E-Village News
Responding to the Call of The Ancestors
October 2011
~Honoring Kontomblé~
Yetunde's Kontomblé Shrine in Dano
A Kontomblé Shrine in Dano, Burkina Faso

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     Approaching Grandfather's paala from the north came a strange group of beings, short red creatures who looked like humans.  They had pointed ears and were two feet tall at most, with genitals so long they had to roll them around their necks, and hair so long it touched the ground.  As they neared the crowd, Aunt Pony brought her hands to her mouth and mumbled fearfully, "Oh!  The Kontombili!"  Women hid behind their husbands.  Men lowered their heads, too frightened to run.  The boburo and healers stayed out of sight in Grandfather's room.

     Ignoring the crowd, these bizarre beings moved towards Grandfather's paala and gathered around it in a semicircle with an air of solemn homage.  My grandfather had told me many stories about these beings, but this was the first time I had actually seen any of them.  Though they looked tiny and helpless, the Kontombili are the strongest, most intelligent beings God ever created.  Grandfather told me they are part of what he called "the universal consciousness," but even though they are immeasurably intelligent, like us they too do not know where God is.  They come from a world called Kontonteg, a fine place, far bigger than our Earth, yet very difficult to locate in time and space.  They make their homes illusionary caves that serve as portals between our world and theirs.  When the boburo and healers in our tribe need their counsel, they perform rituals in caves to access the world of the Kontombili.
Drawing by K.Bradley Papier

     "The Kontombili live very long," Grandfather once told me. "They can live as long as they want, but they can die when they are ready.  We owe them most of the magic we know---and much of our joy....."

     Their sudden appearance at the funeral was an indication that they knew Grandfather very well, and were coming to pay their respects to a great leader.  Ignoring the people around them, they marched back and forth between the paala and the room where the boburo and healers were housed, as if participating in a ritual of mystic communication with the dead.  After a quarter of an hour, apparently satisfied, they marched off into the bush without addressing a word to anybody and disappeared behind the first tree they came to."

Of Water and the Spirit

Kontombili, The Little People of Wisdom in Dagara Culture!
How the Dagara Came to Brew Millet Beer

     One day one of our women met a Kontomblé when she was out in the bush hunting for dry wood.  He gave her a calabash full of a foamy liquid, and when she drank it, she was delighted.  She felt merry and wanted to sing.  When she asked the Kontomblé what she was drinking, he said it was dan, mad from millet grains. "I'm saying it, but I am not saying anything," the Kontomblé chanted:

For three days and two nights
let the grain soak in water
under firm ground.
I'm saying it
But I'm not saying anything.

On the third day bring the wet grain
into air below the sky
and let it rest
below a blanket of green leaves
for another three days.
I'm saying it
but I'm not saying anything.

Then separate the grains
one from the other, slowly
and let the sun dry them, slowly,
I'm saying it
But I'm not saying anything

Pound the dry grains
cook the meal for two days
and drain,
take the juice and add
some ferment.
Let it mix and foam.
I'm saying it
But I'm not saying anything.

When the juice is under a white foaming blanket
enjoy the whole of it.
I said it
But I didn't say anything.

     The woman went home and did as she was told, and since then we have dan.  Many other secrets were thus divulged to selected villagers in the same way.  Kontombili soon became the village consultants.  Day and night, they would wait in the bush, crossing the frontiers between the worlds under various disguises, waiting for humans to come to them.

