This episode is a tribute to the life and work of Malidoma Patrice Some, a spiritual teacher and healer who brought the wisdom traditions and ritual practices of West Africa to the Western world.
The name Malidoma can mean “to make friends with the stranger or enemy.” Following that sense, Malidoma served as an ambassador from the tribal realms of Africa to the world of modernity. He had access to traditional practices of wisdom and healing, and also had a rare intelligence that made him able to shape meaningful pathways between ancient ways of knowing and the needs and longings of contemporary cultures.
There were many elements of his natural genius; of course, his ability to use ancient ways of connecting to nature and spirit; but also the courage to bring healing rituals to the modern world. His radical intelligence could spark at any moment, quickly becoming a forceful fountain of ideas that could include insights into the human psyche as well as visions that could open the realms of nature and spirit.
You could say that the fire element of his genius involved his great intelligence as well as a way of seeing that connected to the ancestral realm. But, his genius was also connected to water as natural element of his soul. At times, he would seem to become water, as he could be fluid and gentle, like a forest stream. And from that stream of inner water would come a great generosity and a deep sense of care.
Once he said that "…the quest constantly imposing itself upon me has been more of a search for a home in the hearts of people." In that statement, you can sense of his presence as a gentle spirit, but also as a person on the eternal quest to find a genuine home. In that regard, Malidoma was uniquely attuned to the electricity that comes from the invisible wires strung between the common world and the otherworld of spirit, imagination and the ancestors.
I am eternally grateful for the friendship we had and the many ritual collaborations and times spent talking and singing and drumming together. Now, in his terms, as in the ancient understanding of things, I imagine Malidoma as having stepped onto the road that road leads back to the ancestors. On the path that will carry him back to the hidden unity of humanity and the place that is a true home for the spirit and soul of someone who remained connected to and inspired by the otherworld.
With prayers and songs I am imagining Malidoma finding the waters of peace and a deep sense of home in the otherworld that his soul and spirit had known all along.
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