Monday, October 25, 2010

Mother Africa, and other female incarnations

She is vast, like the continent itself. She sits under a great baobab tree in the center of the village marketplace. She is mountainous under the folds of her bright crimson dress. She wears a matching red headdress and heavy chains of gold around her neck. When people come for her counsel, she sometimes reaches for a gourd in which she keeps the cowrie shells and stones and bones that she casts on a well-brushed layer of powder inside her divining tray, to get a second opinion from the ancestral spirits. The top of the gourd has been cut so that it opens and closely like a box.

I remember her youth. She was brought among her present people as a captive with a choke collar around her neck. Lissome and nubile, she was taken by force by the tribal king. Years later, when that chief tried to hang himself from this very tree, she cut him down and raised him up, cleansed and healed in body and mind, to be a better ruler. Like the baobab, she renews herself - and helps to renew herself - endlessly. I feel humbled and blessed to be able to share her life memories and to imagine myself, if only for a moment, sharing her life as the wisdom of her people, under that great tree.

This is a brief report of one of my experiences during a group journey in quest of the multidimensional self during a workshop I led last weekend. I invited the spirited members of our circle to direct their awareness to a Tree of Vision we had grown in a standing meditation and feel themselves rising up to a place of observation among the high branches. I suggested that they could then look out towards the four cardinal directions and connect with a personality in a different time and culture whose life experience was relevant to them now. We then used shamanic drumming to power and focus a group adventure in lucid dreaming. It was remarkably successful.

I had a personal agenda for this journey. I wanted to connect with female personalities in other times and places. In most of my impressions of "past lives" closely associated with my own, I have found myself linked to men, typically men of power. A Royal Air Force pilot in World War II. An ancient Chinese general. A Scottish druid in a cloak of raven feathers. A figure in the high white crown of Upper Egypt, studying his own family of counterparts in mirrors of water or metal. Where are the women? I have often asked myself. Oh, there is that woman of the future, and I feel her even now, as I write. She is a priestess and a scientist, working to restore our world, seven generations into the future. Dreaming is central to her practice and that of her Order, and I am driven by a sense of obligation to her, the obligation - through my work as a dream teacher - to help make her possible. But where are the women of the past?

Mother Africa (as I'll call her, though I also know her personal name) is one, and I am privileged to know her. Perhaps we will now be able to share gifts. Another, I now know, is a magical woman of the Scottish islands who is of the sea as much as of the land, and is clothed in the gifts of the sea. Yet another is a beautiful woman of ancient Persia about whom I will hope to learn more. And I find that, since last weekend, I am starting to find my dream self sharing the experiences of woman as if he has taken up temporary residence in their bodies; I reported one of these in my parallel blog at beliefnet this morning.

In psychological terms, such episodes may mean that I am getting more deeply in touch with my female side. Yet they also feel transpersonal, as if I am connecting with - and sometimes entering into the minds and bodies of - personalities in other times and places who may be part of my family of selves, within the structure of the multidimensional self. Jane Robert's Seth (in Seth Speaks) insists that "the entire reincarnational framework must involve both sexual expereinces. Abilities cannot be developed by following a one-sex line. There must be experiences in motherhood and fatherhood." If this is so, perhaps I'm on the right track. I will be most interested if you wish to share personal experiences relevant to this theme.

Baobab photo by Bernard Gagnon


Wanda Burch said...

Such a beautiful description of an experience of exploring one of the great women of your past and the great continent of possibility in that exploration, and, as you know, one that speaks vibrantly to me of healing and rebirth in a country so far from my homeland but one which drew me to her in ways inexplicable to me at the time of my departure but made clear in dreaming and visioning and healing before my arrival, during my stay and long since forward.

Sandra Laub said...

It was an honor to be a part of that weeekend. Thank you for sharing your discovery. The synchronicities keep flowing; the dreams are more accessable, and I pass the torch of possibilities to friends, colleagues, and students.

DavidInSeattle said...

I have mixed feelings about the romanticising of female past lives where the reality for women in many cultures left much to be desired. How quickly does everyone forget, even in America, women's plight in the last century. Like the 50's before birth control pills. Like before voting rights. I do have a number of past life memories as women in French, Greek and Egyptian cultiures. As I say mixed feelings.

Robert Moss said...

David - I don't think it's "romanticizing" to honor the experience of women of power who have survived trauma and abuse. In my vision of the African woman I saw - and felt - what she suffered as a slave, and felt humbled and honored, as a mere man, to share in some part of her life. Let me clarify that I did not feel that this was one of my own "past lives", but part of a larger human inheritance and pattern of connection.

Robert Moss said...

Wanda - I know what Africa has meant to you, and the pages on your trip to Ghana are among the most beautiful in your book "She Who Dreams". I thought of your vivid description of the queen of the Ashanti.

Robert Moss said...

Sandra - It was wonderful to have you in our spirited circle. This is a path of limitless adventure, healing and possibility.

Lynette Turner said...

Hi Robert,
As I read your entry I felt like a sponge—thirsty, drinking it all in. My memories of past lives in Africa runs deep, guided by one of my guides, Oya, whom we share in common. What you shared woke me up so to speak. On one of my trips to Africa, I encountered the Baobab tree and I swear she spoke to me—of the power of the feminine and a reminder, both gentle and fierce about the relevance of my own calling. Thank you for helping me re-remember.

Robert Moss said...

ACHE, Lynette! The knowledge we most need comes through re-membering.