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The Indigenous Spirit Technology of the Dagara Tribe

africa divination elemental pathway elements giftandpurpose indigenous shaman spirit Mar 26, 2024


In the Spring of 2012, I embarked on a journey, somewhat of a spirit quest into an Energy Healing Apprenticeship Program, to become certified as an energy healer. During this year long immersion, I came across an article about Mental Health, from an Indigenous Shaman of West Africa, Malidoma Patrice Some.' 


Now Malidoma, was not and is not your average everyday walk in the park Shaman, his name literally means "make friends with the enemy/stranger." I followed Malidoma through google, purchased his books, trying to figure out HOW I was going to connect with him. It was a Vision Quest for me, initiated by the World of Spirit. 


Finally, in the summer of 2016 Malidoma arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah. I had no idea what I was in for. However, I knew he was the ONE. My connection to the Other World has never let me down, except when I don't listen to it. At this juncture, I went right up next to him with his books, and announced, "I have been waiting for you for a very long time." He giggled his sweet little giggle. "OH, you have, have you? Okay then." He signed all of his books, and that is where it All Began. 


After his lecture, I then drove up into the Uinta Mountains for Ritual, a Grief Ritual. If you are new to the customs of the Dagara and Ritual, ritual is food for the soul, it is medicine - it is part of the Dagara everyday tradition, culture - the Indigenous Technologies, the Otherworldly Medicine Cabinet. We in the West, have lost our connection to the world of Ritual, Our Ancestors, Community - we literally have lost our way, or are waiting to stumble upon it.


I dove into the Indigenous Spirit of African Technologies, exploring the Magic, the Medicine, the Shamanic Practices of the Dagara Tribe, beyond the elementals. After being immersed in Ritual, a grief ritual at that, I then was gifted an opportunity for a "Cowry Shell Divination," with Elder Malidoma. Now Cowry Shell Divination is an Art of Divining brought to the West by Malidoma, living his Gift and his Purpose. 


I won't go into the intricacies of my divination with him, I will say - he was stunned that I have spent most of my life in Utah, and also that - most of my life has been in the "Other World." The World of Spirit, Source, the Ancestors - what humans would experience as a Dream State and Shamans as a trance state, being a conduit - a Spiritual Messenger.


I was given several prescription rituals, that needed to be done immediately, and were also going to be a difficult task. Five years of Rituals done at specific times, and junctures. I continued my connection with Malidoma, to become a steward - a Certified Cowry Shell Diviner, a Seer to the Unseen. 


You see, I spent ten years in Ritual space with Malidoma, the ancient wisdom of his teachings, going beyond the Art of Cowry Shell Divination. Heading to Burkina Faso, West Africa, his village in Dano, - the Dagara Tribe in January of 2020. I am truly blessed to be a protege' of his medicine, his wisdom, his voice - beyond words at this very juncture of writing this.


The Dagara Cosmology is one of the Elementals. The five elements of fire, water, earth, mineral and nature - the essentials to the Dagara Cosmology, their and his story, history - indigenous culture. 


A medicine wheel is the basis of the cosmology and the elemental rituals of the Dagara. I play with the elementals, bring in the Chinese Four Pillars, along with the Stars - the Galaxy. The Elementals have a much deeper meaning, than I can express. 




Fire is the first element in the Dagara cosmology. We come from the spark of fire. The most potent connection to the world of spirit, the ancestors, source, dreams, visions. Fire places us back to our origins, returns us to our path of spirit, by consuming that which stands between us and our purpose. It is the Original element, to which all the things return. This is the state that our Ancestors are in. The reason that Shamans fit in this category is because they live in two worlds. A fire person lives in the future, often finding the average person to be too slow. Often seen as impatient (Mars). If a person or even a community, or culture forgets their connection to the Other Worlds, they may rush forward head first into destruction. Fire culture is a warring culture. The opposing force to Fire within in a Fire person is also translated to warmth, a gentle flame that often keeps a community aware of its relationship with many Other Worlds.





