E-Village News
Responding to the Call of the Ancestors
November 2011
Photo by Ulli Bonnekamp

Malidoma Patrice Som�
Dagara Wisdom in Action
By Donna Strong
Awareness Magazine, July/August 2011, Volume 18, No. 4
Email: [email protected]
DCDagaraWheel2Malidoma Patrice Som� is a master teacher for our times.  For the past two decades he has been opening a trove of indigenous knowledge from the Dagara tribe as he offers unifying wisdom to Western people looking to reconnect with the richness of life when it is imbued with spirit and community.

     Malidoma has faced many daunting challenges since he was born into the Dano village of Dagara peoples living in Burkina Faso, West Africa more than fifty years ago.  He was only four when a French Jesuit priest abducted him from his village.

     Like countless other children from indigenous cultures around the globe he was sent off against his will to a school run by foreigners and forced to adopt other worldviews in order to survive.  Malidoma grew up with the confusion and conflict of living in a stranger's world.

     While his life has been quite complex, Malidoma has realized considerable life achievement in finding mastery in two very disparate worlds---as both an initiated elder Dagara medicine man, and a Western trained scholar with two doctorates, one from the Sorbonne and the other from Brandeis.

     The author of three books, his autobiography, Of Water and the Spirit, is an award-winning account of how he was able to unify his own divergent cultural experience.  By his own account, it is "the story of his initiation into two different and highly contradictory cultures."

     Having found his own purpose as a teacher who knows how to bridge from the subtle to the material realms, he is an effective diviner able to guide others to greater meaning and fulfillment.  His intensives and workshops offer people the opportunity to experience a deep healing of the psyche, through connecting and communicating with the physical world of nature and the unseen world of spirit allies and ancestors.

Donna Strong:  So I wanted to begin with a question about the work you do, bringing forth indigenous technology and spirituality through the intensives you are offering in Ojai.

Malidoma:  Oh.  It's very intensive. (Laughter.)  It's one of the most concentrated ways for me to try and cover as much as possible in the African Indigenous medicine which I refer to as indigenous technology.

     The intensive is actually a course that goes on chapter by chapter.  The first one called "Elemental," is basically an opportunity to understand the relationship between cosmology and ritual.  We end up doing the ritual as a better way of understanding this relationship.

     I just present it as is; that is to say the five-fold way of the Dagara incorporating five elements---fire, water, earth, nature, and mineral.  And although in the course of four days, we can't do all these rituals---they're very time-consuming ---at least we get to do the most important ones:  the fire, the water, and the earth.

     The second meeting is basically on ancestors.  This is a therapeutic subject matter in the West, reconnecting with ancestors.  We spend four days dealing with the dead, the lost one, the forebearers, and find a way to engage and interact with them in a way that provides a deeper sense of community, since from a Dagara perspective, it's hard to conceive of a community if we don't include the other worlds.

     The third session is centered on the subject of having conversation with the Other World, with a subheading, which is divination.  In the course of that, I remind people that since time immemorial, divination has been the human way to satisfy thirst for knowing the hidden.  From the Greek traditions of the diviner as a blind person who ends up seeing better than those with capacity to see; down to all these indigenous oracle readers who are always interested in coming across like the gatekeeper, with a capacity to peek into the Other World and report whatever they see.

     We get into Dagara divination prophecies, involving in this case cowrie shells, the shells from the ocean; which when put together form a certain kind of pattern that translates, or writes down what is going on with a person.  So divination becomes the opportunity for people to test this psychic awareness.

     In Dagara culture, not everybody's supposed to be a diviner but everybody's supposed to understand divination.  So in that case, those who have a calling all of a sudden find themselves really driven to the practice of it, whereas the others end up understanding its structure.

     The fourth one is mostly what we call talismanic medicine, my favorite of all the indigenous technologies.  The talismanic is the one that takes us into a deeper understanding of nature and the structure of the natural world, what is in there---the causality of nature and its capacity to transcend matter, as well as opening gateways to new dimensions.  All of that is encapsulated in the apparently 'chaotic' look of nature.

