Responding To The Ancestors' Dream For The Future
I'd like to begin this story by thanking our Ancestors, our collective Ancestors, for bringing us together today. I pray that the Ancestors continue to weave people together, interested in change, interested in love..
Six years ago I was guided to study with my teacher, Malidoma Some. Spirit was very clear in the ways that they were communicating with me through messages. They were loud with their signs! I knew I needed to listen. Following through with the guidance of the Ancestors, I started studying with Malidoma.
Each step along the path felt very familiar. I began to feel a sense of being at home in myself. Synchronicity was becoming more present. So I continued..
Something has always felt very natural to me about the Dagara ways that Malidoma generously shares with the. Malidoma came here to be a bridge of understanding. Helping the modern world to understand the indigenous perspective, coming from the Dagara Tribe of , Africa. Colonization happened in Burkina Faso many years ago and so there was a response from the Ancestors..
Malidoma's work here, in the West, has helped people to reconnect with their Ancestors of origin. And in the Dagara perspective the Ancestors connect us to everything. In the Dagara cosmology, life emerges from five elements. There is nature, water, fire, mineral and earth. All of the elements can be interacted with, because they're alive, and you can communicate with the Spirits that live inside the body of the elements. And they all have characteristics, just like us. So Malidoma seems to help people reconnect with the Earth, as well as a more indigenous way of relating to the natural world. And in that connectivity, healing happens. So when a problem or an issue arises in your life, there is a ritual that can take place that can bring about healing. Possibly, going to the water and connecting with the water spirits can help heal the pain that you might feel about a loved one dying. Through the grief and emotion that comes through, the water spirits can bring healing to you. And you might leave the water feeling refreshed and more hopeful. And you might even have the feeling that the water really heard you, that there was a conversation that occured and that it was real. This is an example of the Dagara perspective. And, the Dagara believe that it's our Ancestors that we connect with first before connecting with any other Spirit. So it would mean going through our supportive Ancestors to connect with the water spirits, or any other spirit, for that matter.
The Dagara also believe that we each come into this world with a purpose and that our Ancestors were present for the conversation, prior to our birthing into this world, about our specific purpose. However, in the Western world we're rather disconnected from our Ancestors and so they have a more difficult job helping us to stay on our path. So, it seems that they try to throw different signs and messages our way to get our attention. And I've also noticed in working with people, that forgetting one's purpose seems to be a cause for intense pain. And maybe that pain is also a message to try to help us come back to our path.
These past six years, working with Malidoma, have been wonderfully transformative, helping me to understand my place in the world. And the voice of the Ancestors have increasingly become louder. I have continued to deepen in my participation with this work and how it translates in our culture. This deepening eventually called me to Burkina Faso, Africa, two years ago.
Touching ground in Burkina Faso was extraordinary! It was extremely emotional for me. I experienced laughter and grief simultaneously. It was very overwhelming. My heart cracked open, releasing water from my eyes. Everything that I had hoped for, that I had imagined to be possible for humanity, ways of being together, I was seeing it in this old culture. I felt like I exhaled for the first time in my life. A precious longing that I held inside, I was experiencing it as reality. I was witnessing the way people care for each other. Each of them, brothers and sisters. And I was their new sister. Everybody sharing joy together, sharing life together, sharing upset together, sharing disappointment together. But always, through being connected, through helping each other. It's said that this is one of the poorest countries in the world and yet I couldn't imagine that when I was there. People were so abundant. It seemed so natural, the way everyone shared. Although I traveled to Burkina to do work with the Shamans, the culture really captured my heart. I loved spending time with the children in the villages that we traveled to; sharing joy, going beyond language and experiencing life together.
