This part of the journey, resulted in a time of great reconnection. Reconnection to the people that I had met before, and reconnection to new shining faces, to the youth that will be the next generation to carry on the ancient wisdom of Dagara. As we walked through the countryside it was apparent that although things had changed radically and modernity has left its footprint, there was also an aspect of ancientness that continues to flourish. As we were waiting for one of the shamans I looked out on the road and saw the women carrying wood and water in the traditional way. They have this interesting way of wrapping a piece of cloth into a circular shape, placing it on the very top of their head and then precariously balancing heavy loads on the top of their heads as they walk sometimes for miles to go from the place where they draw the water, or finder wood to their homes.
One of the rituals that we did required going into the shaman’s cave. These caves are not necessarily caves carved into stone but compartments within a compound that are secluded, private, and very sacred. As I entered the Kontumble diviner’s sacred area, there was an amazing shrine that was set up for his medicine. I could feel the change in temperature as I entered this place. Cool, calm and at the same time a thickness in the air that was very “otherworldly”. We did ritual, asking for help, calling upon the power of otherworldly beings to assist us on our human journey. As usual there was the sacrifice involved. No matter how many times I’m involved in these rituals it never seems to be a comfortable place to watch an animal give its life on behalf of of me or a loved one. The thing that makes it at least a little more palatable is the reality that the children will eat that night and the sacrifice is providing the nourishment for them.
After the ritual, the music came on and there was a beautiful night of celebration! As the children danced, the energy in the compound became electrified with their freedom and innocence. I noticed in some of the pictures as the evening went on more and more visitors from the other world made their presence known.
One of the things that became very obvious on this trip is that even though modernity has infiltrated much of tribal life there is still a very thin veil between ordinary and non-ordinary worlds. it’s kind of funny to see a tribes person dressed in traditional tribal outfit riding a bike, and talking on a cell phone! Burkina Faso has gone from no phones to cell phones. And it’s really wild to see some of the old men, who you would never think would be connected in such a modern way, pull a cell phone out of their pocket and talk to someone in the neighboring village. What a mix. Roots meets the Matrix!
As night fell, the children danced, the ancestors blessed us with their presence, and the night ended. It was such an amazing experience to return to this land where so little is required and so much is given. I am looking forward to my return. Hopefully it will be very soon.