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Healing Wisdom of Africa [Paperback]

Malidoma Patrice Some , L. M. Some
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Oct 1999

A beautifully written book which brings ancient wisdom teachings of healing and ritual from the heart of Africa to the modern world.

Malidoma Patrice Somé is both an initiated African shaman and a gifted Western scholar. His name literally means “he who makes friends with the stranger” and he has spent his life immersing himself in African and Western cultures in order that he may bridge the gap between the two.
In this book he takes us on a fascinating journey through the ritual practices and spiritual wisdom of the Dagara people who are renowned throughout West Africa for their miraculous powers of healing.
In much the same way as Deepak Chopra is able to communicate complex Ayurvedic philosophy in an accessible way, Malidoma Somé applies the solutions of an ancient African tradition to the problems of the modern world. He addresses the widespread psychological problems of loneliness, alienation and lack of purpose with the healing powers of ritual and connection to nature.
This is a ground-breaking book as, for the first time, we have an authentic voice initiated into an African healing tradition who speaks with academic prowess and personal experience of modern Western culture.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Jeremy P. Tarcher; Reprint edition (1 Oct 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087477991X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874779912
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 118,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


“In this profoundly wise and fascinating book Malidoma Patrice Somé has delivered an incomparably meaningful gift to us wanderers and seekers in the West. The way back to the memory of who we once were; the way forward to who we are or might become.”
Alice Walker

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

'The Healing Wisdom of Africa' is a fascinating journey through the ritual and spiritual wisdom of the Dagara people who are renowned through West Africa for their miraculous healing powers. Malidoma Patrice Somé, who is both a shaman and a scholar, brings a unique insight into the spiritual life of traditional Africa and explains how this ancient knowledge may be used to heal widespread emotional stress and spiritual hunger in the West.

By adapting the ritual and ceremony of his people to the modern world he shows us how we can find new balance between the self, the spirit, the community and the environment. As he draws us closer to the heart of the indigenous world we come to a new understanding of our own life's purpose through a deeper connection to nature and spirit in daily life.

Malidoma literally means 'he who makes friends with a stranger' and, as an initiated medicine man and gifted scholar, he has made it his life's work to become a bridge of understanding between his own African culture and the West. His first book 'Of Water and the Spirit' has become a treasured classic.

“In this wise and fascinating book Malidoma Somé has delivered an incomparably meaningful gift to us wanderers and seekers in the West. The way back to the memory of who we once were; the way forward to who we are or might become.”

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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What the indigenous world offers to the modern world centers around the understanding of the concepts of healing ritual and community. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It changed my perception of Africa 20 May 2005
By A Customer
I found this book very interesting in how someone from a different culture percieves our western culture. It also changed my perception of Africa. The author himself states that we Western people often have a pitying image of Africa as full of disease and poverty. But what we percieve as unevolved and technologically weak is to the africans a very important way of life. He made the important point that the Africans are ignorant of certain aspects of our culture, just as we are. They have a very strong sense of community and family which we in the West lack, as well as a complicated belief-system concerning Nature and the 'Spirits' that inhabits it. It is arrogant of us to presume that because we percieve a culture as being primitive and uncultured it is worse than ours when in many aspects this culture could teach us a lot about ourselves and how to live a happier life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully inspiring 14 Nov 2013
By Sarah
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
You really must read this book. It oozes with warmth and wisdom: 'feeding your soul' as it opens up an understanding of African indigenous communities and their spiritual integration with each other and the natural world. There is a lot in this that 'more developed' societies could learn - or perhaps remember.

The author does a wonderful job of communicating the importance of community, and the development within community of individuals and their talents/life purposes. It explains the ways in which a common purpose for the Dagara people (whose lives depend very directly upon each other and their immediate environment) is interwoven with the health of both the natural and spirit worlds. In this way, they have survived sustainably without 'high aspirations' or 'mega-consumerism': things which don't necessarily make human beings happy.

