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The Spirit of Intimacy: Ancient Teachings In The Ways Of Relationships

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  573 ratings  ·  58 reviews

A renowned, respected teacher and mentor to thousands, Sobonfu Somé is one of the first and foremost voices of African spirituality to come to the West. Somé was born in Dano, Burkina Faso, a remote West African village with a population of about two hundred people. Dano has preserved the old ways of African village life, with family structures, spiritual practices, and me

Paperback, 160 pages
Published January 5th 2000 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 1997)
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Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Are your relationships guided by ego and control or are they guided by spirit? And what would that look like, a relationship guided by spirit? Allow Sobonfu to offer the wisdom from pre-colonial Bhurkino Faso — from the Dagara tribe…where remnants of whole relationships rooted in community and mutual trust and understanding still exist. This book is a beautiful and easy to read collection of thoughts, debunking the Western notions of ‘romance’ and ‘privacy.’
I'm not usually a big fan of how-to books on the subjects of love and relationships, but I make exception with this book, because it really isn't one. Sobonfu (she will seem like a dear friend before you've read much!) has such a warm, gentle, caring voice--the wisdom she shares is of the best and most beautiful sort. She helps her readers become more AWARE of themselves, and their relationships (the book focuses primarily on love/partner relationships, but some elements could certainly be used ...more
Dec 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Very enlightening. This little book answered a lot of questions I had about commitment and about marriage in particular. I also noticed a correlation between the Dagara belief system and that of Christianity (we are all parts of the same body) or even New Age thought (marriage between two people is a gift to the community / world - Marianne Williamson comes to mind) at the end of the day there's only one truth : love is a verb, not a feeling.

Intimacy is Sacred. Community is a Blessing for the co
Jeannie Mancini
Apr 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sobonfu Some, a member of the West African Dagara tribe, brings to the Western World wisdom uprooted from the ancient elders of her people. This small, concise little gem of a book is filled with practical advice and common sense practices to garner and enhance intimacy in all couple relationships. Although most of her teachings and suggestions are not practical for Westerners because of cultural differences and the negative influences Western society has on our lives today, there are still plen ...more
May 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a deceptively simple book about living in relationship--with one's self, community, world, and the spirit realm. Sobonfu Some portrays the indigenous rituals of the West African culture that she comes from. Her writing is beautiful and characterizes a people with little armor and masks.

This book was a quick read--simple, straight-forward and heartfelt. I experienced an opening--that there is a precious jewel embedded in that simplicity. But it is difficult to translate indigenous wholen
Dec 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: relationships
I am resistant to this little book. I bought and started it two years ago and finished within two weeks what should have been read in a day. I wasn’t taking time to digest. I was resisting. It’s a small book with descriptions of and prescriptions for intimacy. I’m totally into intimacy. I write and teach about it all the time which is why my mentor recommended it. For some reason, I’m taking it personally. I keep hearing myself think, “Well, isn’t there anything good about relationships in the W ...more
sureshi jayawardene
Jul 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Some is amazing. The distinctions she makes between the West's ways of intimate relationships and indigenous ways is a great eye-opener. The wisdom she offers is good for any reader looking for ways to grow in their intimate relationships. And if you don't agree with it, a the very least, it's a different perspective on relationships altogether. ...more
"The Spirit of Intimacy" provides a very refreshing prospective of relationships and intimacy in the traditional African setting. There is much to think about in this book and it did have me looking at the relationships I maintain with those around me. Indeed there may be valuable relationship lessons to be found in its pages even for us living in Western Society. Recommended reading! ...more
Adriane C
Feb 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I thank this book for helping me to discover the true value of community. How community is the power source to the survival of our humanity as a species as we evolve throughout time. Made me think of what a drain the lack of it must be on us all these years in the future so far removed from the spirit of anything. We supplement intimacy with romance and bastardize the meaning of it with movies, books, and tv shows that romanticize relationships that lack in intimacy and centers possessionl. Our ...more
Apr 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Somé's clear and simple writing explains the unexplainable in this short but poignant literary jewel. A must-read for every person, but especially if you are African, married, and a parent. ...more
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am a simple man. Give me anything that Sobobfu writes about the village and I give it 5 stars.
Sep 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I highly recommend this book to anyone who tries to lead a very spiritual life but is unsure how to translate their beliefs into their everyday relationships. Somé also teaches other very important lessons relating to the difficulties that simply being from the West can impose on attempting to connect and attain intimacy with the people that are important to us. Even if you do not believe in indigenous spirituality, if you are willing to suspend disbelief and listen to the core of the text, you ...more
Cassandra Hawkins
Jan 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Given to me by a coworker at the beginning of my divorce, The Spirit of Intimacy: Ancient African Teachings in the Ways of Relationships by Sobonfu Some was a very interesting book. Dealing with various aspects of relationships, Some introduces rituals from her village, as well as the theories and methodology surrounding these rituals. Many of the rituals I could not see myself actually practicing, but the symbolic nature of these rituals I could actually see myself incorporating into my life.
Dec 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
One of my favorite non-fiction books. This book is like a bunch of thoughts written by an amazing woman, Sobonfu! She is from the Dagra tribe in Ghana and writes little pieces about Dagra culture and values. It is rich, stocked full of culture, and I loved reading it while preparing for my trip to East Africa.
Jul 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Understanding the multiple definition of intimacy. How it is express in various relationship within a community. And understanding the importance of creating that supportive community for yourself and others.

