Responding to the Call of the Ancestors
Every year, nations all over the world celebrate
International Women's Day on March 8th. Hundreds of events occur, not just on this day but throughout March to mark the many achievements of women. Even our culture has designated the month of March as Women's History Month!
Remembering our unforgettable sojourn in Dano, Burkina Faso this time last year, our return travel to the U.S. was delayed because we couldn't get out of the country, due to the many celebrations and revelry of International Women's Day taking place all over---the bus lines and streets were full! We learned that day, for future trips, to plan travel to and from Africa a couple of days before March 8th or a couple of days
Thus, the focus and theme of this issue!
The month of March is recognized by many worldwide as the Month of Women. I am sure there is a whole history leading to this universal declaration worthy of unanimity. If this time affords the opportunity to reflect on women and all things feminine in our world, and for one day or one month invites us to humbly bow to the feminine and/or the mother, the move is a good one and points us in a good direction. It is suitable to add to the homework a reflection on the cosmology of gender and its underpinnings in the world we live in. Sometimes it makes sense to go beyond history to "herstory" in an attempt to make this examination a self- examination into the psyche or the soul of what connects us together and to challenge our imagination in the process.
Women & the Cosmology of Gender
By Malidoma Somé
The cosmology of gender calls attention to what we might be reaching out to or invoking when we allude to male and female, or at least their relationship across mythological time and space. Tribal attitude in this matter makes reference to the cosmological identity of the Earth, both as male and female, and the consequences of a potential imbalance in this rather androgynous identity. In Dagara tradition, there are two terms both pointing to the same Earth: Tingan and Tenbalu. The first one is male, and the second one is female.
Tingan appeals to the protective, administrative, regulatory part of Earth. It implies a sense of dominion in which identity is linked to a sense of belonging that is clearly deterministic albeit fundamentally territorial. Is this possibly why the Tingan-sob - the person in charge of Tingan - is always a male? It goes without saying that if the guardian of Tingan is a man and the latter is perceived as both the legislative and the judiciary entity in whose hands every subject's fate resides, the masculinity of Tingan is verified. No one speaks to Tingan directly and no one crosses Tingan without being severely punished. Hence, if you have an issue with Tingan, you're on your own. There is no safe haven anywhere to hide. This apparent ruthlessness highlights the infallible supremacy of Tingan and underscores its masculinity. Thus Tingan governs.
Tenbalu is the Earth's nurturing and caring principle - the epitome of Mother. Literally it means soft earth or realm with reference to the crust, or the rich top part that provides nutrients for growth and nourishment. Unlike Tingan that requires a tending agent, someone like a priest or a mediator who most of the time comes across like a king or monarch, Tenbalu needs no such dedicated attendance. Anyone can invoke Tenbalu and everyone does it because Tenbalu listens to all her children. It is in this that her caring and nurturing show the most. Almost all invocations to Tenbalu contain the statement, "it is your bountifulness that feeds us all." This recognizes that Tenbalu provides nourishment for everyone indiscriminately, like a true mother does for her children.
This cosmological distinction illustrates the general concept of the Earth being both a man and a woman with an apparently endless capacity to generate and regenerate, to give and to bless. It also implies that this endless generativity and this abundance can easily turn to staleness and scarcity if the gender ratio runs out of balance. Imbalance in this context triggers starvation in the middle of abundance, thirst amidst lots of water, aloneness or isolation within community and so on. From this we should deduce that this month affords the chance to dwell on issues pertaining to our treatment of the Earth, our mother, and the feminine as the fundamental source of blessings, abundance, community and family. Where is the feminine in this world where carelessness is more obvious than care?
In Cosmology, the masculine and the feminine have little to do with biology. The masculine at its best is more like Tingan. But more often than not, it is akin to fire with an endless propensity to consume. The feminine on the other hand is more like Tenbalu because of its nurturing and caring instinct. Cosmologically, there is a feminine in the male as there is a masculine in the female. Each gender carries a little bit of androgynous signature. This month we must allow ourselves to read into the masculinity of history and re-think the etymology of the word toward a better gender attitude. The cosmology of gender has been stuck in the masculine gear for much too long making scarcity one of its byproducts.
