Malidoma Some, an African shaman of the Dagara people, gives us an extreme example of how therapy and soulcraft goals can diverge. When Dagara boys undergo their initiation ordeals, the people of the village realize that a few boys will never return; they will literally not survive. Why would they Dagara be willing to make such an ultimate sacrifice? For the boys who die, this is certainly not a therapeutic experience. Although the Dagara love their children no less than we do, they understand, as the elders of many cultures emphasize, that without vision - without soul embodied in the culturally creative small risk of death is preferable to the living death of an uninitiated life. Besides, when we compare Dagara society with our own, we find that an ever greater percentage of our teenagers die - through suicide, substance abuse, auto accidents, and gang warfare - in their unsuccessful attempts to initiate themselves.
It is fascinating that in such a risk-avoiding, convenience driven-society as our own we think that people such as the Dagara are backwards or violent because of such initiations. Yet, the evidence is there to show us how our own children are seeking to be initiated through the only vehicles they see fit to use... drugs, alcohol, fast driving, gangs and so on.
In addition, many of the children who survive in our culture and make it into so called adulthood, hardly seemed to have grown into true man or womanhood. Some, no matter what age they might be, are still children who happen to be in adult bodies.
Graduations, promotions, legal drinking age, and other small acknowledgments of the transitions in life are in our society a generally soul-less affair. They address the mundane transitions, but not the deeply individual changes occurring at those times.
|From Tracking Apprenticeship Winter Outing|