Transitioning from Fire, we immerse ourselves in the Waters of the Womb, where water symbolizes sustenance and birth. It offers us cleansing, reconciliation, purification, inner peace, and the foundation for peace. The Elders teach us that water originates from the Other World, spilling onto Earth when the veil between the two realms thins. We are all offspring of Water, the "water of life," indispensable for purification and vital for our spiritual journey. It grants us tranquility. Pollution, on the other hand, represents the byproduct of human denial, with denial itself being a metaphorical river. Tears serve to cleanse us of our shortcomings, carrying our ancestors to the other world, signifying that our soul has perceived something profound.




Upon our birth, we are welcomed into the realm of Earth, entering into physical form. Earth represents the central element, embodying the nurturing mother calling us to find our place within the community. It is on Earth that we discover our identity and sense of belonging, understanding both who we are and where we fit. Earth symbolizes the maternal embrace, offering a home to every being. Those who embody the spirit of Earth are caretakers, reminiscent of grandmothers, who desire for everyone to feel nourished, satisfied, respected, and loved. Within the Dagara culture, it is the men who construct the physical framework of homes, while women infuse these structures with life and vitality.




Mineral, as an element, beckons us not only to recall but also to share our narratives, to voice the memories etched within our bones. It connects us to the ancient wisdom we bear, akin to an ancestral tome of knowledge, like a grimoire. This element, this energy, enables us to access the memories stored not in our brains, but in the very structure of our bones, suggesting a form of memory beyond cognitive processes. In Western culture, there's a saying, "I felt it in my bones," capturing a sense of deep, intrinsic understanding that transcends logical reasoning.

Consider the example of Silicon Valley, where the essence of stones is harnessed and embedded within our technological memory devices, acknowledging on some level that stones have always been custodians of information. This modern fascination with the internet might indeed stem from a broader quest to bridge a significant memory void. Unlike the outward-looking approach of contemporary societies, indigenous cultures seek wisdom from within.

Those who resonate with the Mineral element are the storytellers among us, blessed with the ability to articulate and share. Their contribution to society is the act of re-membering, using words and stories to reconnect us with our origins and purpose, reminding us of the interconnectedness of all things.




Nature beckons us towards authenticity and truth, urging us to embrace change and transformation, often as a means to avert chaos and turmoil. In the realm of Nature, we are under constant observation. Nature is dynamic, embodying perpetual motion and evolution, mirroring the ceaseless change inherent in our own lives. It encompasses the flora and fauna, the diverse terrains that paint our world, positioned in the east, in contrast to the minerals of the west. Nature invites us to open our hearts to transformation, to the enchantment we seek and our fascination with the mystical.

The elevated terrains act as conduits, capturing and disseminating messages from distant realms. Waterways serve as conduits to the netherworld, carrying these messages into the depths. Conversely, barren and flat terrains emit a swift, potent energy that can pose risks to those alone, making these spaces the domain of only the most seasoned healers and spiritual guides during the cover of night.

In dense forests, the trees offer protection to humans from the supernatural, creating a barrier between the worlds. Yet, as night descends, these towering guardians release a mysterious energy that can influence both the mind and body. This positions the savannah as an ideal sanctuary for the Dagara people, nestled between two intensely energetic forces, offering a natural haven of balance and safety.


I've realized that both indigenous and Western communities are offspring of the same Spirit, residing together in the home we know as Earth. The strained dynamics between modern and indigenous societies reflect a deep-seated yearning to express mutual love, a yearning so potent that it endeavors to navigate through the debris of division, power struggles, and fear to manifest itself.


During his time at the colonial school, Malidoma was taught that the healing rituals performed by his people were considered evil. Yet, he observed numerous ailments that the local infirmary couldn't address, which were effectively treated by the Dagara Healers. This led him to question whether actions that saved lives could truly be deemed devilish or satanic. Despite being instructed that tribal people lacked an understanding of magic and were merely superstitious, Malidoma's experiences suggested otherwise. He witnessed the Dagara people perform acts that defied explanation, such as making objects appear and disappear, and he encountered beings from the Other World in tangible form. His introduction to the Kontomble', spirits of the wild who provided comfort to those in need, further challenged the notions promoted by the schools. These experiences starkly contrasted with the theories propagated in his educational environment.