A mythological mind should want to concern itself with the healing of the relationship between gender, or better, the restoration of the authentic feminine into its nurturing, caring and abundant posture. This month gives us a chance to ponder such themes. How far have we sailed away from authentic feminine and how is scarcity and the great deficit of love in the world a reflection of that? The masculine has ruled the world since time immemorial. Under the masculine regime, we have witnessed the mounting tide of radicalism, the deepening of the deficit of love, the increase of ruthlessness and the decrease of compassion. Needless to say that everyone, men and women, are entitled to a special era of wellness. This month presents the opportunity for us to honor the feminine in each other and in ourselves. The part in every human that is drawn to the Mother, to caring and to the spirit of sharing must be unleashed for the Earth to return to her legendary generativity. If we do that, one women's month may stretch over the whole year in celebration of the Feminine. For if one month out of the year is given to woman, who owns the rest of the year?
Reflection on Women, Medicine, and The Dagara Tradition
by Theresa Sykes Brittany
Even though, as women, most of us brought up in this culture were not offered a formal initiatory rite of passage as we moved from the realm of maiden to young woman to mother to elder; we have all experienced some type of initiation---conscious or not. Even though our mothers or grandmothers may not have passed down the "old ways" to us, and even though we may not have had a wise woman or elder to guide us with her lantern of wisdom down the path of knowing....we must remember that this ancient wisdom; these old ways; these timeless rituals reside deeply within our bones and have for eternity. If we listen closely, the Medicine from our maternal lineage will move from the bottomless depths of the well of our being....up into and through our bones and emerge from our intuition....and we will remember that which we already know. The most ancient of all grandmothers....the first Medicine Woman does, indeed, stand within our ancestral line---and rejoices when we take the time to remember and listen to her whispers. She is there, watching our back at all times---and will provide intuitive knowing, protection and the deepest experience of connection and belonging when we surrender and rest into her fully. It is not too late.
|Photo by Katja Esser |
To pretend that we don't know what we know, or to turn away from our intuition and internal guidance, is to co-sign and enable the pattern that has prevailed in our society to continue. This pattern "the norm" informs us and all young girls that, in fact, we don't know....that we are making it up....that we are too sensitive, too loud, that we should stop being silly and be logical, linear and rational....we should not be so emotional or so expressive....it'd be best if we would just shut up and put up with whatever we are handed and make the best of it and not complain. We are taught to be pretty and please others but not to be too pretty. We are told to be open and vulnerable and compassionate but not to feel too deeply, not be too smart, and not to speak our truth if it will inconvenience or possibly offend someone else. The assumption is that it's okay for a woman to be threatened and disempowered because, after all, she's a woman.
I am so grateful to Mother Colette for bringing us Malidoma Somé. I am grateful for the traditions, rituals and Medicine that have been passed down from Malidoma's ancestors. Dagara Cosmology, as I have been enveloped in it---since beginning my journey with Malidoma in 2003---has opened a gate deep within me, from which the timeless and ancient wisdom of my Ancestors flows. In sharing this wisdom with women that I am blessed to come into contact with, much empowerment, healing and reconciliation has come about.
For instance, there is the Hearing Ritual: a ritual that takes place with a woman when she is pregnant. It is a time when the Ancestor who is incarnating is invited to speak about his/her name, purpose. There is Tenbalu, who is the feminine aspect of the Earth. It is to her that we go when we need to be nurtured, fed, sustained, comforted and know the belonging of being held as a babe in the safety of mother's arms. There are also specific rituals that assist with healing and alignment after a woman or man has experienced miscarriage or abortion. These rituals may be done individually or as a couple. There is the pouring of milk and the bathing in milk....that which is the first nourishment and comes form Mother.
My Ancestors have helped me remember the importance of a woman's Moontime and how to demonstrate honor and respect, ritually, for the power and importance of this bleeding time. There are Blessing Ways and other initiations into Women's Mysteries for women to mark important life passages consciously---amidst the support of her sisters/village/community. There is also the process of working in circle together with the archetypes, energies and powers of the Maiden, Mother, Crone, Priestess, Queen, Healer, Artist, Life-Death-Rebirth cycles in conjunction with the Elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Mineral, Nature, as well as the Kontomblé, Wedamé, and Webaa---these provide endless possibilities for remembering and empowerment....the bringing forth of the original....the Divine Blueprint....and the manifestation of our lives embodying the living Talismans that we are.
When I traveled to Africa, I touched the Earth and the vibration of the Motherland permeated my system and awoke within my body the deepest memories and knowings of my Ancestors. To reunite ourselves with our Ancestors in conjunction with the frequency and Medicine of the Dagara ignites the connection with the Great Mother....the feminine depths from which we have all been birthed. Thank you Malidoma---for bringing me home!
Perhaps, "International Women's Day" and "Women's Month" is not only about women....but, more importantly about the Divine Feminine energy that flows within each one of us....a universal movement that is asking women to honor & connect with the Medicine of the Feminine and for men to honor and connect with the Medicine of the Feminine, thereby creating for every human and all sentient beings: the experience of safety, love, connection, intuitive knowing, nourishment and empowerment.
