Illumination and the Legend of Ugoma
The Black people of Illumination were never slaves. My brother did the research and no one from Illumination was ever bought nor sold. Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s trip, was approximately twenty-one miles away. They had slave records. We didn’t.
I grew up in a distinct culture free from the submissive fear and self- hatred still plaguing the Black psyche.
I grew up in Jim Crow. We had clear lines drawn and there were consequences if those lines were disrespected. Hear me clearly, those lines were drawn by us. No one told the Illumination Blacks what to do, how to do, or when to do it.
Just as we caught hell for stepping into the White neighborhoods, we exacted much hellfire on those unwelcome in Illumination, which was any White person.
Obviously it’s different today, but back then everything was Black and/ or White.
I grew up enjoying the sweetness, love, and unity of a very close-knit extended family. My dad, my mom, my granddad and grandmom, my brothers, my sister and cousins all were one big team within a team called Illumination.
Like all indigenous cultures memory was the library, census bureau, and department of vital records. History was orally transmitted from generation to generation.
My great-grandmother said she was a Malaglasy Indian. The Malaglasy or Malagasy are the people of Madagascar. Madagascar is an island on the southeastern coast of Africa, resting on the Indian Ocean. The Malaglasy are a mixture of Black Africans, Indians from the subcontinent of India, Chinese, and Polynesian. Thanks to the transatlantic slave trade we can add Portuguese, French, Dutch, and English blood to the mix.
The folklore goes like this: A whole village was taken from Madagascar by slave pirates. This village was led by a mystic shaman named Ugoma. That may or may not be his real name but I know he was real because I’m real. The richness of my life is a direct result of his wealth, his inheritance...
So when the barbaric slave traders came to this village, which we’ll call the village of Nur, Ugoma negotiated with the barbarians himself. This culture lived in the subconscious, so Ugoma had already seen in night visions (precognition) the horrible intentions that these people had for the village of Nur, who were under his care. He saw through their lies and promises of
wealth in some westward, far away land. This was a very sophisticated people and the slave trade was foreign to
Madagascar before this. We’re talking about the late 1800’s, when slavery had already left a gaping hole in the heart of a ravaged and traumatized Africa. So at the first meeting Ugoma willingly agreed for his people to be
taken to this new land. They had their purpose and he had his. Ugoma put the minds of the traders in his hands from day one.
Simultaneously, he put his village into a waking trance to prepare them for the arduous journey beyond. The traders were taken aback by how submissive Ugomas’ people were. They didn’t fight, they didn’t resist, and they didn’t stink.
Ugoma had already removed the thought of rape or abuse of his people from their little minds so the pirates were just as docile and cordial as the Blacks.
It must have been quite a scene. Still it was an atrocity and a great indignity for Ugoma to see his beloved people shackled and put in the stinking bowels of a slave ship for the most wicked of purposes. Yet, Ugoma was a Lightholder, he saw far into the future and knew what must be done to bring about that future.
Ugoma did not have to go on the ship. He was the trader of his own people. Like most Africans who participated in the bartering of each other he could have taken gold in exchange for flesh. That never crossed his mind. He allowed himself to be chained with his people.
So off they went to the port of Jamestown. Many strange and wonderful things happened aboard that ship. There was no resistance or attempted mutinies, no one tried to escape and there was an intoxicatingly sweet smell emanating from the bowels of the vessel. Ugoma held both his peoples’ and the pirates’ minds in his grip.
Suddenly he’d appear in the cabins with the traders and disappear just as suddenly. Sometimes at night he’d freely walk amongst the pirates to their amazement. One cabin boy who threw the trash called food to the blacks saw Ugoma chained at the bottom of the ship then walked on deck where Ugoma was waiting at the top of the steps.
That cabin boy and the other whites were the ones who went crazy on that ship. Occasionally the pirates would see a bright object floating in the sky miles above only to find with the help of a telescope... Ugoma was shining like a star guiding their way. These were some way-out people!
When the ship finally landed at the port of Jamestown the Whites swiftly disembarked. They left Ugoma and the village of Nur on board while they went to get some rest and respite from this most unusual odyssey.
Early the next morning they came back to retrieve the Africans and begin the distribution of these strange niggers.
Everything was gone. Their horses, their clothes, their gold, all their provisions!
