City of San Francisco, CA.---
Modernity in the West!
Modernity & Tradition in Africa---
Side by Side!
|This month's newsletter features excerpts from a 1996 interview conducted by Virginia Lee of Common Ground On-Line, an online publication dedicated to resources for personal transformation. Here, you'll find critical insights for 21st century living as Malidoma discusses a wide variety of subjects, including Western society & indigenous values, Ancestors, magic, Christianity, education, etc.
Ambassador of the Ancestors:
An Interview with Malidoma Somé
by Virginia Lee
Common Ground On-Line
CG: What does Western civilization have to learn from African ways and what does Africa have to gain from the West? How can that relationship be healed from the ravages of colonization?
MS: You've first got to look at the two cultures as two sides of the same coin. Each side needs the other in order to be itself. The modern world is over-inflated with materialism, whereas Africa has suffered greatly from colonial imperialism. One of their major challenges is day-to-day survival, due to famine and ecological imbalance. In my village, I once heard a starving man say, "My hunger can be traced to someone who has overeaten somewhere." People in the Dagara tribe understand the balance of nature and they cannot see themselves as separate from the rest of the world. What they experience is the result of the opposite happening somewhere else. Consequently, the problem with the West is that it is too self-individualized, too narrow-minded; whereas, the indigenous world is too open-minded. What the Dagara tribe can give to the West is this open-mindedness, a rich spiritual tradition that can help Western people accelerate this process of discovering their life purpose. In return, Africans can benefit from the West's overflow of materialism, until it can at least match its spiritual riches.
CG: You talk a lot about the role of the ancestors in life. Would you explain why it is so vital and what you mean about "healing the ancestors"?
MS: We began this conversation by defining one's life purpose as a journey from the world of the ancestors. Needless to say, the link between our world and the other world is very tight. And to not pay attention to that truth is to set oneself up for a lot of problems. That's what I have noticed in my personal experience. People who only look to the future and never look back soon learn that the past keeps catching up with them in all kinds of ways. When I talk about healing the ancestors, what I am referring to is a level of relationship. Pay attention to the fact that the ancestors do exist, even if they are out of our sight. They are still present energetically, spiritually and otherwise. To not acknowledge them, to not even say a word to them is a form of denial, because we are them. So, the first step in the healing process is the recognition that they are there. And that they do take human form to come back here. This is what immortality really is. The human body is like the clothes that we put on. And when they wear out, we dispose of them. That's what we call old age and death. Then we come back with a brand-new outfit. The problem is that clothes can be so sophisticated that some people think that's all there is.
CG: Why do you think our indigenous American Indian culture was destroyed?
MS: I wonder why, because I don't think that progress necessarily has to entail severing ties with the past. In many ways, it was the same kind colonization that Africa experienced at the hands of the Europeans. At the pure core of indigenous life, there isn't much difference between one group of indigenous people and another.
CG: In terms of our evolution as a species, do you think we can ever recover this?
MS: We are bound to. If you look at Earth as a home, it is inevitable. Just as civilizations die and are reborn, there comes a time when our disconnection from the past is so bad that it forces us to change things, whether we like it or not.
CG: The Aborigines of Australia proclaim to be a race that is 50,000 years old, the oldest surviving race on the planet, yet it is on the verge of cultural extinction. Do you think that the entire earth is on the verge of irreversible self-destruction?
MS: No. What we call extinction is actually a self-reprocessing. Somehow indigenous culture as we know it is bound to shift into a new modality. Out of necessity, it has to face the sweeping effect of modernity. When I see people from the Western culture embracing indigenous ways, it is one of the ways to heal the negativity of the modern world. An indigenous person can no longer exist in a pure state, but it is possible to be in a modern body with an Aborigine soul. Then you will be able to change the world as it is. Unfortunately, this loss of indigenous culture is a tragic thing. It defines modern life as a systematic loss of knowing who we really are. And I wonder how much this sacrifice is really worth. Environmentally, we are reaching the critical mass, but that does not mean we have reached an apocalyptic moment.
CG: In the West, there are many prophecies about the Apocalypse, the Aquarian Age, whatever you want to call it. Are there any prophecies in African culture that parallel this?
MS: Yes, there are, but such things are not dwelled upon as radically as they are here. I know of some elders who claim that big chunks of the Earth are going to be claimed by water, and that earth that belongs to nobody is going to come out of nowhere. They also say that there is coming a radical moment of forced awakening. But all this does not mean human extinction. Rather, it means human transformation.
