List price: $16.00 (that's 30% off!)
Used price: $10.95
Buy one from zShops for: $10.52
Sobonfu's husband [Malidoma Patrice Some] has covered very incisively the funeral and male initiation ceremonies in his three books; Sobonfu, by contrast, goes much more than he (given the stated topic) into such things as the pre-conception naming ritual. Then there is the ritual asking the child [before birth] what he/she is coming to life to be, to accomplish within the community. Then everyone in the community will be able to help the child in every way possible to grow into the person that he/she would be.
And there is the welcoming ceremony done for every child, each who has come on this long journey from the land of the ancestors to the land of the living. One beautiful feature of this is that the other village children (standing together in the next room) imitate the newborn child's first cry as accurately as possible to let the newborn know he/she has come to the right place.
Sobonfu goes into exquisite detail describing the bounteous relationship between children and their grandparents. The old ones are all getting closer to the world of the ancestral spirits, as they are approaching closer to the time they leave this world, whereas the young ones are most familiar with that world, having recently returned from there.
In another chapter she discusses how and why miscarriages occur, how strongly they affect the community (especially the mother and other close relatives), and what this has to do with the world of the ancestors. Then she articulates, once again, the rituals which attend the phenomena to help the grieving process that occurs as a result of this emotionally and spiritually traumatic breach [in the thin, permeable barrier between village life and that of the world beyond].
And there is the bonding ritual [re-commitment between husband and wife], the fertility ritual, and the bonding ritual between the child and its grandparents, as well as other ancillary activities.
Through all these examples she effortlessly and courageously articulates the vision the Dagara have of their life and community, so seamlessly it astounds you - the dawning of this worldview almost sneaks up on one as it gradually takes shape, almost from within the reader's subconscious. Her writing is the equal of that of her husband, as she dynamically melds all aspects together into an interpenetrating, wondrous whole.
"Children are the life-givers, the healers, the messengers of the ancestors. They bring out the spirit of the community - they bring spirit home. Children are embraced, celebrated and supported, for without them there would be emptiness in the hearts of all villagers." [p. 85]
In her last chapter, she recapitulates and outlines in detail how to perform all of the rituals previously mentioned, for the benefit of those here in the West who would like to transit to this most humanizing and spiritual form of community in their own lives. She first gives a summary of how to set up a ritual in general (and how it usually should flow), after which she tells about how dreams and/or storytelling can have a role, as well as how and why healing and integration can take place. For healing of hearts and souls in the community is, if not the primary focus for a given ceremony, always [at the very least] a significant by-product.
For more on the subject of African childrearing and educational practices (as well as how this affects an economy in which women do all the farming), this time from a Kongolese (central African) point of you, be sure to check out the slim volume by Fu-Kiau and Lukondo-Wamba, titled 'Kindezi - the Kongo Art of Babysitting', available at a number of fine university libraries around the world.
This is a beautiful book.
List price: $12.95 (that's 20% off!)
Used price: $1.00
Buy one from zShops for: $2.47
List price: $14.95 (that's 30% off!)
Used price: $1.89
Collectible price: $2.12
Buy one from zShops for: $5.25
What Medicine Eagle is trying to do here is present her experiences and conclusions about the nature of reality and the spirit world. These conclusions are often tentative and one often gets a feeling that her work is still very much in progress. In any case, one can be virtually certain that anyone who writes books about Native American spirituality is either a sincere beginner (who still harbors the illusion that talking about it can be useful) or a shameless exploiter of naive audiences, or both. This book belongs somewhere in between naivete and exploitation. The first part, which deals with her vision quests, is interesting. The second part is a plug for her workshops and is boring.
One chapter I liked was the one on Moshe Feldenkreis. The Westerner tends to be disconnected from his/her body and any spiritual work done under such circumstances can be fruitless or positively dangereous (spirits talk to us through the body and if we are not conscious of the talk, they will tweak the subconscious mind in ways we might not appreciate). Feldenkreis was a true expert in bodymind integration and a combination of his teachings with those of indigenous traditions is a great thing.
Creator has created all of us equal and what (s)he cares about is not the tribe one might belong to but the sincerity of our prayers and a dedication to "save all beings" because all of them are our relations. Spirit has many ways of seeping into our body and expanding our awareness of interconnectedness. Brooke, in this book, shows us her own path towards such awareness. It seems to work for her and maybe it will work for others, too.
List price: $16.00 (that's 30% off!)
Used price: $10.95
Buy one from zShops for: $7.34
Used price: $4.88
Collectible price: $24.99
Buy one from zShops for: $5.00