| |HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
2011 marks the beginning of a Water year in Dagara Cosmology! We hope you will enjoy the writings and inspirations concerning the element Water in this issue.
Peace & Blessings!
Water of Life
A Shamanic Reflection on Water
~Malidoma Patrice Somé~
| "Of all the elements in the cosmological construct of the world, Fire, Water, Earth, Mineral and Nature, the Sage takes Water as his preceptor. Water is yielding, but all-conquering. Water extinguishes Fire. Or, finding itself likely to be defeated, escapes as a steam and reforms. Water washes away Soft Earth, or when confronted by rocks, seeks a way round. Water corrodes Iron till it crumbles to dust; it saturates the atmosphere so that Wind dies. Water gives way to obstacles with deceptive humility. For no power can prevent it following its destined course to the sea. Water conquers by yielding; it never attacks, but always wins the last battle. The Sage who makes himself as Water is distinguished for his humility. He embraces passivity, acts from non-action and conquers the world." These words from the Chinese Sage Tao Cheng captures the spiritual powers of Water as a remarkable element we cannot do without.
We live in a world in which there is mounting heat and dryness. The longing to overcome the hard with the soft and the rigid with the gentle invites us to take a hard look at Water's capacity and availability to heal us. It is therefore reasonable to think that the peace and security of this century will have to be waged over water. It means that we must look into its cosmological power as fundamental in the cleansing and purification of ourselves and the world in which we live, if we are still interested in unleashing the magic of human greatness. This is because water's greatest gift is peace and cleansing. Consequently, an assessment of the human condition would reveal that the current crisis of the world is directly connected to the scarcity of water. Whether it is the literal inability of so many on this planet to access healthy water to sustain their lives or it is the spiritual dryness symptomatic of a dehydrated culture that has forgotten its sacred dependence on water, we now find ourselves in a desperate situation.
Reclaiming our relationship to water is a vital passage in alleviating the pressures of this crisis. In order to invoke peace, we have to notice what water is: it is that which takes the path of least resistance, it reflects, flows, cleanses, purifies, cools, quenches, soothes, dissolves, crystallizes. It is these characteristics that imbue water with the power of reconciliation when it seems all hopes are lost. The water that washes away humanity's capacity for rigidity and conflict waits for us to check in for a radical healing, for it alone has what it takes to restore the purity of being, the brightness of our genius, and the flow most wanted for the human community.
Water is a way-finder in this world. Through receiving water's teaching, we become fluid with appropriate responses to difficult problems. Water will dislodge us from where we are stuck and set us afloat toward fulfillment of our goals. Practices that utilize water's primal powers help humanity gravitate towards the lessons we are seeking. The pouring of libations is a graceful act that offers healing to a world agitated by imbalance, violence and distortion. A libation is a living invitation to the world of Spirit. It carries the signature of a heart overflowing with pure intention, a soul acknowledging the source of all life.
Therefore, we need to acknowledge radically and definitively that water is life! For there is exhilaration in feeling rain fall from the sky or in touching waves that lap the land. There is soothing of the core of our being in communing with its great expanse and reassurance that it is there to be the giver of life, the bearer of purity and the instrument of the liberation of our souls. The longing in each soul to reach home is echoed by the steady flow of water in its stubborn determination to reach its resting place, the great mother ocean. Thus, water is the flesh that floats our spirits through the worldly experience and gives us the ability to replenish what the world may drink from our essence. We are more water than anything else, just as Earth is mostly water. Naturally, water is extraordinarily receptive. For this reason, we can look to water as an indicator of the health of the planet because water will be the first to respond.
When one witnesses the polluted waters of the planet, the indigenous soul within us all absorbs the signal that dire trouble has arrived. Without water, we are at a loss for life. Without life, we are flooded by deep grief in an effort to well up from our own insides a source of renewal. Therefore, the first movement towards healing is grief. Feel into the statement, "Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink..." One might first sense anger, panic, and then grief because it means the possibility of one's own death. But what if the global community makes a different choice?
