Sunday, August 21, 2016



THIS IS THE FINAL BLOG ON THE ELEMENTS IN RELATION TO CREATION

The Creation story can best be understood by the Four Worlds of Kabbalah; 
Emanation - Intention or the Word
 Creation - the Blueprint or Plan
 Formation where all was animated by the Breath of the Divine (even the Still beings have their own slow vibration and energy) and as Kabir said; "what is God - the breath within the breath." 
Actualization where all was made. 
This process is also represented on the Tree of Life.




Everything began with the word (Emanation) - the Word expressed as undifferentiated imaginative power above the Crown of Keter of the Tree, filtering down into the Sephira and the element of Water - (top right) - Wisdom - imagination - undifferentiated thought.
"...WATER GAVE BIRTH TO DARKNESS..."

This was followed by the blueprint (Creation) - (top left) -  Understanding, verbal thought and symbols rather than pure imaginative fantasy.
"...FIRE GAVE BIRTH TO LIGHT..."

The next six sephirot below represent the world of Formation and the element of Ruach; Air, Wind, Breath.
"...WIND GAVE BIRTH TO SPIRIT..."

And finally in the lowest Sephira of Makhut or Kingdom or Earth  Actualization occurred and all was "made" - the Still, Growing, Wild and Talking beings. This happened as the Word and the Breath of the Creator animated all these worlds coming down the Tree of Life like a lightning bolt.
The quote above now may make a little more sense.

 THE ANCESTORS ALSO SAY:

Just as the world was created through the FOUR WORLDS so we can regain a spiritual "Eden" by our "BECOMING," slowly up the Tree, rung by rung, and furthering our transformation. A Buddhist or Yogi might call this "Eden," the Pure Land of self-realization or enlightenment.

At the end of the day if we just studied and immersed ourselves in nature, so much more would be revealed.







THE ANCESTORS

Saturday, August 13, 2016





THIS FIFTH BLOG IS ON THE ELEMENTS AS THEY RELATE TO THE CHAKRAS AND THE TREE OF LIFE

We saw on a prior blog how each Chakra is represented by a different element beginning with the lowest, Earth at the first Chakra, and ascending the Chakra hierarchy to Water (2nd,)  followed by Fire (3rd) i.e. the lower three survival Chakras below the diaphragm.
 The vibration then rises  above that to the higher Chakras of Air (Heart Chakra,) Ether, Spirit (4-7.) 



The Chakra model can also be extrapolated to the universal archetype of the Caduceus. The two snakes represent the sun and moon channels spiraling around the central channel of the spine. A Chakra is situated where each channel crosses.The wings represent the transcendent, the oneness experience or unity consciousness and the Crown Chakra.




The Tree of Life is also associated with the elements but in a different way and order.  The six Sephirot above Earth, represent Ruach, (Wind, Breath, Air, Prana or Chi.) The top left is Fire, top right Water. Above that; Infinity, Nothingness - ether, spirit.



We are made in the image of the Divine and this is how we create in our own microcosm, as does the Great Spirit in the macrocosm.  As above, so below. We usually start with undifferentiated thought (fantasy, imagination,) top right, represented by the element Water. "To think like God is to think with imagination." The Ancestors
"Waters of wisdom, waters of love, grace of life, be present here and flow within. The Ancestors
From imaginative wisdom comes verbal or differentiated thought or understanding in language or symbol represented by Fire;
"Fire of warmth, fire of transformation, light of illumination be in this flame and burn within."

This is a glimpse into the nature of creation so one should not be dismayed if it reveals only our total lack of understanding - for which we should substitute awe and amazement. The elements are key to the phenomenon.



Saturday, August 6, 2016


This week's blog;
A Lesson from the San Hunter-Gatherer 
(Extracted from a chapter in "Inner Passages Outer Journeys"  after an extended trip to the Bushmen in 1987. This was a window in time when one could still witness an occasional clan living in the old way as their ancestors did eons ago. Sadly things have changed as they always have done for indigenous societies.)
 As stated in the last blog, the rules of three tell us we can only live three minutes without oxygen, three days without water, three weeks without food and three months without any human connection.The San Bushmen are well aware of this and have to be intimately connected to the elements and all beings; still, growing, wild and talking in order to survive.

The Bushmen (or San,) one of the last Hunter Gatherers of Africa.  have attracted various groups of people for different reasons. Anthropologists see them as a link to long lost stone age cultures and naturalists and hunters admire them for their extraordinary expertise in the bush. Those of a more mystical inclination are fascinated with their oneness with the fauna and flora of the Kalahari, a connection that has enabled them to survive for centuries in a desert that most other peoples have avoided. Through this, they previously remained free from the trappings and problems of more sophisticated societies. 
Physically, the San are quite different from other South African Bantu peoples. They have always said that they were the first people and genomic studies show them to be correct. We all have Bushman D.N.A. in us and possibly this is why visitors to Africa and especially to the Bushmen often describe a profound feeling of coming home. Its not so long ago that we were all Bushmen.

