"I had the feeling that I was caught in the middle of a vast intelligence, something that knew I was there and wanted to do something to me. I was still holding on to the bundle of light, as well as to my own sense of being fully conscious and physically present in this strange world.
From the beginning, since I jumped into this place, I had been experiencing a sense of hysteria that made me constantly want to scream. It was not the kind of hysteria generated by fear, but the kind that comes from a vertiginous fall. Even though I had stopped my descent by grabbing this bundle, I was still in a state of tremendous excitement. At times I experienced this excitement as the sensation of being jolted. The next moment I had the impression that countless ants were crawling upward over my body, producing an imperative need to scratch that could never be satisfied because I could not find a body to scratch.
There are moments when no mind is capable of putting certain kinds of feelings into words, when speech is a meager instrument for communicating the reality of a situation. Words, by their very nature, are limited, mere representations of the real, human-made pieces of utterances. Reality exists independently from language."
[Malidoma in the light hole during initiation]
Of Water and the Spirit
another paradigm shift....
the rug of illusion is pulled out from under me again....
and i am left standing upon the shoulders of my Ancestors....
held by Spirit.
i experience the veil dissolve.
and as i choose to allow my eyes to know what i see,
sometimes it's hard to see what you see and
know what you know.
eventually it's harder,
and definitely more painful~
to pretend the illusion is real.
Spirit asks, for the 800th time:
"Did you get it? Do you get it?"
i know the answer.
i let go.
i breathe deeply again.
what am i going to live for?
what am i willing to die for?
i see the tiny spark of the fire
has not been snuffed out
by the blanket of shame.
i share who i am.
i receive support from All My Relations.
i am my fire
my true nature.
and i put one foot in front
of the other....and
take the actions
i know to take.
i am grateful for this
and each of your lives.
~Theresa Sykes Brittany~
|Was it a mystical chill I felt that night?
It was odd to shake so uncontrollably in a public dining place
to feel such an icy shiver
when I was sitting within three feet
of a roaring fire place
I saw him look at you
and you . . . look back at him
and . . . what did he say then, that strange man?
"when an astral entity," he said, "from any level of awareness whether it be the astral of one who has died
a space traveler . . . or merely the astral of someone
when such an entity,
out of body
in whatever form,
from whatever dimension approaches . . . comes near one's vicinity
that entity is vibrating at such a higher rate of angstrom units per second than the vibratory frequency of most humans
that it causes a marked drop in temperature as the air currents are suddenly cooled . . . and the change is so sharp and unexpected that one might . . . shall we say
. . . feel a draft?"
then you whispered
"Darling, did you see a ghost?" and offered me your sweater
|Malidoma on Initiation & The Underworld|
Initiation processes vary from culture to culture. For the Dagara, initiation
is intended to help young people on the verge of adulthood to "remember"
their purpose on Earth.
Initiation is a six-week long journey into the magical world. It begins
when families walk their young ones to the outskirts of the village and
surrender them to the wilderness after stripping them of their clothes.
The young ones walk into the bush naked and scared, a condition necessary
for the ritual remembering. Throughout the ordeal there is no food except
that which can be found in the bush.
I was told to sit in front of a tree and to gaze at it. The hot tropical
sun broiled me, ants bit me, and I was blinded by sweat. Every so often,
an elder would come and check on me. The experience was painful and boring,
but it all culminated in a vision in which the tree disappeared and I saw
a woman emerge from it. She was familiar as a mother or some sacred caretaker.
Whoever she was, the reunion was very emotional, and the experience ended
with me hugging that tree and weeping.
I could invoke Western psychology to explain the whole experience away,
including the reaction of satisfaction of the elders, but I won't because
my respect for trees and nature began after this experience, the first of
a series of magical journeys.
What is important is that exercises like this weakened my resistance to
the dream world and the supernatural to the point where I was able to consciously
journey into an underworld that is only acceptable in the West as a fairy
tale. But the experience itself registered in my own consciousness as a
disappearance to my own physicality. In other words, in the underworld one
has a shape, but that shape is no longer available to the physical sight.
