Saturday, October 28, 2017

I watched a Dogon shaman dream a Bad Spirit


After scrambling down and down over steep boulder-filled trail, my interpreter and I entered the tiny village of Koundou Gina. We wanted to meet the most powerful shaman in the region.

A woman enters the outskirts of Koundou Gina village, Dogon tribe, Mali, Africa.
As we hiked through dried stalks of a corn field, my interpreter explained that many people came from distant villages to meet with Dugui Dugene (Medicine Man). We met the simple harmless-looking shaman just outside his stone house.

Powerful Dugui Dugene (Medicine Man) showing me how he removes doogu doogu from a person. Koundou Gina village, Dogon tribe, Mail, Africa.

After a bit of chatter, I asked about Doogu Doogu and other terrible things caused by bad spirits.

In an casual tenor voice, the Medicine Man explained: "The bad spirit is created by God. Both good and bad spirits are created by God."

Medicines Dugui Dugene (Medicine Man) gathers in the forest to heal people that come to Koundou Gina village from surrounding villages. Dogon tribe, Mail, Africa.

Medicine Man continued: "We don't see the bad spirits because they have much magic power. They could be right here right now. We just don't see them.

The shaman paused a bit, pointed at me. Then: "But they can see us."

Squating with his back against the mud wall of his one-room house, Medicine Man continued: "I can see them in my dream. When I sleep at night time, I can see them. 

"The bad spirit look like a man. They wear clothes. But some of them has a cow head. Some has only one hand. And some has one breast. Some look like men but not complete man. And always have two, three or ten heads. 

Then he pointed to his hand. "Some have kind of feet here. The feet are cow feet."
 
My visualization of the Dogon bad spirit as described by the Dogon tribe Medicine Man in Koundou Gina village, Mali, Africa.

When I asked Medicine Man if he was afraid of the bad spirit in his dreams, he replied nonchalantly: "Afraid some, a little bit, but not that much."

Janis: "I would be very afraid."

Medicine Man: "If you suppose to walk with bad spirit and you afraid, they always come to afraid you. And if you afraid of them, you can be crazy. You can become crazy. They can do you something bad." 

Janis: "Can I take a picture of you like you are sleeping, like you are dreaming?






Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Would you call them primitive?


Ireli village, Mali. Dogon tribe elders make decisions in this togouna.
Togouna, Irelli village, Dogon tribe, Mali, Africa.
No ideological parties. No name calling. No party agendas. They talk. They respect each other. And they act like adults.
Medicine man, Irelli village, Dogon tribe, Mali, Africa.
Would you call that primitive?

Togouna in the edge of an Irelli village courtyard, Dogon tribe, Mali, Africa.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fires rage towards four of my favorite Napa vineyards



Sunset over early Spring mustard flowers in Screaming Eagle Vineyard on Silverado Trail Road.
Napa Valley, California. Napa Valley wine country.
As I write this newsletter, with the fire situation in Napa and Sonoma counties changing by the hour, I’m not 100% sure that four of my favorite Napa vineyards will be spared from the devastating fires ripping through the wine country.


Early Spring valley fog begins creeping over Cain Five vineyard in the hills above Napa Valley, California. Napa Valley wine country.

At least four Napa vineyards are totally destroyed or significantly damaged. One Napa winery—Signorello Estate—has been completely destroyed. Nine other wineries reported damage to their winery, outbuildings or vineyards. 

All 5000 residents of Calistoga evacuated, and there are 1000s of homes already destroyed in the Napa- Sonoma area. This will be a vintage to remember.



Cain Five vineyard
Wednesday evening: I just received an email from Christopher Howell, winemaker at Cain Five Vineyard, that they are safe for right now.
Big oak tree in Cain Five vineyard in the hills above Napa Valley, California. Napa Valley wine country.
Early Spring valley fog begins creeping over Cain Five vineyard in the hills above Napa Valley, California. Napa Valley wine country.
The distinctive rock outcropping dominates the Cain Five vineyard in the hills above Napa Valley, California. Napa Valley wine country.


Screaming Eagle Vineyard
Spring mustard flowers in Screaming Eagle Vineyard on Silverado Trail Road. While the wine consistently receives rave reviews from critics, my problem is two-thousand dollars a bottle prevents me, a common photographer, from enjoying the wine. USA, California, Napa Valley. 
Sunset light colors the hills above the Spring mustard flowers in Screaming Eagle Vineyard on Silverado Trail Road. Napa Valley.




Oakville Ranch Summit Vineyard
Springtime view of Napa Valley looking towards Calistoga and Mt. Saint Helena from Oakville Ranch Summit Vineyard, Napa County, California,


Newton Vineyard
View of Newton Vineyard on Spring Mountain above St. Helena in Napa Valley, California.
Napa Valley wine country.
A hot air balloon and fog float in the Spring green Napa Valley below Newton Vineyard on Spring Mountain above St. Helena, California. Napa Valley wine country.

