Tag Archives: African spirituality

Talisman of gratitude

According to Mayan shaman Martín Prechtel, all inspiration comes from the Other World. When we create something, we are supposed to give back to our ancestors in the Other World, using the form of “eloquent sound,” or by offering something … Continue reading

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Interview with my father

My father died five years ago. Our relationship continues to evolve. Last summer, while brainstorming an exercise for a group at an artists’ and writers’ retreat organized by my friend Bethany Ides, I invented the ancestor interview. It turned out … Continue reading

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Ancestralization: Water your family tree

My friends and I are digging a home for our ancestors under an old church. Maybe your ancestors would like to live there too. The church has been deconsecrated, as it is no longer needed for Christian services. We find … Continue reading

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Upstream, downstream

I had a dream in which I was fishing, so today went to sit on a rock beside the Esopus Creek, just to be near the water. Lately, when I sit by a brook or creek, I notice that I … Continue reading

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Singing the body back to health

When an individual falls ill…the shaman… after dealing with the cause, begins to rebuild the World House of that person’s body by…speaking or singing out a sacred map, following a natural order of holy words and magical sounds, in a … Continue reading

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A loss talisman

Loss is awful. Loss keeps coming up in my life this month, not as in new losses but as in memories of past losses, perhaps insufficiently grieved. In the West, we use therapy to uncover and discharge past griefs. Indigenous … Continue reading

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Ancestral flood relief

I’m not saying I totally believe in this stuff, but it does seem to work. I’ve been excessively anxious since the hurricane. I’m grateful the water didn’t enter my house, but cleaning up the flooded garage and crawlspace has been … Continue reading

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The Civil War and the hungry ghosts

In the previous post, I wrote about Mayan teachings related by Martin Prechtel in a Sun Magazine interview with Derrick Jensen in 2009. Like the West African Dagara, whose traditions I have been studying with Glenn Leisching (pictured),  the Mayans … Continue reading

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How I Met My Ancestors

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 … Continue reading

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I, Ancestor

It’s my daughter’s birthday, and it suddenly hits me—I am an ancestor! Ancestors are not dead, dusty old skeletons. They are people that precede other people, and we are all ancestors, even if we don’t have children, because we pass … Continue reading

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