By the time one gets back to the world, the body registers things unlike
The underworld is the place where one encounters one's own identity prior
to being born into a community of humans. It is the ideal place for remembering
one's energetic identity as well as one's life project.
Also, one returns from the underworld with something which serves as the
first medicine, a kind of reference book that you return to whenever you
feel the need to refresh your memory of what you are doing here on Earth.
How it's made accessible to the initiate is part of a tribal secret held
tightly by elders. But a cave in a mountain can easily become a gateway.
Coming out of the underworld alive ends the initiation process. You return
to where you had been stripped of your clothes six weeks earlier, and your
family and the whole village is there waiting for you.
The return to the village is like returning to the human world. It's warm,
comforting, loving, and relaxing. Everybody knows that you know,
and so you dance your knowledge in front of the whole village and celebrate
with your loved ones the recovery of your memory.
|An Indigenous African|
| "My grandmother died in 1981. She was an extra-ordinary medicine woman, very secretive. If she were alive, she would kill me for telling my readers what she knew and did. When I see her, for instance, take on the body of a dog, because she's too old to walk to the farm, I imagine that in modern cultures this could be a great substitute for traveling by car and thus help eliminate pollution. I am not saying that everyone should turn into a dog to save the ozone layer. The dogs themselves might go on strike. But what I am suggesting is that there are powers available in which alignment between us and Mother Nature can produce wonder without messy side effects.
Licanthropy, transmogrification, the ability to take on an animal body, is not a science of externalization. It does not display or show off. My grandmother, as a dog, does not go around showing how effective she is, nor does she give any profane person the remotest opportunity to witness her transformation. The eyes of the profane have lethal effect on the transformation process.
Among the Mossi, the Dagara and the Dogon, taking the shape of an animal has several interesting purposes. One is healing. There is a medicine woman in a village close to mine who specializes in healing by transforming the person into the kind of animal in whose body the specific illness cannot survive. How she does it is her secret. That she does it is not illusion to anybody who sees it. In fact, no one is allowed to see it while it is happening. Everyone can see it after it occurs. Usually the transformed person goes, at first, into a fit of rage and panic. A pig might squeal incessantly until the human consciousness in the pig surrenders to the fact that what he is trying to say cannot be heard as words by humans. This is when the healing begins. Dogon and Mossi people transform themselves into animals for hunting purposes. Real animals can tell who is an animal and who is masquerading as one. But in the split second when they are trying to figure this out the hunter can shoot them."
From Malidoma's Book:
Ritual: Power, Healing
|The Little People of Indigenous Cultures...|
| "We visited a man in charge of a magic wishing tree that fulfills
peoples wishes traveling from all over the region to address their
desires. Then we met a member of an old educational system at the
core of the pre-Islamic cultural heritage who said he would show me a
bit of it.
In brief conversation John also mentioned a guy in the next
village who spoke about a hill people, sometimes invisible little
people with backwards feet [or knees that bend backwards]. Okay . . . the people who heard the story
thought it a bit odd, but I, having spent quite a few years looking
into West African culture was familiar with such tales though I hadn't
expected to run into them in Mali.
Wokolo in Mali, Kontomblé in
Burkina, Mmoetia in Ghana, and I believe Azili in some part of Benin or
Togo--these little people are discussed by quite a few who swear
to their existence, having met them and regularly meet with them. A
Native American friend in America mentioned that natives speak about
the little people quite often when non-natives aren't around, and a
judge (I believe in the Philippines) was fired when he
said he received counsel from magic little people--apparently part of
the local beliefs.
Similar creatures are spoken about in Haiti and I
think a number of other places, though I'd have to find some notes. As we
began to talk about Mali's stories about Wokolo it seemed a whole magic
world opened beneath a thin veneer of simple everyday village life.
From The Blog of
Clarence in Africa!
Yoda? Kontomblé? Hmmm?
