The Meaning of Mother in Louis Farrakhan's “Mother Wheel”: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Cosmology of the Nation of Islam's UFO

Finley, Stephen C.
June 2012
Journal of the American Academy of Religion;Jun2012, Vol. 80 Issue 2, p434
Academic Journal
Case Study
This article uses a history of religions approach and an integrative psychoanalysis procedure in order to demonstrate that Nation of Islam (NOI) leader Louis Farrakhan's 1985 abduction narrative of being carried into Mother Wheel—which he claims can be apprehended as an unidentified flying object—is the most important religious event in the life of the minister. This Wheel, and its adjectival modifier “Mother,” is central to understanding cosmology in Farrakhan's NOI. More than a reiteration of the teachings that his mentor and religious leader, Elijah Muhammad, bequeathed to him, the Wheel is encoded with the meaning of black bodies everywhere and with Farrakhan's body in particular. Such UFO counter-narratives—new mythologies—have to be created in order to survive in a hostile culture. They serve the purpose of creating new symbols and figures that one can then idealize and with whom they can merge in the formation of healthy selves with regard to black people generally or who one is, as in Farrakhan's case, individually.


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