Wednesday, February 15, 2017

How I met Wassily Kandinsky during my current teenage development

In creating the illustrations of the remote African tribal myths and archetypal dreams I've recorded over the past 16 years, I have two struggles:

This is my first attempt to create the mystical feeling I experienced with Mbahuma, the highest ranking Himba tribe shaman near Epupa Falls, Namibia.

1) create an accurate depiction of the story the elders, chiefs, storytellers, shamans and witch doctors told me in a way that Westerners can understand; and 

2) create an illustration that not only attracts the viewer's attention, but also has a spiritual presence.

After looking at a number of Kandinsky paintings, this was my effort. Mbahuma told me that his shamanistic powers came through to him through his toe from his deceased uncle, who was also a powerful shaman.
At this point I feel like a teenager in my development stage of creating these myth images. But then I look at early works by Kandinsky and Chagall to see that they too developed and matured along their artistic path.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Bedik reincarnation tool

I went to the tiny Bedik tribe in remote southeast Senegal to learn about their myths and dreams. In the village of Iwol, chief Jean Keita told me about a special instrument they used to tell if a person has come back from the dead as a baby. 

The tiny Bedik tribe has a small round instrument that tells if the new born is a reincarnation of a deceased relative. Bedik tribe, Senegal Africa

Chief Jean Baptiste Keita: 

I myself had a dream about a dead ancestor coming back into my family. 

My dead father come to me in a dream and talked with me.  Some days after the dream, my wife delivered a baby.  When the baby was born, he started crying.  Crying.  Crying. 

We saw the baby is not ill, but he’s crying. What can be the cause of that?   

In our village we have this small round instrument, maybe something like a small wheel. When we put that instrument on the wall, if it ever adheres, if it gets stuck when it is thrown against the wall, it means the dead parent, the dead person has come back.  If ever it falls down, it means it’s not him.

So we took that instrument, threw it against the wall.

It stuck.

Journal thoughts:
Interesting that the Bedik use a circular instrument to determine whether the new born is a deceased relative. I immediately thought of the serpent which in some myths forms a circle as it eats its own tail thus representing rebirth, reincarnation.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Himba shaman: "There is a secret only you know."

From my Namibia journal May 7, 2003
(This will be the introduction to my first book on African Myths)

Mbahuma, powerful Himba tribe shaman, near Epupa Falls, Namibia, Africa

Deep inside a mystery rattles my spirit. Today, Mbahuma, the most powerful Himba tribe shaman, mentioned a secret. His one eye watched carefully. Where the other eyeball should have been, was just an empty hole with draining fluid. I had heard that the best shaman had some deformity.

Under a scraggly, thorny shrub of a tree at the top of a dry rocky creek bed, Mbahuma told me: “You’ve been looking. You are trying to learn many things. You will find it.”

“But there is a secret,” continued Mbahuma under that lonely tree. “A secret only you know.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Visiting an African Disneyland-like Museum of our Modern Beliefs

God wanted to give human beings their fullness right from the beginning, but they were incapable of receiving it, because they were still little children.

Against Heresies

St. Irenaeus (125-203 A.D.)

Chief Jean Keita, Bedik tribe, Senegal, Africa.

Bedik tribe, Iwol village
Chief Jean Baptiste Keita:

-->"Our village was founded more than 900 years ago.  It was the first village which have been settled all around here.  The first one here.  And it has been in continuous existence until today.

(While the Bedik had a designated historian who I met on my first Bedik trip, it wasn’t until very recently they had any written language, French. I don’t know how the chief arrived at 900 years and forgot to ask for an explanation. But if Chief Keita was accurate about the age of Iwol village, that’s about the time Angkor Wat was completed and the second crusades got underway. )

"What makes the village so different is the specificity of the place. It is really wonderful here. You can see it is surrounded by big mountains, with big trees, sacred trees. 

"And you see, there are many sacred symbols here. You heard yesterday about the baobab tree, and the sacred Fromager tree here.

