EARTH

Boundaries

&

Welcoming

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MINERAL

 

Separation

&

Life Purpose

 

WATER

Grief Listening

&

Praise Talk

 

FIRE

Injured Lineage

&

Mythic Allies

 

NATURE

Reaction

&

Response

Researcher Free Course—Earth—1 of 5

Earth Medicine: Welcoming Spirit Home from Exile

Introduction
 
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INTRODUCTION

Elements | Earth | Introduction

When the centre of culture and nature are in trouble, healing comes from the edges.

You may have said, "I need to get grounded," or even be told, "Ground your energy." But what does this mean in practice? Here we are going to look at the idea of "using gravity as an ally" from the perspective of the Dagara element of Earth.

 

Earth of course, is welcoming to all life, and steadfast in her job of holding us. But that Grace is balanced by the Grit of the fact of death and endings. The Grit means we have to have proper boundaries as well as welcoming. Being welcomed is also not passive, it is also an active movement of  being "welcomable." It takes some attention to navigate between these circumstances. 

It is a time in history where a lot of orphanage is experienced by both the colonized and the colonizers. The poverty of that situation of homelessness is what Earth medicine wants to remediate with its great abundance.

Boundaries, Welcome, and "Being Grounded"

Earth Themes

Welcoming

Abundance

Homecoming

Personal Benefits

If you are experiencing a lack of the sense of home, Earth medicine is a healing balm and rejuvenator of abundance.

Facilitator Skills

Welcoming is an issue for every person that comes to your practice. Add to your toolkit with an indigenous perspective.

EARTH WISDOM

Elements | Earth | Wisdom
In this section:
  • The community of the Earth
  • Qualities of the Earth
  • Experiences of Exile
  • This Week's video
  • This Week's blessing

Just a note before we start

There is a guide to this course that you should review before beginning. If you missed it, read it (link) at: 

 

JOURNEYS | RESEARCHER

The community of the Earth

Indigenously, community must include three different kinds of members—human beings, the Elements, and the Other World. This last one includes ancestors, and what might be called archetypal energies by modern psychology. Here, "Elements" refers to the five Elements of the Dagara cosmology. Communication between all three kinds of community members is necessary, because they all live together, they are all part of the world.

In this context, ritual is an essential ongoing part of the life of community. Indeed, without ritual, there can be no true community. Plant medicines are currently in vogue as a method for opening the doorway of communication to elements and the spirit world. However in the modern setting, there is a danger of using the doorway of plant medicines as a kind of consumer entertainment, without any clear responsibilities to contribute the message to community upon return. Most indigenous cultures actually use rhythm to open the “doors of perception,” and also recognize dreams as message holders. Skills of working with consciousness through ritual without substances are demanding, disciplined, and embodied practices, but not out of reach for the modern person.

Ritual is not at all, in this sense, daily habits, or repeated mindless re-enactments based on fearful taboos. Rather, it is an exciting conversation carried out between the Other World, humans, and the Elements. The language, as mentioned above, can be in rhythm, dance, art, song, emotion, story, intuition, trance, divination, healing. It is a language with a history, a validity that is shown effectively, practically, through its ability to create intimacy amongst members of community.

Qualities of the Earth

When we speak about Earth medicine, as with all the elements, we can look to the qualities of Earth herself. Notice that we are all permanently welcomed by the fact of gravity. Look at the evidence of the endless generosity of the Earth. We can see that our expectation for a reliable expertise on abundance and welcoming is reasonable. The Earth as a kind of Elder on these matters. She can be a consistent teacher if the human community will engage in the conversation and seek the guidance for bringing forth abundance and inclusion amongst the human people. The principle of intimacy must be matured with a true sense of both boundaries and welcoming.

Experiences of exile

Additionally, Earth medicine must necessarily come from the initiatory ground of understanding death and grief. Our great love for the world, for everything and everybody that we care for, is a reckless project destined to end in loss. We love them anyway, and that grief/praise is the ground of real community. Death prescribes the need for ritual. It insists on the necessity of gathering despite the storm. Death means to put losses down, in order to hold the living. The very fact of living in a world that includes death means we must celebrate what is being born and what is alive,, whether it is thriving or suffering. Ritual is about love.

