Julian Marley’s legendary father, Bob Marley, is credited to bringing the Rastafarian culture and music to the world through lyrics instilled with political and theological messaging, based on ancient Christian texts. Once his music gained international recognition his raw interviews became teaching moments of Rastafari livity, teaching the principles of a balanced lifestyle, steeped in love, giving thanks daily, as a practice.
“I wake up every day and give thanks and praise before everything else,” he shared. “It’s a meditation. Sometimes I put on some good Ethiopian music—some orthodox music, and start the day out with spirituality before we take time for physicality.”
Physicality defined in the modern world, Julian explained, is the world of the iPhone, social media—Instagram, namely. If it’s a business call that’s different, but starting the day with a spiritual life, giving thanks, is part of livity.
“It’s good to make it a practice, then it becomes a habit, then it becomes you,” he added. “Everywhere we go, we give thanks for the day—a few moments of thanksgiving everyday. If we are driving, we say ‘yes, God, yes you see everything, but it’s nice to thank him. Then we play in the park, chat with friends, see the children.”
Raised in London, Livity in Jamaica
Born in British Jamaica, Julian was raised in London by his mother, Lucy Pounder, but learned of the Rasta beliefs during visits with his extended family in Jamaica.
“When I read the Bible as a kid I thought the history was only happening in England—it was the language, written in old English—and in my mind it took me far away from my roots in Jamaica. But when I went back to visit my brothers, I saw that everyone looked like me, and heard the old teachings, and realized the origins of the ancient beliefs.”
Like their father, Julian said the Rasta man has a message to spread to the four corners of the earth—one aim, one unity, one love—with justice and equality in the mix.
“They are gone now, but the children learned all the teachings from our father’s mentors in Jamaica,” Julian shared. “We learned the old ways, and cannabis is keeping in meditation.”
His brother, Damien, sings of cannabis as a medication, but Julian speaks of it as part of a practice, a meditation.
“Medicating is always there,” he said. “Medication, meditation—it’s the same. When you smoke, you go into yourself,” he explained. “Depends on the reason, but the herb doesn‘t tell you what to do; it opens you to see what your consciousness is doing. The plant doesn’t make you bad or good, that’s the person. When you drink alcohol, we do know that it can make someone bad—if you drink too much, you can get bad.”
The herb, he said, is transparent and an enhancer, uplifting the partaker to be open to be themselves, to learn something—to be lighter, not dark or bad.
“But, what are you learning?” he asked. “Something good or something bad? That’s each individual’s decision.” Everyone wants to blame the plant when things go wrong, but you can’t stop a plant that was here before man walked on the earth—a plant that was in the Garden of Eden. A plant that was part of the Holy Anointing Oil of Christ. Why would you fight something like that?”
“God said, ‘See, I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit, they shall be yours for food.’ -Genesis 1.29
Canadian author, Chris Bennett, penned in his compilation of references to cannabis in the Bible and ancient times, Cannabis and the Soma Solution, that cannabis in Holy Anointing Oil was brought to the Baby Jesus as a medicinal offering, not unlike the Frankincense and Myrrh, openly said to be gifted—not merely fragrant incense for the vulnerable infant cradled in a bed of straw.
“Maybe they want to fight it because when it opens our minds it keeps us away from the good healing, the good teachings of love and reasoning, of community and unity—what everyone is supposed to have, brotherly love. They paint a bad picture of the herb to distract us from the good picture, the best picture of ourselves.”
Music as Practice
Growing up in London, Julian said he was surrounded by music.
“Both my grannies sing. My father’s mother, my mother’s mother sang in church,” he said. “Walking through London there was music everywhere—to the train, the bus. You go under the subway and there were skillful musicians playing. I was always drawn to the music before I could play a note.”
His mother wasn’t musical, but she loved music, with her vinyls making their way into his own record collection.
“At one point, she stopped playing the records and I started playing the music,” he said.
His latest single, The Tide is High, is a cover from a classic Reggae song by Jamaican born singer/songwriter, John Holt. Many musicians have covered the song over the years, most notably Debbie Harry’s version for the band Blondie. Surprisingly, Harry’s chart topping pop hit in 1980 is very similar to the slower version recorded by Holt in 1967.
According to Encyclopedia.com, Rastafarian music evolved after the 1970s and into the 80s to have a faster tempo, and subsequently, more danceable.
“The world was a different place before the 1980s, the vibe was slower and different—we could really use some of that back” Julian waxed poetic. “The tempo changed, hip-hop changed, the tempo got faster. What we see is the world running on this fast-track, not saying, hey, slow down and use every moment to do something positive with your life. Do something constructive—take the time to do it right. If your life is fast, fast, fast, it might leave a hole for something bad to happen. Make sure you build on solid ground, and build it slow and properly.”
One People, One Love, Many Languages
Julian expounds on he and his siblings taking the Rasta Livity message of positivity out into the world for the greater good, to enlighten the masses on the positive side of life, getting the “good message” into the world.
“Negative doesn’t like positive, but positivity is in the minority,” he continued. “The Devil is still here on earth, but if there’s one soul out there doing good work, Jah will use that soul as an instrument to get the good message out into the world—like our father used his celebrity in interviews. Jah used him as an instrument to enlighten people, and now he uses us.”
Jah and God are interchangeable, and Julian says languages are a barrier to all mankind being in unity.
“It doesn’t matter who you are talking to—Allah, Jah, God, the Creator,” he added. “Every name is different, but it’s all the same, the same teachings— one love, one people, not divided. We learn other languages and learn to say the same things, but the name of the Creator is always different. Man is one, but language divides. Inside the heart we are the same.”
Live right, live humbly, listen to that ancient mystic in your ear. These are the teachings of Rastafarian culture.
“With the teachings, with the daily meditations with the herb, you can learn to know yourself,” he concluded. “By the cosmic love of Jah anything can happen. We can be that one good soul who helps other souls to see the light of love and the light of God.”