Sacred site, Bedik tribe, Iwol village, Senegal, Africa.
"We are Bediks. We are animists. And for that, we preserve our ancestor’s way of life. And Iwol is the only village which has preserved its tradition.  It’s been the same since ages.    It hasn’t changed.


"We are the only people that have remained rooted in their traditions. We are the only ones who have preserved in tact our tradition. 

"And we live only in this place.  We are quite restricted.  We are not numerous, we Bediks."

Bedik village of Iwol, Senegal, Africa.

Personal journal thoughts: 

Was this the religion of our ancient ancestors? Did storytellers like Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad and Constantine whisper their variations of the Bedik stories I heard into followers’ ears just like players in the telephone game?

My being tingled with the pure joy of mystery. There was more here than I could see and immediately understand.   

I certainly was in a Disneyland-like museum of our modern beliefs.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Mother's dream brings dead son back to life

While studying with the Bedik tribe in Senegal, Chief Keita told me about a woman's dream:  

Chief Jean Keita, Bedik tribe, remote SE corner of Senegal, Africa.

"Some of the young village boys went to another place to work for money. After two years in the place, one of the boys died.

"The rest of the boys said: 'Hey, we must go back home, but let's never say to the people that our friend is dead. Let's keep the secret.'

"So they came back home and said nothing.

"That night the dead boy's mother had a dream that her son has come back. She dreamt that her son came back to the family. She didn't know that her son was died because the friends said nothing.

"The following night the dead boy came into the mother's house.

"His friends were actually expecting such a situation. When one of them heard a noise, he ran into the room and found the dead boy standing there. And he said: 'you don't need to go away. We have said nothing.'

"Then the dead son appeared exactly like all the other people. The guy lived many years, maybe another 40 years. He died only last year.

"You see, the mother's dream has become true."

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Remote Suri Tribe: woman caused The Fall of Man but with a twist

Ethiopia's Suri tribe Chief Bolugedung told me the ancient story about how originally man had a direct connection to God. But the woman broke the link.

Chief Bolugedung wears a baboon skin hat indicating he is one of the two major chiefs, Suri tribe, Omo region, Ethiopia.
Chief Bolugedung explains: "There was two first persons, a man and woman. Originally, they have a rope up to the sky which came down to earth. 

"Man and woman could climb the rope any time to visit with God. The only rule was man and woman could not bring anything with them when climbing the rope to visit God.

Woman working flour on a grinding stone, Suri tribe, Omo region, Ethiopia, Africa the Birthplace of Modern Man.
"One day the woman decided to bring her stone, the stone women use to grind flour. (Grinding stone.) As soon as she started to climb the rope, it cut. The rope fell to the ground. Man and woman also fell to the ground.

"So after that, the two persons had to stay here on the earth. They don't have a rope to climb up to God. From that time they have to only live here."

My image of the Suri Fall of Man story. Suri (Surma tribe), Omo region, Ethiopia, Africa.

So the remote Suri, in Africa, the Birthplace of Modern Man, say that the first man and woman had a direction connection to God. But they lost it. They disobeyed. And it was the woman's doing. 

From everything I've learned, I conjecture this Suri story is older than the Fall of Man stories in the Bible.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

What I didn't ask the farmer in the Birthplace of Modern Man.

In Ethiopia, for the Myth Project, I needed an image, a symbol, to represent agriculture in a more ancient time.

Driving on a remote pot-holed road out to the Omo region, I saw the perfect shot about a 1/2 mile away. A farmer working with a wooden plow pulled by oxen. The perfect ancient agriculture image.

Now, looking at the photograph on my 5K monitor one year later and 10,000 miles away, I regret not connecting with the farmer. 

Here he is working with same tools used by our ancient ancestors in the birthplace of Modern Man—Ethiopia, Africa. But he is in the 21st century. What gets him up each morning? What is his perspective about life on our planet? What are his dreams?

I only have a symbol, without the person. I could have had both.

Oh, what a huge opportunity missed.