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Reflection on Women, Medicine, and the Dagara Tradition

Reflection on Women, Medicine, and the Dagara TraditionbyTheresa Sykes Brittany

Even though, as women, most of us brought up in this culture were not offered a formal initiatory rite of passage as we moved from the realm of maiden to young woman to mother to elder; we have all experienced some type of initiation---conscious or not. Even though our mothers or grandmothers may not have passed down the "old ways" to us, and even though we may not have had a wise woman or elder to guide us with her lantern of wisdom down the path of knowing....we must remember that this ancient wisdom; these old ways; these timeless rituals reside deeply within our bones and have for eternity.

If we listen closely, the Medicine from our maternal lineage will move from the bottomless depths of the well of our being....up into and through our bones and emerge from our intuition....and we will remember that which we already know. The most ancient of all grandmothers....the first Medicine Woman does, indeed, stand within our ancestral line---and rejoices when we take the time to remember and listen to her whispers. She is there, watching our back at all times---and will provide intuitive knowing, protection and the deepest experience of connection and belonging when we surrender and rest into her fully. It is not too late.

To pretend that we don't know what we know, or to turn away from our intuition and internal guidance, is to co-sign and enable the pattern that has prevailed in our society to continue. This pattern "the norm" informs us and all young girls that, in fact, we don't know....that we are making it up....that we are too sensitive, too loud, that we should stop being silly and be logical, linear and rational....we should not be so emotional or so'd be best if we would just shut up and put up with whatever we are handed and make the best of it and not complain. We are taught to be pretty and please others but not to be too pretty. We are told to be open and vulnerable and compassionate but not to feel too deeply, not be too smart, and not to speak our truth if it will inconvenience or possibly offend someone else. The assumption is that it's okay for a woman to be threatened and disempowered because, after all, she's a woman.

I am so grateful to Mother Colette for bringing us Malidoma Somé. I am grateful for the traditions, rituals and Medicine that have been passed down from Malidoma's ancestors. Dagara Cosmology, as I have been enveloped in it---since beginning my journey with Malidoma in 2003---has opened a gate deep within me, from which the timeless and ancient wisdom of my Ancestors flows. In sharing this wisdom with women that I am blessed to come into contact with, much empowerment, healing and reconciliation has come about.

For instance, there is the Hearing Ritual: a ritual that takes place with a woman when she is pregnant. It is a time when the Ancestor who is incarnating is invited to speak about his/her name, purpose. There is Tenbalu, who is the feminine aspect of the Earth. It is to her that we go when we need to be nurtured, fed, sustained, comforted and know the belonging of being held as a babe in the safety of mother's arms. There are also specific rituals that assist with healing and alignment after a woman or man has experienced miscarriage or abortion. These rituals may be done individually or as a couple. There is the pouring of milk and the bathing in milk...that which is the first nourishment and comes from Mother,

My Ancestors have helped me remember the importance of a woman's Moontime and how to demonstrate honor and respect, ritually, for the power and importance of this bleeding time. There are Blessing Ways and other initiations into Women's Mysteries for women to mark important life passages consciously---amidst the support of her sisters/village/community. There is also the process of working in circle together with the archetypes, energies and powers of the Maiden, Mother, Crone, Priestess, Queen, Healer, Artist, Life-Death-Rebirth cycles in conjunction with the Elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Mineral, Nature, as well as the Kontomblé, Wedamé, and Webaa---these provide endless possibilities for remembering and empowerment....the bringing forth of the original....the Divine Blueprint....and the manifestation of our lives embodying the living Talismans that we are.

When I traveled to Africa, I touched the Earth and the vibration of the Motherland permeated my system and awoke within my body the deepest memories and knowings of my Ancestors. To reunite ourselves with our Ancestors in conjunction with the frequency and Medicine of the Dagara ignites the connection with the Great Mother....the feminine depths from which we have all been birthed. Thank you Malidoma---for bringing me home!

Perhaps, "International Women's Day" and "Women's Month" is not only about women....but, more importantly about the Divine Feminine energy that flows within each one of us....a universal movement that is asking women to honor & connect with the Medicine of the Feminine and for men to honor and connect with the Medicine of the Feminine, thereby creating for every human and all sentient beings: the experience of safety, love, connection, intuitive knowing, nourishment and empowerment.

~article reprinted from Malidoma Some's March Newsletter

About the author:
~Theresa Sykes Brittany is an initiated elder of the Dagara Tribe in Burkina Faso, West Africa


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