for them. Either you have a submissive devoted to meeting all of your needs, or you have a master giving you a strong guiding hand. But each is a constrained soul using a distraction to feed a need. Like a drug that hits your pleasure center – you seem to be happy, but lack fulfillment and lack any of the gains that would naturally trigger that pleasure.

Compare that drug to exercise – athletes get that same rush to the pleasure center from working their bodies into a peak of fitness. They get it naturally – its a “reward” for doing those things that will help them to live a longer, more fit and enabling life. Any one of them could skip all that hard work and hit the crack house for the same thrill of pleasure… (and some who fall do) but without any of the gains of good health.

The master and submissive are getting their ‘relationship endorphin’ – without the gains of a true loving bond. No empowerment, no partnership to push a pair twice as far as an individual, no real trust.

Trust is the most common thing they will claim to have – but they have the trust that limits set up will not be crossed. I’ve known this trust before. Its like the trust in a gang; these people won’t knife you, and will knife anyone who does. That’s a false trust. It isn’t really looking out for everyone’s best interests. You’re trusting that person to not take you further down; hurt me to a limit, but no more – a false trust. Not trusting in the whole to move up.

I think this happens so much in Second Life because it often is a lonely hearts club around here. So many of Second Life’s users are people seeking companionship. And like the crack house – a relationship built on power dynamics is very easy to define and ‘sign on to’. Roles are clear, terms are clear, parties can enter into it on a very “deep” level before even knowing each other – and the rush is so easy to obtain that it can seem meaningful in an instant.


What I learned to see when I was at the bottom, was that that higher power was not about submitting myself to a master, but about learning to find the strength within that Jah puts in all of us. You find that strength – you learn to see the beauty of creation while under the foot of Babylon, and you can lift your head up high, stand up, become empowered in spirit and walk with the most high. At that point, you will begin to find the way up.

Told you I’d get a little preachy. 🙂

Good, caring, loving paths in life are always about empowerment. Empower yourself, empower others – rise up all of Jah Jah’s children.

Jah “leads” by showing us how to walk the path and enrich each other. That leadership is about loving your brethren and bringing peace to all you can.

The amazing thing about empowering someone, is how much it empowers oneself – and that ‘rush of pleasure’ one can get from seeing a smile on another, or seeing another achieve what they had only dreamed of.

That’s the higher power you seek out when at the bottom. The higher power of Jah’s love within – to become Stronger in soul, so you can find a path to walk.

The direction that really is up, you find the guidance within for that from a ‘higher power’; Jah if you will – by finding your centered strength of self. Putting yourself in a position of dependency, or dominance, victim, or abuser – these are not paths ‘up’. They are not way to enlightenment. They are roads into darkness.

The ‘Negging’ culture works, because in that darkness, many will seek any shadowy corner for shelter, lost and confused in self doubt about where and how to proceed, they’ll let a cold skeletal hand take them on a journey sooner than standing up and shining a light from within. That light from within is a hard path to trod.

In the famous Christian poem where a man asks why, in the darkess of times, he only saw one pair of feet in the sand – that is Jah coming within the person to help him find his way in the darkness. Helping him trod that path with determination, on the road up out of darkness.

I feel I’ve been moving through several different points here. What drives a certain few scenes – how when someone would feel ok using such abusive conduct, another might accept it. But more importantly – how there are paths out, but one has to look within to one’s connection to a higher power to find them.

Now I’m reminded of another Christian parable, the sone “Shine your light on me” – that’s close. We all have that light within us. Jah puts that strength there. You can feel it in moments of insight and joy. It can guide you in moments of darkness.

My path out, from a very wretched state in my youth – was a long and soulful journey to discover this in a desperation to not fall into the path of my kin.

Jah Love Everyone

On this day of love let us not forget the love of the most high Jah.

Love is something to share with all humanity, something beyond the personal bonds we share.

When Rasta says ‘Jah Love’ it is meant to remind of the love of Jah, and that the covenant to ‘love they neighbor’ is a universal calling, a duty upon us all to bring about a better world on the path to Zion.

Jah Love everyone.

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