Of Water and the Spirit
pgs. 69-70

Making Beer
Making Millet Beer----Photo by Sheila Evans

Meeting A Being From The Other World

     I have told earlier, in Of Water and the Spirit, my own rather dramatic experience as a small child in nature.  The vivid memory of a childhood experience that still follows me is connected with an experience in nature with a rabbit.  I remember that day when my mother took me along to fetch wood.  It is not uncommon to see women with a baby on the back tightly tied going into the bush to gather wood for cooking.  My mother tied me that way one of those days when she was going to the bush and of course, because of my liking for nature, when we got there she laid me down and I just took off.  The immediate habit was to go looking for live things and I would run after anything that was alive and try to catch it.  It so happened that in running from one bush to another, I came upon a rabbit, and that was a big thing for a child.  I could feel my heartbeat increasing and my adrenaline shooting, because I knew that it would be great if I could catch this little thing.  I wanted a really good hunting experience, and when the rabbit disappeared inside a bush, that increased my hunting instincts, for I knew that the rabbit was taking refuge in there.  I decided not to run, and I started walking slowly so as not to scare it.  The bush was made of lumps of grass, what you may call ferns, and I knew that the rabbit was going to be hiding in one of these.  I pulled open one and there was nothing there, I pulled open another and there was nothing there, and then there was only one left.
     I moved the last clump of grass, and I wasn't prepared for what I saw.  Instead of the rabbit, there was something extraordinary, like a doll, a doll about a foot tall of a human being, except that the doll was alive, sitting on something like a tiny chair.  But I wasn't interested in the chair, I was interested in the location where it was sitting.  It was above something more like a window, as though you were looking through a window seeing the sky of an immense world, except that the sky was below.  But the little man wasn't falling through this window, he was just sitting there.  I had been making a gesture to leap with all of my weight onto the rabbit, knowing that if I fell on it I would suffocate it, but this gesture stopped halfway down.  I was frozen by the sight that appeared in front of me.  Worse, the little being began to speak, telling me in a thin voice, "I have been watching you for a long time, ever since your mother started bringing you here.  Why do you want to hurt the rabbit, your little brother?  What did he do to you, little one?  Be friendly to him from now on.  He too likes the fresh air of this place, he too has a mother who cares for him.  What would his mother say if you hurt him?  Now go because your own mother is worried."

     At the time, it made no sense to hear this.  What was captivating to me was the fact that I was dealing with a person smaller than me, yet older than me, with a long white beard, sitting in the wrong place at the wrong time, talking to me.  Too many pieces of information, each requiring very careful attention, were coming into me, and I couldn't deal with all of them at once.  All I could notice was that the rabbit was still there, but it was behind this mysterious halolike window.  To me the view through the window looked like the sky, like the blue sky, and in it was something that looked like a cloud, but it was not a cloud.  Nothing was quite like what we normally see.  Everything looked as if it could be this or that, but there was always something missing to make it totally right.

     The truth of it is that I never made sense of what happened.  All I remember is that after the little man spoke I heard the sound of my name being called:  "Malidoma, please answer me!  Where are you?"  It was a familiar voice, the voice of my mother.  When I finally reconnected with her, it was late during the day, but we had arrived there in the early part of the day, about mid-morning.  I found myself wondering what had happened in that short period of time, which has encompassed an entire day.  My mother was breathless, as if she had been looking for me with much trepidation for the whole day.  I felt quite fine, and when I told her that I was running after a rabbit and I saw an old man and he told me that I shouldn't hurt rabbits she became panicked.  I couldn't understand why my mother wasn't as calm as I was, for I felt as though I'd only been gone for five minutes and she was acting as though I'd been gone for the whole day.

     When I said that I'd seen the old man she screamed that I'd seen a
kontomblé (which is the Dagara word for beings from the Other Side of reality, the world of Spirit).  I could not remember having heard about these little beings before.  This was good because I knew I would not have reacted the way I did.  All I knew was that I had seen a tiny man who was very old, and he told me not to hurt rabbits.  This was indeed my first serious connection with nature and the magic in it.  This experience allowed me later on to wonder what other things might be hiding out there in nature that we choose not to notice, or that we are not open enough to allow into the view of our consciousness.  Had I not encountered beings like them many more times as an educated adult and conversed with them while taping their voices with their permission for my own record, I think I would have dismissed my original experience as a kind of hallucination.  Even now, I still have one reservation about them:  it is the fact that they are not willing to show me everything about themselves, on the grounds that it will endanger me.  They think that certain mental conditionings---they wouldn't say which ones---that I have contracted abroad have weakened my psyche's ability to embrace the broader spectrum of reality that their world offers without severely impairing my sense of this world's reality.