~Theresa Sykes Brittany, an initiated elder in the Dagara tradition, can be reached at www.AncestralEvents.com.~
Dagara Women's Healing Rituals
THE EGG RITUAL:
By Deborah Torrance
One of the potent healing rituals from the Dagara women's wisdom is the Egg Ritual used only by women to release congested, toxic energy from another woman's body. This energy can be from mental/emotional wounding, physical illness or spiritual distress. Very appropriately, the chief tools used in this ritual are fertile eggs.
This healing is only done in protected ritual space prepared ahead of time with ash, water, spirit, candles, rattles, drums, and other ritual items. As in many rituals, it is of prime importance to prepare and wait for the right moment for the receiving person to be open to healing. Toxic energies can be clever at hiding and holding on and the receiver can unknowingly be an accomplice in her own ill health.
The receiver lies in the comfortable prepared ritual space with as many supportive women around as possible to drum, rattle and hold space. The practitioner offers an invocation to the ancestors and all healing entities and then begins the process of removing the unwanted energy with the eggs. When all of the energy is cleared, the eggs are buried and the women welcome back their renewed sister into the arms of the village .
The Egg Ritual was first brought to East Coast Village by two elder women: Marrow who passed onto the ancestors several years ago, and Jeanette Duffau who comes to support and help us during initiations and other major rituals. Many thanks to both of you!
~For more information and questions concerning the
Egg Ritual, write to Deborah Torrance here. Deborah is an initiated elder in the Dagara tradition.
The Egg Ritual: a personal healing
By Holly Brown
In 2004 I attended a weekend event at East Coast Village in Cherry Plains, New York. During the night as I arose from sleeping to go to the bathroom, I discovered that my bladder was not working properly---it took a very long time to empty. After some time, I completed the task and returned to my tent, hoping that was the end of it, and went back to sleep.
The next night the same thing happened, and it took even longer for my bladder to empty. I was alarmed and I instinctively knew that "something was up." That morning I sought help for the problem immediately; I went to Jeanette, a long-standing and respected member of the village.
I found Jeanette working in the kitchen and I told her about my circumstance. She asked, "Holly, what are you so afraid of? I feel that you are filled with fear!" At that moment, unknown to me before, I was tremendously filled with fear, and as that realization hit me like a thunderbolt, I sobbed! And thus it began....
Jeanette knew I needed an "egg ritual" performed right away! She sought the counsel of Marrow, an elder of the village and the wisdom-keeper of the egg ritual. Within minutes, Marrow showed up on the scene and she agreed to oversee the ritual. However, Jeanette would have to perform the work because Marrow lacked the physical strength to perform the ritual herself. That proved to be the last egg ritual in which Marrow was involved; she was actually very close to her own death and she had come to say her goodbyes that weekend.
Jeanette went to the chickens and found three fertile eggs. She rounded up the women needed to assist in the ritual process. I asked for special permission to have my partner John present at the ritual. This ritual is for women only, and yet John was allowed to be there. I was grateful and felt that his own sensitivity and gentle nature played a role in my healing.
For the next couple of hours, we all worked together....Marrow whispered in my ear....Jeanette connected with the eggs; she was drawn to a different part of my body with each egg....the eggs worked their magic....and all others held space and assisted as needed.
It was a profound experience for me! Abuse in my past that lay buried and hidden surfaced. I left the experience absolutely knowing the action I needed to take from then on, and that if I did not act and follow through, the problem with my bladder would return.
Since then, I have come full circle. I am living my life "on purpose." I am grateful to Malidoma and the Dagara people, for bringing the medicine of the egg ritual to our Western culture. I am grateful to Marrow who carried the wisdom of this special ritual for many years and also to Jeanette for taking up the baton Marrow passed on!
~Holly Brown is an initiated elder in the Dagara tradition.~
Women's Mud Ritual in a
By Theresa Thomas
Arriving in the dark of night with our special cloths, the group of eight women from the West proceed to a wet area behind the compound. The air is still and warm, although much cooler than the daytime highs of 120F. The full moon's light bathes the compound in a washed-out, otherworldly light---the veil between here and there is evident.
As customs dictates, the eldest woman leads the ceremony and we learn that a mud ritual cannot be held without her permission. She is small and bent over. The other women from the compound work to prepare the mud to the right consistency.