After my first trip in 2009 I was called back by Spirit in February of 2010. I was going through an initiation that entire year. I was being changed internally. During my first visit to Burkina I was identified as a stick diviner and as a kontomble woman by the Shamans. There was an ability that I had, to be able to do divination through a stick that I never really understood. Several years before that trip, spontaneously, one night, Spirit began coming through a stick I had that I was holding. They started moving it in my hands and communicating to me through it. Once that ability was turned on, it had been with me ever since. And it wasn't until I arrived to talk to the woman Shaman in Burkina that I realized that it was kontomble making that happen. Kontomble, in the Dagara community, are very respected Spirits from the otherworld. They are very small in stature but hold immense healing abilities. They are ancient. They are also likened to leprachauns or the duende of the Phillipines. And stick divining, apparantly, is made possible by kontomble. So I was given this ability by kontomble a few years before traveling to Burkina Faso and it wasn't until I visited the Shamans there that I understood that kontomble was behind the whole thing. So, between 2009 and 2010, when I returned to Burkina Faso, kontomble was taking me through an initiation. I was beginning to remember the energy of kontomble and it was becoming more conscious. I could sense their world more easily and feel their energy close by more often than not. It had a gradual changing effect on my being and has radically changed my life.
After leaving Burkina in 2010, when I was traveling home, to the United States I was reflecting on the trip. Before even touching ground in the United States kontomble had already began talking to me about what was to come..
That was the beginning of a message they started bringing to me about change. They started talking to me continuously about taking this work to the next generation. They were adamant about it! They would tell me, if culture is going to change you've got to take this work to the next generation. Being 34, myself, that meant they were asking me to focus on the generation of 20 something's. And they wouldn't leave me alone about it! They would talk to me incessantly about it. It felt as if they were holding fire underneath me propelling me to action. Which.. eventually I did. I asked them what they wanted me to create and how. And so, I put it out there.
My first group series that I facilitated was at the end of 2010. I sat with a group of amazing souls. We shared about our experiences and our feelings about the world and about the future. I realized how deeply they care. We were exploring how we can work with the shamanic perspective to create change in the world. Wondering what kind of impact can be made when a large enough group of 20 something's are willing to remember their Ancestors legacy. Could it be possible to have a stronger standing in the world when feeling backed by Ancestors that go back to the very beginning of time? Starting to understand that there was a spirit present in the group, a group spirit, a spirit that was highly interested in change; a spirit that was strong enough to make an impact. I would find myself on more than one occasion saying, there's no place that I'd rather be than right here, having this conversation with you all.
The series came to an end and the Ancestors wanted more! They wove my path together with a woman that I'm in deep collaboration with, Anais Szabo. Together, we facilitate groups interested in change. And I feel the excitement of the Otherworld about this! Change is upon us. Change is coming and change we're calling for. It is time.. I realized there's such potential in working with the wisdom of the Ancients, wisdom that's been shared from the Dagara Tribe of Burkina Faso, wisdom that can be natural medicine in our modern living. This medicine is sweet, and has amazing healing abilities. What happens when you bring a group of 20 something's into nature and welcome our wonderfully diverse Ancestors into the circle, asking them what the nature spirits have been waiting to say to us about the challenges that they've been watching us encounter for generations? Can we be the ones that we've been waiting for? Can we be the change that the Ancestors have been praying for?
I think so..
I give thanks to the Ancestors for bringing us together and for giving us the opportunity to connect..
About the author
Liv Wheeler is a San Francisco resident. She's has a shamanic practice, where she sees clients in the city, as well as facilitating groups and trainings around the Bay Area.
Her shamanic path began by studying with 3 different medicine people. She eventually met her teacher and mentor, Malidoma Some, PhD (Dagara Elder, Shaman, Author). Liv has worked with Malidoma for 6 years, the past 3 have been in assisting him with the Northern California trainings.
Liv has also spent time in Burkina Faso, Africa, going to Malidoma's village to work with the Dagara medicine people and elders of Dano, in Burkina Faso, Africa. She's taken three trips to Burkina and has fallen madly in love with the culture and the Burkinabe people. Currently in Liv's healing practice, she practices as a Diviner and a facilitator, a facilitator between the Spirit realm and the human realm; facilitating healing, facilitating information being brought through. She also guides personal and group trainings in shamanic work. Some, especially focused on 20 something’s finding a grounding in this work. And she's currently deeply exploring the meeting space of spirit with art and spirit with music, in an additional branch of her practice.
"I feel that we’ve incarnated into this time that we’re living in for a very special reason. These ‘times’ aren’t necessarily easy but I can’t imagine a more meaningful time to be an agent for change.. I offer myself to community in this way.. I was told before that I’m a voice for the Ancestors, that I’m to bring their voice into this world, and with that comes transformation. My hope is that I can help others to remember their soul’s potential as well"…Liv Wheeler