I read a book that shouted ‘Dogon’ and I followed that call.
Lit up with a passion I cannot explain and everything began to go right for me again.
Weaving and wandering.
It became important to me.
There is ‘gold’ here. I feel it.
A typical westerner.
This time not stealing sacred statues for my museum, but scouring their ancient knowledge for answers.
So I dig my feet into the sand and begin my quest.
My ‘Dance with the Dogon.’
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…..
This a story of spiralling light.
Beginning with the smallest of things.
A tiny, tiny seed.
This seed, when conditions became just right, began to vibrate from within.
This tiny seed grows and grows until it becomes the entire universe.
A, holding-all, universe, in the shape of an egg.
An oval mass.
Aduno Tal. ‘The Egg of the World.’
The womb of the world.
It takes seven long stages of spiral unwinding for the seed to become the egg, each stage longer than the last. This seven stage unwinding is drawn, by the Dogon, as a prefiguration of a human shape. Beginning with one foot, then a hand, then one half of the head, then the other half of the head, then a hand, then a foot and finally, orgasmically, the sexual organs. I can find no reference as to in which direction around the body this spiralling happens!
At this point the egg breaks violently open and Amma is born.
(Does that sound like a male name to you? Most of the pages I scanned say ‘HE’…..the Dogon say the ‘breast is second only to Amma’….I guess this is up to interpretation…some, more generous, texts refer to Amma as androdgenous.)
In Amma was born a divine plan.
To create a new world.
She created a planet.
Amma did have intercourse with that first planet, but it was struggle, a violent battle, the planet’s ‘clitoris rose up like a penis’ !!!, but Amma eventually succeeded in becoming impregnated.
A new egg was made.
An egg containing twins.
A male, with perfect female balance, and a female, with perfect male balance.
Perfectly designed to seed a new world.
These were the first Nommo. Children of Amma.
……BUT SOMETHING WENT TERRIBLY WRONG!
The ‘male’ oriented twin was born too early!
And he tore out of the egg into space, leaving the ‘female’ twin behind! He took with him his half of the egg sac and even stole some of the Amma’s seeds to create his world.
It was a HE who created the first world in such haste.
Due to missing such a vital part, his creation was a dark, dry and imperfect world.
This twin lived his life in restless disgrace and as punishment, Amma turned him into a desert fox or jackal. Yurugu. He repeatedly raped the planet and the resulting DNA from this union still echoes in the world today. The descendants of Yurugu’s imperfect, incestuous, children.
This mistake HAD to be rectified. Balance had to be restored.
So Amma gathered strength and created another eight sets of Nommo twins, from the remaining female twin. Four cosmic pairs and four more ‘earthy’ pairs, that came from East, West, North and South.
The Nommo travelled through space on two rays of spiralling light, in a basket shaped boat or ark. As they powerfully collided, in a rain of fire and thunder, with the planet, they brought with them the element of WATER and created the oceans. The much needed, missing, feminine, essence for this dry, parched land. These Nommo are depicted as amphibian. Looking very much like a catfish. Able to walk on land, but whose natural element was water. They thrived in the ocean where Yuguru’s children could not hurt them, but their mission was to populate the planet, become one with the, corrupted, first people, dilute the situation and restore the balance.
The bargaining began.
Yurugu was lonely. So lonely. He now understood the consequences of what he had done and felt wretched. He conceded to allow these beings to join him on the land and oh how he longed to ‘drink from the Nommo’, but still untrusting and sly, he only agreed in return for the power over the WORD. (Isn’t that wonderful!? This explains so much….even the confusion over the possible original gender of the creator AMMA!)
One Nommo came out of the water and was, willingly, ’NAILED’ TO A TREE! This female Nommo went through a painful transformation, she sacrificed herself. She died there, only to be miraculously resurrected by Amma and she returned to whence she had come, only after solemnly promising that one day she would return.
After this act of sacrifice the remaining Nommo grew legs and descendants of Yuguru and Nommo slowly populated the world.
One of these original Nommo, Ogo, a male, also returned to Amma, but only to steal a piece of the sun, using his crook, to bring back to this new ‘Earth’. It was that piece of sun and the planet’s new, watery atmosphere that gave him a rainbow bridge to return swiftly on, making his escape.
He was also punished by Amma. Killed and his body parts thrown far and wide, where they landed became the scared places for the Dogon. From this story grew the male-lineage, metal workers, of the Dogon. The Holy Blacksmith. The one who travelled over the rainbow bridge. The Magician. The Alchemist. Iron the realm of the dead. Air the realm of the spirit. Fire, that piece of sun. So powerful is their energy that they must forever wear metal shoes to prevent their feet from poisoning the soil.
The Dogon still wait for the coming of that Nommo who promised to return.
