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Sunday, May 6, 2018

African Spirituality

African Spirituality

Cultural Otherworldliness

In the Burkina Faso African Spirituality tradition, there are two terms both pointing to the same Earth, Tingan and Tenbalu; Tingan is male, and Tenbalu is female. African spirituality tradition predates organized religious sects. Wholeness and oneness spiritual systems are at the root of African spirituality.

African Spirituality

African Spirituality


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African Spirituality Wholeness Dagara Cosmology


African Spirituality Wholeness Dagara Cosmology




In African Spirituality, the Burkina Faso Dagara Cosmology tradition is similar in thought to string theory where it is the theory of everything. Every particle in the universe contains a vibrating string which leads to other dimensions, nothing dies; instead, Tingan and Tenbalu are continually reshaping into other forms of matter.

Dagara Elder Malidoma Patrice Somé explains in African spirituality Dagara Cosmology, the masculine and the feminine have little to do with biology. The masculine is Tingan similar to fire with an endless propensity to consume. The feminine is Tenbalu because of its nurturing and caring instinct. Earth is therefore a man and a woman with an endless capacity to generate and regenerate, to give and to bless.

African Spirituality


Tingan appeals to the protective, administrative, regulatory part of Earth.  It implies a sense of dominion in which identity is linked to a sense of belonging that is clearly deterministic albeit fundamentally territorial.  Is this possibly why the Tingan-sob - the person in charge of Tingan - is always a male?  It goes without saying that if the guardian of Tingan is a man and the latter is perceived as both the legislative and the judiciary entity in whose hands every subject's fate resides, the masculinity of Tingan is verified.  

African Spirituality Theory of Tingan and Tenbalu are Everything


No one speaks to Tingan directly and no one crosses Tingan without being severely punished.  Hence, if you have an issue with Tingan, you're on your own.  There is no safe haven anywhere to hide.  This apparent ruthlessness highlights the infallible supremacy of Tingan and underscores its masculinity.  Thus Tingan governs.

Tenbalu is the Earth's nurturing and caring principle - the epitome of Mother.  Literally it means soft earth or realm with reference to the crust, or the rich top part that provides nutrients for growth and nourishment.  Unlike Tingan that requires a tending agent, someone like a priest or a mediator who most of the time comes across like a king or monarch, Tenbalu needs no such dedicated attendance.  
African spirituality dagara wheel
African spirituality dagara wheel

Anyone can invoke Tenbalu and everyone does it because Tenbalu listens to all her children.  It is in this that her caring and nurturing show the most.  Almost all invocations to Tenbalu contain the statement, "it is your bountifulness that feeds us all."  This recognizes that Tenbalu provides nourishment for everyone indiscriminately, like a true mother does for her children.



What is your African Spirituality Dagara Cosmology Sign


Water, Earth, Mineral, Fire or Nature - the last number of your birth year equals your Dagara Cosmology sign. For example, if you were born in 1987, the number 7 means you are Fire, born in 1953, the number 3 means you are Nature.

Water 1 and 6

Water is yielding, but all-conquering. Water tames Fire. Alternatively, finding itself likely to be defeated, escapes as a steam and reforms. Water washes away Soft Earth, or when confronted by rocks, seeks a way round. Water corrodes Iron until it crumbles to dust; it saturates the atmosphere so that Wind dies. Water gives way to obstacles with deceptive humility. For no power can prevent it from following its destined course to the sea. Water conquers by yielding; it never attacks, but always wins the last battle.

Earth 0 and 5

Earth symbolizes the mother on whose lap everyone finds a home, nourishment, support, comfort, and empowerment.  Representing the principle of inclusion, earth is the ground upon which we identify ourselves and others.  It is what gives us identity and a sense of belonging.

Mineral 4 and 9

Mineral is the storage place of memory, the principle of creativity, resources, stories, and symbolism.  In the cosmological wheel, mineral is located in the west and is colored white. The elemental energy allows us to receive messages from the Other World, and to remember our origins and purpose in this life. In Dagara physiology, our bones, not the brain, are the storage place of memory.  In the village, it is not uncommon to hear an elder say, "This is in our bones as it was in the bones of our ancestors."  In the West, there is a similar saying, "I knew it in my bones," which refers to a deeper, more elemental knowing than is possible through rational thought. To the indigenous person, mineral is also equivalent to stone.  As they say, the bones of the earth are the stones and rocks we see.  To know the true story of our earth, including the story of ourselves, is to listen to the rocks.

Nature 3 and 8

The element of nature signifies the principle of change.  It is transformation, mutation, adjustment, flexibility, cyclicality, life, death, and magic. Nature is vegetative, therefore it is all plants and landscapes; and it is all animals as well.  In the cosmological wheel nature is situated in the east, opposite mineral, and its color is green. Nature invites us to change consciously and to welcome change.  Just as mineral stores information for our benefit, nature's complex paradigm is a library to those who pay attention. The magic we crave and our attraction to the supernatural are nature in their essence.  This is because the tree, plant, the landscape, and the serpentine river zigzagging downhill on its way to the ocean are all golden hieroglyphs capable of bringing a deep understanding to those willing to pay attention. Indeed, to the indigenous it seems that the tree is the essence of consciousness.

Fire 2 and 7

Fire is the original element of origin, the one that was present at the beginning.  Its primal nature is combustion, warmth, vision, and feeling.  Its position in the wheel is the south, the underworld, and its color is red. Everything eventually returns, the state of the ancestors coming from the underworld below us to the state.  Fire opens the doorway to the Spirit World and allows our psyche to commune with other life present, past, and future.  Fire is like a connecting rod, an open channel. In fact, fire is our psyche, the spirit part of us that knows what has always been.  It is our ability to act, emote, and sense.  A person on fire is craving a connection.  In this person, fire is translated as restlessness, a great deal of emotion, and strong dream experience.


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