In turn, we step forward and remove our cloth wraps. The mud is applied in a prescribed order---the ritual cleansing continues and, I surmise, there is so much cleansing needed that others step in to assist the elder. The mud is applied first on the front of the body, then on the back. I am there for a long time and it registers that the ton of "stuff" I carry is being washed away, with some effort and persistence. It is a big job. I hear some laughter!
We are then washed off---the water that was carried for us to be cleansed is not a small amount. We stand in a circle as another application of mud, smaller amounts in particular places, is applied to each woman. A cord is tied around our neck. We are to sleep like this and the dreams and messages will come and go.
The next morning we wash each other off and remove and bury the cord. Although the ritual is finished, it feels as though much more is still happening---layers are falling away. For me, there are no words, only tears.
A few days later, two of us return with the gift of our cloths from all eight of us. It feels as if more has been done on our behalf and that this was a huge undertaking by the women of this compound. I feel very privileged to have been part of this ceremony.
While we are there returning the cloths and visiting with the women of the compound, we learn a bit more about the mud ritual: in the Dagara tradition, the women wear the mud and cord for five days (our schedule required a sped-up version). The ritual takes place at a women's gathering on the full moon or when a baby or husband dies. After the five days, everyone comes with beautiful fabrics and adornments for the woman. She is bathed and cleansed by the older women and then dressed in this beautiful way with layer after layer of fabric and bou-bous, by her father, brothers, and other males. A full-day celebration takes place, honoring the woman---a new day has begun. Ashé!
~Theresa, an initiated elder in the Dagara tradition, will lead a mud ritual at the Sisters of the Gates Women's Gathering at the East Coast Village in June. For more information, go to Calendar of Events at the East Coast Village website.~
|Participants in Women's Mud Ritual, Dano Burkina Faso|
March 1, 2010
Back row from left: Alexandra, Judy, Wendy, Sheila, Holly
Front row from left: Yetunde, Ann, Theresa
Q: People of varying ethnic and social backgrounds are forever drawn to the ways of indigenous cultures, absorbing spiritual practices from Native Americans, Asians, and Africans into their daily lives.
So I ask, what does it mean to be indigenous?
Is there an indigenous "way of being" in a culture dominated by western principles and structure? If so, should we abandon western ideals and practices in pursuit of an indigenous way of life? Should we seek to merge these two seemingly divergent world views? Or aim to be one or the other?
A: The advent of the New Age has ushered into focus a kind of spiritual renaissance in Western Culture that has in turn benefitted indigenous cultures. Once dismissed and suppressed as archaic and irrelevant to the manifest destiny of modern man, these cultures have all of a sudden made a comeback at the hand of the same culture that once vowed to terminate them. Part of this was directly the result of a gradual collapse of organized religions that left many people hungry for something deep to hang on to. Because indigenous spirituality and culture were never really dogmatized and because of their nature-based structure, their appeal became evident, particularly after these cultures were formulated in ways accessible to the linear Western mind by people who grew up in them. Doing so made their spirituality non-threatening, accessible, popular and, at times, quite fashionable. Westerners everywhere embraced indigenous ways of life sometimes with so much devotion that they surpassed the natives! In doing so, they made it look like the very culture that their ancestors destroyed has been coming back alive in them, and this much to the suspicion and sometimes objection of some natives. Consequently, it is relevant to raise the question as to what all this loving of the indigenous really means.
The term indigenous in this context signals the presence of, and calls attention to, an intrinsic core energy signature present in every human that mirrors the basic primordial and cosmological elements that predate humanity. In other words, if you look at the indigenous the way you look at genetics, it makes sense to say that one of these genes called indigenous is the gene that defines humanity. It is the one that carries the memory of a world in which human beings were once upon a time in harmony with everything on Earth. Harmony then meant the capacity to tune into the frequencies of all that is in such a way as to feel part of the organicity of existence---something similar to the universe depicted in the film Avatar. So, to be indigenous means to live like you remember your oneness with all that is and with everyone else. Indigenous does not just mean native of a place. It implies a different kind of consciousness, an awareness of our unity, of what connects us together. Modernity has mutated away from such ways at great cost to its people and now to the entire world. This is why its people are increasingly drawn to indigenous cultures and have no problem absorbing any practice as long as it is nature based.
So indigenous is a kind of connection that makes us one with Nature, Fire, Water, Earth, Mineral and the Ancestors. Inside such a connection is a being that shows deep respect and reverence to all that is. Once upon a time, a time prior to Newtonian time and the industrial time that ushered in consumer societies along with isolation, individualism, materialism etc., there was the indigenous who could smell the scent of the Earth and Nature, feel into the animal, and see the being that looks like trees. There was an open channel to the animal wherein humans could converse with them and other consciousness. There was a feeling of connectedness, a unity that forbid the sense of isolation, loss and illness. Losing this today is a sad thing. Hence the call to reconnect with that part of us that used to take all this in as a way of living. This is why being indigenous today is "cool" to an increasing number of Westerners.
