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Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic and Initiation in the Life of an… (1994)

by Malidoma Patrice Some

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303475,458 (4.18)9
Narrative and ideology "Fanny and Annie" who narrates? part 1 who narrates? part 2 narrative plots - "Character" and "Action" ideology and the pleasure of the text time and ideology - "The Garden of Forking Paths" in defence of narrative instead of a conclusion

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Maliodoma Patrice Some was born in a Dagara Village, however he was soon to be abducted to a Jesuit school, where he remained for the next fifteen years, being harshly indoctrinated into european ways of thought and worship. The story tells of his return to his people, his hard initiation back into those people, which lead to his desire to convey their knowledge to the world. Of Water and the Spirit is the result of that desire; it is a sharing of living African traditions, offered in compassion for those struggling with our contemporary crisis of the spirit.
  PSZC | May 22, 2019 |
"I still often suffered from being a man of two worlds", 9 November 2015

This review is from: Of Water And Spirit (Paperback)
Malidoma Some was born into a village in Burkina Faso when it was still under French rule. He describes his first four years, focussing particularly on his close relationship with his grandfather, an elder and shaman. As he recalls his grandfather's funeral - spirit voices, and the dead man walking - I thought perhaps these were the confused recollections of a small child.
At four, the author was 'stolen' by the local priest, and compelled to live in a Catholic boarding school. Forced to communicate in French, he soon forgot his native tongue. And Catholic dogma replaced tribal rites. But while he was persuaded by the religion, to the extent of wanting to become a priest, he was also repelled at the sexual and physical abuse he witnessed, and at the colonial attitudes towards the African people.
At twenty he ran back to his village; much of the book now tells of (parts of) the month-long initiation ceremony he underwent. And here the reader must decide for himself what to make of the author's otherworldly experiences, as he enters other dimensions, communes with spirits and much more. Was he drugged? hypnotized? Was it Satanism or is there really a way into other universes? The descriptions are very vivid and persuasive, and I never realized initiation rituals included all this. ( )
  starbox | Nov 8, 2015 |
Burkina Faso (Upper Volta)

As a child, Somé was kidnapped by Jesuits, to be trained as a priest and used as an intermediary with his people. He escaped as an adult (after assaulting a teacher, he fled the Jesuit school) and returned to his village. There, he was out of place and unable to assume an adult role. He was both lacking in local knowledge and had been taught a different way to see the world. Much of the memoir recounts Somé's grueling initiation and transition to cultural adulthood. Even after initiation, however, Somé remains a man of two worlds, charged by his elders to bridge his culture and the Western world.

Like many memoirs and narratives from non-Western cultures, magic and symbolism abound. This is not how I understand the world and its workings, so it is interesting to read Somé's descriptions. He addresses the worldview differences, but I would have wished for more commentary on the contrasts. Also like many memoirs from countries affected by colonialism and war, the questions of identity, identification, and multiple cultures are pervasive, critical, and ultimately unanswerable.
( )
  OshoOsho | Mar 30, 2013 |
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The story I am going to tell comes from a place deep inside of myself, a place that perceives all that I have irremediably lost and, perhaps, what gain there is behind the loss.
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Narrative and ideology "Fanny and Annie" who narrates? part 1 who narrates? part 2 narrative plots - "Character" and "Action" ideology and the pleasure of the text time and ideology - "The Garden of Forking Paths" in defence of narrative instead of a conclusion

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