     In Africa in general, and particularly in that region of Africa, no one is surprised when you talk about these beings that are very intelligent and very powerful who live in a dimension that is very close to our dimension.  I have, however, never again encountered them exactly the way that I did when I was so young.  My enduring reaction to this experience tells me that a lot more things exist in nature than that which our own sight is able to grasp, and these things can shape very strongly the way we see reality around us.  Maybe we would become candidates for some serious magic if we could enter nature with a little more curiosity, a little more openness, and even with a sense of quest, a quest to commune with and to be with a realm that is far more sophisticated than its physical ruggedness reveals.

     I still ask why that kontomblé chose to appear to me at that very time, at that age.  I can draw from this that the spirit of a little child radiates something that can easily interact with the energies of nature.  It may very well be that my experience with pursuing that rabbit intensified something in me that led to the opening of that very space.  That encounter has made me very aware of the existence of something behind the veil of nature that very likely keeps an eye on every human being.  It has made me wonder, every time I am walking in nature, about who is looking at me, who is observing me, and how many eyes are seeing everything that I do without my knowing it.  It has made me want to interact with these intelligences, with these beings that are so capable of noticing our human actions.  I have always been curious about what would happen if we were to go out into nature and find ourselves being welcomed by some kontomblé elf who shows up to us saying, "Thanks for coming into our world.  Let me show you around." 

The Healing Wisdom of Africa
pgs 40-43

Meeting at the Cave:  The Kontomblé Gateway
     A gateway to the Spirit World located in a cave was the technology that provided healing for one of my nieces.  My twelve-year-old niece had some strange illness that translated mostly in the form of visions and nightmares.  People thought she hallucinated.  I was in the village at the time and heard about a new healer in town. I myself needed to visit the healer for a problem that was brewing in my own life.  Having a moped at my disposal at the time, I decided to take my little niece on a ride to the healer's.  When we arrived, there was quite a crowd.  It was late afternoon.  He was in his consultation room.  I was told that we first needed to see him so that he could determine whether we needed to go to the cave or not.  I hoped strongly to be admitted to the cave.  So I was very relieved when he announced that both my niece and I needed to join the others for the journey to the cave.

     When we arrived there, it was dark.  The healer, who was the gatekeeper, came and disappeared into the dark mouth of the grotto without any flashlight.  He remained there for quite some time before coming out.  Standing in front of the cave, he made a long prayer, which was punctuated by noises coming out of the cave.  It was as if people were talking back at him, and things were moving very fast just inside the opening.  Eventually a faint light came out of the cave and settled there.  He turned around, and said, "They are here, just get in one at a time."  Almost half of the people declined the offer.  My niece's jaws were clacking with fear, and her knees were knocking against each other.  I encouraged her  to enter the cave because nothing bad was going to happen to her.  Meanwhile people entered the cave and came out with little packages in their hands.  My turn came, and I went in.  I was met by a tiny female kontomblé with rolling eyes.  She asked me to wait because she was going to get something at home for me.  Then she disappeared into thin air.  I was used to the kontomblé so I was not impressed.  Ten seconds or less later, she showed up smiling and carrying something in her baby hands.  She spoke a language I did not understand, but she was beckoning me to come closer.  When she put the medicine into my hands, I happened to touch her tiny fingers.  They were cold, not of this world.

     When I walked out it was my niece's turn.  I encouraged her one last time.  Hesitantly she walked in.  It felt like an eternity waiting for her because I could feel every bit of her fear.  I heard a screeching sound, and my heart stopped, then I felt very calm and content.  I knew my niece was okay.  When she came out, she had nothing in her hands.  Her face was beaming with joy.  She said she had met her friends, the very people she saw in her hallucinations.  They were happy that he had come home to them finally, and they said they were going to work with her.  She said one of them, a woman, took her on a ride on her back.  They went far into a beautiful landscape.  They were flying up and down hills and mountains while she kept telling her not to be afraid because this is her home.  And so she felt no fear.  She did not remember how to be afraid, it was so beautiful.  She was crying.  I felt her joy while we rode home.  The villagers understand that this special connection with the kontomblé and the Spirit World held by my niece is a gift, and she will have a mentor who will help her hold and develop this gift in a way that will be healing for her and the others in the village.