Now the great questions arise: how do you do that in the Concrete Jungle? At first it feels like you don't because you can't. The Metropolis is the expression of the absence of Nature. It doesn't foster connection with the basic elements. Instead it cultivates stress and isolation. Western structure is clearly anti-nature. Its mechanistic commitment distances it from the core element. Should we abandon modernity and return to the old way or can we do that while uniting modernity with the indigenous? I think the answer is challenging us to a higher level of imagination in which we are expected to dwell more on connection possibilities and unity than on considerations that deepens the gap between modern and indigenous. The indigenous in everyone looks for harmony and unity in the cracks of divisions, tensions and disconnections. This implies being willing to take a stand, to be militant in the protection of human values by refusing to uphold dangerous aspects of our own culture.
In doing so, we are showing our indigenous. Because the indigenous mind thinks cosmologically and is mythological in essence, it has a way of knowing deep down that Alice in Wonderland has a reality frequency that can be tapped into. It knows that there is a spirit in the Mountain, in the River and that everything has life worthy of respect and reverence. It feels the echo of the spirit in the Water and feels the chills of being watched by an old tree. Such a mind is not linear, Cartesian. When everything is an emanation of spirit, even technological marvels are an expression of the same spirit.
This is what it means to be indigenous. In fact, the issue is not about becoming indigenous; rather, it is about honoring the indigenous in us. In a world that is suffering from increasing decay, the indigenous may be the way to the stability we all long for.
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)
March 30th--April 3rd Ojai, California
Beginning A New, Two-Year
Intensive Training Cycle!
"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.
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 two years.
A $550 deposit with Program Application is available from www.temenosofojai.com
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:
2128 Pico Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Full payment is due no later than at registration at each of the sessions.
For more information call 805-633-4624 or write to
email@example.com also see website
Santa Rosa, CA
March 23-27, 2011
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 & 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
Washington D.C. Metro Area. For more info & details, contact Kathy Sampeck @ 703.850.9311 or to write, click here
April 28, 2011
Healing Relationship with Our Ancestors Ritual Workshop
The Lodge in Berkeley Springs, West Virgina
for more info & details, contact Kathy Sampeck @
703.850.9311 or to write, click here
April 29-May 1, 2011
Washington D.C. Area. For more info & details, contact
Kathy Sampeck @ 703.850.9311 or to write, click here
May 3-5, 2011
Private Divinations @ CREATINGSPACE for Women
Park Slope area, Brooklyn, NY
May 12-15, 2011
An Intimate Talk with West African Shaman Malidoma Somé
A collaboration between CREATINGSPACE for Women & One Spirit Learning Alliance.
Friday, May 13, 2011, 7-8:30 pm
Location: One Spirit Learning Alliance
247 West 36th Street
(between 7th & 8th Ave. in NYC)
Advanced registration is advised!! To register, contact:
Susanna @ 646.623.2522 or email here.
This is a unique opportunity to witness Malidoma Somé's wisdom and hear some of his fascinating life experiences. There will be time for a Q&A. For more info, click here
To purchase tickets for this event, click here
"Healing w/your Ancestors" African Spirituality & Ritual
Malidoma Somé at Alternatives---Public Lecture
St. James Church
Piccadilly London, England, UK
for more info, see website
May 23, 2011 7pm
"Healing w/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 Shanah Rivers
Closing the Gap: Community, Ancestors, &
the Healing Power of Ritual with Dr. Malidoma Somé
Zen Mountain Monastery
Mt. Tremper, NY
COST: $700 (MRO Students: $500)
for more info & to register click here
June 13-15, 2011
Public Talk @ Mirabai of Woodstock
$25 advance tickets, $30 at the door
(stay tuned for more details)
June 14, 2011, 7:30 pm
Healing Relationships with the Ancestors:
Purifying Fire Ritual Weekend Intensive w/Malidoma Somé
Asheville, NC---click this link for more information
June 27-28, 2011
Write to info@AncestralEvents.com to
schedule an appointment.