Water enters crisis especially when we attempt to contain it. Water grows foul and stagnates when we try to confine it in ways that does not honor its true character. The behavior of water searches for ways to fit in, to align with ambient vibration and to bring vitality to nature and the Earth. Water is the spirit of unity and community. When we try to control water's boundless unity, we disrupt its capacity to cater to the thirst of the human community. It is because of its limitlessness that water cannot be owned; its will is to be free. This is the true freedom out of which we are born. Thus is the shamanistic, spiritual and liturgical relationship with water that we must labor to incorporate in our daily living for the sake of continuity in our world. This approach is an invitation to reflect on the various ways and manners in which we as humans have alienated ourselves from water; to read into its current scarcity as a message that speaks to the extent to which we have disrespected our most valuable ally on this Earth. For, indeed what can surpass that which gives life, brings flow where there is stagnation, and purity where pollution prevails? When we are able to depart from our grandiose and controlling thrust toward water, its calming power may rain peace and healing into the dry crust of our being and restore vitality to our world.
The Wisdom of Water
Q: I find it very difficult in this culture to keep the indigenous perspective alive. In this culture of fear, mass media sound bites, and the constant business of daily life it can be easy to get side-tracked by depression and despair. I know that my purpose does not expect me to leave this culture; instead I believe it is necessary to find a way to walk the indigenous path inside the beast. But, how does one accomplish the necessary transformation in order to live from their true self in the American culture that doesn't foster one's unique calling? What are the different components necessary to achieve an indigenous perception while living in urban constipation?
A: It is not easy to live in the "Belly of the Beast" and keep a steady alignment with indigenous base energy. In fact, it is not easy to even do so these days within so called indigenous environment either. This means that the post-modern world has no real safe haven where one can retire happily into a self-fulfilling ancestral path, in harmony with the Earth vibration and one's heartbeat. Whether you are in a village somewhere in a third world country, or in the middle of London, Paris, or New York, you are equally as vulnerable to depression and despair.
So, you are right in saying that your purpose doesn't require that you pack up and go somewhere else to fulfill it. You will still be right if you did go try to fulfill it somewhere else, because whatever you will learn while there will explain why you were born here to begin with. You need support in however you choose to fulfill your calling in this world. And right now you seem to say that you expect to make it right in this country where you were born. That's great! It is wise to avoid randomizing geographical occurrence. There is a reason why we were born in the epicenter of modernity as opposed to an indigenous village.
Life is a journey, whether scenic or horrifying, that seldom knows any straight line. Like water it undulates in its forward motion en route to a home not yet known to us. Imagine that this course was plotted before you were even born, and the obstacles you encounter along the way are all contributors to the solidification and authenticity of the journey. So we are not expected to avoid them, or to seek a completely different route to replace the one we have. Instead we have to acknowledge that the journey was crafted exactly to fit the meaning and the outcome of our calling.
I suggest we all consider emulating the wisdom of Water. This is a Water year. Cosmologically, we have entered an interesting space in which peace-making, cleansing, and reconciliation are called for. What then do we cleanse, make peace and reconcile with? Whatever it is, it has to include all that which we have issue with. The more trouble and challenges we encounter, the more relevance to our journey. More importantly, we need to rise above self-pity, and the attitude that our lives are wretched because the world around us is messed up. Remember, the water that dug the Grand Canyon did not complain about the obstacle in front of it.
We are being called to exercise some resilience, to muster more hope and to water the garden of our determination at a time when the energy around is inviting us to flow like Water. Its prime characteristic is in its determination to "get there." We all know that Water never gives up when challenged. It has a stubborn urge to succeed, hence its capacity to shape-shift from liquid to solid or to vapor. When circumstances become rough we must be willing to make the adjustments necessary to keep going. This means expanding our imagination in search for answers where nothing indicates they are present.
We are Water. Therefore, we need to behave as such: going with the flow, singing in the face of obstacles in our way, and in doing so, show that the enemy can be a friend and therefore, an obstacle can be an opportunity. Perhaps, it is when we feel the most forsaken that we are at the threshold of the most powerful or blessed. Acting depressed, beat up and dwelling in our discontent could be poisonous to the side of us that longs for these kinds of challenges to grow. The Water of life is the Water of transformation where we are in constant gestation from one state to an even higher one. Let us not wait for our culture to offer what we need to grow. What if the culture needs us to offer it the opportunity to grow too?