No matter your background, spiritual, religious belief something can be pickup from reading this book.
Aug 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
This author shares insights and lessons she's learned while living in the US. Being from a country in Africa, she remembers certain lessons that are seriously lacking in this country. I loved reading it and found so many gems to apply to my own life for balance and bringing spirit into all that you do. ...more
Marissa Orchard
Mar 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Sobonfu was a teacher of mine when I was on a retreat a few years ago, and I love her books almost as much as I love her! This book is amazing. I love how she explains many of the cultural differences between her people in the Dagara tribe and us in the U.S.
Simple yet profound. I'll read it again and definitely refer to it regularly. ...more
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Great book. Highly recommended for alternative ways to consider relationships!
Vicci Divine
Apr 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
I would definitely refer to this book often as I strive to connect with spirit and experience intimacy.
Jae Nicole R
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book is so much more than connecting with a significant other. It’s about creating intimacy with family, community, and even nature. It’s about re/finding the spirit. This book is a great read and can be applied to all fronts of life if you dig deep. The only thing I was disappointed about is that there wasn’t a clearly described method of bringing the aspects the author talks about into the western world. Nonetheless, It was a fascinating reading about the culture of the people of Dagara. ...more
Corey Burton
Dec 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
My first exposure to Burkina Faso was earlier this year with my reading "American Spy" which is about a CIA officer being recruited to cozy up to Thomas Sankara, the leftist president of Burkina Faso.

Reading this book was quite different than that, but was beautiful in its insight into the culture! Spirit, community and ancestry were all explored with a depth severely lacking here in "the West." I would love to personally do better with what Some' says: "is to look at the relationship as spirit
Lee Harrington
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Last night I finished "The Spirit of Intimacy: Ancient African Teachings in the Ways of Relationships" by Sobonfu Somé. I was turned onto it by an article Cazembe Abena had written. I'm still having some mixed feelings, as J do with most hyper-gendered and one standardized relationship style approaches... but a tidbit near the end way interesting.

Amongst the Dagara people of Burkina Faso, people who are not called to be in marriage (male/female), ones folks in the West may call gay, lesbian, and
The book a more African perspective regarding relationships. Here are the passages that stood out to me:

Her (Sobonfu) worldview is in many ways vastly different from the one that is familiar to us in the West. Notions of intimacy and sexuality are frequently turned completely around from what we assume to be true. Our belief in the primacy of the individual, for example, gives rise to relationships that are "privatized", owned by us and cut off from community and from spirit.

Intimacy in general
Dominique Wilson
Aug 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was a very thorough introduction to the concept of intimacy in all its facets and how it intersects with culture and ritual. I would highly recommend this to anyone, especially those in relationships, raising children, or facilitating sharing circles. Subonfu's tone is gentle and validating. She beautifully illustrates the concept of intimacy and relationships from a holistic perspective. This book is not limited to intimacy only in partnership, but does share traditional wisdom on top ...more
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It challenged my perceptions of the world, which was very helpful and necessary as someone beginning their own spiritual journey. It features a lot of wisdom and applicable advice in an easy to digest format, but the lessons are not shallow. These teachings definitely need to be chewed on daily as you attempt to build healthier relationships.

I also really appreciated how, though many people only reference this book in regards to cishet romantic relationships, there a
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As I was reading I’ve wanted to live in the Dagara village!! Loved everything about their teachings, rituals, lifestyle and connection with source energy

May I apply these teachings in my life as I understand better and better my purpose as a guardian and rejoice together with our ancestors the joy and experiences in this physical life.

Thank you with all my heart for writing this book and blessing our lives with this wisdom!
May 31, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a very insightful piece of literature that seeks to educate the reader on intimacy in relationships from the West African Dagara village. It's not a step-by-step how to guide for building intimacy but it's an exploration in communication, spirituality, culture and ritual that goes beyond "romantic" relationships. Take a notes, mark your favorite passages and reference this book often because there is wisdom here that applies to every relationship type. ...more
Mecca  Woodard
Jan 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael-David Sasson
Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars...

Interesting exploration of the role of ritual and marriage and community. That it comes from such a different orientation from US culture makes the teachings especially useful. The book is well-written and relatively short so not a significant investment to read. Her discussion of homosexuality in traditional society attempts to be humanistic but leaves a lot to be desired.
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