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The Pain of a Fragmented Soul

The indigenous wisdom of the Dagara people of West Africa begins and ends with the Ancestors. The Ancestors - the living dead - act as intermediaries between the physical world and the world of spirit. Yet, if they are our allies, our bridge to other-worldly consciousness, why do we so feel lost, so disconnected, so fragmented?

One of the greatest contributions of the indigenous world is the understanding that we are all liable to suffer lost of parts of our vital energy and identity, our personal power, what shamans call soul loss. Fragments of our soul become lost in the netherworld when:
we suffer pain, trauma or abuse,
we feel unresolved grief, guilt, shame or unforgiveness,
we feel a deep desire to depart a world that seems harsh and cruel.

Sadly, we cannot fully realize the power of our ancestors when our souls are shattered, lost and fragmented.

"Ancestors are at a disadvantage because they know how to improve things and yet they do not have the body required to act on what they know. We are at a disadvantage because, although we have bodies, we often lack the knowledge required to carry things out properly. This is why Spirit likes to work through us. A person with a body is an ideal vehicle for Spirit to manifest things in this world."
-- Malidoma Somé

A body with a fragmented soul is like a tree without roots. It is weak and dis-empowered. To regain that power, we must recovery those lost parts of ourselves so that we can be whole again. We must banish the mental and emotional disassociation in order to live up to our true potential. We must reunite all our soul parts in order to bring our gifts fully into this world and allow the ancestors to manifest through us.

Healing Lies In Nature

Undoubtedly, Nature has the power to heal. Modernity, however, has separated us from spiritual technologies accessible in Nature. For most of the modern world, being one with nature is akin to a walk in the park, lounging on the beach or exercising our green thumb in an organic garden.

For the Dagara, Nature is the playground for an unseen community of spiritual allies. Spirits that can be accessed through a complex choreography of rituals designed to be a beacon to those spirits who remain on the periphery of human visibility.

Recovering fragmented parts of our essence in this uncompromising world requires catalytic rites of restoration - an intricate set of rituals and invocations to the spirits of the natural world and ancestors - that will touch our deepest soul, awaken our tribal spirit and reclaim the wisdom of the ancient ones. To heal the infectious wounds brought on by the modern world, we need rituals that will transform in very profound, and sometimes challenging ways.

Rituals of Restoration in the Dagara Cosmology

Rituals, performed in nature, are invitations to the children of modernity to return to the ancient ways of the indigenous ancestors and commune with the spirits of the elements.

The Spirit of VUN: Open the Gates

The first element of the Dagara cosmology - FIRE - is the mediator between the spirit world and the physical world. It is seen as the most potent connection to the realm of spirits. We can call upon the power of Vun (fire) to open the gateways to the world of the ancestors so that we can renew their ability to manifest through us. We can invoke Vun to consume that which stands between us and our purpose in order to get back on our spiritual path.

The Spirit of Kuon: Cleanse the Psyche

Water, the second element of the Dagara cosmological wheel is the medicine which brings cleansing, reconciliation, purification, and peacemaking. We can call to the spirit of Kuon (water) to cleanse unwanted energies that are detrimental to manifesting our purpose. We can submerge in the healing depths of Kuon so that the spirits can purify the shame, guilt and abuses we have endured and which block us from seeing the gifts we posses.

The Spirit of Tingan/Tenbalu: Nurture the Soul

Earth, the third element of the Dagara cosmological wheel, is the mother who is inviting us to come home, the father whose protection keeps us safe. We can lie in the belly of the Mother (Tenbalu) and restore our sense of belonging, our remembrance of community. We can drink from the life-giving breast of Tenbalu, allowing her to nurture our souls back to wholeness so that we can boldly face the turbulent world around us with confidence and surety.

The Spirit of Kusir: Remember Our Purpose

Mineral, the fourth cosmological element, speaks to our bone memory and our sacred contract. Separated from the deafening chaos of the outside world, we can tune into the whispers of Kusir (mineral) to remind us, through ritual, who we are and why we are here. We can call to Kusir to unlock the mysteries, the gifts, the tribal memories we have imprinted in our DNA. In so doing, we can re-awaken our awareness to the purpose we have come to fulfill in this lifetime.

The Spirit of Wie: Realize Our Potential

Nature, the fifth cosmological element, asks us to open to transformation in order to realize our full potential. As the element of ongoing change, co-creation and manifestation, we can embody the spirits of Wie (nature) and reaffirm our authentic selves to stay true to our values in militant defiance to this unforgiving world.

"The time has come to return home to each other and to the medicine of our birth so that our citizenship in Mother Nature can be reaffirmed. Consequently, this is a time of radical reclamation of what seems like a birthright. We belong to each other; we belong to our medicine, to our gifts."
-- Malidoma Somé

In this mineral year in Dagara cosmology (2014), it is time to restore our fragmented souls. It is time to let the brilliant gems within us shine.

About the author:
Aamirah Branch is diviner, spiritual healer and student of Malidoma Somé, Dagara elder, teacher and world renowned interpreter of African indigenous tradition. She studies the Dagara tradition with Malidoma at


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