This year offers the opportunity to connect more intimately with the Ancestors on a joint venture to cleanse from our path that which does not serve us. So let us return to the old ways of pouring libation water to them so that they can help us find the least resistant direction to flow.
Many inquiries come to Malidoma 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. Ask Malidoma! was created as a way to fill that need.
He is eager to respond to questions on Dagara spiritual traditions & cosmology, the elements, nature, divination, ritual & community, inter-dimensional beings & worlds, kontombili, the role & benefit of ritual sacrifice, ritual application for daily living initiation, shrines, ancestors, etc.
Send your question to askMalidoma@gmail.com. Malidoma will choose and respond to at least one question per newsletter. He is most likely to respond to the question with the widest appeal to the community, or the question that is most-frequently asked.
Indigenous African Spiritual Technologies (IAST) Mar. 30-Apr. 3
Beginning A New, Two-Year Intensive
"The time for a vigorous devotion to and embracing of the wisdom of indigenous Africa has come. After centuries in silence and hiding, the powers and wisdom of the ancestors are rising up to lead the world into the next level of consciousness and spirituality." -- Malidoma
JOIN US as we begin a new, two-year training
in the spiritual cosmology and technologies of
the Dagara people of West Africa.
The two-year training will be grounded in
experiential exploration of the five elements of
Dagara cosmology: Fire, Water, Earth, Mineral, and
Nature. In this first workshop we will enrich our
working relationships with these elements so that
we can create, experience, and offer rituals
invoking the healing properties of each element,
for the benefit of ourselves and others.
In subsequent workshops, we will empower
and deepen our relationship with the Spirit World
through an intensive "Ancestralization" Ritual,
followed by creating cowrie shell divination kits and
talismans, and we will begin to acquire skills in
utilizing these spiritual technologies. Through our
time together, we will experience a deepening of
our connection with purpose and with Spirit.
COST: The energy exchange for the program---which includes meals and rustic accommodations---is $1,100 per session; $5,500 for all five workshops over the course of
DEPOSIT: A $550 deposit, due by March 9th, 2011 with Program Application, available from firstname.lastname@example.org
will hold your space. Payment may be made by check,
cash, or money order.
Make your checks payable to Tudor Marinescu.Mail completed application and deposit to
658 S. La Luna Ave
Ojai, CA 93023 email@example.com
ayment is due no later than at registration at each of the sessions.
For more information call 805-633-4624 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dagara Cultural Youth Festival, Feb. 21-27, 2011
Accepting Donations & An Invitation to Attend!
|Photo By Theresa Thomas|
Malidoma is again extending an invitation to those who would like to travel to Burkina Faso and attend the Youth Festival this coming year, which will take place the last week in February 21-27, 2011. Details will be forthcoming. If you are interested in attending, write to email@example.com.
The Dagara Cultural Youth Festival February 2010 was a tremendous success! The monetary support Malidoma received through donations for the festival--without a doubt--played a major role.
Because of this achievement, Malidoma has indisputably become the leader in the safeguarding and promotion of Dagara ancestral traditions. In the past, UNESCO, a division of the United Nations was co-sponsoring this government program. Suddenly in 2009, both UNESCO and the government dropped any support and the Ministry of Culture told Dano that it was on its own. The High Commissioner of Dano, upon learning through the grapevine of what Malidoma had been doing in the West, asked him for help. This was the beginning of Malidoma's highly visible leadership role in his own country (he was featured on T.V. several times in Burkina Faso--never before had this occurred).
The Dagara Cultural Youth Festival is an attempt to interest youth in the values of the traditions of their ancestors so that they can preserve it in themselves amidst the sweeping changes of modernity. UNESCO had shown interest in it for reasons of its own and then dropped out when these interests dried up.