CG: Since you were virtually kidnapped by missionaries at the age of four, how have you synthesized the Christian tradition with the African one?
MS: Basically I've looked at it from the point of view of cosmology. Every culture sustains itself with some system of cosmology to satisfy the human need to associate with the divine, as well as having a supernatural framework to function within. The Bible, like the oral tradition we have in our tribe, is a set of Creation stories. But there is a significant difference in that Christian cosmology is characterized as dogmatic, patriarchal and somewhat limiting, whereas, the cosmology of the Dagara people leads to a spiritual practice that does not need dogma to support it. It leaves people alone to attempt to fulfill their life purpose with the help of their community.
CG: Having experienced both ways, what would you say is the difference between a matriarchal and a patriarchal society? MS: It is the difference between community and a lack thereof. The matriarchal path is essentially grounded in family. The individual is given collective attention, which is the essence of how a tribal community maintains itself. In a matriarchal society, there is no need for childcare, since the children belong to the whole community. Every home is their home. The difficulty for Western communities is that they are having trouble escaping the patriarchal system, which is based on competition and domination. Instead of nurturing, it isolates the individual in order to maintain control. It has very little feeling for another. Rather, it is more interested in consuming and dominating. But even the most patriarchal pundits are longing for some nurturing. They are trying to compensate with power. Ironically, the more powerful they get, the hungrier they become. CG: Is it possible to have a society that integrates the two
? MS: In many ways, that is the goal of modern life
. CG: Would you talk about the role of magic and the supernatural in your life? MS: Spiritual life in the Dagara tribe is grounded in the magical. Everything that happens in everyday life is measured by the yardstick of magic. Every kind of phenomenon is seen from the perspective of magic, or lack thereof. To the Dagara, it's not "magic," it's just a natural part of life. But it can only happen under a certain set of circumstances. Magic is what provides excitement in life. Here, people get excited by going shopping or going to the movies. There, people get excited by associating with the supernatural. To tell you the truth, it is extremely exhilarating to find yourself facing up to the other world while still in your logical consciousness. Magic allows other alternatives to be examined. It is inclusive rather than exclusive. And it releases you from a reality where two plus two always equals four. Once you accept the magical dimension of life, it shows itself in a very friendly way. CG: Do you have to believe in magic in order for it to work?
MS: If you define magic as an energy unto itself and you regard belief in the same way, then it is energy plus energy that creates reality. It is your conditioning that allows magic to exist. Once you immerse yourself in a certain vibrational context, it stays imprinted in your psyche for life
. CG: Can a skeptical person experience magic?
MS: I'll tell you a little story. Once a skeptical person visited my Dagara village because he had heard about some of the magical things that happen there. He set out to prove that it was all mumbo jumbo. But when he came face-to-face with magic, he screamed aloud that it was not real and not possible -- all while he was running away. Skepticism is like concrete in front of a raging river
. CG: What is a kontomblé? Is there anything like it in Western culture?
MS: In Western stories, I have heard them referred to as leprechauns. When you see them, they have a reddish glow. They are friendly, but most people are afraid of their power. My sister has about seven of them around her. I guess they are like guardian angels. The kontomblé can do all kinds of fantastic things that challenge human understanding and fill an individual's life with beauty. That's their purpose. They are the ones that make the magic happen and teach people how to enjoy this dimension of life.
CG: How can Westerners use magic in a society that is dominated by Christian tradition and the scientific method?
MS: Ironically, the mythology of Christianity has been able to fulfill the craving of the human psyche for the magical. But magic has been made into something evil. Because modernity is so heavily founded upon Christianity, it is at a loss as to how to incorporate a magical dynamic. What must take place is a severe editing of Christian dogma in order to make space for open-mindedness. I would also suggest a little more flexibility to leave the door open for alternative energies to come in. But it will be hard to get groups like the Christian fundamentalists to agree to this. The Devil is what keeps them in business.
CG: Is there anything like the Devil in African religion?
MS: No, unfortunately. There's just positive and negative energy and all negative energy is all self-manufactured. So, people have to take responsibility for their negative energy. For example, the kontomblé only look evil if you exude negative energy, because they are simply mirroring it back to you. If you are scared, they look ugly.
CG: In African culture, does magic have anything to do with witchcraft? Why does Western society fear it so much?