Much of our modern trouble could be said to be born of a lack of initiation in modernity, initiation being one type of ritual. One old idea of initiation as described by Joseph Campbell was of a three stage process of separation, exile and return. Modernity still sends people (often simply be virtue of their differences) into kinds of separation and exile, but does not help people return well—leaving in its wake untold stories of displacement that poison the carrier.

Experiences of exile are meant to awaken unique viewpoints and medicine that should be brought back as leadership and guidance. This welcoming back is the essential medicine and teaching of the Earth element. The wisdom of wide inclusion means that it takes a whole village to welcome properly. It is this welcoming, this recognition that a person has undergone trials and come back changed, come back carrying something of value to share with the community, that completes the cycle of initiation. A proper completion means that one may truly begin to share the wisdom and medicine that the initiation has begun to awaken.

This week's video

Sobonfu Somé speaks about welcoming and village.

00:10:11

This week's blessing

From an indigenous perspective, no matter who you are, or what background you come from, you are native to this Earth. You are already worthy of being welcomed, being recognized, being appreciated. You are a powerful source of welcoming others, recognizing them, appreciating others. May you receive the blessing of the Earth, and may you share with the Earth powers of generativity and appropriate boundaries.

Quotes

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“The family in Africa is always extended. So your cousins are your sisters and brothers. Your nieces are your children. Your uncles are your fathers. Your aunts are your mothers. Children are encouraged to call other people outside the family mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers.”

Sobonfu Somé

 In places that I have been to speak to people about the beliefs and realities of the indigenous world, there has been a consistent number of people who have been so touched, even profoundly shaken by what I was telling them that I have to believe that I was not so much appealing to their minds as I was awakening something within their souls — something that has always been there. This tells me that there must be an indigenous person within each of us."

Dr. Malidoma Somé
Author, Initiated Elder and Diviner of the Dagara Tribe,
Burkina Fasso,
West Africa
 

Programs for the Healing Power of Welcome from the Element of Earth

A Long Journey Always Coming Home

[Non-Residential Saturday 09h30 — 21h30 local time]

  • Understanding modern exile from an indigenous perspective

  • The indigenous view of community and healing

  • Contacting abundance eco-logically

  • Introduction to the Dagara culture Elements cosmology

  • Rituals of welcome

 

ASSIGNMENT

Elements | Earth | Assignment
In this section:
  • What is a ritual task?
  • Boundaries, welcome, abundance, intimacy
  • Earth and Earth prayer
  • The task this week
  • Declaration and the support of benchmarking
  • Radical ritual of Earth medicine

What is a ritual task?

What is a ritual task? It is an unofficial term to get at the idea that even a small step is useful and helpful. In this course, over the various Elements, the assignments will all be small steps, and in a way, could all be called "ritual tasks." So these are not a "full ritual," bringing people together, requiring planning (sometimes quite a lot of planning!) and  an extended period of time. Rather, they are a bit shorter in time. They are a beginning of a conversation with the Other World of the more-than-human.

A couple of examples are some kind of thing that takes 15 minutes to an hour to complete, or something that you try out for 10 minutes a day for a week or a month. Small enough to fit into your life, but different enough that it could make a difference that does make a difference. If it is simply "different," but really more of the same, that won't help. But if it is "different enough" from how you were living before, it could make a difference.

If a daily thing gets practiced over a long enough time, it could turn into what is called a "Practice." A daily exercise routine would fit into this category, or daily writing for example. So if the ritual task is of the nature of trying something daily for a little while, it could be called a "mini-practice." It needs to be given a fair try. 

Depending on what the practice is, a fair try could be anything from a week to a year, or as they say in the myths, "a year and a day." And by the way, you are not supposed to "be good at" a practice. Sometimes it is even said that part of the very definition of a practice is that it is something you are NOT good at! Hidden in there is the idea that something that is different enough is the only thing that will be "different enough to MAKE a difference," as anthropologist Gregory Bateson said.

When you design a ritual task, two "tricks of the trade" might help. One would be to choose something to do that you initially find difficult, yet you know, or feel that it would be good to do. For example, someone might think that they should get some exercise each day. Another approach is to cut out something you know or feel is not helpful, for example changing a bad habit. Maybe, like many people, you are on your cell phone at times of the day that are not helpful. Stopping that could itself be a ritual task you could try for some amount of time.

