Updated: Apr 25, 2022
As I write this, I have two and a half months left to finish of my year-long Cowry Shell Divination training program with one of my teachers, Elder Malidoma Somé. I will share more about this ancient, divinatory medicine with you as soon as I complete my certification in September! But, for today, I wanted to introduce the five Elements of the Dagara cosmology wheel and how they can help you better understand yourself.
The Dagara people are members of an indigenous tribe in the West African nation of Burkina Faso. I was first introduced to Malidoma's work in the summer of 2016 by my friend, Susan. I was so fascinated that I soon began reading his autobiography, Of Water and the Spirit. While reading, something deep within me began to awaken and I knew, without a doubt that I was being called to work and study with this incredible diviner and African Shaman.
The Medicine Wheel
Most people are quite familiar with the western medicine wheel that is taught by many indigenous cultures: fire, air, water and earth. These elements are often associated with the four directions. Western Astrologers also teach us that each of the 12 zodiac signs are equally divided into these four elements.
The Dagara medicine wheel is slightly different as it contains five elements: nature, fire, mineral and water, with earth situated in the middle. In the Dagara tradition, each of the five elements are associated with these corresponding numbers:
Earth; 0 and 5
Water; 1 and 6
Fire; 2 and 7
Nature; 3 and 8
Mineral; 4 and 9
Malidoma teaches that the year you are born determines your predominant qualities and the elemental properties that will be your strongest in this lifetime.
To find out which element you are, you simply need to know the last number of your birth year. For example, I was born in 1987, so my birth year is a 7. The 7 tells me that I am a fire person; somebody who is a voice and bridge of the Other World and somebody who is deeply connected to her Ancestral roots and wisdom. If you've ever worked with me, then you know that is an accurate description!
The last year, 2020, was an earth year. It was a year where many focused on returning back home while much of the world was locked down and restricted. It was a year of connecting to family and discovering our sense of belonging. It should be no surprise that home, family and belonging are all properties of the earth in the Dagara tradition.
This year is 2021 which means that we are in a water year; a year of peace, reconciliation and deep cleansing. I sense so much reconciliation and cleansing happening on a worldwide scale and throughout all of humanity. This healing frequency is exactly the kind of restorative energy that our planet needs right now!
So, now that you know which element you correspond with, let's breakdown each one.
Grounded and rooted, the earth person was born in the years ending in 0 or 5. They are, as Malidoma would say, the "Great Mothers" who helps everyone around them feel at home, nourished, supported and comforted. Earth people love taking care of others and have a knack for accepting others as they are, without judgement.
A person who embodies earth energy is firm, solid, stable, patient, strong and wise. They care deeply about creating a safe and loving home and family. They have a strong sense of belonging and identity. Essentially, they know who they are and where they're going, which is comforting to those who have lost their way.
Earth people are able to bring out the best in others. This helps to empower others by building them up and making them feel a sense of belonging. If you are an earth person, then you know all about unconditional love and you are generous with your care and attention.
The downside of being an earth person is that they can give so much of themselves to others that they often forget to fill their own cup up. Earth people need to consciously care and nourish themselves first and foremost so that they have more to give to those they love. As the saying goes, "You can't pour from an empty cup."
If you were born in a year ending in 1 or 6, then you are a water person, a peacemaker and a harmony seeker. Water represents compassion, empathy, deep feelings and emotions, forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. A water person's strengths are often centered around community, relationships, friendships, love and harmony.
The voice of a water person is smooth and peaceful. They're often good at resolving conflicts and helping others to find harmonious solutions. They know how to reconcile differences with others and within themselves. Someone with a lot of water energy will appear cool, calm and collected even while weathering the storm. They are flexible and adaptable.
Water people are also very reflective and focused. They like to move at a slow and flowing pace so they have time to observe and understand the bigger picture and what's best for the greater good. A water person takes the term, "Going with the flow," to a whole new level. But, because of this, they can sometimes appear to others as moving too slowly or lacking motivation and ambition.
Born in the years ending in 2 and 7, fire people tend to have strong visions and passions. Fire properties include powerful emotions, action, energy, heat, authority, power, courage, confidence, willpower, enthusiasm, success and vitality.