Gone too were Ugoma and the village of Nur. The booty had taken
some booty for itself! They escaped 150 miles to the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains. There
Ugoma and the village of Nur met and mixed with the Blackfoot Indians who populated those mountains.
That marriage produced the people who founded Illumination, Virginia. A people who escaped chattel slavery. They were my ancestors.
Now those Blue Ridge Mountains are to North America what the Andes are to South America. Or what the Himalayas are to Asia. I grew up at the base of those mountains. I speak from my own experience.
As a child I’d walk those mountains, ofttimes with my best friend Michael Thomas. We’d get into such a zone of clarity and inspiration I get chills just thinking about it. And that has not changed. You could go there now and you’ll know what I’m saying is true.
Little did I know as a boy, but those mountains were the setting for some heavy, heavy ashrams back then and now. Great Yoganandas, Maharishis, Buddic and Sufic masters got down in those mountains. I suspect we all were charged on the same circuit of power.
We know that all-encompassing circuit of power as Universal Awe. I first was introduced (informally) to Universal Awe when I was four years old. It was an initiation of sorts, which set me out for the work I would do in manhood.
I was born in 1941. My father, William Roberts, was in France serving America’s war effort. My grandfather was the head chef for the a prominent and fabulously wealthy New England family. My grandmother was the head housekeeper. My mother was a chambermaid. She was pregnant and decided to live and work with my grandparents at our benefactor’s mansion in a suburb north of New York City.
I remember stables, horses, trees and more trees. I developed a fondness for one of the little heiress girls. We’d play up, down, and all around that estate. It really was some kind of wonderland for a child.
The Vanderbilt’s traveled back and forth to Europe leaving my family in charge while they were gone. So we grew accustomed to the best that society had to offer.
My grandfather, Mister Lushus, in particular lived that “Great Gatsby” lifestyle. He wore the finest suits with only the finest shoes, driving only the finest cars, socializing in the sweetest haunts with the sweetest company.
Like most introductions to Universal Awe, I had to go through some type of trauma. In my case I had to damn near die.
At four years old I was rushed to the hospital with inflamed adenoids and tonsillitis. Right now I can see the doctors working on me with my family in an adjacent room worried to death. It was serious.
The doctors had to wrestle me down to put the anesthetic mask over me. Mister Lushus intervened to calm me down. Apparently, an ether-based anesthetic was given to me at an improper dosage. I do not believe this was intentional.
Shortly after the mask was put on my face I shot right out of my body and there I was on the ceiling in observation of the whole fiasco.
A cloud of panic arrested the doctors. I could see the stress and worry all over their faces and on their minds.
Now when one leaves one’s body and truly sees oneself, this alone can be revelatory. One generally looks much more attractive than one thought. One identifies with and even has an attraction to one’s body, even though one is no longer subject to that body.
So I saw myself, my body jerking and going into convulsions before I went limp.
I found myself sucked into a swirling energy current, an organic and very living plasma-like substance. Visually it was akin to riding in a kaleidoscope. It was pleasantly cozy and I experienced no panic or fear. This went on for a few seconds or a few lifetimes. Who can really say?
Like awakening from a dream, I awoke within this experience and decided not to remain. Like the proverbial salmon I had to fly backwards, opposite the flow.
From that moment on an indomitable will engulfed me. I took charge of the situation. I summoned everything I had against this force surrounding me. But it seemed like another force of power came to my aid as well.
I was four years of age and a four-year old can be a little monster. I slipped into my monster bag and threw a cosmic tantrum.
Never have I had to exert so much, never have I had to struggle like that. From the tips of my toes to the hairs on my head, my every atom went into “monster mode” forcing myself back into my body.
I could hear Mister Lushus calling my name, which served as another rocket boost back to myself.
Inevitably I won.
After that nothing, no one could ever control or dominate me. I won against death, why would I play the fool for anyone after this? I’m not being silly, I’m just trying to describe the unconquerable spirit that was put in me as a result of this experience. Life has never been a struggle for me since then.
And this new spirit that was in me became my new best friend, guiding me, helping me, showing me the bottom line on everything. Speaking nothing but Supreme Wisdom to me.
Interestingly, no inflammation was found in my throat thereafter.
Now I was a grown man waiting patiently for my body to catch up with the rest of me. From that point on I was just different. I saw into things while everyone else just saw the thing.
Here’s an example.
