Ever since, I read Sobonfu Some’s book, “The Spirit of Intimacy: Ancient Teachings in the Ways of Relationship” (whereby many of the quotes below comes from), I have been an admirer of hers. The book was one of simplicity yet it was profound. It gave me, a seeker after the spirit of Africa, answers that my soul yearned for. Sobonfu shared the wisdom way of the Dagara of Burkina Faso in West Africa. She was recognized by the Dagara elders as possessing special gifts from birth and was named Sobonfu, which means “keeper of the rituals.” Sobonfu said: “My work is really a journey in self discovery and in building community through rituals.” Sobonfu became one of the foremost voices in African spirituality, travelling the world on a healing mission to share the rich spiritual life and culture of the Dagara people. She was the founder of Wisdom Spring, Inc. an organization dedicated to the preservation, the sharing of indigenous wisdom as well as holding fundraisers for wells, schools and health projects in Africa. According to Alice Walker, Sobonfu was, “…a teacher who can help us put together so many things that our modern western world has broken.”
Sobonfu Some died on 14 January 2017.
The Healing Quotes of Sobonfu Some
“There isn’t one ruler who is in charge of everything, who gives directions that everybody has to follow. We still have a system where elders oversee the village, without a sense of acquiring wealth and power. Power, you see, is understood in the village as very dangerous if not used correctly. So everybody is very cautious about using any kind of power over others.”
“We have five different elements: earth, water, mineral, fire and nature. The element earth is responsible for our groundedness, our sense of identity, and our ability to nurture and to support one another. Water is peace, focus, wisdom and reconciliation. Mineral helps us to remember our purpose and gives us the means to communicate and to make sense out of what others are saying. Fire is about dreaming, keeping our connection to the self and ancestors and keeping our visions alive. Nature helps us to be our true self, to go through major changes and life-threatening situations. It brings magic and laughter.”
“Intimacy in general terms is a song of spirit inviting two people to come and share their spirit together. It is a song that no one can resist. We hear it while awake or sleeping, in community or alone. We cannot ignore it… Two people come together because spirit wants them together. What is important now is to look at the relationship as spirit-driven, instead of driven by the individual… Once a relationship is taken out of its spiritual context, it faces many dangers. A deep disconnection is created, not only on the spiritual plane, but also at the personal level… People involved in a solely sexual relationship, for instance, carry within themselves a huge energetic hole from early childhood wounds that completely cuts them off from their true selves. Their hope is that the person with whom they are involved might give them the connection they crave. More often than not, the person they are reaching out to does not have a connection to the self either. And so you have two people who are disconnected at both the spiritual and personal level. The relationship doesn’t have any kind of grounding force or foundation to hold it. Separation from spirit, as we see here in the West, causes a greater emphasis on romantic love. Yet romantic love creates a vortex of longing for another person. It is only a way of finding that other connection, which is to spirit, that we are actually looking for.”
“We see that in life it is necessary to grieve those things that no longer serve us and let them go. We experience conflicts, loved ones die or suffer, dreams never manifest, illnesses occur, relationships break up, and there are unexpected natural disasters. It is so important to have ways to release those pains to keep clearing ourselves. Hanging on to old pain just makes it grow until it smothers our creativity, our joy, and our ability to connect with others. It may even kill us. Often my community uses grief rituals to heal wounds and open us to spirit’s call, because there is a price in not expressing one’s grief. Unexpressed hurt and pain injures our souls. Imagine if you never washed your clothes or showered. The toxins that your body produces just from everyday living would build up and get really stinky. That is how it is with emotional and spiritual toxins too. What we must remember is that, the more these toxins rise the more we have a tendency to blame or hurt others around us. People never harm others out of joy, they give pain to others because they too are hurt or in pain.”
“When we talk about spirit, we are referring to the life force in everything. Each of us is seen as a spirit who has taken the form of a human in order to carry out a purpose. Spirit is the energy that helps us to connect, and also helps us in ritual and in connecting with the ancestors.”
“Ancestors are also referred to as spirits. The spirit of an ancestor has the capacity to see not only into the invisible world but also into this world, and it serves as our eyes on both sides. It is this power of ancestors that will help us direct our lives and avoid falling into huge ditches. Ancestor spirits can see future, past, and present. They can see inside us and outside of us. The world of spirit involves and affects absolutely everyone in the world. It is very easy for us to get lost in the mundane world and forget about our connection to spirit. Yet without connection to spirit we are basically the walking dead. We can strengthen our connection to spirit through rituals. Various rituals help us to heal particular wounds and open us to spirit’s call. When you start a ritual where you need their support, if you address them simply as spirits or ancestors, maybe even say, ‘the ones who I know, and the ones who I don’t know, and those who know me more than I do myself,’ you are tapping the ancestral power out there, and you are not beginning with confusion as to whether, in the pool of ancestors there is a spirit out there that you can identify with.”
“It is difficult for indigenous people to conceive of life without a community as it is for most Westerners to imagine life in a community.”
“If we are going to achieve our purpose in life, we must be willing to fall out of grace and accept its lessons. When we feel righteous about ourselves, or deny our brokenness, we are fighting against the higher states of grace that await us.
“Women and men live their own mysteries. Therefore, we accept the tradition that women must work with women in order to build a feminine identity and that men must work with men in order to build a masculine identity. This way, when a man and a woman come together, they are better able to relate to each other.”
“The family in Africa is always extended. You would never refer to your cousin as ‘cousin,’ because that would be an insult. So your cousins are your sisters and brothers. Your nieces are your children. Your uncles are your fathers. Your aunts are your mothers. Your sister’s husband is your husband, and your brother’s wife is your wife. Children are encouraged to call other people outside the family mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers.”
“The purpose of rituals is to take us to a place of self-discovery and mastery. In this sense ritual is to the soul what food is to the physical body… Rituals are participatory activities that involve the whole being: body, spirit, mind, and soul. In our rituals we call in spirits, ancestors, and dimensional beings to guide us each step of the way. Rituals are a form of continuous prayer. They help us to consciously incorporate healthy, genuine spiritual evolution and to dwell in the sacred in a way that truly heals us.”
Photo credit: Sobonfu Some via https://www.clarissabutler.com/give-back/