In Dagara, fire is associated with the Ancestors and the Spirit World. Fire is seen as the doorway to the Ancestral realms and the connecting rod between the seen and unseen. Fire people are often highly instinctive and are vivid dreamers. Our dreams are believed to be direct messages sent to us by the Other World and should always be taken seriously.
Fire people are considered the conduits through which the Ancestors pass on information through intuition, dreams and perceptions. Because a fire person is usually deeply connected to both worlds they sometimes struggle to feel like they belong or fit in.
Fire people like to be active and are usually always moving and doing. They often like to take control and challenge everyone and everything that stands in their way. But, because of this, they can sometimes be seen as impatient, restless, impulsive, hyperactive or intolerant.
The nature people embody the principles of radical change, transformation, authenticity and magic. They're born in the years ending in 3 and 7. Nature people are eager to evolve and expand their consciousness. They have a deep understanding of the cycles of life, death and rebirth and are often sensitive to the changing rhythms of nature.
A nature person demands authenticity and is very in touch with their True Self. They can't stand fake-ness or pretending and will often challenge us to drop our masks and be as real as possible. Therefore, a nature person brings the best out of others.
Nature people tend to be their family's mystics, healers, diviners and light workers. They are often deeply spiritual. They are very interested in the supernatural and they crave a life full of magic, excitement and alchemy.
A nature person is often very playful and joyful. They want to have fun! Many nature people possess a lot of "coyote energy" because they know how to use humor, jokes, tricks and laughter to break down other peoples barriers. This is a nature person's soft-hearted approach into tricking others to drop their guard and show up as truly authentic.
Born in the years ending in 4 and 9, mineral people have great social skills. They're excellent communicators and listeners and thrive when it comes to relationships and connecting with others. Mineral people love to teach, speak and tell stories because they carry the ancient energy of remembering. Therefore, they have powerful memories. So, you'll find that mineral people are usually fascinated with myths, legends, rituals, traditions, metaphors, symbols, songs and poems.
My mineral husband is the extrovert and the life of the party. He rarely lacks self-worth or enthusiasm for life. He loves being around people and in the community, and is always serving on numerous leadership positions and community organizations. When I think of a mineral person, my husband embodies this frequency perfectly!
A mineral person should also know that the answers they seek are always within themselves and not "out there". They understand that they already possess the wisdom they're seeking. They usually contain a knowing that is deeper than rational thought and exists within the minerals of their bones. Just like a crystal, our bones contain ancient wisdom, history and information that has been passed down to us throughout many lifetimes. A person in touch with mineral knows how to access this knowledge within them.
Non-mineral people often get frustrated with mineral people because they enjoy the art of debating and arguing. They like to use eloquent language and take their time to "get to the point". They crave deep and meaningful conversations.
Learning from the Elemental Medicine
A well-rounded and whole person, will embody all five of these powerful elemental frequencies. There are certain times in your life where you may need extra assistance from one or more elements. For example, during a time of conflict, you'll want to demonstrate the healing and reconciling energies of water.
Usually a disharmony or imbalance in a person's life can be remedied by working with the elemental property that they most need. I've come to learn that the elements and the elemental beings associated with them are powerful healers that are always on standby to offer their assistance to us. The problem with modern society, is we've forgotten how capable they are and often neglect to ask for help.
Someone who lacks a sense of belonging, is going through an identity crisis or struggles to feel grounded should be prescribed earth rituals and practices that will strengthen their connection to the earth. Earth can also help with issues regarding home and family.
Water is often an important frequency that is required for cleansing and energetic clearing. Water protocols are used to heal our burning psyches and to assist us in living a more peaceful life. Water is often called on for those who are feeling stuck or stagnant.
Fire rituals can assist to open the communication channels between us and our Ancestors. They are called on when we are feeling disconnected to the higher wisdom of the Other World or when we're feeling spiritually unwell.
Nature can be invoked when you're dealing with life changes and transformations or simply want to experience more magic and wonder in your life. Nature rituals help to reveal, heal or restore our innermost nature and reveal our most authentic, True Self.
Someone who has forgotten who they are or why the are here should practice exercises that involve crystals, rocks, stones and the mountains. Working with the element of mineral helps awaken us to our purpose and the wisdom that resides within our bones.
As always, I hope this message finds you well. I look forward to sharing more information about this ancient wisdom with you in the coming months and years!