West African shamans of the Dagara tribe consider the West spiritually impoverished—and in danger of self-destruction—due to its failure to maintain solid relationships with our ancestors, who can guide us through life if we are attuned to them.
“The ancestors are clamoring for our attention,” initiated elder Glenn Leisching told me. “There’s a powerful push from the other world, but there’s not much openness to them in this world. Something has got to give, whether it’s a catastrophe or a gentler way of connecting. My obligation is help make that connection.”
Glenn offers divinations to help people understand where their lives are out of balance and how simple shifts in consciousness can bring them back into harmony with their surroundings and with the five elements of water, fire, earth, mineral, and nature.
Burned out as a freelance journalist and seeking a change, I went to Glenn for a divination in September 2010. He made many helpful—but not directly relevant—observations, among them the suggestion that I set up a shrine to my ancestors.
I enjoyed a daily ritual of lighting a candle and burning sage next to photos of my recently deceased father. After a few days, I decided to add a shoebox of family treasures my mother had given me, including the Civil War diary of my great great grandfather, William Davies. Having placed the box on my shrine, I decided to peek inside.
If you have read other entries in this blog, you know of his understated accounts, such as his description of the aftermath of a fruitless attempt to storm Vicksburg:
…our men fell back under cover amongst the broken ground until the dark mantle of night enveloped the bloody grounds…parties were engaged in bringing in the wounded and the dead until one o’clock great numbers of the dead could not be found in the darkness this was a trying time for me and all the rest also
Curiosity about Davies led me on a search for more information about my family and about the Civil War. Soon I realized that I was possessed of a gold mine of stories, connections, articles, and books. My mission over the next few years is researching, organizing, and commenting on this mass of information and giving it out to the world.
Now that I have the answer to my original question about where to focus my career, I want to study more of the Dagara teachings. Glenn is offering a 12-week course in Phoenicia, beginning January 10. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if, by chance, you want to find out more.