The Sacred Pipe shown in the photos is a Luba Ceremonial Pipe which was gifted into our hands. It is a woman who is holding her breasts. This is a symbol of fertility, it is also an acknowledgement that it is through the woman that Ancestors are born! The woman is of utmost importance for the Luba People of the Kongo!
In some circles there is great controversy concerning if women are "allowed" to smoke pipes and what their ceremonial roles are. This controversy extends both into Taino circles and Palo circles (concerning what women can and cannot do). We need to always look carefully at why these "rules and prohibitions" concerning women in particular have emerged, to determine if they were part of the Root Tradition (Taino, Bakongo) or if they emerged because of a euro-religious dogma which advocates the disempowerment of the Mothers of Life!
It is always interesting when a pipe or Sacred Artifact such as this comes into our hands as the Spirit speaks loudly through the piece. This pipe represents an Ancestor, and therefore was appropriately used during the Ancestral Honoring Ceremony.
In our Taino tradition and in the remnants of the "Myths" that have survived we see a powerful female figure in the form of "Guabonite", the woman who rescues and heals the Casike "Guahayona". She heals him with plantas and teaches him how to use the sacred stones, cemis and amulets. In other words she is the womb which gives rise to the practice of Cemis, Medicine, Bohitus. She is the first "Bohitu" (Medicine Person). In spite of this clear depiction of the first Medicine Mother, in some circles, sadly, women are not deemed to be significant enough to work with the Medicines and Tobaccos. Unfortunately these are residues of christian dogma at its worst. Which is why we always look for the root of any given practice or prohibition that is applied to women.
We have to be aware and be guarded about the extent to which religious dogma has penetrated into our traditional practices, so that we can make the positive changes to remove those dogmas that do not truly belong within our practices. Through the hands of Ancestors the trail back to a holistic approach to our traditional practices can be found!