This raises a few questions. That’s the whole point of telling stories around fires, to raise questions, but this one needed to be addressed. Death in a sacred story is not like death in our real lives. There is one story teller in this recording, but there are a few people, men, on the stage (the bench as it is sometimes called), and they all chime in. I know all of them and have spent some very special times with each one of them, but I’ll leave all those stories until the Q & A session, which is anytime on this media. Tom Gambell talks about Ghandi, Martin Shaw talks about being pulled by different characters in the story. You could back up 5 minutes or so and hear Malidoma Somé talk about his initiation rituals in his tribe in Burkina Faso, . You get a nice overview of what this is about in a just a few minutes.
Then you can go back to part 1, or go back to 20 minutes before my mark above to get more of that, or whatever you want. If you don’t want to listen to the guys chatting, there are indices on each of the four YouTubes and you can just hear the story. Won’t take long. There was no video of the conference, but someone added images. They are quite beautiful. You’ll see the room in some of the pictures. It’s a big room with just a few mics, but the sound was edited and most of it is clear, especially the story telling parts.
Stories like this are not usually on the internet. There aren’t many like it left and in 2010 we were not planning on making this something publicly available. We didn’t do it to sell some albums or get people to join our merry band. It’s kind of intimate. This isn’t entertainment, although there's nothing wrong with being entertained by it. My voice is in there and if I knew you’d be listening to it now, I might have said something different. But, times change, words sometimes need to be heard first one way, then another.
These stories are the stories that we need now. I’d go so far as to say when they were heard long ago, they weren’t completely understood. Maybe they aren’t understood much better now. But they need to be grappled with, talked about, told to the younger ones and see if they can do something with them. Love of these stories is love of the earth and love for each other and for people who are not yet born.
Malidoma says, you don’t know where you are going to end up when you go through an initiation story, but once you decide to go, keep going. As his elders told him, “You go backwards, you die, you go forward you die, so, what the hell, go forward and die”. There are at least two meanings of “die” here. We’re all going to die someday, so you might as well keep growing and learning as much as you can. The other meaning is initiation, the transition from child to adult, from the safety of the village to the unknown risks outside out of it. A part of you may need to die so you can survive that transition.
The other thing to know, this was the year of the Minnesota Men’s Conference when Robert Bly, the guy who started it, stepped aside. This is the story that was being told while he stood in the back of the room. On one of the nights, he said goodbye, we sang a few songs, and he went off to be part of some other stories.