The Healing Wisdom of Africa
pgs. 76-77 
Connecting & Interacting with
Kontomblé in the West
      Before I ever even heard of Malidoma, about ten years ago a certain species started appearing to me in Dream Time, although none made personal contact with me.  Now I know it was Kontomblé.  When I was invited to participate in the Kontomblé Divination training, there was no thought process in my decision to go.  It was a foregone conclusion as soon as I read the first notice.  I needed to go.  I needed to be formally introduced to these beings who had been connecting with me for so many years.  Moment by moment, throughout the weekend training I gained a better understanding of Kontomblé.  Then, on Sunday morning, which happened to be my birthday, my Kontomblé stepped forward and introduced herself.  Interestingly, she is no one I remember ever seeing in Dream time.  It seems in Dream Time, I only saw male Kontombili but the female who stepped forward is clearly attached to me.  I hear her voice and she has shared her name with me.  She flits around, dances.  I've been so busy since my return from the weekend training that I haven't had time to get really acquainted with her, but I expect by the middle of next week, she and I will spend time together, getting to know one another better.     ~N.D. from Florida~


     I was introduced to Kontomblé through a divination with Malidoma, and soon thereafter found out that a Kontomblé Renewal event was happening at East Coast Village, in Cherry Plains, NY.  This was in October 2010.  I attended the event, had my Kontomblé shrine items activated, and brought them back home.  I gave them gifts of spirits and chocolate, spoke with them on occasion, and tried to attune myself to them.  I'd feel a vague sense of presence now and again, but nothing major.  After a year of this, I returned to East Coast Village to attend the Kontomblé Divination training this October.  During the training weekend I gained insight into how to better establish a relationship with Kontomblé.  I learned that rather than "asking" this otherworldly being for a relationship or guidance, I should instead call on Kontomblé to help with family, to help people in need, to help others with scarcity, fear, or paralysis.  So when I returned home from the training weekend, I began asking Kontomblé for help with issues in my family, with my friends and my community and I GOT FEEDBACK RIGHT AWAY!  Ideas were popping into my head left and right and I finally had some understanding of what Kontomblé wants.  I've leaned that they know how to help us, they are able to help us, and they just want to be shown what is in need of healing.     ~Ian from Oregon~


     I attended the Kontomblé Renewal event at East Coast Village last year.  My Kontomblé shrine items were charged and activited and when I returned home from the event, I made a nice little shrine dedicated to Kontomblé.  On this shrine I placed two sticks I got from Sedona, AZ a number of years ago.  Many months later an interesting thing happened:  I was in my home, downstairs and heard this amazing commotion upstairs.  Thinking I was alone in the house, I went to the base of the stairs and called up to see if others in the household were home that I hadn't been aware of.  No one answered, but the commotion ceased.  I didn't go upstairs at that time and continued with what I was doing.  Later in the evening, I went upstairs and the two sticks from Sedona, AZ that had been on the shrine were now about 2 1/2 feet away from it in the shape of a "V" pointing towards the shrine.  When I hosted Malidoma for divinations later that year in my home, I told him about the incident and he laughed saying, "What do you expect?  They [Kontombili] feel at home here!"

     Before going to the October Kontomblé Divination weekend, I went out to get my green coat to take with me.  I had left it lying in a flower basket outside the house.  I picked up the basket, with the coat inside it, and brought it all into the house.  When I removed the coat from the basket, I was surprised to see a large cowrie shell fall out of the folds of the coat.  I kept the shell and put it on my ancestor shrine.  I was told it was a gift.