Looking at the lush view in these photographs, I can only imagine what the Napa hills and valley will look like after the fires rake through the area with their smudged black fingers.















Monday, September 11, 2017

Reflecting on America's 9/11: bees or missiles, which is better to twart an attack



On this anniversary of America's 9/11 attack, I can't help recall a story I heard from the tiny Bedik tribe tucked away in the remote southeast corner of Senegal.

My illustration of the Bedik story of bees killing attacking Muslims. Bedik tribe, Senegal, Africa.

On my first journey to the Bedik, the village "historian" told me the story of how Muslims once attacked the tribe because they refused to be converted to Islam.

It was terrible. Many Bedik were killed in the attack. Out of desperation, the tribe prayed to their spirits for help. The spirits then sent bees, many bees, which killed the Muslim attackers. The bees saved the tribe. And they still refuse to become Muslim.

On my second trip to the Bedik, not long after 9/11, I heard the story again, this time from the chief.  

Now, all these years later, I'm still trying to grasp similarities and differences between the Bedik story and 9/11.

Bedik village, Senegal, Africa.

Faith that their spirits would help by sending bees, saved the Bedik. 

America sent missiles. Will that be enough to save America?

Friday, August 25, 2017

Cows power China to become one of world's largest wine producers



When I visited Dynasty, one of the largest wineries in China, I went out to one of their vineyards near Jixian village in Tianjin area. Here I found cow-power fully used.

Workers use traditional cow-powered transportation for their morning commute out to the vineyards and other crops. Hebei province, Tianjin region, China, Asia.
Once in the vines, cow-power pulls the plow. China wine country, Hebei province, Tianjin region, China, Asia.
This view shows the business end of cow-power plowing. Here workers till the soil around peanuts planted between rows of Cabernet sauvignon vines. No space is wasted in China. Hebei province, Tianjin region, China, Asia.
You just can't beat practical cow-power: milk in the morning, engine for the morning commute to work, plenty of power to pull the plow and finally transportation power for the ride home at the end of the day. And if you had a lawn, the cow is your lawnmower.  Hebei province, Tianjin region, China, Asia.
Obviously, one disadvantage of bovine power happens during work breaks when the free-roaming cow can sneak a snack from the vines.  Hebei province, Tianjin region, China, Asia.
Break time in  the vineyard. Hebei province, Tianjin region, China, Asia.
Heading to the next vineyard block. And that's how Dynasty winery grows some of its wine grapes. Hebei province, Tianjin region, China, Asia.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

My Rotary Club visual presentation about acceptance in Sherwood Oregon


As part of their peace effort, the Rotary Club asked me to give a visual talk about acceptance. They saw the work I've done in Africa, where I went looking for the primal roots of my beliefs and religion in the Birthplace of Modern Humans and found much more.




Little village children taught me to look through my first eyes, my child's eyes of acceptance and exploration. 

In a remote corner of Ethiopia, when I asked Konso elders what advice they would give world leaders, one elder replied: "Tell them that we are all made by God. No matter what your tribe, no matter what your religion, we all bleed the same color blood." Then he raised his hand with fingers outstretched and concluded: "We all have five fingers." 

Come hear how the village children's acceptance of a stranger and the remote elders wise words inspired me. 

I've invited President Trump. 

Please come so we can all be inspired to move forward on September 6, 6:30PM at the Sherwood Library Community Room, in Sherwood, OR 97140.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Ethiopia's remote Suri tribe: Fall of Man woman's fault



Originally humans had a direct connection to God. 

So say the elders, chiefs, shamans and storytellers of the remote Suri (Surma) tribe in Ethiopia's Omo River region. 

"Long long ago there was a rope from earth to God," explains Bolagedong, the eldest Suri chief. "So in ancient times people had a direct connection to God.

"Humans could climb that rope at any time to visit God," contines Bolagedong. "The only rule," the chief hesitates for drama, "humans could not bring anything with them up the rope."

This is my illustration of the Fall of Man story I heard from the Suri tribe. Omo River region, Ethiopia.
"One day the woman decided to bring her grinding stone. As she started to climb up for a visit to God, instantly the rope fell to the ground. 

"People lost their direct connection to God."

So today we don't have a direct connection to God.



Three things struck me about the Suri Fall of Man story:
1) I wondered which was older, the Suri story or the one in the Bible. 

2) For me, the Suri story is easier to understand. A rope makes sense. An apple, not so easy to bite.

3) And why is it always the woman's fault? 


Suri tribe. Omo region, Ethiopia, Africa.