2012 Elder Initiation
June 22-July 8
East Coast Village, Cherry Plains, NY
Dagara Medicine Wheel
I am reaching out for support as I prepare to take elder initiation in the tradition of the Dagara people of Burkina-Faso, West Africa.
I will be assisted in this process by Maldioma Patrice Somé, and held in community by all of you!
In the Dagara tradition a person is given several names throughout the course of a life. The name one gives a child important among them. Elizabeth, Ixchel, and I traveled to the East Coast Village some time ago and participated in another kind of naming ritual, whereby one gains their spiritual name and guidance in this life as an adult.
Once a person has been given such a name, they are eligible for the next step in Dagara life, that of elder initiation. The elders in Dano, Burkina Faso, West Africa were given my name, among others, and have recently chosen me as one of a group of people who are to take this next step toward elderhood.
Important Dates & Requests
Financial Support - (I am trying to raise $6,120 to cover initiation)
June 22nd - Initiation begins
June 30th - Shaming Ritual (please send letter/words, see below)
July 7th - Homecoming (end of ritual in Cherry Plains, NY)
July 14th - Homecoming (celebration in Berkeley)
I will travel to upstate New York, the "East Coast Village," June 21st and enter the ritual space of this initiation on the 22nd. In Dagaraland, all initiates travel far and wide to invite all members of their village to attend their initiation. I consider you to be a part of my village—every individual receiving this invitation has touched my life and contributed to my growth and well-being—thank you! However, I know for some of you the distance and complication of travel, not to mention life circumstances, may be too great so please accept this internet notice as "cordially invited" and be there with me in Spirit!
If the opportunity arises, it would be wonderful if you could attend the Homecoming event on July 7th, in Cherry Plains, NY. This is the celebration in which the Initiate is welcomed back to the community! For those who can make it, I will be so happy and grateful to see your faces as I emerge from this intense 16-day trial.
I would also like to encourage you to attend and participate in a very important event called the Shaming Ritual. This will likely occur on June 30th (Saturday), and is a time when one's community reflects back to the initiate all the unresolved issues that are still alive, all the ways in which the individual has fallen short, or not shown up. This is a crucial part of the ritual, a piece of the process that might seem foreign to our "Western" sensibilities, and so I want to underline the importance of this step. I know many of you will not be able to make it to the ritual, and so I ask that you send a letter or a few words outlining the ways in which you know I have not shown up. The ways in which I have really messed up. You know you want to : ) via mail Zayin Cabot c/o Floyd Striegel, P.O. Box 82, Cherry Plains, NY 12040 or email them to Floyd at [email protected]. Floyd will be my contact person during the entirety of the initiation.
I know that this is not an easy request, but it is important. Please find the courage in your heart to share these little pearls in some form that I can take with me to this ritual space. Feel free to put them on a piece of paper without your name, if this makes it easier. I will not read them before, and someone will read them to me during the ritual.
Whether or not you can make it in person, I appreciate knowing that you are all with me in Spirit during this time, sending your prayers, good energy and good vibes! You are welcome to send letters (an offering of as little as $1 must be enclosed) and your words will be read to me as I won't be allowed to touch anything that comes from the outside world. You can send your letters to Robert Walker, P.O. Box 82, Cherry Plains, NY 12040.
Homecoming event in Berkeley, July 14th... more info to follow!
An essential part of this invitation is to ask for financial support. In Africa, people give valuable items to the initiate. If you feel moved or called to give, your monetary contribution will be gratefully and humbly accepted. The cost of initiation is $5,500 + $620 for supplies. You can offer the money through this website, or send it directly to me, at 2735 Elmwood Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94705.
Please know that the amount you send is not important, but rather the spirit and heart-felt intention with which you help support me in this life transition. If you feel called to contribute to the overall event, please mail monetary offerings to Ancestral Wisdom Bridge Foundation, c/o Holly Brown, 89 Buffumsville Road, Somersworth NH, 03878-3010. Write my name on the memo line of the check or money order.
I cannot say what exactly will change from now till August, but I know that I already feel the movement deep inside me. I take this step with a feeling of honor and gratitute for all my relations with each and everyone of you. As the old cliche goes, it takes a village. This is true, and I would not be here without you! Thank you for reading and considering my requests, and I look forward to sharing with all of you on the other side!etunde[email protected] .
So much love and countless blessings!
Some words on initiation from Malidoma:
"There is an elder in the making in everyone, but it is most visible in those who have the receptivity to listen to the stories of others. The ability to listen and the willingnes to support others in difficult situations, are the heart and soul of elderhood.....Above all, to be an elder is to be able to come down to the level of the person you listen to, not with a mind to tell that person what to do and what not to do, but to share similar experiences you have had in the course of your own life. People who have reached a place where they are able to recognize that everyone has similar troubles have begun to heal. The elder does not turn the tragedy of another into a horror story, but instead sees in the story of the other his or her connection with it." ~The Healing Wisdom of Africa~ pg. 125
Malidoma Patrice Somé, Ph.D.,
odern world. He is a gifted medicine man and diviner, as well as a compelling teacher and author. For more than twenty years, Malidoma has shared the ancient knowledge of his tribe with people in the West who are increasingly disconnected from their ancestors, spirit, and the richness of life in community. His voice awakens in our hearts the recognition that we are all born with a life purpose to fulfill and that we can do so in a deep and abiding relationship with all beings. Dr. Somé is the author of several books, including Ritual: Power, Healing and Community, The Healing Wisdom of Africa, and his acclaimed autobiography, Of Water and the Spirit.
He is the leader and principal faciliator in these Elder Initation events held here in the United States. The Elder of all elders, he is called "The Mother of Initiation!"
Visit his website at http://www.malidoma.com