Many pressures threaten the San way of life besides the introduction of water on tap. Huge cattle ranches have appeared with fences that both limit game migration and inhibit the San's nomadic pattern. Cattle overgrazing is a problem with regard to the destruction of natural habitat and food to forage. Game preserves, mining and hunting areas have been demarcated and the San are no longer welcome, even though their hunting needs are small and do not affect the ecology. The San hunter-gatherer is slowly disappearing since it is easier for them to assimilate with their Bantu neighbors around them.

THE FIRE ELEMENT
Essential for the spirit, cooking food, protection and warmth.
Also see last weeks blog and photo.

THE WATER ELEMENT
Water was like a drug to the San and wells put in by the Botswana government are among the factors that have put an end to their nomadic way of life. It is so much easier to turn on a faucet than to go and dig for tubers and look for Tsama melons, even if it means a walk of five miles or more. Plastic bottles have replaced empty ostrich egg shells as water containers. Previously these were filled with water from hollowed out tree trunks, using hollow reeds to suck the water up and spit it carefully back into the shell. These natural reservoirs were covered meticulously with a log or branch to prevent animals from drinking and polluting it. The Kalahari has no natural water and it rains infrequently. Before the advent of wells these people did not have water, yet adapted happily to the environment.
To get water they dig for a tuber (Raphion Acme Burkei,) grate it with a sharp stick and deliver the juice inside. To this are added one or two different plants to take away the bitterness and possible catalyze the release of more water, since an excessive volume can be squeezed from a modest amount of the shavings. Nothing is wasted, and they use the residue of the fibers to scrub and clean themselves
THE EARTH AND FOOD ELEMENT
The women provide most of the food by foraging. They are outstanding botanists and, while walking at quite a pace, can discern subtle changes in the shapeless Kalahari scrub denoting something edible. Out comes the ubiquitous digging stick, and within seconds a tasty morsel is thrown into the skin bag. Many of the roots, bulbs and tubers are quite deep underground and have to be uncovered a foot or more down. It is only deep under the surface of the earth that they can acquire enough moisture in which to grow. One to two hours later and five skin bags full and they return to camp with enough food and, if needed, medicine for all. 
All that the men have with them for a hunting trip are a bow, a quiver of arrows, a digging stick, fire stick and a sipping straw to suck water out of hollow trees or from sip-wells in the sand. With these simple implements and their incredible knowledge of the desert they can survive indefinitely. Their back yard has always been their pantry and their skills give them an enviable sense of freedom.
Hunting is now a rare event, since little large game remains in the vicinity around their villages. Meat, is still occasionally available from small game because of the Sans' ingenious trapping ability. They now concentrate on the trapping of smaller antelope and birds especially the delicate duiker and steenbok, ostrich, koraan and guinea fowl. Watching them set a trap is like a surgical exercise. They pay minute attention to detail, and their trapping is a work of practical art. Most astounding is the knowledge of the animals, as they "become" that animal, chatting away to each other and discussing all aspects of behavior and where and how best to set the trap. It seems uncanny that in this vast expanse of desert, they would be able to eat meat just because one animal placed one foot or the neck in a six-inch diameter spot somewhere in the vast Kalahari. It is not difficult to learn how to set a sloppy trap but it takes a lifetime to learn where to set it. 
Rope making is essential since without it one cannot make a bow or snare. Rope was made from a small fibrous-like plant (Sanserveria,) also called mother-in-law's tongue, which is ubiquitous. 
Hunting of bigger game is now impractical on foot for the San in terms of energy expenditure. The Bushmen have to walk long distances to find their quarry now that their hunting grounds have been encroached on.
Skinning of the animal is done quickly and efficiently on a table of broken branches in the sand. Nothing is wasted and the delicacies -- the heart, kidneys and liver -- are wrapped in the stomach and cooked in an ash oven or pot. These are the privileges of the hunter, and the rest is shared. In times of drought the San even squeeze the liquid from the stomach contents for a drink. Survival in the Kalahari lays esthetics aside.
The poisonous grub of the diamphidia beetle can be found a foot away from a particular commifora bush. It is hard to imagine how the first San discovered that the innards of this grub were deadly when in contact with the blood stream. Perhaps it came to one of them in an altered state of consciousness during the "Trance Dance." The time it takes to kill depends on the size and weight of the prey and the San have been known to track a large wounded animal for a day or more. Sinew is wound around the metal shaft of the arrowhead and the poison smeared onto it with great care not to put any on the point of the arrow. A mere scratch could be fatal, and there is no antidote to the poison. It is easy to understand why the quiver is solid and made from a specialized piece of hollow bark. 
The San are small people, and their bows and arrows are toy-like. They do not rely on a fatal shot from afar, as their incredible tracking ability and stealth allow them a shot from up close. The poison takes care of the rest. The wooden body of the arrow is arranged cleverly to drop away from the poisoned metal shaft which remains stuck in the flesh so the animal cannot dislodge it by rubbing up against a tree. The poison is deactivated with heat, cooking and also by gastric juice. Poison on the arrowheads is easily eliminated by placing them in the fire for a minute.
The Bushmen are master trackers. They can tell how many animals have passed by which were male and female, their size and approximate time of arrival. Even if a track looks relatively recent they will know if the animal has too much of a head start to be worth following.