Again we need your help!
|Photo By Theresa Thomas|
If you have ever been moved by the values of the Dagara culture in the West, this is a wonderful opportunity and--we believe--an invitation from the ancestors to step up to the plate and show the extent of our appreciation of the wisdom that is now endangered in its place of birth.
The goal is to raise $15K or more for this week-long event. Your tax-deductible contribution can be sent directly to Aviela Inc., c/o Robert Walker, P.O. 82, Cherry Plain, NY 12040.
Once again this is a call to rise, for it is now time to shine! We truly appreciate your support.
Divinations, Lectures, Workshops, etc.
January 27-29, 2011
write to firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment
Malidoma at Augsburg College, Minneapolis, MN
The Center for Counseling & Health Promotion 2010-11 Convocation Series Presents:
"Water & the Spirit"
Friday, February 11, 2011, 3:30-5 pm
Hoversten Chapel, Foss Center
"The Healing Wisdom of Africa"
Saturday, February 12, 2011, Noon-1 pm
Hoversten Chapel, Foss Center
A booksigning will take place on Friday at 5 pm
and Saturday at 11:30 am in the Arnold Atrium,
Foss Center. All events are free and open to the
public. For more info or special requests, call
612-330-1104, or visit our website.
February 13-16, 2011
Write to email@example.com to schedule an appointment.
Dagara Cultural Youth Festival
Dano, Burkina Faso, West Africa
write to firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
March 12-16, 2011
Write to info@AncestralEvents.com to
schedule an appointment.
Santa Rosa, CA
March 23-27, 2011
March 28-30, 2011
Divination appointments will be scheduled
beginning mid-February. Write to email@example.com
to schedule an appointment.
March 30-April 3, 2011
See information above in the body of this newsletter.
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information
or call 805-633-4624.
Malidoma @ Revelation Conference with Michael Beckwith
Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel, Los Angeles, CA
for more info, click here
April 14-17, 2011
Los Angeles, CA
April 18-20, 2011
"Healing with your Ancestors" African Spirituality & Ritual
Malidoma Somé at Alternatives---Public Lecture
St. James Church
Piccadilly London, England, UK
for more info, write to Richard Pantlin
also for more info see website
May 23, 2011 7pm"Healing with your Ancestors" African Spirituality & Ritual
Malidoma Somé in Residential Weekend Workshop
Hawkwood College, near Stroud, (in the Cotswolds Hills)
Gloucestershire, England, UK
May 28-30, 2011
2-night residential workshop with all meals -£385
Additional Friday night with supper -£50
Single room supplement (for 2 or 3 nights) -£50
Deposit with booking (non-refundable) -£190
Early bird disc. for booking rec'd by 2/15/11 -£30
For enquires, booking form, & more info,
write to email@example.com
Cheques should be made out to "Hawkwood College."
Malidoma will also be available for private
divinations in the UK. For more info & details
write to firstname.lastname@example.org
|Water Babes by Ivan Donn Carswell|
We were water babes, born in the arms of a sparkling brook that patiently took us into its heart. At the very start we were never far from its shiny banks, playing amid ranks of serried wildflowers. When one of us all but drowned in a careless encounter, the stream buoyed her up in a swirling embrace, enchanted by her smile, ingenuously placed a coronet of gold on her tousled head and delivered a beatified child of the water. All of us knew who had saved her. She wears the crown still, the gold faded to russet in autumn decline, but her love is as pure as the divine water that gave her her life.
In the passage of time we grew out of the streamside
and flowed into a fractious world beyond the sheltered hills,
we learned of wars and catastrophes, torment and misery,
the dour pain of soured relationships; lessons which
challenged our humble origins, questions unanswered.
One cannot deny a brook may breach its peaceful banks
and scour a fragrant path with awesome power,
potential might belies the calm that flowers
in gentle times, and gentle times were all we knew.
But beside our brook the true conscience of peace
had shaped our thoughts and romantic beliefs.
| Malidoma's Pen |
"Without water, nothing can be purified, nothing an be authentic. Water allows us to maintain the kind of consciousness that links us to the Other World, and hence we see in so many mythologies the idea of water as the 'water of life,' with water crucial to the spiritual experience and the spiritual journey.