I was a very diligent student in school, always at the top of my class. In fact, throughout high school Michael Thomas was the valedictorian and I was the salutatorian or vice versa.
We had a white lady, Miss Odom, who taught a class on the bible. She seemed very sincere and well versed in the scriptures. She made me think. I’d
fire my questions at her, she’d think a minute and submit a rebuttal. She was a very good sparring partner.
I had already developed a negative attitude toward church because my grandfather, whom I regarded as one of the strongest men on the planet, would go to church every Sunday, pull out a handkerchief, break down and cry. Every Sunday! I didn’t like that shit. Anything that made a man that strong break down and cry was suspect to me.
My intuitional self was fully awakened by the aforementioned out- of-body experience on the operating table, so I had to reconcile this religion, Miss Odom’s bible class, and my own experiences in church with my mystical tendencies.
I was a natural mystic. As a child I experimented with many powers of the mind: astro-projection, clairvoyance, clairaudience, and remote viewing to name a few. At night when I went to bed, a whole other world opened up to me, which I could initiate and navigate. I thought everyone did this. Maybe Mozart thought his little playmates could write magnificent concertos too.
I had a little friend who never shared his funny books with me. In my night journeys I decided to stop by his room and read them anyway. The next day I told him what all the characters in his prized comic books were doing.
I soon realized I was pretty much alone in this realm of things so I felt a little isolated from my family and everyone else.
But I was not a loner, quite the opposite. I just could not reconcile my reality with the reality every one else believed. Never have I been a prospect in the marketplace of that reality.
One night I felt very depressed over these things and I went to my mountains for solace and reflection. I was maybe twelve years old. I just sat there and cried.
Then I heard a voice. Not in my head, but a clear, audibly masculine voice spoke to me.
“Get up and cry no more. Walk into the world. You will not have to worry about anything ever again because I am with you.
“Get up! I am with you.” And what did I do? Man, I stepped off that mountain with such a sense of empowerment,
such confidence in myself. I had zero grief and zero fear. And I haven’t permitted grief or fear into my life since.
I developed a recurring mantra, which epitomizes it all, “Somebody up there likes me.”
Back to this church thing. My whole family was involved in the religion known as Christianity. After my “Mountain Experience” and much contemplation I made a decision: I don’t believe this.
One Sunday morning my mother called me to go with her to church. I walked downstairs and told her, “Mother, I’m not going to church
anymore. Not ever.”
“Orion, what do you mean? The whole family is going to church.” “Not me. I will not be attending church today or any other day.” Now Crystal Roberts was a tough cookie. My grandparents had given
her a very cultured upbringing. She had that classic kind of glamorous beauty Lena Horne or Dorothy Dandridge were famous for. She also was an intellectual giant and had probably never met her cerebral match in a man until she had to deal with me, a little boy.
My father, William Roberts grew up on a farm but had a real entrepreneurial spirit that sparked my mother’s interest and her loyalty. She was an excellent helper to him in his fledging businesses. As a result, my formative years were spent mostly with Mister Lushus and my grandmother.
My mother didn’t really come strong into my life until I was nine or
As I said, I was already a grown man in a little boy’s body. This caused some tension between my mother and myself when she’d address me as a child, as if I didn’t already possess a fully developed intellect, a strong individuality.
“Excuse me miss, is there a problem here? I’m a good kid. There’s no need for any upper handedness here. You can skip that.”
This was my conversation to my mother as a boy.
“Is there some neurosis somewhere? Let’s address this problem now, because I don’t want it. With all due respectfulness, don’t put your problems on me.”
And I was respectful. I did not speak with the feigned intelligence, sass, or know-it-allness of recent generations.
I simply addressed her as my equal, not my superior. She’d shake her head, “Boy, where did you come from?” So I was a fascinating challenge to her. That day my mother was in a hurry so she said we’d address the
church matter that night at dinner. Dinner was a ritual at my home where we discussed everything that was going on in the family and ironed out any problems between us. Inevitably, we got around to my decision not to go to church.
“Orion, tell us why you refused to go to church this morning?”
I had thoroughly gone over this in my mind, so I presented a rock-solid defense of my decision.
“Number one, I do not believe that a deity is sitting up in a cloud somewhere, peaking through some trapdoor, waiting to punish me for every little infraction of a law. They have telescopes now that can see billions of miles away and no deity or heaven has been detected.