     So in this session, we explore at least the basics that consist of figuring out how to put elements from nature together to create a device capable of enhancing a person's energy as well as forming a protective shield around the person.  So that becomes the most exciting part, because in the end people make talismans for each other, and they even make talismans for their loved ones.

     The last session is usally celebratory.  We gather together to review all the things we've been through and just congratulate ourselves for having made it through.

Donna:  Because it is its own initiation, is it not?

Malidoma:  Yeah.  It is.  It is an initiation.  It allows for a kind of transition from one state, which is the mundane into another one, which is the otherworldly sense of reality; which, when incorporated into this mundane sense of reality, can add another dimension, allowing people to be more alert, more aware, and more perceptive.

Donna:  Do you find that people feel like they're living in a more meaningful way if they have that aspect added into their lives?  What have you noticed?

Malidoma:  Absolutely.  The most immediate responses I've gotten from people have always been how their lives have changed as a result of partaking in an event.  For instance, some people have found their profession, and this profoundly improved and deepened their life experience as a result of the indigenous components being brought to bear.

     Also, realizing this tool has helped people to understand certain realities in life that they didn't have an immediate way of deciphering or understanding, particularly challenges such as how to make sense out of a vision or a dream, an intriguing dream that has visited a person.

     This has helped people to understand ritualistically an issue that is presented to them, like a person in relational crisis, or a person who is also looking for an occupation in life as a way of sustaining themselves.  The list is expansive.

Donna Strong is a writer and spiritual midwife, helping others to birth more authentic aspects of themselves.  For more, visit www.donnastrong.com

(Stay tuned as the interview continues next month---PART II, E-Village News, December 2011 issue)
Malidoma in Jamaica!
January 16-19, 2012


     Malidoma will bring his workshop on Ritual and African Spirituality to Jackie's on the Reef, in Negril, Jamaica, W.I.  Jackie's on the Reef is a spa getaway for those who want to rejuvenate their mind, body and spirit through yoga, meditations, massages, and healthy meals.  This retreat is for those seeking to revitalize their connection with nature, magic, and community.


     Retreat Includes:  Breakfast & Dinner


                                            Fire, Water, & Ancestors Rituals

                                            Himalayan Singing Bowl Meditation

                                            2 Spa Treatments 

                                            Fireside chats & Stargazing

                                            Airport Transfers


     Cost:  $1,600 (does not include airfare)


     Payment Plan:  $600 by December 1st, checks, credit
                                       card, traveler's checks.  Balance to be
                                       paid in Jamaica.


     Contact:   Jackie Lewis

                          [email protected] (email) 

                          Jackie's on the Reef (website) 



Malidoma will be available for divinations at this retreat, Friday, January 20th through Saturday, January 21st!  For more info and to schedule a divination appointment, contact Yetunde at 407-574-5350, or email here

Attention:  IAST Graduates &Participants
Burkina Faso Trip, February 2012 

Processing Animals
Photo taken by Robert Walker

     Malidoma has scheduled 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 culmin- ation 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). 
Time is running out!!  If you plan to participate, write to
[email protected] as soon as possible! 

Donations for the Dagara Cultural Youth Festival, February 20-25, 2012
(revised scheduled date)

Fashion Show1
Photo taken by David Sprague

      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.


THANK YOU!!!    



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 16-19
Cost:  $1,600 (does not include airfare)
for more info contact Jackie Lewis at 718-469-2785 or
Malidoma will also be available for divinations at Jackie's on the Reef, Jan. 20-21.  for more info:  [email protected]

IAST & Youth Festival, Burkina Faso Trip
Dano, Burkina Faso, West Africa
IAST-February 6-March 3,
Youth Festival-February 20-25

for more info write to [email protected]

IAST-3rd Session
Ojai, CA
March 21-25
for more info click here

Private Divinations
Ojai, CA
March 26-28
to schedule an appointment write to [email protected]

Private Divinations & Fire Ritual in Woodstock, NY
April 18-22
Details will be forthcoming!

Malidoma in D.C. Metro Area
April 26-May 4
Details will be forthcoming!