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Of Water And Spirit
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Of Water And Spirit

4.42 of 5 stars 4.42  ·  rating details  ·  602 ratings  ·  63 reviews
Through The Healing Wisdom of Africa, readers can come to understand that the life of indigenous and traditional people is a paradigm for an intimate relationship with the natural world that both surrounds us and is within us. The book is the most complete study of the role ritual plays in the lives of African people -- and the role it can play for seekers in the West.
Paperback, 311 pages
Published May 4th 1994 by Tarcher (first published 1994)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,374)
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ndelamiko lord
One of the most intriguing, heart-wrenching, compelling narratives... steeped in mysticism and walking the line between the corporeal and spiritual realms. MUST READ.
Erin
I read this book in my first African studies class. It is a great example of the affect of Western values and colonialism on the traditional society and the roles within that society. It also talks about the individual development of man, the relationship between generations, and the respect of other cultures. It's a great read, especially because it comes from something other than a Western point of view.
Patrice
Mar 12, 2008 Patrice rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with an open mind interested in African spirituality
Shelves: my-favorites
this book inspired me greatly and is probably in my top five favorite books of all time...i've read it a few times and will read it again a few more times i'm sure...
Alcina
The book is an exquisite document of the initation rites of one tribe in West Africa. However, it was really about change and compromise and how the West/Euro culture could learn from indigenous people if only we would listen. I felt the need to be initiated as I read the book, though I kept wondering about the females and what their initiation looked like. I'm going to have to buy this book so I can have it on hand for beautiful thoughts on death, growing up, ways to see the earth and magic.
Mariusz
One of the most important books I have ever read.
It is about people who have not forgotten what really matters, what is life and... Here in Europe we have lost it centuries ago and now we are trying to make other loose it, too. And we are quite successful in that, unfortunately.
Is there a way back? Malidoma says there is. Thank you, Malidoma.
Andrew Gentile
Malidoma provides the reader with an account of his childhood in tribal West Africa. While the story reads like the stuff of magical realism, this autobiography is non-fiction. It's incredibly rare to get such insight into the boundless realities that humans likely lived with prior to patriarchy, materialism, rationalism and reductionism. The book highlights how much of our humanity we have cut off from ourselves, and shows us the incredible possibilities for recreating the story of what it mean ...more
Sibylle
This book was amazing. I read this book long ago and cannot find another copy for my current library. Wonderful, wonderful account of an African boy's journey from an extended childhood to manhood. Wonderful book!
Tara
While this book is not the most lyrical, it is real. It reminded me how boxed into a reality I can be and how deep the possibilities of our perceptions really are. The
Harry Rutherford
Somé was kidnapped at the age of four and taken first to a Jesuit-run boarding school and then a seminar, where he was a victim of physical and sexual abuse. At the age of 20 he fled the seminary and walked back to his home village. When he saw his family for the first time in 16 years, he could no longer speak his native Dagara and had lost touch with his native culture; so he underwent the long, harrowing ritual initiation that boys normally go through at 13.

He then realised that his calling w
...more
Chibineko
I had to read this for class, so be aware that this did very much influence my review.

If you're like me and had to read this for a class, don't worry. This isn't as difficult as your teacher said it would be. This isn't a light and frothy jaunt through one man's self-discovery though, it's full of Malidoma's pain and confusion as he's abducted and placed in a barbaric missionary school and seminary. The good thing is that it's pretty readable and best of all, does have a happy ending. If you're
...more
Jason
I read this book during a college course, and had an amazing experience with it. The reason for this experience was multi-fold, but at the heart of it is an amazing book by a special author. This book is an autobiography of Malidoma Patrice Some. The author was born in Africa, stolen by Catholic missionaries and forced to go to a boarding school, only to escape and return home in his late teens. Unfortunately, his tribes’ traditions initiate boys into manhood at a much younger age than late teen ...more
Adam
This is a wonderful book. The parts which described life in his home village were wonderful and I especially loved the parts of the book which had cultural assumptions completely foreign to me. It was an important part of the story, and powerful in it's own right, but I could have down without the ugly story of us indoctrination and abuse at the hands of the Jesuits.

I haven't finished his later book Ritual: Power, Healing and Community but I suspect it will make more of a lasting impression. "R
...more
Val
The book concerns the story of a young man who is taken from his village, educated in a Jesuit school and then returns to his village and undergoes an initiation. There is a conflict between the two ways of life, but more so between two ways of thinking.
He is chosen by his elders to teach Westerners how to think like Africans and act as a kind of ambassador for his culture. The problem for him is that it is not his culture any more, as he spent his childhood away from it and is already 'Westerni
...more
Alaf
Dec 20, 2007 Alaf rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in indigenous spirituality
I'm just finishing rereading this book, it's my second or third time, i'm not sure. It is interesting because it tells the story of a young man that was abducted from his village in rural Burkina Faso by Jesuit priests; it turns out this is not an uncommon occurrence.

