"The millet fileds were generous and the harvest was good. The hard work of collecting and transporting grain from the farm to the roof of the houses where it waited to be put into the granaries was over. Now, in the fallow season, the villagers turned their attention to spiritual matters, to initiation. The dry season would be painfully idle if there was nothing else to do. One afternoon I was sitting outside with my sister when a town crier came running to my father's house. In a Dagara village, the town crier is considered an envoy of the spirit. He does not greet people or otherwise behave normally, for he is possessed by the message he has been commissioned to convey. He appears very agitated while doing so because he is responding to what the spirits have told him to do.
Out of breath, he stopped in front of us, mumbled something, and drew a cross on the mud wall of the women's quarter. He said nothing, but instead sang a bizarre song. As he was about to go away, I stopped him.
"Wait a minute. What's all this about?"
"What? You don't know? Well, a child who lives in this house will become a man--if he lives that long. . ."
This answer transfixed me, I sat down. I had imagined that Baor was scheduled for the middle of the dry season.
Seeing my perplexity, my sister tried to clarify things for me. "You cannot be told about it until the day before. If you know ahead of time, something is wrong."
"So my initiation begins tomorrow--and I am not the least prepared for it."
Now is the dry season. The millet harvest was good. The season of initiation for my eternal boy. Not just in the Northern Hemisphere. Or in the tribe of the Dagura of Africa. Here in the imaginal hemisphere, too.
Typically, I wouldn't be thinking what I was doing or who I was being ten years ago although the recent attention to 9/11 had that effect. Plus, the photographer Brooke Shaden wrote an open letter to her future self in ten years time.
"I’d like to see the world, but not in the way that most people say they want to. I want to go places and sit in every open field I can find in each unique country and hear the wind talk to me." - Brooke Shaden, "34-Year-Old Me"
Ten years ago... ten years ago. I read both Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic, and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman as well as Hidden Journey: A Spiritual Awakening by Andrew Harvey in the same time frame in the winter ten years ago while I lived in Salt Lake City and was still a computer engineer (unemployed) and still married (separated). Both books influenced my life by upending what I thought I knew about how the world works. Yet my life was already being upended as our startup closed up shop January 2001, I found looking for work as a former dot-com CTO daunting (the "new economy" was now a pariah in traditional IT circles) and my husband asked for a divorce.
I was more willing to listen to alternative answers than I'd been ever before. (The open-ended question I threw out was, "What is my purpose?"--pretty standard, yet almost any question will do....)
"So it comes to pass that, when we pursue an inquiry beyond a certain depth, we step out of the field of psychological categories and enter the sphere of the ultimate mysteries of life. The floorboards of the soul, to which we try to penetrate, fan open and reveal the starry firmament." -Bruno Schulz
Okay, I'm willing to listen. Maybe consensual reality maybe wasn't a fixed reality or reality, after all.
"To a Dagura man or woman, the material is just the spiritual taking on form." - Malidoma Some
It also shook up my belief that everyone has pretty much the same universal world-view.
In a letter to a friend, Gustav Mahler reveals this about the composition of his Third Symphony, "I tell you in, at certain places in the score, a quite uncanny feeling takes possession of me, and I feel as if I had not created this myself." I would read things like this in 2001, and it'd sound romantic and soothing to hear--although, then, truthfully, I had no clue what Mahler meant.
So reading Of Water and the Spirit was like standing at the edge of a lake--the first body of water I'd ever set eyes on. Although no book is going to be an experiential dive, and until I at least dipped a toe, I would not know wetness. The book did, however, entice me to care about exploring and experimenting with wetness.
So, a few days ago in a Google+ exchange, someone was sharing how they were upset by a brand-new violent, pornographic game (or book?) and another person replied: "Words are wind." And added, that it doesn't matter what the content is as it's only make-believe.
"The world of the Dagara also does not distinguish between reality and imagination. To us, there is a close connection between thought and reality. To imagine something, to closely focus one's thoughts upon it, has the potential to bring something into being." - Malidoma Patrice Some
If I fully believed that words are 'merely' wind, I wouldn't be writing now nor ever. Although paradoxically, words are wind. It's only that many underestimate the power of Air.
In fact, there is a good deal the dismissive tone of the comment, "Words are wind" stirred a fire within me. Noting my anger I connected it with something a mentor of mine said recently, Stifled passion, sooner or later, ends up bursting out as anger. All which has catalyzed me to wholeheartedly commit to accomplishing a few "word as wind" projects with optional interactive elements that I've had on hold (for several reasons with "no money" among the excuses).
“Words that merely come from other words are hard and aggressive. Such words are also lonely, and a great part of the melancholy in the world today is due to the fact that man has made words lonely by separating them from silence.” - Max Picard via Dennis Lewis, "Some Impressions on Words, Voice, Listening, and Silence"
"As in the case of "Star Trek," Westerners look to the future as a place of hope, a better world where every person has dignity and value, where wealth is not unequally distributed, where the wonders of technology make miracles possible. If people in the West could embrace some of the more positive values of the indigenous world, perhaps that might even provide them with a "shortcut" to their own future." - Malidoma Patrice Some
Bonus: Excerpt from Malidoma Patrice Some's introduction to his memoir here. It speaks to the fluidity of 'reality' and the power of imagination.
Announcing: I'm offering Tarot readings (the Tower archetype of 9/11 got me thinking about Tarot again) as a whimsical way to do a personalized consultation for your creative idea--be it a new business venture, new product line, or a Black Rock Arts Foundation grant proposal. Whatever you desire to make tangible through your sheer creative expression and exuberance. I'll throw in my own quirky amalgamations to the alchemical William Blake Tarot deck's two cents. All proceeds to fund a month-long online vignette du jour (there's more to it than that as you may infer from the above post) creative project using the setting of the city of New Orleans. (Thus, the tie-in with Tarot as Nola is where I learned the archetypal craft.)