There is something about being out in nature that centers us without us even being aware of it. The human connection to the elements, nature, and spirit goes far beyond what we can measure scientifically or grasps within the boundaries or concepts of the mind. It has been my experience that there is a pulse, vibration, or frequency that interconnects us to all life on this planet. Some of us are more sensitive and aware of it than others. And some of us engage in activities and sports that subconsciously connects us to nature, the elements and the profound healing energies of the planet. We subconsciously take part in activities such as hiking, biking, playing in the mud, snowball fighting, swimming, etc. without considering that maybe there is an energy that is linked to these activities that are interacting with us regardless of our awareness of it.
This brings me to Day two of my journey and healing with Dagara elder Malidoma Some. The night before was filled with vivid dreams that didn’t seem to make much sense, but after speaking with Malidoma, I was able to gain some clarity. “Today you will undergo the Earth Ritual where you will be buried alive to reconnect your body back into mother Earth. This will allow the Earth mother to heal any broken pieces that your body has undergone over the years” Malidoma and Theresa explained. Yes, you heard it right, buried alive. Not completely buried to wear your head is not exposed but still its enough to make some people crap their pants. In all seriousness, I didn’t have much resistance to it or tensed up as some people did at the thought of being buried. The purpose and goal of the Earth ritual is to allow the physical body to reconnect back into that of the planet. This allows for a rebirthing of the physical and spiritual body.
During the ritual, each person has their own unique experience and what each person receives is as unique as the spirit of the individual. There’s a lot more happening in an Earth ritual, but it’s hard to put into words the fullness that it encompasses. One of the things that’s important to know is the frequential container that is maintained by the shaman/teacher before, during and after each ritual. It isn’t just as simple as you dig a hole get in it and the Earth ritual start’s, it doesn’t work like that. Many energetic elements are being tuned into and managed by the shaman/elders of the ritual to make sure everyone remains safe. With this said unless you are guided by a shaman/elder or know precisely what you are doing I won’t suggest to do it alone.
Following our day two lecture and ritual directions we split off into teams and began the ritual preparations as a community. The unique thing about ritual is that there is a community element that involves the spirit and energy of each person there in a sort of energetic chain link. From my experience, this adds to the sacredness and amplifies everything that’s happening in the process.
The night of the ritual, the sky was clear, the temperature was a little nippy but tolerable, and the fire we had going was fierce yet calming. The energy in the atmosphere felt heavy, mesmerizing, yet transformative. I felt mental chatter growing within me. I had to let go of expectations I was having and be in the present moment. The ritual was set up in the following manner; one person laid in the grave while two people then put the dirt/mud on top of them because the group was oddly numbered, two groups had a fourth person. Our fourth person is helping to tend to people that are just coming out of the ritual grave at the fire and helping however they can. Once they are buried there is one person sitting at their head holding energetic space for their experience and making sure they are comfortable. The ceremony began, and the first person up is John.
John made his way into the grave. We began filling the hole with the dirt that we removed earlier. I was sitting for John and holding space for him during the first half of his experience. About five minutes into holding space for John there was a change in the atmosphere. Several minutes later a light downpour began followed by heavy lightning and thunder. “Of course this happens just as my turn approaches,” I thought to myself. In Dagara cosmology every element used and present in the ritual has a specific medicinal and healing purpose. This is important to keep in mind going forward. The rain went from light to heavy and to top it off the rainwater was stinging cold. It was as if the water element was insistent in being part of this ritual. The cold water was not making me look forward to my turn. Next to me were other participants having some deeply transformative and vocal experiences. Some people were crying, and some were vocalizing their experience and conversation with their ancestors, spirit guides, and the Earth mother. Shinwe, who was having her experience one grave down from me was so loud that I remember saying to myself “am I going to be able to focus and get into a meditative state with her being this loud” we both joked about this later. John signaled to us that he was finished and was ready to come out. Tyler who is also part of my group helped dig him out. Leaving the grave, John was weak and could barely move. The intensity of his experience left him drained; we helped him walk to the warm fire, so he may get warm and continue his experience. Fire is another element in Dagara culture and cosmology. The association of fire is seen as being a portal to the spiritual world of the ancestors and otherworldly beings. After taking John to the fire circle, it was my turn to go into the unknown.
At this point this was no longer just an Earth ritual, the intense involvement of the water had transformed our dry earth grave into a muddy puddle grave that was filled with about twenty percent water when I went into the grave. What made it further challenging is the freezing temperature of the water or at least what felt like freezing to me. I was beginning to have seconds thoughts of going in there naked, so I told myself I would do it fully clothed. I went back and forth for about a good 2 minutes before I finally decided to do it in just my underwear.
The ground was cold to touch; the rainwater was entering my nose making it difficult to breathe. There I was, my body shivering in a puddle of water buried in dark earth. I was left with nothing but mother Earth and my thoughts. It was hard to focus, in some instances, all I could think about was how cold my body is and when is it going to be over. Trying to shift my thoughts away from the physical condition my body was experiencing at the moment was least to say difficult. Then I remembered what Malidoma told us earlier in the lecture “It’s not about you, this healing is not just about you, it’s for all those this healing will affect and benefit and the change it will make in the world.” Remembering this statement allowed me to refocus. I felt and sensed footsteps in my mind’s eye as if others were there that I somehow knew. This was when I realized it was my ancestors. They surrounded the grave that I was buried in talking to me and letting me know they were there to be of support. An image came to my mind of the soil pulling out energies and things in my body. Suddenly my mind jumped to water that was pouring into my ear. The realization of being back focused on my freezing body was unbearable; I was shaking uncontrollably. I must refocus I told myself, As I redirected my thoughts my mind started jumping from vision to vision. I felt like I was being pulled to different parts of the world. My vision pulled me back to North America where I was on a plantation walking and talking with a female ancestor. She felt familiar; she told me some things that I don’t remember. Once again, my mind shifted back to the condition of my body. I tried refocusing but to no avail. I asked intuitively if the process is done if I could leave the grave and was told yes. I signaled to Cam that I was ready to come out.
Cam and other’s in the group dug me out of the mud and pulled me up to my feet. I will never forget the moment I came out. My body felt exhausted, but my energetic senses felt sharpened. Everything felt alive and buzzing, the trees had a vibration, and the moon and sky felt animated. Taking my first step felt like the infancy stage of learning how to walk and talking even felt more complicated. My movements were slow and patient and the very Earth I was walking on felt alive as the person next to me. With help, I made my way over to the fire. Basked in the fires glowing warmth I was left with the tasks of returning my awareness to my body, infusing the new frequencies I attain into my system and letting the experience I just had settle in.