One of the things I liked reading the book for this time around was to look for the parts of the culture that were kept intact. For instance, the entire ancient world used to use a calendar that consisted of 10 days per week, but wh
...more
Jmolentin
I'm so glad I bought this book, so I can read it again. I wasn't too sure it was real when I read it, but it sure was interesting.
Carol Robinson
Excellent book and very spirit filled
Kenghis Khan
A remarkably fascinating story, this book is written by an African shaman whose duty it is to tell his people's side of things. Despite the author's sincere and eloquent description of the relations to the supernatural his people claim to have, the book is difficult for secular-minded readers to be persuaded by. Indeed, although the author is well versed in Western theology, it would have helped if he would have discussed the attempts (or lack thereof) of modern science to understand his amazing ...more
Mikhael Brown
A most amazing book. A reminder of some my own experiences forgotten or were afraid to share. A great help knowing how another live between the worlds.
Theodore
An amazing book about Malidoma Patrice Some - a person who lives in both the western and African world. Very emotional as he is kidnapped from his village by Catholic French Priests and raised in a Jesuit Mission School. There he is harshly indoctrinated in European ways and worship. He escapes as a teenager and returns to his village where he re-learns the language and undergoes an initiation so intense it almost kills him.
Elizabeth
I read this book several years ago (6, I think), so while I can't say anything too specific about it, I do know I liked it well enough to hold on to it. This was a required reading book for my freshman year, college honors english class. It was a class dedicated to African literature or literature about African culture. The writing in this book is beautiful. I could (and do in the quote section) quote about half of the book.
Gloria
This was a wonderful and informative book on African, specifically Dagara traditions regarding spirituality and rituals. Malidoma Somé story of initiation into his tribal community was a mind opening and powerful realization that transdimensional journeys are not only possible but necessary if one is to truly recognize, appreciate and learn from the knowledge of our ancestors.
Marc
This book was a gift from my friend Mike Johnston, an amazing jazz musician with deep ties to West African traditions. A few weeks later, my friend Gale asked me if I'd read her friend Malidoma's book. I'm reminded of one of my favorite quotes: "The belief in coincidence is the pervading superstition of the scientific age." So far, it's a great read.
Rikki
I love this man. He has a very specific life journey, to share his culture, as an african shaman from burkina faso (I hope that's the right spelling, where's spellcheck when you need it??), to us! whities from america and the west. It reads like a journal, or even a conversation, which isn't the most compelling, but his story is sure great.
Deanna
One of my favorite books. An African shaman who was reunited with his family and culture after he had been abducted by Jesuits as a young boy shares the account of his treacherous initiation into shamanism and into a world where magic and reality coexist all from his unique, partially-westernized point of view.
Jackie Harris
I had to read this for my Human Spirituality class. It was rather weird to read, but I guess it's because I knew nothing about African Spiritual Life. It was hard to get through, and quite frankly, didn't really enjoy it. I would not recommend it unless its a necessity to read for a class or something.
Sealth
Fantastic, magical and spiritually awakening. This story, told by Malidoma Patrice Some, makes you think, feel and become truly appreciative of the wonders of life and the spirit. A story that may seem like science fiction, proves to show us that life IS science fiction.
Nil
This is a great 'spiritual autobiography.' It requires the reader to keep an open mind while making their way throughout the narrative, but in the end, it pays off. The writing is beautiful and journey the narrator completes is sheer beauty in both body and mind.
Kaylyn R. Wiggenhauser
I had to read this book in a class I learned a lot from. The book itself had so much content about the cycle we go through in life to reach full consciousness and it gives hope to people going through those hard times that there is a light at the end of the tunnel!
samuel johnson
This book is a true story about how a young boy from Burkino Faso was taken from his home is an ancient African village and went through the Maafa in one life-time. Interesting story about a man losing his culture the trial of finding it again.
Liz
Meh... interesting culture clash of a boy from a traditional African village, educated in a Western mission school. It was alright until we got to the 100 page initiation of the author... many-a-vision quest. Just not really my thing.
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Somé holds three Master's degrees and two doctorates from the Sorbonne and Brandeis University. He has taught at the University of Michigan.
More about Malidoma Patrice Somé...
The Healing Wisdom of Africa: Finding Life Purpose Through Nature, Ritual, and Community Ritual: Power, Healing and Community We Have No Word for Sex Creating a New Sense of Home Nature Magic and Community

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“Grandfather used to call the rain 'the erotic ritual between heaven and Earth.' The rain represented the seeds sown in the Earth’s womb by heaven, her roaring husband, to further life. Rainy encounters between heaven and Earth were sexual love on a cosmic scale. All of nature became involved. Clouds, heaven’s body, were titillated by the storm. In turn, heaven caressed the Earth with heavy winds, which rushed toward their erotic climax, the tornado. The grasses that pop out of the Earth’s warm center shortly after the rain are called the numberless children of Earth who will serve humankind’s need for nourishment. The rainy season is the season of life. Yes, it had rained the night before.” 9 likes
“The power of nature exists in its silence. Human words cannot encode the meaning because human language has access only to the shadow of meaning.” 8 likes
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