"My area of interest is really towards a better understanding
of why certain things that are common in indigenous culture, indigenous geography--that is, indigenous space--have become a whole lot more dimmed in non-indigenous space; and the
question is where are the little people that the natives have always spoken
about? What happened to them? Well, the same question could be asked
about what happened to the natives of this place--you know? What
happened to the leprechauns? Are
they the figment of someone's imagination who started writing about them, or do
they have a reality and if they do, what happened to them? Where did they go? And why aren't we worried about the fact
that they are not around--that we can't see them? Why are we not concerned about them?"
Malidoma speaking during a Sunday morning talk,
the day after ritual,
16877 East Colonial Drive
Orlando, Florida 32820
Between Two Worlds:
Malidoma Somé on Rites of Passage
Excerpt of an Interview by Leslee Goodman
SUN Magazine, July Issue 2010
Goodman: In your autobiography you write of jumping bodily through a hoop into another dimension, as part of your initiation into adulthood. Were you speaking metaphorically?
Somé: No, I was speaking literally.
Goodman: So you physically jumped through a hoop into another dimension, and some of your number didn't make it back? They were lost forever?
Somé: They weren't necessarily "lost." That's a modern interpretation of what happened to them. They're somewhere else. Perhaps the best example I can give in modern terms is quantum reality--the idea of multiple dimensions. What if a specific cognitive pathway can lead not only to a vision of another dimension but also to physical involvement in it?
I experienced this other reality and survived, while others who were more likely to survive didn't make it. That led me to go deeper down the rabbit hole in an attempt to understand my "otherworldly" experience not just from a spiritual perspective but from a theoretical, intellectual perspective. I came to the conclusion that the intellect, as it is programed by modernity, may not be equipped to comprehend certain kinds of reality. The modern mind has alienated itself from indigenous cognition in order to obtain a kind of control over the world. Modern and indigenous cognition are like parallel lines that cannot meet. They cannot be placed on a scale to measure which is stronger or more valid than the other.
The challenge in teaching about this other reality in the West is finding the proper language to convey it. Needless to say, it hasn't been easy, but it has helped me understand some of the limitations of modernity. When I take a group of Westerners to my village to undergo rituals, they find themselves broken down, dismantled in the face of indigenous experiences that they have no language to describe. The only option left to them is to throw open the gates of their heart, which results in tremendous outbursts of emotion. This made me wonder whether the West's distrust and dismissal of sacred indigenous ritual is linked to a fear of losing emotional control. In the West public expression of emotion is not really acceptable, especially for men. Is there something about emotion and the sacred that runs the risk of overwhelming people? If emotion were culturally authorized, would indigenous spiritual experience be more acceptable? I would say yes, but the orderly society we know might become rather disorderly.
Goodman: So emotion is a direct line to the sacred?
Somé: Yes. Anyone who desires to experience this type of reality will have to deemphasize the analytical mind and reemphasize the heart. The heart is going to have to be allowed at least as much self-expression as the mind, if not more. When Westerners participate in native ritual, many break down in tears about death, drought, hunger, suffering, and injustice. When the heart is open at that level, the eyes see differently; the senses respond differently. It has nothing to do with whether you are from a developed country or an underdeveloped country. It has to do with you as a human being in a world that is all magical and has always been that way and is best left that way. We just need to learn to read the hieroglyphics that it offers us.
Goodman: Do you think solutions to global problems might become apparent if enough people had their hearts blown open?
Somé: I believe that is the only way it can happen. There are certain problems that we're not going to be able to get our heads around, no matter how much effort we apply, because we have kept our hearts shut. It's as if we're sending a message to the other side that we don't want to see it; we don't want to experience it; we don't want to feel that way. This must change, because the greatest gift we have is a heart that can feel.
Even after my initiation and thirty years of experience, I'm still learning the how and the why of what I call "indigenous technologies." We forget that thousands of years ago people were in touch with a different kind of technology--non-Cartesian, non-Newtonian technologies that could get us from point A to point B without environmental side effects. Somehow we are not imaginative enough in the West to consider the possibility of a parallel technological pathway that does not cause illness, pollution, or the extinction of species.