Boundaries, welcome, abundance, intimacy

Almost everyone alive today has had their natural sense of abundance, feeling welcome, and boundaries, violated. These are Earth issues. In fact, these problems may be in the nature of being human. The problems are increased from the breakdown of tribal social support, community, and the fanaticism of "capitalism as a religion."

So this week, we will try to do a little thing to attack these issues to get a little progress. It is a "next best step."  The modern mindset will want to fix a thing all at once. Resist that temptation and just be happy with a bit of progress. Just enough difference to "make a difference." And let yourself be grateful—the inhabitation of the territory of gratitude is half way towards a state of abundance.

Earth and earth prayer

Start by quickly gathering a bowl of earth (not sand, which is closer to the Mineral element). If you need to use a potted houseplant, that is ok. If you live in nature, get a bowl anyway. Put that on a piece of cloth where you live, keep it there for a while. Simply touch the earth that you have gathered, and say (out loud):

"If there is any possible way you, Earth, can help me with your ancient wisdom about abundance, and how welcoming and abundance fit into the picture, I am just a human, so I don't mind the help."

That is enough of a prayer to begin with. It doesn't require you to believe anything, just to say something which is honestly true. Saying it out loud is also activating your physical body (through your voice box) that makes you a participant in the life of the world. It countermands the modern sense that everything can be sorted out in the mind alone.

The task this week 

Now you are going to pick two things in your life. One is something you want (to welcome in) and one is something you want to exclude or reduce (set a boundary on). The two together form a principle of building a relationship or strengthening your relationship with abundance.

Make these small. Don't build up a grand sense of fixing everything immediately. That approach would be of entitlement, not of appreciation. The sense is to give yourself some compassion. The world is a big place, the forces we deal with are large. Think of making some small progress, or, as they say in Ghana, "Small, small."

Everyday, you will have to spend five or ten minutes doing that thing that you wanted, and you might find some discomfort in giving up the thing that you want to make a boundary with. 

Declaration and the support of benchmarking

Get a small notebook to keep on your shrine, and make notes daily about how your task went. Practice bringing your awareness to your developing skill.

Boast a little about your experience with the ritual task, or ask a question for ruminating on in the following day or week. Make your question specific and open ended.

Radical ritual of Earth medicine

There are many possible rituals of Earth medicine. One of the most intense could be the "Overnight Earth burial." One description of such a ritual, done in a modern context, can be found in my book. You can access that chapter in my book in the next section of this page.

 

MORE

Elements | Earth | More
In this section:
  • Vastly Through Another World
  • The Healing Wisdom of Africa

Vastly Through Another World

Episode 1 from

"Medicine Without an Expiry Date:

Indigenous Remedy for Modern Trouble"

by Randy Jones.

Read for free in pdf through this link:

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The Healing Wisdom of Africa

by Dr. Malidoma Somé

This is Malidoma's third book, meant as an invitation into an understanding of indigenous ideas about ritual and community. The most accessible of his titles, it is suitable for a reader beginning exploration in this area.

 

Buy through bookstores everywhere.

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INVITATIONS

Elements | Earth | Invitations
In this section:
  • Continue the course now
  • Other programs
  • Hosting or requesting an event near you
  • Bespoke rituals

Continue the course now

The next Element is Mineral. Simply navigate there on the top menu of the site to:

 

Elements | Mineral 

Other programs

For the mentored version of this course, see details through this link:

Researcher | Invitations | Mentored course on Zoom

Our programs are organized as "Journeys." This free course in the Elements, we call Researcher, since it is independent study.

To find the Quick Facts & Figures on our other programs, simply use the main menu and navigate to:

 

Welcome | 5 Journeys

Hosting or requesting an event near you

If you are interested in hosting an event, please read the information on the Healing page. The last section on the page describes the requirements and process of hosting an event. Then please use the contact form to connect. 

Journeys | Rituals | Hosting

Bespoke rituals

Communities that had, or have, ritual literacy, of course bring the issues that need addressing to a community specialist in ritual. Please use the contact form to connect if you are wondering about the possibility of holding a ritual in your group or community. Find the contact form through the main site menu here: 

Welcome | Connect