I feel that there is a strong message to the western world within this book - and many ideas that would be of great help, if we could listen.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Healing wisdom of Africa 7 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Satisfied with this purchase. it is in reasonable condition. Took a bit longer than anticipated but within the dates given.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  28 reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal!!! 11 Mar 1999
By A Customer - Published on
I have read this book along with all of Malidoma's works. I believe Malidoma has one of the best skills at articulating the problem that Western/European reality has posed on the rest of us. I personally do not use the specific rituals that he recommends because I have rituals that my own culture prescribes; however, I think any person that is ready to take a spiritual advance need to read this book and put his suggestions to practice. I have met Malidoma and found him to have a beautiful spirit filled with wisdom and the innocence of a child. I believe that anyone can trust what this teacher has to say. I also recommend this book for all priests and healers in the world because Malidoma has touched something that need not be ignored if we are to heal ourselves and others. Thank you Malidoma.
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ruminations/rituals to get in touch with African cosmos 14 July 2003
By Phil Rogers - Published on
To be truthful, this book needs to be read through more than once - it needs to be lived with, and at least a few of the exercises and ceremonies or variants of them must be worked through by the reader.
Malidoma's two earlier books, both obvious 5-star efforts, were more at expository essay and autobiography respectively. Both were jammed full of insights and plentiful quotable passages. And both were sumptuous with detail and inspiration.
Part One of this new volume is not an exception to this - though maybe a little drier in overall tone - still, I found myself leaving little quotes from it on my friend Cynthia's answering machine, for which she later thanked me profusely.
But the purpose of Part Two is to illustrate these illuminations/insights by things to actually do in order to begin feeling your connection with nature and the other elements of the Dagara cosmos. And throughout, Malidoma continues his critique of Western cultural and religious milieu in contradistinction to African ways and means.
There have been other terrific hands-on tutelages allowing a Euro-American to shed parts of his/her dualistic/rationalistic skin in exchange for an animistic one (Starhawk's 'The Spiral Dance', Harner's 'Way of the Shaman', Teich's 'Jambalaya', Ingerman's 'Soul Retrieval', Villoldo's 'Shaman Healer Sage', and Malidoma's wife Sobonfu Some's books). This is the latest "next best thing", and it's really a good one.
One thing about Malidona is that he warns the neophyte to at times exercise some degree of caution - diving headfirst into a new cultural scenario is not always the wisest or safest path. One's ability to tread lightly can bring dividends and rewards.
I am also reminded of some advise from another Dagara whom I know, who says that not all of Malidoma's writings are agreed upon by Dagara people in general - which makes me think that Malidoma's admitted adaptations are sometimes less than authentic, and more at distillations meant for those somewhat plagued by their Western minds. This may end up being a blessing in disguise - I don't know for sure.
I do know that the Malidomas have been on the workshop circuit in the U.S. and elsewhere for well over 10 years, and that there is a lot of cross-fertilization occurring amongst workshop presenters of far-flung cultural modalities. It's quite difficult to distinguish the chicken from the egg, and even sometimes the egg white from its yolk. There are many 'resonances' I have noticed between Alberto Villoldo's teaching (both oral and written) and Malidoma's. But if this is an effect of the collective unconscious, and/or of universal consciousness, or it's at least partly conscious borrowing, I have no easy way of knowing or finding out. Sometimes if it works, you just practice it, and/or if it feels right, you just do it.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Real Deal 18 April 2006
By Zoeeagleeye - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this book because I'd just read his autobiographical story in "Of Water and the Spirit." I knew his outer life, now I wanted to know more of his inner life. How could I know that "The Healing Wisdom of Africa" would teach me more about MY inner life!

This man is the "real deal," when it comes to wisdom, whether it be of a spiritual, mystical, political, cultural or social kind. I wish every white person, especially in America, would read this book. Malidoma Some gets to the heart of our problems and does so without blame, with natural authority, true humility and great love: rare combinations! His words are gentle, yet unbelievably strong. His insights are brilliant and his language exquisite. He knows the value of the individual as well as the group. He respects children, how unusual! He understands how we got to the place in America of suicide being the No. 1 killer of our teens. He understands "the great White loneliness," (my words)and he knows how to connect us up again, not only to the God within, but to each other.

This book is nicely subversive, as well. Perhaps that is why it hasn't become a national best seller. We throw our Africans away, don't we? We always have. And what does a black man, of all things, have to teach us, we who are so superior in our technology and indifference? Only the way home. To ourselves, to our God, to each other.


"Matter is the skin of Spirit."

"To produce beauty consistently requires a healthy community."
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Malidoma Some addresses himself to spiritual healing 17 Feb 1999
By A Customer - Published on
In his latest book, Malidoma Some talks about how the wisdom developed over millenia by indigenous people in Africa can be used to deal with the very real psychological and spiritual impoverishment of the West. He says that while the West has an abundance of material goods (taken in large part from the natural resources that belong to all living creatures), Africans possess the capacity of enriching their own lives by communicating through rituals on a continuous basis with what he calls the "other world", the world beyond the material senses, or what Carlos Castaneda would call the "human inventory". Some recommends getting in touch with our ancestors and keeping them in our lives by devoting shrines to them and opening a dialogue with them. This makes particular sense to someone who has lost someone close and feels a great lack between the material message that the person is dead and therefore gone, and the feeling that somehow one has not really disconnected. Some also recommends frequent grief rituals (not just when suffering a loss but all the time) to keep the spirit in tune, and purged of the daily wear and tear of living. It is a wonderful book: humane, wise, well-thought out and very well written. A real joy for someone looking for a new way of dealing with life.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and enlightening 26 Feb 2002
By JB - Published on
For those of African descent who want to know more about the religious and cultural practices of their ancestors, this is a particularly good source. It appears to be written with openness and honesty by one who has crossed several cultures outside of his West African origins. I imagine it is also a good source of information for those who are not of African descent, but have an interest in enhancing their spiritual journey through an understanding of religious and cultural practices in diverse cultures throughout the world.
Before reading this book, I had never heard about the West African country of Burkina Faso, even though history reveals that my heritage has its roots somewhere in West Africa. I have read extensively about the religious beliefs and practices of the Yoruba people of Nigeria, central to which is the worship of the Orishas. I continue to read about other African religions. Central to all such religions that I have read about so far is the reverence to spirit and rituals. Very important to these rituals is the use of the elements of Water, air, fire and earth (minerals). This approach to worship of the Divine is most revealing and seductive, as it challenges some of the practices of Christianity and other western religions. At the same time, if one examines more closely the essence of all religions, there is a commonality about them all.
I am by no means an expert on this, just a seeker. As I continue to read and observe, "The Healing Wisdom of Africa," is yet another step in my journey to connect the dots for myself. For each person who makes that journey, the dots will be connected differently because religion is a very personal experience. However information from people like Malidoma Patrice Some, can help one in contemplation of which dot is the next dot to connect in the sequence. Five stars.
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