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Plants occupy an essential and diverse space in religious beliefs and practices. Plants are the source of foods such as seeds, nuts, grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables that nourish humans, living-dead, and deities. Plants provide the herbs used to make medicines that heal physical and spiritual bodies. Plants provide reeds, gourds, dyes, and fabrics used for shelter, creating rhythms, and adorning the body. Without these things, African religions would be one-dimensional and austere.

The life of a plant from seed to maturation back to germination mirrors the process of creation and echoes the cyclical return of the sun, moon, seasons, and human life. It is no wonder that many traditions hold that people were created from plants. The Zulu creator god Mvelinqangi emerged from a reed ...

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