There are certain experiences that, once you become privy to them, shatter so many things you have learned. When a shaman in my village takes me to a cave, opens a portal to another world, and walks there and back again I have to ask myself, "What kind of technology is this?" When this same shaman lifts himself off the ground--that is to say, levitates--I have to wonder, "What kind of technology is that?" When another shaman is capable of walking on water, I have to wonder, "What is the technology that enables him to float?" And so on and so on. But modern science has grown so grandiose that it is unwilling to break out of its narrow thinking to explore alternatives that might better serve human consciousness and the world.
Goodman: And you have witnessed these things without the aid of psychotropic substances?
Somé: In my region of the world, psychotropic substances are not used. That's why I am referring to them as "technologies," not drugs.
Repeatedly I find that my biggest obstacle to understanding indigenous technology is the way my mind has been shaped by the West. Let me give you an example: A few years ago I decided that I needed to learn some of these technologies. I wanted to know how to open a dimensional portal. I wanted to know how to defy gravity. I went back to my village and worked with an elder, who first asked me to spend a night at the cemetery. He gave me very explicit instructions before sending me off: "When you see the dead, get up and run to the house. Don't look back. When you get to the house, don't enter through the door, but turn your back to the wall like you're leaning against it. You will find yourself in the medicine room."
So I went to the cemetery and sat in the dark for hours, fighting panic. Come two o'clock in the morning, the whole cemetery lit up, and there were all the dead, rising from their tombs, dressed the way they'd been when they were buried. I did as I'd been told: I ran for the house without looking back. When I got to the house, I leaned back against the wall, and it worked! I found myself in the medicine room.
The next morning the elder told me that I was only the fourth person to have survived that experience in the last two years. I was beside myself. If I had known that, I would not have done it! I'm fifty-three; I don't take those kinds of risks anymore. So I decided not to go through with the rest of the training.
In order to learn this type of consciousness, you have to have a certain commitment to it--a need, really--that overrides even the fear of death. It's a different educational model. You have to be willing to jump into it with very little information and follow instructions such as "Go sit in a cemetery in the middle of the night."
The Western mind likes to ask questions. There's a legitimacy to that, but at the same time, with the type of learning we're talking about, the more you know, the less likely you are to succeed. You will learn things after the experience. But being fully conscious of what you are getting into will act like a wall that prevents you from being swallowed by the process. The Western mind has to be tricked into learning this perspective.
In most Western study there's a reduction of events to a subject-object relationship, but magic requires that you dive into the unknown. There is a lot of emotion in it, and fear is an essential part. I remember when I was sitting in the cemetery in the middle of the night, I was on the verge of panicking. Then, in a moment of inattention my mind thought about something else, and it was at that moment I realized that the whole cemetery was in daylight, and the dead were there. But my mind had to be tricked, distracted, so that another from of cognition could become operative.
Goodman: How do you know if you're ready for this type of experience?
Somé: There's an African saying: "If we go forward, we die; if we go backward, we die. So let's go forward and die." A person who is looking at it from that perspective is likely to learn something. That person is likely to be swallowed, to be transformed. That's not to say he or she is unafraid.
A proper understanding of this situation involves a certain apprehension. I've noticed that people who attend my workshops in the West aren't afraid to speak of the topic. In the village if you talk about a ghost or a creature of the underworld like kontombili, people want to get away from you.
Goodman: Maybe it's because they believe in them.
Somé: And the reality of them is quite frightening. In the indigenous paradigm, what you see is only the tip of the iceberg. Rituals are ways to uncover the part that is hidden. Those hidden parts are both exciting and dangerous aspects. The otherworld is exhilarating, but when you come out of it, you want a break. Commuting between the two worlds often exacts a toll on one's physiology and consciousness. Time and again they have to wonder what dimension they're in.
Goodman: A lot of Westerners don't want to have anything to do with powers that might be dangerous. We want God to be beneficent.
Somé: African spirituality is not based on faith. It has an experiential grounding. The fear comes from dealing with the unknown. Africans' knowledge of other-dimensional realities doesn't necessarily include an understanding of how those realities function. Because the great majority don't have the key to manipulating these realities, they're afraid of them. I'm afraid of them, even though I do have the key to manipulating them, because they're like a jungle that you enter without a weapon.
