African Shaman Malidoma Patrice Som On Shamanism


Posted By Ina Woolcott

Malidoma Patrice Somé was kidnapped at 4 years old by French Jesuit missionaries, raised in their boarding school, and given a Western education. The missionaries were attempting to convert and train a legion of black Africans who might go back to their tribes and bring them to Christianity. He did not escape the missionary school until he was 20, by which time he had forgotten his native language, having been forbidden to speak it by the Jesuits. To be able to communicate with his people, he underwent a process of ‘relearning’. He took part in a month long Dagara initiation process. The Dagara believe we are all born with a destiny, and given a name that reflects that destiny. Malidoma means friend of the enemy. Malidoma believes it is his destiny to come to a western audience in friendship and tell them about his experience of being torn away from his people by westerners. His book, Of Water and the Spirit, is really an autobiography, and his attempt to describe his experiences. His life in the Jesuit school was not a pleasant experience – he describes it as a jail, he was repeatedly sexually abused by the priests there. Since returning to the Dagara, Malidoma has been initiated into the rank of elder within the tribe.

Malidoma holds 3 Master’s degrees and 2 doctorates from the Sorbonne and Brandeis University. He has taught at the University of Michigan. He conducts seminars and retreats in Oregon and throughout the world.

The words in the video are written by Malidoma Patrice Somé, and are read by Reid Baer.

‘Ritual is the most functional means by which archetypal energies are dealt with – indigenous people have been aware of that for eons. Ritual facilitates, and provides us with, a unique channel to access higher power. Certain issues don’t want to be resolved mechanistically. We don’t have to know how the power works, we just have to show up and let the higher forces deal with the issues. The trap we feel inside ourselves is removed once we enter into sacred space. The energies know how to push obstacles out.’

Maldioma’s website: :

To purchase Malidomas book, Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman, click below.

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