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In Honor of My Teacher, Malidoma

Updated: Apr 27, 2022

Dear friends, it is with great sadness that I write today to let you know that my beloved teacher and friend, Malidoma Patrice Somé, left this earthly realm last Thursday, December 9, 2021. Malidoma was a talented medicine man from West Africa. He was a healer and diviner of the Dagara people of Burkina Faso and has authored several books.

I shared this photo on my Instagram account the day of his passing. Since then, I have appreciated the many supportive messages that have found their way to me. I have also received an abundance of questions and comments as many have been quite curious to see myself, a small-town gal from Kansas pictured with an African elder. So, I thought, to honor my teacher, I would share a bit of our story with you.

I was first introduced to Malidoma's work in the summer of 2016 by my friend, Susan Manchester. I was experiencing the most difficult year of my life and felt beaten down and broken in every way possible. I went on a weeklong yoga retreat in the Crestone Mountains in hopes of finding healing or comfort. Little did I know that my entire life was about to radically change in a direction that I least expected.

I remember the details of that day so vividly. Susan and I were in a little cabin, high up in the mountains of a Buddhist monastery. Susan invited me to take part in an ancient medicine practice known as African Cowry Shell Divination that was taught to her by her teacher and mentor, Malidoma Somé. Something hit me like a bolt of lightning when she said his name. I couldn't explain it, but I knew that I needed to remember it.

I was so uplifted and empowered by my divination with Susan that I soon began wanting to know more about where this technique came from and who was responsible for such a magical gift. It lead me to begin reading Malidoma's 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 African Shaman.

People often ask me how I knew. I could feel something rattling the deepest layer of my Soul, and I just knew. I have no logical explanation other than I was being guided by something that, at the time, I could not see or hear. That something was much bigger than rational thought or reason.

If you ever get a chance to read Of Water and the Spirit, please do! I have shared my own copy with so many friends and family members over the years that the pages are deeply worn and the edges are beginning to tear. The face people make when they hand it back to me after devouring it in a matter of days never ceases to amaze me. With their jaw nearly hanging to the ground, they always ask me the same, suspicious question, "Did all of that really happen to him?" And with an all-knowing twinkle in my eye I simply say, "Of course it did." Then, I'll curiously watch as their western-conditioned minds try to process the possibility that their life could be so much bigger than they've been taught.

Malidoma had a special way of bridging the unseen world of Spirit with our physical world, here on Earth. He talked about magic and the spiritual realms as if they were a very normal, and real part of his life, which they were. For so many people, the idea of speaking to Spirits, such as the Ancestors or the Spirits of Nature, seems impossible, like it is something that is only reserved for people with a unique set of abilities and gifts. But, for Malidoma, he always instilled in his students that we all possess the same connection to Spirit that he did. He also taught us that, in some small corners of the world, magic and Spirit are still very much alive and well! Spirit is always moving through each of us, it's just that most of us aren't paying attention.

His autobiography touched me in a very deep way. I had a strong inner knowing that not only would I someday study with Malidoma, but that his work would be a keystone in my life. I didn't know when or how he would guide me down my path of healing, but that when the opportunity came, I'd have no choice but to say yes. I have only felt that strong of a Soul connection to another human once before in my life, and I married that man!

I didn't know much else about Malidoma other than what was written in the pages of that book. In fact, I honestly thought he still lived in Africa, and I wasn't sure how I could ever travel across the ocean with two very young children at home. But, lo and behold, I received a phone call from Susan only a few months later. Malidoma was going to be in Colorado to conduct a weeklong healing intensive filled with Elemental rituals.

Of course, I said, 'yes' without even checking my calendar. I couldn't help but to laugh out loud with joy. Somehow, I had known all along that he'd come. Because what I've learned is that if you ask the Universe for something with as much conviction as I had, you can't say no when the invitation arrives.

That week was the start of the five incredible years that I knew and studied with Malidoma. He taught me a lot about indigenous technologies, connecting to the Ancestors and Spirit realms through divination and ritual, and working with Elemental medicine, among so many other things.