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Conference 2008
… what is it and how
to travel it wisely?
Malidoma Patrice Somé

Malidoma Patrice Somé

The Shaman

... After an endless walk he came back to his village in Burkina Faso. He had lost his roots, no longer spoke his tribal language or knew the values of the culture he had been born into. What he had learned as a young boy from his grandfather about nature, earth and spirit had been replaced by the ethics of ‘western civilization’, an image of God imbued with sin and punishment. This left him angry, confused, distrustful and isolated.

Upon reuniting with his tribe, he was as much of a stranger to them as he was to himself. He was told that only if he underwent a life-threatening ritual process of initiation, would he be able to re-enter the community. He was taken into the wilderness of Africa for six weeks and emerged as a young man ready to fulfill the teaching destiny that the elders and shamans of his tribe had laid out for him before he was born.


Saturday, September 6th, 8.00 p.m. – 10.00 p.m.
"Your Life is a Rite of Passage"

Some words from Malidoma Somé’s writings

"Normally, six or 12 weeks into pregnancy there is a ritual that is led by a group of advisors who get together with the pregnant woman. The purpose of the ritual is to inquire about the identity of the soul who is waiting to be born. Those attending ask the baby: ‚Who are you? What are you coming here for? What can we do for you, as people who have already arrived?‘

Growth itself makes one forget about who one is. So initiation is something that is designed to help one remember one's origin and the very purpose of one's occurrence on this side of reality - that is to say, why one was born. This is why initiation is especially magical.

Finally, initiation is necessary because we're living at a time where community is such an ideal word, which lacks the concrete translation of itself. To put it in other terms, everybody in this culture understands what community is and seems to aspire to a community which is much truer to what the heart and soul wants. I think initiation can help bring the answer to the birth of a true community.

I think these reasons make initiation a compelling must for any person in this culture who is tired of living in denial.”


Sunday, Sept. 7th, 9.00 a.m. – 12.30 p.m.
"Discovering the Sacred in a Fragmented World"

Some more words from Malidoma Somé’s writings

"I think the most important beneficial thing that can happen would be the creation of sacred spaces.... In those sacred places we can take care of the soul's desire to be replenished, to be fulfilled.

It would at least be a beginning to match the feeding of the soul to the feeding of the body. Until that happens we will continue to develop this hungry romantic hangover about indigenous cultures. Every time we hear what happened there, how life is lived there, how spirit is amplified there, our souls are banging at our consciousness, saying this is where you need to be, this is what you need to have. That seems strong enough to lead to some serious thinking about how to make that happen right around here.

One cannot find fulfilment by becoming other than what one is. It is ridiculous. So, one will not be fulfilled by reconnecting with other types of ancestors or cultures or practices. First, this reconciliation with one's own ancestors can lead to a very clear knowledge of what to do in order to bring about this sacrealization of one's own environment so that environment can become nurturing to the self."

Short Biography

Malidoma Patrice Somé is a traditional shaman and elder of the West African Dagara tribe. He was born in 1956 in Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world. Cut off from his tribal heritage, Malidoma spent his childhood and adolescence in what he calls “the white man’s reality.”

Throughout these years, Malidoma was haunted by the desire to return home to his tribe. Alienated from his Dagara roots, and therefore unaccepted by his elders, he underwent a life-threatening initiation period to energetically re-establish his connection with the tribe.

In the tradition of the Dagara every human being comes into this life with a specific purpose. Malidoma, whose name means “to make friends with strangers”, is living his destiny by sharing the wisdom and spirituality of his ancestors in lectures, seminars and divinations all around the globe. Malidoma holds doctorates from the Sorbonne and Brandeis University.



  • Of Water and Spirit: Ritual, Magic and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman New York: Tarcher/Putnam.
  • Ritual: Power, Healing and Community Portland, OR: Swan and Raven.
  • The Healing Wisdom of Africa: Finding Life Purpose Through Nature, Ritual, and Community New York: Tarcher/Putnam.

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Tessa Bielecki | Bert Hellinger | Nigel Hamilton | Malidoma Patrice Somé | Barbara Märtens | Lee Lozowick | Véronique Desjardins | Purna Steinitz

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