“Second, I don’t believe a two-thousand year old man is up there somewhere with this God, and he’s God too and also the Son, and the Holy Ghost as well. This is a mathematical impossibility. And how could this two- thousand year old man assume responsibility for the wicked deeds of others? Every man pays the price for his actions, that’s what every parent tells a child.
What incentive would anyone hace to try to live a good, moral life when someone else already died for your indiscretions? That’s ludicrous.
“Third, a woman cannot have a baby without a man. That’s common
“So my intuition is telling me this is not right. There are many different religions in the world and I will go on a search for one that fits me. I will do a comparative study of religions and choose one for myself. But this one I dismiss as fantasy.”
I went a little further.
“Look at the reverend, he’s messing around with all these women and everyone knows about it but says nothing. When I go pass lovers’ lane, he’s winking at me like he’s one of the guys when he’s supposed to be a moral example.
“And all the other affairs going on in church... What does this have to do with religious worship or a Higher Power? I don’t understand.”
I went on and on until my mother threw up her hands and excused herself from the table. The room was quiet. She returned with desert. When she sat down I gave my closing remarks.
“Until it’s proven to me who or what God is, I’m God.” This was my response to anyone who attempted to proselytize me. “We’ve been praying to Jesus to save us all these years and still got
lynched, still got our feet, ears and privates chopped off. Still the nigger got boiled in a pot. Why can’t this Jesus help us?
“If he does come back and knock on our door I’ll whup him for being such a chump not to answer my people’s prayers from slavery on up to now.
“Besides how can the slave and the slave master have the same God, the exact same religion? He’s thanking God for all the wealth these niggers have given him while we’re praying to a God that will kill him and free us. How can both parties be Christians and if he’s such a Christian where’s his Christianity towards us?”
This was in the 1950s in Illumination, Virginia.
“You sound like a hophead. Are you smoking something? Where did you get all this outlandish stuff from?”
Never had anyone critiqued and analyzed her religion. She had no
Personally, church didn’t make me feel holy but it did make me feel lustful. Seemed like all the fastest girls in town were all in the church. Why’d I have to go someplace dedicated to a higher power and get a hard-on?
The whole church thing had an undercurrent of perversity to me. My psychic antenna was wide open and I felt the lust in the room. Maybe that half- nude fellow on the wall aroused these girls cause I felt their heat all over me.
I had no problem with that at lovers’ lane but in a church? No, something’s wrong here. And the preacher’s daughter was the wildest of them all!
I didn’t share those arguments with my mother but never again did she
ask me to go to church. Now, Mister Lushus did understand and encourage my quest for
knowledge. He was a super-sophisticated gentleman. He stood about six foot. He put the “I am” in immaculate. Glances of admiration constantly shot at him like soft arrows. He wore the most expensive shoes with the most expensive suits, and drove the finest, late model automobiles.
If you’ve ever seen the movie “Lady Sings the Blues,” my grandfather could have schooled Billy Dee on a thing or two. That’s how polished he was. His social circle extended up and down the East Coast.
When he did travel up north I noticed my grandmother never accompanied him. I remember plenty voluptuous ladies vying for his attention. They all had this sexual aroma I picked up on right away.
He was a tough dude and a deep thinker. He’d drink coffee, smoke cigarettes and discuss the world situation with me like I was an adult. He called me his “brainchild.”
He wasn’t a punk either. I once saw him knock a man unconscious with an open palm. He had these huge chef hands and was very crafty with a knife. All in all, no one messed with my grandfather.
He encouraged my psychic talents. During dinner parties he’d call me out to interpret the dreams of his lady friends. My grandmother dressed me like a Philadelphia lawyer. I wore tweed sport coats and British Walker shoes. I was a dap little dude.
“Go on, Orion, tell them their dreams. He’s my brainchild you know?” I’d lay it on ‘em. That little clairaudient voice in my head would start rapping as soon as someone spoke. I’d know their whole life. I’d name parents,
lovers, dead people. I’d mercilessly air all their business. But I was simply repeating what the voice of the soul was telling me. It was addition not plane geometry.
“He’s just a boy! How could he know that! Lushus!”
My grandfather loved every minute of it. Maybe that’s how he kept his edge on everyone. “If you play with me I’ll sick my brainchild on you.”
After my psychic work out, he put me to bed and who knows what went on after that.