The Western concept of time consistently troubled him in a culture where a sense of timelessness prevailed.


The three elements that are the Vitality of the Indigenous World are Healing, Ritual and Community.


Discussing ritual involves the intricate blending of individual talents and gifts that engage with the natural world's forces. It's about assembling individuals who share a distinct vision for healing and possess a trusting attitude towards the Invisible World's powers.


During a ritual, one becomes acutely aware of the energy currents, so potent that we find ourselves submerged in a flow where time transcends fluidity.


You can read more on my Resource page about the Elements of Ritual, being a dance with Spirit, along with the Soul's interaction with the Other World. 


One of the most cherished insights shared by Malidoma during our time together revolves around the celebration of a new baby's arrival. The moment a woman's pregnancy becomes known, the village erupts in joyous anticipation. The community eagerly wonders, "Why is this individual arriving now? What unique gifts will they bring that our community requires?" To explore these questions, a special ceremony is conducted. Skilled Shamans come together with the expectant mother and guide her into a state of hypnosis.


They reach out to the life-force of the unborn child, inquiring about its reasons for entering the world and the mission it plans to undertake. The responses imply that the individual first submitted a plan for their life's purpose to a council of elders in the Spirit World. After receiving approval from this council, the individual is granted permission to be born into a physical form.


The celebration of a new life is a deeply spiritual and communal event, marked by songs, chants, and the invocation of ancestors' names, all directed towards the newborn. This tradition underscores the belief that the arrival of a new member in the community is a significant event, heralding the infusion of new energy and purpose. The welcoming words, "You have come to a crossroads. The light you see in front of you, is the light of the village that awaits you," symbolize the transition from one realm to another and the community's readiness to embrace the newcomer with open arms, offering sweetgrass and honey as tokens of welcome.


The involvement of grandparents in the birthing process, being the first to hold the newborn, is a poignant representation of the cycle of life. Their closeness to the "Other World" due to their age, and possibly their impending transition from this life, creates a natural bond with the newborn, who has just arrived from that realm. This connection underscores a profound respect for both the beginning and the end of life, viewing each stage as an integral part of a continuous journey.


The Dagara people's approach to life and death, treating the body as a temple of grace and beauty, offers a stark contrast to Western perspectives on grief and mourning. Their practices emphasize beauty, community, and continuity even in the face of loss, suggesting a healthier, more holistic approach to dealing with grief by recognizing it as an opportunity for growth and continuation.


Nature plays a central role in healing and understanding the world. It is seen as both a teacher and a healer, offering remedies and wisdom for those willing to learn. This perspective encourages a harmonious relationship with the natural world, recognizing its power to heal and guide.


The connection between specific parts of the earth and the forces of the Other World, mirroring the relationship between different parts of the human body and their functions, highlights a deep belief in the interconnectedness of all things. This belief fosters a sense of belonging and a unique relationship with the world, based on one's birthplace and its corresponding forces in the Other World.


These traditions and beliefs offer valuable insights into the importance of community, the natural world, and the spiritual dimensions of life. They challenge us to reconsider our approaches to life, death, and healing, and to seek a deeper connection with the world around us.


The wisdom embedded in the beliefs of the Dagara people offers a profound perspective on communication, intelligence, and the interconnectedness of all life forms. By suggesting that the Source of all has no need for words, this belief system points to an understanding of existence and communication that transcends verbal language, emphasizing the immediacy and directness of meaning and awareness in the cosmic realm. This perspective invites us to reconsider the ways in which we perceive intelligence and communication, often heavily reliant on verbal and written language in human societies.


The reverence for trees and plants as the most intelligent beings, due to their ability to communicate without words, encourages a deeper appreciation for the natural world. It suggests that there is much to learn from the silent, yet profoundly communicative, relationships that exist among plants and between plants and their environment. This form of communication, subtle yet incredibly complex, operates on levels that human beings are only beginning to understand, through the study of phenomena such as the mycorrhizal networks that connect trees and plants underground.