MALIDOMA IN CENTRAL EUROPE 2011:
"Unsere Ahnen ehren"-To Honor Our Ancestors Workshop
Germany, NRW, near Krefeld
Friday, July 15---Sunday, July 17
Monday, July 18---Tuesday, July 19
For information and details contact:
Praxis für Kunsttherapie und Systemaufstellung
Am Eickerhof 78
Tel. 0049-(0)2151-579 428
mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ancestors Ritual Workshop
Slovenia (place will be announced soon)
Thursday, July 21---Sunday, July 24
Solvenia, near Ljubljana (25 km from the center of Ljubljana)
Monday, July 25---Wednesday, July 27
For more information call or contact:
Jozica Amadea Demsarhome 00 386 1 364 48 47
mobile 00 386 30 648 910
Special thanks to Theresa Thomas who lovingly encouraged and supported the focus of this newsletter and nurtured the vision! Also blessings and kudos to Deborah Torrance, Peggy Zamierowski, Allison Bishop, Theresa Sykes Brittany, and Holly Brown---your support and contributions to this issue are invaluable; thank you!
"...when women get together to make pottery, they are acknowledging that their ability to create is a part of nature's design, a part of their purpose. Before a woman participates in the work with clay, which is the earth, she will first gather the signs and images she has seen in nature, and she will bring these signs into the circle of other women. In the interest of producing something that is an extension of their wholeness, the women will begin by chanting and singing together, echoing one another. The work is not in the form of a production line, even though a production line would have yielded more than enough of these practical containers. Nor do the women work alone. Each person has clay. They are seated in a circle, and they chant until they are in some sort of ecstatic place, and it is from that place that they begin molding the clay. It is as if the knowledge of how to make pots is not in their brains, but in their collective energy. The product becomes an extension of the collective energy of the circle of women.
I have watched this process unfold countless times. The women can sit all day in front of two dozen mounds of clay, doing nothing but chanting---until the last hours when, in a flurry of activity, all kinds of pots come forth. Imagine a job where two-thirds of the time was spent chanting, and one third was spent in production! The product of work here, the pot, embodies the intimacy and wholeness experienced by the women over the course of the day. The women understand that it is necessary to reach that place of wholeness before they can bring something out of it."
The Healing Wisdom
Elders in Dagara Society
"The gender of the elder is important in maintaining the stability of a social community. Female elders, though they have the same qualities as male elders, are often more in demand because of their role as containers and reconcilers. In the village, everyone knows that a female elder is less likely to curse than a male elder. Moreover, it takes a female elder to undo a curse inflicted on someone by a male elder. No one can undo the curse of a female elder. If two people are involved in an argument and a female elder shows up, they will stop before being ordered to do so."
The Healing Wisdom
In many countries in Africa, the daily chore of collecting water is usually given to women and girls. Trips are made daily and often require walking several miles each way. They carry approximately 5 gallons (41 pounds) per trip and the average family needs 20 gallons of water each day for drinking, cleaning, cooking, and small crops. This means the trip must be made several times each day. Some women spend up to six hours a day carrying water. Many women's skeletons have been compressed under the weight, often leaving them in constant pain.
Theresa Thomas, an initiated elder in the Dagara tradition at East Coast Village in Cherry Plains, NY, gives a personal account of what she witnessed when she visited Burkina Faso in February/March 2010:
"Very few places are fortunate to have a well from which to draw their water. Where we stayed there was a well nearby. One day we returned from an overnight trip to find the water barrel empty. The young women carried water to fill the barrel. They came in procession from tallest to smallest, each with a container on their head, the tallest with a large bowl that held about 10 gallons, to the youngest who had a glass soda bottle filled with water on her head.
Another day, we were by a stream and women came walking from miles away to gather the water. Tall, straight backs, powerful necks and shoulders, and strong arms are required to lift and carry as much as 15-18 gallons of water on their heads. As the western mind-set forges its way into the indigenous ways, the women want to go to school, get educated and have a new way of life. How can the young women study when the supplying of water is so time-consuming?"
In addition to carrying water, women also collect firewood to use for cooking fuel and carry the wood home.
The Green Lady
~Malidoma describes his "breakthrough" in his first initiation assignment of trying to see the true nature of a tree.~
"The tree that I had been watching for so long was no longer there, and in its place was a beautiful green lady. I do not know if the tree became her, or if she stepped out of the tree, but this really doesn't matter. Where the tree had been there was now a figure that looked like a human being, in the shape of a woman, very tall, probably seven and a half feet tall. Her tunic was silky and black,and she wore a veil over her face, and when I looked again, she had lifted the veil, revealing an unearthly face. I call her the green lady because she was green, her skin was green. But the greenness in her had nothing to do with the color of her skin. She was green from the inside out, as if her body were filled with green fluid. I do not know how I knew this, but this green was the expression of immeasurable love.