The element water reconciles and quiets down that which is trapped in the crisis of combustion. In effect, water cools the burning psyche. It stills the restless consciousness and bestows serenity upon a person in turmoil, returning focus to a chaotic existence. As an elemental unit in the cosmological wheel, its position is the north, opposite fire, and its color are blue and black. Water seeks to cleanse, reconcile, and balance that which is in agitation, emotional disorder, and self-danger. When water succeeds, it restores or enhances life where there was the threat of death. Hence, the connection between water and life. To seek water is to seek to reconcile and balance that which is constantly in danger of being thrown out of balance, that which is caught in the fiery loop of speed and consumption.
To seek water is to seek the vitality and blossoming that comes from successful self-immersion. Water encourages a positive slowdown that permits one to notice things that are usually overlooked at high speed, and for this reason water is associated with focus. The water person is slow, shows great understanding, and is eager to make things work for the greatest good. He or she perceives the world in terms of possibilities. The water person thinks of community, relationship, love, and harmony. Water is therefore also grief. Among other causes, grief arises from recognizing the loss that occurs from our failure to notice, and grief comes also from recognizing the wide gap between what is possible and the impossible of getting there. The salted taste of tears of grief is the cleansing taste of reconciliation, of the desire to reconcile, because water cleanses and washes away the impurities of our failures. Grief is the enemy of denial. An elder once told me, 'My tears say that my soul has heard something about the Other World.'"
The Healing Wisdom of Africa
| A Village Water Ritual |
"... A water ritual that has been practiced in a variety of indigenous cultures throughout the African continent is called the reconciliation ritual. This ritual has to do with cleansing and purifying the psyche.
Every year, the village gathers for its reconciliation ritual at the local river. In the water, healers await each villager who comes for healing. As the villager approaches the water, he or she is received by the healers and reminded of the spiritual depth of the event. The villager then enters the water and walks to the main healer, who asks a series of questions about the act of cleansing to ensure that the person seeking healing understands the meaning of cleansing, admits to being in need of it, and acknowledges that it can only be granted by the ancestors...
The healer then declares to the villager that he or she is not the one who is going to do the healing; this is done by the very spirit that dwells in the water. After this short dialogue, the villager is dunked into the water and kept underwater for as long as they can hold their breath, sometimes a little bit beyond this point to ensure a breakthrough. At this point, the villager is released and dashes out of the water like a bullet, full of emotions.
They are then held gently by some assistants and guided back to the village, which welcomes them with a loud cheer. They are a new person. Notice here that the healer does not heal, but is like an assistant to the water spirit, who actually does the healing. Indeed, the indigenous believe that real cleansing takes place underwater. The water spirit does not come to you until that moment when you feel very uncomfortable. This is an extension of the belief that every time the Other World is present, everybody should feel uncomfortable.
Missionaries who witnessed these rituals either regarded them as a strange pre-biblical paganism, or decided that indigenous people were Christians at heart, in need of the blessings of divine guidance. However, to the Dagara, a ritual such as this signifies renewal, rebirth, and purification. The cleansing of a water ritual is seen by indigenous people as something to be done with regularity because of human vulnerability to contamination by negative energy. I do this quite frequently right here in the West."
The Healing Wisdom of Africa
| Libation |
A simple, humble way of utilizing water spiritually is through libation. Libation is used as a tribute, a way to salute the spirits. Our ancestors also crave acknowledgment and in return bestow blessings. Libation pleases the ancestors.
~Stephanie Rose Bird~
Summer Water Rites
Malidoma describes an act of libation in his book, The Healing Wisdom of Africa:
....There is a more private ritual that can be done by anyone needing the continued blessings of peace and good fortune. I referred to it .... as a libation. Any water poured to the ancestors or spirit beings is received in the Other World for the purpose of providing peaceful continuity. This is something that can be done as a thank-you to spirits for something they've helped accomplish or for their continued protection.
If you have established a sacred altar in your house, it is recommended that you go there every morning with a glass of fresh cold water. As you sit or kneel at the altar, holding the water in your hand, pray to the spirit of the ancestors and to any spirit being you know, inviting them to be the main artisans of the day ahead of you. It is useful to tell in as much detail as possible what the content of the day is going to be, including meetings that are very important to you, and even express such things as your concerns about commuting in traffic.