Goodman: My cosmology says that the world is governed by a beneficent intelligence, although I realize this may be unrealistic. For example, I love hawks and eagles, but I don't want to see them eat a mouse or a marmot, because I also love mice and marmots.
Somé: Yes, the beautiful eagle remains so until you see it using an innocent mouse as a meal. All of a sudden you have a contradiction: the beautiful eagle did a not-so-beautiful thing. This is where we encounter the paradox and the mystery of life. How is it that something so beautiful can be so violent? How can something we love be associated with actions that we find repulsive? We forget that the reality of the eagle is not your reality. When you put yourself in the shoes of the eagle, you will find that the meal of a mouse is quite beautiful. It's part of the bounty of the world, and that is the beauty of all things. If we can see ourselves as nourishment to the beauty that we see, then the beauty that we see can also be nourishment to us.
Goodman: So we have to be willing to be eaten, to be consumed?
Somé: That's right. If you cannot offer yourself as a meal to the eagle, or whatever it is that you love, then it is impossible to be fully present in the world and to understand the cycle of birth and death. In an indigenous perspective we see ourselves as an offering, just as everything we see is a gift to us. It is not healing or constructive to see ourselves as just the recipient of beauty. We must also be a gift to that beauty.
That doesn't mean we're not afraid. We still long for safety. This is something to be respected. Fear is an indication that we are human. We love to talk about "spirit," but we cannot predict what we are going to do when we are face to face with it.
Back in the early eighties, someone from this country asked me to take him to Burkina Faso because he wanted to see proof that the other world existed. He was so eager and sincere and insistent that I finally succumbed. We went to my village and walked into the hills with the gatekeeper, who opened the gateway to the other world. The rocky granite wall of the cave melted away and revealed a huge new reality. My young companion panicked. He screamed that it was a trick and went running down the hill. I felt rather stupid because I'd trusted his sincerity.
Years later I realized that it was not his fault. Beyond his eagerness, he had an idea of how the other world should look, and when the other world showed up as it is, he had no way to take it in. I should have respected his point of view. If the other world had looked the way he'd expected, perhaps he would have knelt down and bowed in front of it.
So it's important that our longing to see the other world be checked against our readiness to accept what comes. I canceled the initiatory process that began that night in the cemetery because of my own fear and desire for safety. Thirty-five years ago, when I was first initiated, I would have rather died than not go through with the process, but at that time my motive was more compelling. This more recent experience was a quest for additional information that was not essential to my being. I could cancel with no consequences. But my initiation into adulthood determined whether I had an identity or not.
|Ask Malidoma!We are pleased to announce "Ask Malidoma!"--a new feature
in the next and subsequent issues of our newsletter that will
allow readers to become active participants in our growing E-Village
News community. Many inquiries come to Malidoma daily through cyberspace concerning a
deeper desire to connect with and experience personal, more in-depth
knowledge and information of Dagara traditions & cosmology, and
their real application for daily modern living. This new addition has
been created as a way to fill that need.
This is how it works:
Send your question to askMalidoma@gmail.com. Malidoma will choose and respond to at least one question per
newsletter. The question and the response will be posted anonymously,
unless you request otherwise. He is most likely to respond to the
question with the widest appeal to the community, or the question that
is most-frequently asked, so that all can benefit from the ancient
wisdom he has to share. Malidoma is eager to read and respond to
questions on the following: Dagara spiritual traditions &
cosmology, the elements, nature, divination, ritual & community,
inter-dimensional beings & worlds, kontombli, the role & benefit of ritual
sacrifice, ritual application for daily living, initiation, shrines,
Space to respond is limited, so please focus on
asking questions that will serve the greater good of the community and
not questions on Malidoma's personal and private life. Please
understand that no matter how important you feel your question is,
Malidoma cannot answer every question.
We are excited about this
new endeavor! We invite you to participate in this new opportunity to
create, maintain, and sustain community with you. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have.
Be a Host for Divinations!
As some of you have experienced, receiving a divination from Malidoma is a fascinating and powerful encounter with Spirit! Unfortunately many people are unable to receive divinations from Malidoma due to faraway locations or transportation challenges.