"....As soon as she appeared I felt some sort of shock that enveloped my whole body. It produced in me a feeling of the type that I had never experienced before and that I've never experienced again. There was a magnetic pull toward her, and I don't know how I got there, whether I crawled or ran, but I found myself in her arms. It was a homecoming of utmost healing. I was sobbing as I had never done before, for I felt that I was in the hands of the ultimate divine being, hands that provided me the ultimate sense of acceptance and home that could never be denied.
I had no idea how long I was in her arms, but it felt like a long time. I had no intention of ending this embrace. Having finally gotten this feeling, this support, this love, I had the feeling that all we needed to do was just go home and live happily ever after. But then I realized that she was telling me she needed to go, and I needed to go too. Of course, that was not part of my plan, and as a result I found myself clinging to her. How could she go without me? I was with her, holding her totally in my hands, so I held her more strongly. It was then that a strange thing happened, which I have never been able to figure out, changing the softness of her feminine body into some kind of ruggedness that became more and more uncomfortable. With a pleading gesture I lifted my head to beg her to stay, and my eyes told me that I was hugging a tree. The feeling was very humbling. I felt at first that I had been deceived, yet my body and spirit felt very subdued, with an almost religious posture. I didn't dwell in the feeling of being tricked, because the strong feeling of the reality of what I had experienced was still present. I was bitterly disappointed at not being able to go with her, and disappointed that such a power and loving being had been turned back into a tree."
The Healing Wisdom
~When Malidoma was recently asked, "Why do you think the tree turned into a woman, rather than a man?" he replied, "Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that the gender of Nature is feminine!" ~
"I still have vivid images of the most recent birthing ritual I attended in my village. The young mother was in labor all afternoon and was walked around by a group of old women who chanted softly into her ear. The labor must have been very hard on the woman, since she did appear to be in great pain and uninterested in the singing. Yet the songs being sung to her were quite beautiful. They sounded like a litany involving genealogy; ancestors' names were uttered, one after another. Then the women chanted further, and I realized that everything was being said directly to the newborn. Among the most captivating statements were, 'You have come to a crossroads. The light you see in front of you is the light of the village that awaits you.' Another woman said, 'Run, run, run to the gate and do not waste time, because Mummy is in pain.' Yet another woman said, 'Our great mothers said the walk home used to feel exhausting. But when they found out what was waiting for them at home, they forgot the pain of homecoming. We have sweet grass and honey awaiting your arrival. Sweet bosom ripe with food and love in a hurry to be with you.'
At that moment, the laboring woman stopped her pacing. Everyone stopped along with her. The song shifted in theme. It went back to genealogy and stories of valor, then quickly turned into a song of identity. An elder was asking if the unborn remembered what was said a long time ago when he first came into his mother's womb. The verses were meant to be a reminder of the reason why he should be eager for birth.
For the entire afternoon and on until dark, five women gathered and walked with the mother, singing to her unborn all that time. At the time of delivery, the song stopped and the women busied themselves in other work. Meanwhile, children gathered close by, waiting for the big moment. That big moment came when the newborn screamed. Simultaneously, a loud noise bursting out of a dozen children like a tidal wave drowned the screechy sound coming out of the tiny mouth of the newborn. Then everything became quiet. One of the old woman said, 'That's a grandfather. Look how he stares at everything.' Mother and son were united on the spot and escorted into a dark room, where they would remain hidden for the next seventy-two hours."
The Healing Wisdom
| EARTH as our MOTHER|
"Nature teaches us how to suckle the great Mother Earth. Born out of her continuously fertile womb, the plants and trees are proud to show to us what the natural juice of our mother tastes like and how invigorating and empowering it is to rely on what she gives. Every person with a little spiritual awareness will recognize that Earth is our Mother. They will also find it easy to understand that nature is the most loyal child of Mother Earth. Where this is the case, such as in indigenous cultures, mothers are a true reflection of Mother Earth. They feed their children the same way that the earth feeds nature and us. Their children are constantly tucked to their body, sucking their bare breasts. This is how these children discover their intimate connection to the mother.
Similarly, the earth will never cease to be the mother, and we should never stop being her trusting children. In the context of our relationship with the earth, dependence is good. To deny our dependence on earth is to deny the mother, and to deny the mother is to deny the feminine. A mother whose job is not recognized will develop illness. I wonder if the epidemic of breast cancer is not symptomatic of the denial of the mother in Western culture. I wonder if people's attraction to synthetic food is not a denial of the real mother, the earth who brings forth food. I wonder if the mistreatment of the earth with chemicals, the sexual objectification of things feminine, and the mistreatment of women in general are not symptomatic of a deeply dysfunctional relationship with the mother."