The focus here is on the activities that you want to be monitored by Spirit. At the end, pour a little water on the altar, asking the ancestors to take it and use it as a peaceful umbrella that protects against the heat of misfortune, bad luck, and disappointment. Leave the glass or a bowl of water on the altar at all times, as the presence of water anywhere indicates your desire for peace, reconciliation, and focus in that place. A day that begins this way offers more happy surprises than bad ones. A libation is salutary every time you face something with a little challenge in it.
A final and even simpler ritual involves simply maintaining a bowl of water someplace where you spend time, such as on an altar, in the house, or at an office. Placing a bowl of water in a room where a difficult discussion or meeting is to take place can have a remarkable effect on the tone of the interaction. The mere presence of water near us is calming and reminds us of the peace and reconciliation we desire in all aspects of our lives.
The Healing Wisdom of Africa
Olorisha Olokun also describes & gives an account of how to pour libation:
On the matter of what to offer the ancestors or the deities, we have the choice of water, wine, and liquor. The choice of liquid depends on the nature of the libation and prayer and what your aim is in invoking (awakening) the ancestors.
As has been my own experience, water is for cooling and healing and creating or reconciling relationships. Liquor is fiery and is usually used to rouse, cement, ignite, protect, and perform strong purification. Wine is midway between the two and is good for friendly relations, creating camaraderie between man and spirit.
This is an important matter as many of us do not realize that when you pour libation you are awakening the ancestors. The libation is only the 1st part of the process. After awakening the ancestors, we have to actually do something, discuss something, or work a ritual. Libation is not complete without at bare minimum thanking the ancestors or requesting something like support, stability, clarity, spiritual cleansing or protection, etc.
Ideally, once you have poured libation you should be talking to the ancestors like you talk to any other living person. You should converse and build a relationship....
If you are pouring libation prior to a public event, you ask for blessings for that event or those in attendance. The important part to remember....is that libation in and of itself is not enough. You craft your libation prayer....then you craft the conversation that explains why you invoked the ancestors on this occasion.
After doing these two things, you close with "Ashé"....and you give thanks prior to seeing the fruits of your efforts. That is, you assume with confidence....that whatever you have asked for will come or spirit will tell you what it is you really need in place of that request.
Young people do not normally pour libation in the presence of elders unless their youthful energy is identified as a necessity for that particular ceremony or ritual. Libation is done by community elders or the oldest member of the family. It can also be done by clergy of all ages provided the eldest clergy present sanction and approve of the person identified....
....Not all forms of libation are poured. Sometimes libations are shared with the addition of [one's personal energy], which is done by spewing the liquid from one's mouth onto the Earth or deity or ancestor shrine. This carries much strength [and] is not done carelessly (if you don't know when to do it, ask a traditionalist for assistance).
In contemporary times people do not always have a consecrated shrine or the actual Earth beneath them to pour libation. They wonder how to conduct the process properly in these situations without making a mess, especially when they do not own the space in which they are conducting the event. You can pour libation on:
* the ground
* onto a shrine
* on the ground in front of a
* at the doorstep to a building
* onto a living plant
* into a receptacle, which on
the floor, symbolizes the
* on the street in front of a
There may be other ways, but these are safe bets.
By Wendell Berry
I was born in a drought year. That summer
my mother waited in
the house, enclosed
in the sun and the
dry ceaseless wind,
for the men to come
back in the evenings,
bringing water from
a distant spring.
Veins of leaves ran
dry, roots shrank.
And all my life I have
dreaded the return
of that year, sure that it
is still somewhere, like
a dead enemy's soul.
Fear of dust in my mouth
is always with me, and I am
the faithful husband of the rain.
I love the water of wells
and springs, and the taste of roofs in the water of cisterns.
I am a dry man whose
thirst is praise of clouds,
and whose mind is
something of a cup.
My sweetness is to
wake in the night
after days of dry heat,
hearing the rain.