Ancestral Gifts, According to Bakhushek

Utilizing ancestral gifts is important in the holistic lifestyle practitioner’s desire to achieve ingrained and effortless harmony on a day to day basis.  According to Obehetep Bakhushek, a Jamaica Memory Bank interviewee, the most essential ancestral gift is really the gift of life.  Notwithstanding, he believes that whatever innate skill or talent a person possesses (whether it be that a person is skilled with herbs, or in the use of colours, or construction) may be considered an ancestral gift, which is ultimately a gift from God.  However, he believes that before one can master an ancestral gift it is one’s duty and responsibility to first discover what one’s talents are, then cultivate them so as to be of benefit firstly to one’s self, then one’s immediate family, the community, then the world at large.

As it concerns traditional thought on what is considered ancestral gifts, healing is one of the most widely esteemed, along with divination and the interpretation of dreams.  These three fundamental ancestral gifts are oftentimes used in a complementary manner in order to fully comprehend both the natural or physical, as well as spiritual forces that are at work in our lives and our environs.  Holistic practitioners therefore tend to use the natural things around them, such as herbs, the foods they consume, as well as different forms of healing oils and incense, to bring about a palpable balance in their lives.

An interesting observation from Bakhushek alludes to song and singing as an ancestral gift.  This gift, he asserts, has been demonstrated in Jamaica and within the Caribbean, alongside the use of the sound of the drum and the string instrument to bring about “positive vibes”.  This he believes induces merriment within the person’s body, which in turn releases positive chemicals that lift the spirit of depression.  These “positive vibes” also help with developing life skills…how people manage everyday activities and how they cope with challenges.  For Bakhushek, our people/ancestors have actually been able to go through very challenging times by being able to sing and to create merriment.  This, he claims, is a powerful form of healing.


Notwithstanding the various forms that healing may take, a person may be conflicted in their daily life, and before that person is able to receive healing from an appropriately discerned method, an understanding of perplexing and distressing signs is critical; and significantly, the interpretation of particular symbols is crucial to the identifying and resolution of the problem.  For this reason, dreams play a quintessential role in the demystifying of subconscious conflict or trauma.

According to Bakhushek, every human being is endowed with the ability to receive through dreams, information both past and present, and even future.  Dreams are considered to be a conduit for one’s life force to bring to the fore what is taking place in one’s life, in one’s family, and/or in one’s community.  Dreams therefore play a very critical role in how one’s past and present unfolds and, as traditional Africanists believe, dreams can prevent many future difficulties as they act as a means of forewarning.  Dreams are therefore ‘a gift that fills the gap where the external senses fails’.

By: Marcella Phillips-Grizzle