     During the Kontomblé Divination training weekend, I lodged in a cabin on the grounds at the top of the hill.  There were two beds in the cabin, but I had the cabin all to myself, so I put my suitcase on the other bed.  On the last night I was there, I was awakened by the very same commotion I had experienced in my home upstairs last year.  It was pitch black and I couldn't see anything.  At first I thought an animal or two by the sounds of it had gotten in, but as the commotion continued I realized my kontombili were visiting.  Seriously, they were very loud and I fully expected to see my clothes and whatnot scattered everywhere.  I turned on the flashlight and felt I had to apologize for shining the light in their faces.  While my clothes were essentially as I had left them, a cowrie shell had been placed there and some of the Hershey kisses in the bag had been taken, leaving the silver wrappings nicely behind.  They wanted me to know they were there!     ~Patrice from Minnesota~   

Donations for the Dagara Cultural Youth Festival February 27-March 3, 2012
Parade 4
Photo by Robert Walker


      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.


     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. Box 82, Cherry Plains, NY 12040.  You can also go to our website and donate by PayPal.




Attn:  IAST Graduates & Participants
Burkina Faso Trip, February 2012
Photo by Judy Ivey
     Malidoma has schedule a trip to his village in Dano and to the city of Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, West Africa from February 6 through March 3.  This trip is focused on further studies of Dagara shamanic medicine, the culmination of our Indigenous African Spiritual Technologies, (IAST) two-year training sessions offered in the U.S. (and now Germany).  Therefore, this trip targets graduates and participants of the two-year training program.

     The fee is $3,500 per person (not including airfare).  For more information and details, write to info@malidoma.com

Upcoming Divination Sessions with Malidoma!
Malidoma with Divination Cloth---Photo by Ulli Bonnekamp

     Receiving a divination from Malidoma is a fascinating and powerful encounter with Spirit!  He will be available for private divination sessions in the following locations:
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, November 7-8


Ojai, CA, November 14-16

Negril, Jamaica, W.I. January 21-22 


For more information and to sign up for any location write to info@malidoma.com

Upcoming Events





Malidoma @ Boston University
November 1-2


Grieving Our Losses & Realigning with Our Gifts & Purpose 

Toronto, Ontario, Canada 

November 4-6

An Evening Talk, Friday Nov. 4th & Grief Ritual Nov. 5-6

with Malidoma Somé & Leslie Fell

Talk: $25*, Ritual, $295* (*see contact for more specific info on fees)---for more info, fees & sign up, contact Isabelle King at isig@rogers.com or call 416-400-1820


Private Divinations

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

November 7-8

for more info write to info@malidoma.com 


Private Divinations
Ojai, CA
November 14-16
for more info write to info@malidoma.com     

IAST-2nd Session

Ojai, CA
November 16-20
for more info & registration click here  

Malidoma @ Jackie's on the Reef
Negril, Jamaica, W.I.
January 16-20 
Cost:  $1,600 (does not include airfare) 
for more info contact Jackie Lewis at 718-469-2785 or jackiesonthereef@rcn.com 

Malidoma will also be available for divinations at Jackie's on the Reef, Jan. 21-22.  for more info:    info@malidoma.com 

IAST & Youth Festival, Burkina Faso Trip
Dano, Burkina Faso, West Africa
IAST-February 6-March 3, Youth Festival-February 27-March 3
for more info write to info@malidoma.com 


     I decided to do a little experiment of my own with "reality" versus "imagination" when I was home visiting my village in 1986.  I brought with me a little electronic generator, a television monitor, a VCR, and a "Star Trek" tape titled The Voyage Home.  I wanted to know if the Dagara elders could tell the difference between fiction and reality.  The events unfolding in a science fiction film, considered futuristic or fantastic in the West, were perceived by my elders as the current affairs in the day-to-day lives of some other group of people living in the world.  The elder did not understand what a starship is.  They did not understand what the fussy uniforms of its crew members had to do with making magic.  They recognized in Spock a Kontomblé of the seventh planet...and their only objection to him was that he was too tall.  They had never seen a Kontomblé that big.

Of Water and the Spirit
pg. 8