(One has to bear in mind that the Dogon are very clear that all this wonder is taking place in a specific part of our known universe, a place in the sky near Sirius, to them, a Holy Trinity of stars. One sun, one perfect, ‘blood-filled’, seed and one invisible, female star, Emma Ya, now either dead, or beyond ‘seeing’. Their knowledge of this area of space long precedes ours and is the cause of much debate, and fascination, among scientists, anthropologists and astrologers. As yet we can only see ‘the brightest diamond in the sky’, Sirius….possibly the original sun, and one tiny white dwarf, Sirius B, whose density is immense, beyond imagining, which orbits that. A new seed? The Dogon religiously count its orbits, their calendar based on them.
Emme Ya remains a mystery……
There is also some indication, within the references I found, to point to our Earth not being that original planet! This could be a longer story than we can even comprehend, perhaps we are all descended from extra-terrestrial IMMIGRANTS moving through the galaxy, re seeding and re-seeding worlds!)
A desert people, the Dogon, re-enact this sacred tale in dance and recited knowledge.
And they hold their hands up to the sky and pray for RAIN.
Only once the world is cleansed, flooded, and all descendants of Yurugu are erased (basically all of us carry his gene) will the Nommo will return to this, then watery world, only then all will be in balance, as originally intended.
They say many star travellers visit and then return. They talk with Yuguru through fox prints in the sand. They build their villages in spiralling formations and carve statues of their ancestors. Covering them with offerings of blood, millet porridge and earth. Their calendar based on the orbit of Sirius B around Sirius A. The seed is all. Their granaries holy. Their society split into 3 principle parts, Awa, (whose responsibility is the dead, whose masked dances escort the souls of the ancestors to their final resting places. They reorder the spiritual places disturbed by the death of that naughty, thieving, Nommo), Lebe, whose responsibility is LIFE (primarily agriculture) who comes to earth, at night, in the form of a serpent, to cleanse and renew the life force, by licking the priests, (the Hogon), and Binu, (the guardians of the sacred places, spiritual communications and animal sacrifice/blood). The Binu often make themselves known to their descendants in the form of an animal spirit, many reptiles among them. Crocodile (age) Tortoise (home), but also hedgehogs, deer and other animals are represented, each with their own interpretation. They are the carpenters or workers with the TREE. Which is normally the spikey, ancient, baobab, which they harvest, limb by limb, with the utmost respect to the tree, for their artwork.
One thing really struck me in the translations of their songs and chants. Common in them is the repeated sentiment. ’Forgive us. We are sorry, Excuse Us’ as if somehow they hold themselves to account for all this imbalance. I know a powerful mantra like that!
To the Dogon everything is a miniature of the whole.
It is their responsibility to work to maintain cosmic HARMONY.
And to keep up communication with their imperfect creator to let her/him know they still intend and desire to come HOME.
It comforts me greatly this creation story of theirs.
The modern world has dramatically impacted on the Dogon, many are now converted to Islam, their scared places have been ransacked and tourism is always threatening to destroy their culture. But some strongholds still remain. Strong secret holders and it would not surprise me if, like my beloved Kalash tribe (North Pakistan whose culture shows some very surprising similarities!), they often lie to strangers in order to confuse and thereby protect their mysteries! And sadly many, now, will have forgotten the original stories, even retelling them incorrectly.
I have taken the liberty of weaving this story from many, many different, often contradictory, sources, into one that makes sense to me….I have done so holding the deepest respect for the tribe.
This general jist is only a reflection of a tiny part of their ritual and complex understanding, so I betray them less than many others, who sell their own interpretations as truth.
When I look at images of the Dogon, I see a graceful and wise tribe. There is a simple visual beauty in their design and manner that is difficult not to see. Their tribal art has had huge influence on our own art history and culture. And I cannot help feeling that they KNOW so much about the movement of energy and DNA.
So much of this tale resonates deeply with me and I have no real idea why although I could talk about this for hours! Sirius has naturally long fascinated me. That loyal hound at the foot of the hunter. That twinkling spectrum low on the winter sky line. It always draws my eye and spirit.
The accompanying illustration is probably the first of many images on this theme. I have called it ‘Nommo Dreaming – On the pad’
The book that shouted ‘Dogon’ was ‘Half Asleep In Frog Pyjamas’ by Tom Robbins. In it, it is the main character, Gwen, who, inspired by free-spirit Larry Diamond, makes several connected ‘leaps’…..not least of which was the likening of Buddha to a frog on a lily/lotus pad.
It just happens that the Dogon also nurture several lakes. These lakes are covered in water lily flowers.
I have always felt in touch with ‘something’ when I meditate…..on my pad.
It amuses my Nommo DNA to dream of coming HOME and talking, through the trees, with the stars, while praying for new and better worlds to come.