This book made great January reading, taking it slow and savoring most of it.? Of Water and the Spirit, by Malidoma Patrice Some, is subtitled Ritual, Magic, and Initiation on the Life of an African Shaman.
Some I hurried through – such as Malidoma’s story of his kidnapping at 4 years old and forced education for 17 years by Jesuit priests (whom I had held in much higher esteem than other priests – up until now).
The first part of the book is an idyllic / magical / fascinating story of growing up as a Dagara in a village in Burkina Faso, 50 some years ago.? His primary relationship was with his paternal grandfather, the head of the family and a gifted shaman.? We also learn a great deal about family organization and the compound they lived in, farming, and the stresses (increased and changed since then) of moving across centuries and cultures in one lifetime.? I took my time with this writing.
I could barely stand to read about his enforced education – turning him into a French man, and hopefully a priest, while carefully stripping away his African understandings.? And sure enough, included were the pedophiliac and cruel behaviors we have seen from priests around the planet.? It is very hard to respect that particular tribe now, and I hurried through this writing.
I began savoring this wonderfully rich and descriptive writing again when Malidoma fled the French Jesuits, and began his long walk home at nearly 21.? The richness continues through his return – with none of his own language or traditions.? All of that needed to be learned again – and then he was ready to be initiated – with the 13 and 14 year old boys of the tribe.? The magic and beauty and fear of the tests were powerful.
He is an astonishing person – simply to have been able to learn, unlearn and re-learn so much in one lifetime.? Fascinating as a great read – powerful as a story of spiritual empowerment.