Of Water and the Spirit

Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic, and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman, by Malidoma Patrice Somé.

Somé, who was born about 1956 in Upper Volta, was close to his shaman grandfather. But this relationship and his tribal way of life was destroyed when, at age four, he was kidnapped by a French Jesuit missionary and raised in a seminary, from which he escaped at age 20. Returning home to his Dagara village, he was viewed by some as too tainted by white knowledge and ways to be able to join fully in tribal life; nevertheless, he underwent an intensive and dangerous six-week shamanic initiation that thoroughly established him as a member of the tribe. Later, he was dismayed to learn his destiny as revealed in divination and decreed by tribal elders: to return to the white world as a bridge to save his tribe from complete inculturation. This fascinating autobiography illustrates the profound culture clashes between Western civilization and indigenous cultures.

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