The Healing Wisdom
Milk & Rope
by Peggy Zamierowski
~Honoring the journey of coming of age, maintaining the flow, & crone wisdom ritual~
Women go to the river
Women, bring all the women with you
The young and the old.
Bring a vessel of milk
Bring the rope with knots tied along
Each hold a knot
And sing and remember
Each hold each other and remember
How all are born
How women and men come to be
How women bring
How women bring
Sing of these things while you pour the milk
Along the rope,
along each hand,
Along each hand and
in the water
And rejoice and sing
And ask for blessings
And give thanks
Feel the water
sing with you
Feel the trees and plants and earth
Bring these blessings back to the fire
Where the men are beating the drums
And singing joyous of your return
~Peggy Zamierowski is an initiated elder in the Dagara tradition.~
The Red Dress
by Myra Schneider
My first reaction is:
I want it, can't wait to squeeze into a scarlet sheath that promises breasts round as russet apples, a waist pinched to a pencil, hips that know the whole dictionary of swaying, can't wait to saunter down an August street with every eye upon me.
But the moment I'm zipped in I can't breathe and the fabric hugging my stomach without mercy pronounces me a frump. Besides, in the internet café, where you can phone Tangiers or Thailand for almost nothing, fourteen pairs of eyes are absorbed by screens. No one whistles when I smile at boxes of tired mangoes and seedy broccoli heads outside the Greek superstore.
By now I'm in a fever to undo the garment and pull it off. And for all its flaws, for all that, it only boasts one breast. I'm overjoyed to re-possess my body. I remember hate holding in and shutting away. What I want is a dress easy as a plump plum oozing juice, as a warm afternoon in late October creeping its ambers and cinnamons into leaves, a dress that reassures there's no need to pretend, a dress that's as capacious as generosity, a dress that willingly unbuttons and whispers in the ear: be alive every minute of your life.
by Lucille Clifton
if i be you
let me not forget
to be the pistol
to be the madwoman
at the river's edge
be free or die
if i be you
let me in my
to ask my brothers
ain't i a woman too
if i be you
let me not forget to
trust the Gods
love my children and
The Divine Feminineby aJbishop
She waters gardens with light bucketspail sprout violets
saying "it only takes
She tumbles on
saying "it only takes
She caves fortresses
& crushes into diamondssaying "it only takes
She dances in little
slippers with a wand
making frost sculpture
saying "it only takes
She is Medusa Shiva
Lia Lilith and Kali
She is sex and a sprout
& propagating bacteriumsaying "it only takes
She is a tree
breaking a sidewalk
and calling that hope
saying "it only takes
She is drip dripping
saying "it only takes
I Wonder if She Knew
by David L. Weatherford
Did she know I thought about her when I woke up each morning, as I drifted to sleep each night, and most of the time in between; and that even when I was not consciously thinking about her, I continually sensed the presence of her love within me?
Did she know I used to sit and look at her as she slept, studying the tranquil beauty on her angel's face; and that I said little prayers over her asking that sweet serenity would always grace her countenance?
Did she know I admired the way she cared for her family, friends, and anyone in need, and accepted everyone without judgment or criticism; and that she was my role model for how to treat people?
Did she know she went to places in my heart and mind where no one had ever gone before; and that I exposed the totality of my self---the good, the bad, and the ugly---because I had such complete and utter trust in her love for me?
Did she know she was the best friend I ever had, and the bond between us had a depth and breadth that could not be severed by anything less than a mutual decision based on true love at it's most unselfish?
Did she know I loved her profoundly and unconditionally, not just for her loveliness, sexiness, or intelligence (all of which I adored), but more for the grace and goodness that defined her essence to me; and that I marveled at how animals, children, and adults (young and old) were drawn to her gentle warmth like flowers to the morning sun?
Did she know I thanked God daily for intersecting the winding roads of our lives so that my life might be forever changed by the touch of her spirit; and that I believed He sent her as an angel to love me, lift me, and lead me to a better place emotionally and spiritually?
And I wonder if she knows that I love her still, not less for the passing of yesterdays without her, but more for knowing what will be missing from all my tomorrows; and that it helps me, when I contemplate the harshness of life in this unyielding world, to remember that out there somewhere is a rare and precious soul---
and she loved me.
"I see a finely wrought chain of tempered silver, delicate yet strong, stretching back through time, reaching deep into the earth . . . A chain of women, each listening to each, being present to her as she waits for her self to be born, for her feeling values to come to form and to birth . . . Woman after woman after woman, being present, as each finds her voice."
A Circle of Stones: Woman's Journey to Herself