July 6, 2018
Finished reading “Of Water And The Spirit: Ritual, magic and initiation in the life of an African Shaman” by Malidoma Patrice Some. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It really speaks to my learned fear of the spiritual, magical unknown. I guess I just needed the right kind of African tribal shaman to speak to me.
Since I’m going to be using the term ‘magic’ in this blog, let me clarify. To me, magic and science are one and the same. They are like two sides of the same coin. The term magic applies to everything that we haven’t yet explained, and science is the term we use when have explained it. For example: a beautiful purple flower is magic. We can know the science for why its purple, but we can’t yet explain why it’s alive. Knowing why the flower is purple, doesn’t make the flower less magical, beautiful, or purple.
When it comes to magic itself… I’ve had a lot of the typical western teachings. I have learned to fear the things that most of us have. We are taught early in our lives that there are evil things that want to hurt us – from ‘bloody Mary’ in the mirror – to poltergeists that want our light – to demons that would possess, hurt, and enslave us, to the devil who wants our soul. We are surrounded my black magic, dark and horrible things, including aliens who wish to abuduct us, and sorcerers who can turn us into zombies.
We are taught that humans are evil creatures, and there are even more evil creatures in the deep unknown, in the realm of the mystical.
For most of us, our fear of magic includes having been taught to avoid practicing magic, and to protect ourselves in some manner from the evil unknown; which usually includes doing some form of magic, but we don’t usually call it that. This may include magic such as: praying to God, wearing a cross, star of David, or rosary, wearing a head covering, not cutting our hair in certain ways, using certain symbols as magic wards, not walking under ladders, being wary of black cats that cross our path, cautious of the number 13, or 666, using astrology or tarot cards to help us make good choices, speaking to trees, listening to our inner voice, aligning our chakras, wearing our lucky socks, and on and on.
Every magic practitioner that I’ve seen or known about including psychics, priests, witches, shamans, monks, etc., all have symbols they use, tools to help them ward off evil, enhance their abilities, and make stronger connection with those they seek to appease, get advice and wisdom from, or pray to.
In reading this beautiful tribal book, which is so different from the predominantly Judeo-Christian mentality I grew up with, these amazing people aren’t worried about evil spirits. They focus much more on respecting the ancestors, and appropriate acknowledgment of power. Their reality is that one isn’t ‘protected’ from their destiny, one placates the spirits/ancestors and works with them to create a flow, rather than fighting against it, or going against their will creating resistance.
The elders of these tribal people listen to a baby before it’s born, and know it’s gender, and its purpose, and name it according to its purpose so that it won’t forget. The grandparents and the children are close, and speak to each other of memories and stories. They help a child to grow into their purpose, and support and love them in a way very different from my reality.
Of course, I’m grateful for my own life and experiences, to be right where I am, to be interested in understanding magic, and to be very much a scientist.
One of my goals is to have as much understanding as I can, from as many perspectives as is realistic, so I can write in a manner that I hope will feel inclusive to many, many different people. I know that having knowledge and diverse perspectives, doesn’t mean I’ll be able to speak to everyone – there’s no listening from someone who has already made up their mind that they’re right, and everyone/thing else is wrong.
Even so, I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to read about such a different life experience, and to add my limited understanding of it into my being. I hope that as I continue to learn about more ways of seeing the world, I can include them in my stories, and help my readers to find themselves and their experiences in my writings.
Onto the next book…
My you find great happiness in your day, your life, and yourself.