MS: There is nothing terrifying about witchcraft. In fact, it reflects a deeper understanding of the fabric of nature. But because these people were in touch with something that was so powerful, they could not be controlled -- which is why they were persecuted. They were a threat to the establishment that Christianity was the sole proprietor of. This was the real reason for all the negative propaganda about witchcraft. Other than that, witchcraft is the most sophisticated and scientific aspect of spirituality. Witches understand how one energy plus another energy can produce a third one, how a plant can be used as an ally in healing, and how one world can crack open as a result of an energy dynamic in the other. In the Dagara tribe, people aren't bothered much by witches, because people understand where they're coming from.
CG: Will you return to the Dagara tribe in your later years?
MS: That is my hope. It is hard to go into a deep, energetic meditation while trapped in the Western world. I have most of my visions when I go back to Africa. The context lends itself to this kind of insight. In the US, I have found this kind of vibration in the high desert of the American Southwest and in the Rockies. New Mexico and Arizona are a bastion of spiritual power.
CG: School was something that you had to master in order to be who you are today. How important is an education and is it something that everyone needs?
MS: I believe that because of the growing complexity of this world, without education, you limit your ability to fulfill your purpose in life. It is not that education is necessary for the development of the self, but it is vital in order to function in the world. I am sure that there are many Africans who know more than I do, but you have to be able to explain things from a modern, logical standpoint in order to make sense. People don't believe you unless you have a credential. The reality of modern life is that you have to go to school in the interest of your life purpose.
CG: In your book you describe how you used your ability to see auras to help you succeed in school. Have you always had this power or is it something you developed?
MS: I've had to figure out a way to make it work for me through trial and error. It doesn't come with a manual. In essence, reading auras is the realization that thoughts and feelings have a vibrational signature to which you can attach meaning. You can see an aura like a book. Once your curiosity is oriented to interpreting the spectrum of vibration, then you begin to understand what it means, like learning a language. I was never aware of this ability until I completed my initiation when I was 20. This kind of powers seem to awaken when you are at a point in life where you can handle it.
Virginia Lee was Associate Editor and served on the Editorial Board of Yoga Journal from 1980-85, and has been widely published in magazines ever since. She is a regular interviewer for Common Ground, and has also written two books: The Roots of Ras Tafari published by Avant Books of San Diego in 1985, and more recently Affairs of the Heart published by Crossing Press of Freedom, CA in 1993. She currently works as a freelance writer in Santa Cruz, CA.
-From Common Ground Fall 1996
If you're interested in reading the entire interview click here
Q: Does Dagara culture use drumming and dancing to access the realms of spirit and the other world?
A: To access a realm that permits a certain healing to occur either communally or individually? Yes, if it is something that is happening in an initiation context, but when you go to the cave of the Kontomblé, which is the entrance or gateway to the other world---their world, for instance, you don't use drumming and dancing.
For example, my cousin who is a gatekeeper in the village was taken away when he was only two weeks old. Nobody knew where he was until he was six years old---he came back at dawn one morning accompanied by three-headed serpents, and animals with double heads, and all kinds of wild things. People vacated the house when he arrived! But ever since, he speaks a language of that side so that when he takes you to the cave, he doesn't speak Dagara to open the gates; he speaks a kind of weird language, it's their language, the language of those animals that came with him. These are the Kontomblé: they take on any shape they want. Consequently, if you go there with him to the gate, there is no drumming.
However, if there is a funeral ritual going on in the village, there's drumming, dancing, and music for 72 hours nonstop. It goes on day and night. The same thing goes for any kind of communal rituals, but to use specifically dance and drumming in order to enter a different realm, that is to say those concrete realms---that doesn't happen.
The other world is not something imaginary, and it's not something you feel inside. It's something you experience with your consciousness as you have it now. The only thing you feel is that you're scared to death! You're so scared that you're not scared any more! It's like you walk in fear to the other end of it. You feel like this isn't happening, like someone is tricking you, and you continue to feel this way until it's over and you've returned to our side of the world. But then you will repeat it over and over and you will find that it doesn't change a bit; it's the same thing. Music doesn't intervene in it in every case, except when it is a communal thing, especially initiation.
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.
Malidoma in Deutschland (NRW)
WE-Seminar in D-Sonsbeck 15.7.-17.7.
Divinationen in D-Krefeld 18.7.-19.7.
Praxis für Kunsttherapie und Systemaufstellung
Jutta Enders-Ogbeide, Am Eickerhof 78, D-47800 Krefeld
"Unsere Ahnen ehren"
Jutta Enders-Ogbeide, geb.1962, Feuerfrau:
"Als erfahrene Familienaufstellerin weiß ich um die Wichtigkeit der
Würdigung unserer Vorfahren.