Similarly, the acknowledgment of animals as the next most intelligent beings, because of their minimal use of uttered communication, challenges us to pay closer attention to the non-verbal cues and behaviors through which animals interact with each other and with their surroundings. It highlights the sophistication of non-verbal communication systems and the depth of understanding that can be achieved without words.


This perspective encourages human beings to expand their understanding of intelligence and communication beyond the confines of human language. It invites us to explore and appreciate the myriad ways in which life on Earth communicates and connects, fostering a deeper sense of kinship with all living beings. By learning from the wisdom of trees, plants, and animals, humans can cultivate a more holistic and interconnected view of the world, recognizing the value of silence, subtlety, and the unspoken in the tapestry of life.


In embracing these insights, individuals and communities can foster a greater sense of harmony with the natural world, learning to listen to the silent wisdom that surrounds us and recognizing the profound connections that bind us all. This approach not only enriches our understanding of the world but also offers guidance on how to live in a more balanced and sustainable way, in tune with the intricate web of life that sustains us.


The perspective on language as presented by the wise men and women, viewing it as an instrument that distances us from meaning, offers a profound reflection on the nature of communication and understanding. This viewpoint suggests that while language is essential for human interaction and the sharing of ideas, it also introduces a layer of separation between the essence of what is being communicated and its reception. This separation can lead to misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and a distancing from the direct experience of reality. It's a reminder of the limitations inherent in verbal communication and the challenge of conveying deep, nuanced meanings through words alone.


The practice of conducting grief rituals in the open air, among the trees, is a beautiful illustration of the Dagara people's understanding of the environment as a participant in human experiences. This setting, chosen for its natural ability to echo and absorb the expressions of grief, underscores the belief in the interconnectedness of humans and the natural world. The trees and the earth become witnesses to the sorrow, providing a space where grief can be expressed freely and where the natural world's healing properties are intrinsic to the process.


Witnessing a Grief Ritual in Dano that spans almost a week is a testament to the importance of communal support and the acknowledgment of grief as a process that requires time, space, and collective participation. Such rituals offer a stark contrast to the often private and time-constrained ways in which grief is managed in many other cultures. The extended duration and communal nature of the ritual emphasize the understanding that healing from loss is not a journey to be undertaken alone but with the support of the community and in harmony with the natural world.


These practices and beliefs offer valuable lessons on the nature of communication, the expression of grief, and the role of community and environment in the healing process. They challenge us to reconsider our approaches to language, to seek deeper connections with those around us, and to recognize the therapeutic potential of the natural world. By embracing these insights, individuals and communities can foster a more holistic and compassionate approach to dealing with grief, one that honors the complexity of human emotions and the interconnectedness of all life.


This is just the beginning of the Magic, the Medicine, the Rituals I encountered, and utilize in my own Ritual Sessions and Divinations for my friends and guests. 


I frequently contemplate if the persecution of witches by puritans was driven by a fear of the inherent power these individuals possessed. The chronicles of Western history are rife with instances of nature being targeted and oppressed. The narrative of progress often casts nature as the principal adversary. Those deeply connected to nature have a way of using humor to coax us into embracing our authentic selves. A person in tune with nature possesses a childlike perspective, viewing life as an adventurous game.


Indigenous communities hold dear the wisdom of maintaining a close relationship with nature and welcoming its challenges. They understand the profound lessons and insights that come from living in harmony with the natural world, recognizing the strength and resilience that can be developed through facing and overcoming the obstacles it presents. This deep connection fosters a respect for the environment and a lifestyle that is sustainable and mindful of the delicate balance of the ecosystem. 


My own Ancestors were executed at the Salem Witch Trials, among other adversities in an Era where we have been born to fear creator. Those that came before us, are also those that we bear witness to, and offer healing - not just for them, but more importantly for us too. In order to evolve, and shining our "inner glimmer" - we are all part of a greater whole, endorsed by our ancestors, our lineage . . .

ashe' Ashe' ASHE'!

I bring to you an online offering, an introduction to Gift & Purpose, following Gift & Purpose is the "Elemental Pathway." In diving deeper into your Gift, along with Purpose - you really can't have one without the other.  



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