“Men get caught up in the socio-economic nightmare of giving away most of their time in order to survive,” says best-selling author and shaman Malidoma Some. “We didn’t come into this world to give all our energy to stay alive, we came here to live. The biggest dragon is the one that tells us we have to work eight hours a day, and we end up being so tired that the very thing our soul is yearning for we don’t have time for.”
“The dragon wants us to be introverted,” Malidoma says on his website. “Men usually fool themselves into serving the big dragon. We must endanger the problem by confronting it,” he insists. “It is to be dug out of its hiding and exposed to the air. It cannot breathe oxygen. The light of day is lethal to it. That’s why the dragon tells us that we should be safe, because the dragon wants to be safe. We end up actually serving the very thing we want to be rid of.”
I first interviewed Malidoma more than 10 years ago in a tiny office in the hills of Oakland, CA. You can hear excerpts of our conversation at my other website, tamarindyears.com. But little did I know back then that I would one day be working on a film – and that Malidoma would appear in it. As I read his words about “slaying the dragon” I thought about my own escape from Corporate America earlier this year and how leaving the rat-race to pursue my passion was the best thing for me and my family.
A refugee from Corporate America – a happy refugee. That’s how I think of myself these days. Malidoma’s lifework and message about slaying the dragon strongly resonates with me at this juncture of my life. I’ve come to believe that we are all called to slay dragons – “dragons” that stand in the way of who we are and what we are called to do. Dragons that stand in the way of what’s healthy for us and our communities.
My journey toward this film has taught me that it’s possible to fight the dragon and win. No, it wasn’t a quick, easy fight and at times I’ve had my doubts. But we are on the verge of receiving funding for a film that will have a significant impact on the lives of millions. For now, it seems like the dragon has retreated to the corner. With the help of the ancestors and the orisas, hopefully it will stay there!!
P.S. For a treasure-trove of wonderful newsletters by Malidoma Some that have been archived, click here:
“We all came from Africa, and we need to go back to our roots,” says David Cumes, a South African-born doctor who is on a mission to bridge Western medicine and African healing wisdom. Cumes says Western medicine and African medicine complement each other.
David Cumes, M.D.
I had the good fortune of speaking to this kindred spirit recently. In my upcoming film, he will share his unique perspectives as a Western-trained medical professional AND shaman who has been initiated and trained in the South African healing and spiritual traditions. He is certain that since humanity was born in Africa, the healing arts began there as well.
Trained as a urologist, Cumes has taught at Stanford Medical Center and has published extensively in professional journals. He also has a successful private practice in Santa Barbara, California. But little did he know that he would one day be initiated as a sangoma (medicine man) and would “throw the bones” to provide spiritual guidance for others.
In 1992, when he was first told in Africa that the ancestors were calling him to embrace African spiritual and healing traditions he was skeptical and resisted the message from Spirit.
According to an article on his website: “after returning to the States, he began to experience incessant migraines and back pain he had never had before. He made his way back to Africa, not just to seek a cure for his physical ailments but also to discover if he really was destined to become a sangoma. After a series of meetings with other sangomas, Cumes finally relented and was initiated into the tradition.”
These days, Dr. Cumes combines both his skills as a surgeon and as a sangoma to provide healing to others. He returns to South Africa on a regular basis for advanced training.
In the story of Dr. Cumes’ long journey to self-discovery, I also hear my own story. I was initiated as a priest of Ifa, but it took me many years to accept my destiny because I was skeptical when I first received the call from the ancestors.
I’ve come to believe that if we don’t fulfill our purpose we put the lives of others at risk. The gifts that we have within must be cultivated. We all have a role to play in the healing of humanity.
As Dr. Cumes says: “the movement toward the inner world is our primary purpose on the planet. If we deviate from our soul’s path, we create imbalance and poor health. Each patient must find the healer and healing technique that best connects them to Self.”
“Western medicine has brought us many boons but there are glaring deficiencies as well,” he adds. “We focus too much on the intellectual, cognitive and scientific and too little on the intuitive, receptive, artistic, compassionate and mystical. Going back to our root or core self with the help of ancient African wisdom gives us not only an understanding of our origins but a clear perspective of a new and, at the some time, very old paradigm of healing not confined to the space/time continuum.”
For more information about the life and work of David Cumes, visit: www.davidcumes.com
All praise to the ancestors! We expect the film to be fully funded in Jan, 2012. Then another phase of the project begins. I’ll be meeting with acclaimed director Stanley Nelson soon, and we’ll come up with a game plan for how we approach the film, who the crew members should be and what segments of the story ought to be filmed first. We will also work on story development and logistics.
Meditating in the hills of Oakland
It’s been four long years since I went to Nigeria with the dream of doing a film. My initial concept was to focus on Yoruba sacred traditions. As time went on, the vision expanded. I felt the need to explore other cultures as well. Hence, the vision of also going to Senegal, Burkina Faso, Egypt and the Caribbean was born.
The size of the crew has also expanded. I traveled alone to Nigeria in 2008 and did everything by myself. I am delighted that I will be working with a team of solid professionals moving forward. I’ve had many challenges over the years on the journey toward this film. But my elders in Africa – a team of senior Ifa priests and diviners have been with me each step of the way.
Always maintain faith! Understand that your ancestors have better plans for you than you have for yourself. There is a bigger picture. A higher order. Never give up the vision!
This morning I laid in bed thinking about visions. I can’t help it. It’s one of my passions. Nothing can happen for you unless you submit to your vision; unless your vision becomes a way of life; a life that your are committed to pursuing no matter where it takes you. Why should anyone support your vision unless you have demonstrated that you are willing and capable of supporting your own vision yourself?
This photo was taken by prozac1
To live without vision is to live without realizing why you are even here. To live without vision is to live without realizing your potential to impact the earth and those around you. Honor your vision! And step toward it today!