Von ihren Errungenschaften leben wir heute. Denken wir an ihre schweren Arbeitsbedingungen, an ihren Kampf um demokratische Strukturen.
Aber auch daran, wie sie sich gesund erhielten durch die Naturkräfte und wie sie ihre Gemeinschaften pflegten durch Feste und Rituale, wie sie Volksweisheiten in Märchen weitertrugen.
Diese Ahnen schauen mit Liebe auf uns und freuen sich, dass wir leben.
In indigenen Gemeinschaften gehörten die Elemente, die Naturgewalten im weitesten Sinne auch zu den Ahnen: Berge, Steine, Kristalle, Metalle;
Flüsse und Meere; der Wasserkreislauf, Pflanzen und Tiere, der Jahreszeitenwechsel der Natur; das Feuer, der Magmakern der Erde und
die "Mutter Erde" selbst - alle wurden als hilfreich und tragfähig erlebt und ein respektvoller Umgang mit ihnen war unumgänglich und lebenserhaltend.
- Wege finden zu unserer eigenen Identität und Lebensaufgabe
Was ist der Sinn unseres Lebens?
Wer sind wir, wenn alle Rollen, die wir repräsentieren abfallen?
Was hat die Vergangenheit mit unserer Zukunft zu tun?
Wie gehen wir heute mit unseren "Ahnen" um?
Wie können wir nicht nur über-leben, sondern das Leben freudig feiern?
"Liebe und Anteilnahme wachsen in dir.
Das schöpferische Feuer,
das dich Ausdrucksmittel für Liebe und
Anteilnahme finden lässt, wächst in dir.
Feuer schmelzt und löst das Starre;
Lass zu, dass das Feuer der Liebe mit dir dasselbe tut."
(Malidoma Somé: "Die Weisheit Afrikas")
Anmeldung bis 1.7. unter:
Tel & Fax: 02151 / 579 428 www.enders-ogbeide.de firstname.lastname@example.org
Vom Geist Afrikas
Wir freuen uns, Ihnen ein zweijähriges Training mit fünf Terminen von jeweils 5 Tagen mit Malidoma Somé, PhD anbieten zu können.
Unser Zentrum liegt idyllisch in einer hügeligen Wald-Parklandschaft, die die heilende Kraft der Natur erleben lässt und sich sehr gut für die Arbeit mit den Elementen eignet wie sie . von Malidoma Somé angewendet wird.
We are lucky, to offer a two years training with 5 dates lasting 5 days each with Malidoma Somé PhD to all friends. Our Center is lying in the beautiful landscape of the Lüneburger Heide and it's a nice place to work with the elements as Malidoma does.
Erster Einführungs-Termin /First dateDi/Th 11.10. 19h bis So/Su 16.10. 2011 12h
Divinationen am 17.10. und 18.10.2011 (extra registration necessary)
Kostenbeitrag/charge: 750 EUR je 5-Tages Kurs / for five day-course
Kostenbeitrag/charge: 260 US-Dollar für eine Divinationssitzung/ for one divination
Caduceus Zentrum Karin Püscher-Findeisen
Niendorfer Weg 5
29549 Bad Bevensen
Tel.: 05821 477 129
Fax: 05821 477 130 e-mail: email@example.com
"Healing w/your Ancestors" African Spirituality & Ritual
Malidoma Somé in Residential Weekend Workshop
Hawkwood College, near Stroud, (in the Cotswolds Hills)
Gloucestershire, England, UK
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
June 13-15, 2011 email here to schedule an appointment!
Public Talk @ Mirabai of Woodstock
$25 advance tickets, $30 at the door
(stay tuned for more details)
June 14, 2011, 7:30 pm
Malidoma @ First National Brazilian DMP Conference
by Woolger Institute for Psyche & Spiritual Traditions
for more details click here and here
Registration opens April 1st.
Mark Wentworth, European Representative
Lisbon (351) 191602 6373
London (44) 07949-282384
Erica Weick, USA & Canada Representative
Maryland (410) 777-4699
Roger J. Woolger, PhD., Director
New York 001-845-255-0516
Paris (33) 6-37-39-61-18
London (44) 7901-526-034
Salvador, Brazil (55) 71-9185-8605
MALIDOMA IN CENTRAL EUROPE:
Healing Relationship with Ancestors Public Lecture
Thursday, July 7
Exact location tba. Details will be forthcoming!
