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In this remarkable book, Malidoma Somé explores the essential role ritual plays in maintaining community and examines the structure common to all ritual. By telling stories of the rituals of his native West African Dagara culture, and of his own experiences in the tribal community, he makes a convincing case that the lack of ritual in the Western world is a fundamental reason that the fabric of society is unraveling. "The hurt that a person feels in the midst of this modern culture should be taken as a language spoken by the body," writes Somé. "Our soul communicates things to us that the body translates as need, or want, or absence. So we enter into ritual in order to respond to the call of the soul." The name Malidoma means "he who is to be friends with the stranger/enemy," and Somé, who has doctorates from the Sorbonne and Brandeis, abandoned his teaching career at Brandeis at the instruction of village elders to devote himself completely to speaking and, with his wife Sobonfu, conducting workshops on ritual.
"The question is, can the modern world find ways to perceive the subtle knowledge and imagery of the tribal world? Can Western understanding open a place for tribal visions of spiritual life and community rituals to enter? Malidoma Somé is uniquely qualified to find the thresholds between the worlds and hold the gates open." —Michael Meade
103 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1993