Many have inquired about how to bring Malidoma to their area. One way to accomplish is to host Malidoma for divinations! In order to provide the best opportunity for Malidoma to connect and share the wisdom of the Otherworld, get 20+ people committed to receiving a divination, and he will come to your area. Hosts receive a free divination! For more information and details, write to email@example.com
|"A Call to Consciousness:"
Talk Radio Show Interview
with Malidoma Somé
Tune in to K-TALK AM1150 to listen to the live show at 9:30am PDT on Sunday, August 15th. Listeners outside of the Los Angeles, California area can hear it at http://www.ktlkam1150.com The following week, the show will appear on the show's free archives and be available at http://www.universalflag.com/av.html
Africa Trip Planned December 2010
Baobab Tree Photo by Judy Ivey Malidoma is planning a general trip to Burkina Faso at the end of this year! The focus of this trip will be to introduce participants to the rhythms and flow of daily, indigenous village life. Now is the time for those who are seriously interested to begin preparations to make the journey a reality. Begin obtaining essential items such as passport, visa, travel shots, etc. In order to better prepare and plan for this journey, the deadline to sign up has been moved up to September 15th. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org to get your name on the list of interested participants.
4th IAST, East Coast Village (ECV)
Cherry Plain, NY
A Call to Consciousness--
Talk Radio Show Interview with Malidoma Somé
K-TALK AM 1150, Sunday August 15 @ 9:30 am PDT
Outside Los Angeles, CA tune in
Mountain View, CA
August 21 & August 23-24
for more info write to email@example.com
3rd IAST, California
Santa Rosa, CA
MALIDOMA IN EUROPE
Systemic Constellation & Rituals
Pollauberg, Styria in Austria
for more info call:
Tel: +43/(0) 316/32 52 91
The Spirit of Africa: Workshop & Divination with
Caduceus Klinik, Niendorfer Weg 5
29549 Bad Bevensen, near Hamburg, Germany
July 30-August 1
Divinations: August 2-3
for more info contact:
Lecture: Of Water & Spirit---
The Story of an African Shaman
Streliska 12 Waldorf School,
Saturday, August 7 @ 7pm
Divinations available near Ljubljana---
Visoko 103, 1292 IG, 25 km from the center of Ljubljana
For more info about the lecture & divinations contact:
Jozica Amadea Demsar
mobile phone: 00.386.30.648.910
office phone: 00.386.1.364.48.47
AND BACK IN THE USA:
The Power of Ritual & Community: Lecture & Book Signing
Circles of Wisdom, Andover, MA
Thursday, September 2 @ 7:30-9:30 pm
For more info contact Cathy at Circles of Wisdom @ 978.474.8010 or
Betsy McNair @ 781.259.3431 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Ancestors, Healing, & Empowerment:
A One Day Intensive with Malidoma Somé
Rolling Ridge Conference Center
North Andover, MA
September 4, 10 am to 10 pm
To register visit:
For more info contact Betsy McNair @ 781.259.3431 or write to email@example.com
Divinations available in Lincoln, MA
Friday, September 3 & Sunday, September 5
through Tuesday, September 7
For appointments contact Betsy McNair @ 781.259.3431 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org
5th IAST, East Coast Village (ECV)
Cherry Plain, NY
Malidoma @ 26th Annual Minnesota Men's Conference
Camp Miller, Sturgeon Lake
for more info call Craig Ungerman @ 860.923.6987 or 860.942.1658
email address: email@example.com
website address: http://www.hiddenwine.com/MMC
5th IAST, Asheville, NC
Rites of Passage Council
Healing Relationhip with Ancestors Workshop
Blue Deer Center, Margaretville, NY
for more info write to firstname.lastname@example.org
East Coast Village (ECV)
Cherry Plains, NY
for more info write to email@example.com
Annual Gathering @ East Coast Village (ECV)
Cherry Plain, NY
for more info write to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Gender of Magic: Men & the Other World
A Men's Gathering
for more info write to email@example.com
for more info write to firstname.lastname@example.org