Healing Relationship with Ancestors Fire Ritual
near Zürich, Switzerland
Exact location tba. Details will be forthcoming!
Dietikon, near Zürich, Switzerland
for more info on Malidoma in Switzerland contact:
tel: ++41/44/742 20 82 (home)
++41/44/742 20 83 (office)
"Unsere Ahnen ehren"-To Honor Our Ancestors Workshop
Germany, NRW, near Krefeld
For information and details contact:
Praxis für Kunsttherapie und Systemaufstellung
Am Eickerhof 78
Tel. 0049-(0)2151-579 428
mail to: email@example.com
Ancestors Ritual Workshop
Slovenia (place will be announced soon)
Solvenia, near Ljubljana (25 km from the center of Ljubljana)
For more information call or contact:
Jozica Amadea Demsar
firstname.lastname@example.org 00 386 1 364 48 47
mobile 00 386 30 648 910
Bad Bevensen, Germany
Caduceus Klinik website
Bad Bevensen, Germany
AND BACK IN NORTH AMERICA:
Connecting with the Elements Ritual in Nova Scotia
held at Camp Harris, near Dartmouth
Earl Bird: $1,100 with $300 deposit by May 15th
Checks & money orders payable to:
33 Dingle Road
Halifax, NS B3P 1B1
PayPal payments (add 5%), i.e. $315 to
for more info email here
to sign up, contact Betsy here
Ritual: Power, Healing & Community A Public Talk with Dr. Malidoma Somé
Wednesday, August 17, 7-9 pm (Registration @ 6:20 pm)
Advanced Tickets: $25 Regular
Fire Ritual Registrants: $15
To buy online, click here or
Cash at Wonderworks, 79 Harbord St.,
Toronto, M5S 1G4, At the Door: $30 Cash only
The Mitchener Institute, Auditorium
222 St. Patrick, Street, Toronto ON,M5T 1V4
(1 block N of Dundas and 2 blocks W of
University Ave., close to St. Patrick Subway Station)
Ancestors Fire Ritual near Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Location: The Ecology Retreat Centre, Orangeville
Fee: $350 Early Bird, $410 Regular, click here to register. Contact Leslie Fell for more info at 416-231-4815 or email here
Registrants must in addition, contact the retreat centre to book their
lodging (or tenting) & meals BEFORE fee deadlines.
Ecology Retreat Centre, Hockley Valley, Orangeville, ON
The Healing Wisdom & Medicine of Africa:
Teachings & Messages with Malidoma Somé,
Mandaza Kandemwa & Leslie Fell __
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
For info & registration info go to:
www.ecologyretreatcentre.com/retreats.htm Click here to register. For questions, contact Leslie Fell at 416-231-4815
or email here
Santa Rosa, CA
August 29-September 1
for more info write to email@example.com
Appointments will be scheduled in mid-June.
Ancestors Ritual in Ojai, CA
Fee: $455 (includes meals) $250 deposit by Aug. 2nd
Payment in full by Aug. 26th
Make check payable to Tudor Marinescu & mail to
2128 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405
for more info click here or call (805) 633-4624
Malidoma @ 27th Annual Minnesota Men's Conference
Camp Miller, Sturgeon Lake
for more info see website and contact:
Craig Ungerman @ 860-923-6987
mobile phone number: 860-942-1658
for more info write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Appointments will be scheduled in mid-August
Private Divinations @ East Coast Village
Cherry Plains, NY
for more info write to email@example.com
Appointments will be scheduled in mid-August
East Coast Village (ECV) Annual Event
Cherry Plains, NY
September 28-October 2
(Details will be forthcoming)
Healing Relationship with Ancestors Fire Ritual at Blue Deer Center
Fee: $400. To register, call 845-586-3225
or click here for more information
Claiming Our Roots~Embracing New Growth:
2011 U.S. Systemic Constellations Conference
San Francisco, CA
for more info & registration click here
The African...conceives the world, beyond the diversity of its forms, as a fundamentally mobile, yet unique, reality that seeks synthesis...sensitive to the external world, to the material aspect of beings and things...to the tangible qualities of things---shape, color, smell, weight, etc...(he) considers these things merely as signs that have to be interpreted and transcended in order to reach the reality of human beings...This reality is being in the ontological sense of the word, and it is life force. Thus, the whole universe appears as an infinitely small, and at the same time, an infinitely large, network.
~Léopold Senghor, 1906-2001~Négritude: A Humanism of the Twentieth Century, 1970