THE EARTH OR SHELTER ELEMENT 
The San have rudimentary grass shelters in which they rarely sleep except in the rare event of rain. The grass walls soon become a haven for the small creatures of the Kalahari and every now and then have to be burned down and reconstructed. Kalahari nights and the stars are extraordinary and everyone welcomes the release from the heat of the day. The San usually all sleep together on the earth, next to the fire. 


THE LOVE OR HUMAN ELEMENT
The San are extremely egalitarian. They have no chief or leader and everyone -- male and female -- has a say in the activities of the group. Certain members are known for their extraordinary skills such as hunting or healing but this does not confer on them any additional privileges. Egomaniacal attitudes are not part of Bushman behavior.
 Children would be considered thoroughly "spoiled" in our terms. When a child picks up a musical instrument, allowance is the rule no matter how distracting the noise. Children rarely have a request refused and no adult can bear to hear a child cry. The Kalahari desert is a cruel enough teacher, and the environment outside of home holds enough to teach youngsters to be responsible adults. Even amongst the adults, an unconditional positive regard for others seemed  routine and it is difficult to find judgmental attitudes amongst the group.



Out of body spirit trance dance. The healer has not yet come back to his body.

THE ETHERIC OR SPIRIT ELEMENT
The San spirit dance is a magical phenomenon that enables the healer to leave his or her body and invoke the spirits for the restoration of balance of the clan or the health of the patient. This gift arises out of the purity of the hunter-gatherer life style with its intimate connection to wilderness. One has to live beyond the five senses in order to survive in the Kalahari. It also is known as the "Little Death," since the dancer is in danger of not returning to the body and has to be carefully watched. Trance dancers have been known to do remarkable things with fire, including putting parts of their anatomy in the flames without suffering burns. They are known for their psychic and healing abilities, and many Africans prefer to see a San healer than be treated by their own medicine sangoma (shaman.) There are also many whites who can testify to being cured by a San healer after Western medicine had failed them. In trance, the San travel into the spirit world to get diagnostic information and then come back out of trance to administer energy with hands on healing. In this out of body trance state the shaman is also capable of remote viewing of game or water sources which information helps the clan survive. (For those interested go to my web site davidcumes.com for videos on this and more.)
Bushman rock art depicting a shaman shape shifting during trance. The line coming out of the top of the head has been described as a "rope to God"
Although many Westerners are enthralled with the superb bushcraft or “hard” skills that the Bushmen have mastered in their brutal environment, just as noteworthy are their group interaction or “soft” skills, as well as their spirituality.
When we take a deep look at what the San represent it is easier to understand what the Ancestors mean by; 
"The force of the primal self manifested as love is the glory of God. Those who awaken it in others and nurture the nurturers glorify him."

Sunday, July 31, 2016



This weeks blog is on the Elements and the San Bushmen Hunter-Gatherers  

In order to survive in the Kalahari wasteland the Bushmen have to be closely related to and dependent on the elements. One can survive three minutes without air (or oxygen,) three days without water, three weeks without food and three months without connection to other humans or love.
Air is readily available, water not so much so that they have had to develop ingenious method of finding and conserving it. Shelter is essential for survival and this is provided by the Earth Mother element. They also sleep on Her crust close to the fire. Fire is required not only for warmth but for cooking and protection from African predators. Love is not a challenge for the clan - there is an abundance of it. 
When one is so close to the elements there is an intimate connection with not only Nature but also the spirit world and the Great Spirit. To be a hunter-gatherer means relating to Nature and all its elements beyond the five senses and they are constantly receiving intuitive feedback from the bush and "spirit" to help them survive. Attending to their most basic needs leads to a profound spirituality that makes it possible for them to travel out of body into the spirit world with their trance dance. Here they converse with the ancestors for vital information and then bring back healing energy with hands on techniques to the clan.
Hence it is not surprising that the Ancestors say...


By emulating the Bushman experience as closely as possible and not separating ourselves from the elements we can nurture ourselves and others. The closer we get to the Still beings, the Growing Beings and the Wild Beings  the more are Nature's secrets revealed.




Fire is a virtual miracle, testifying to our survival as a species . It makes us remember who we and our ancestors were eons ago.

Bushmen making Fire in a primal way


Sipping water with a hollow reed out of a hollow tree trunk after the rains and spitting into into an empty ostrich egg for storage. There is no natural water in the Kalahari and not so long ago the only other methods of obtaining water were from a specific root, bitter melons or sucking it out of sip wells in the sand with the same technique as above.
There is an old cowboy saying that people will fight over oil but kill for water. Lets hope the way things are going with climate change it doesn't come to that. 

Luther Standing Bear was correct when he said...

We have lost our oneness with the element and the other "Beings."

The creation story as drawn for me on an extended visit to the Kalahari Kua San Bushmen in 1987, shows the Earth Mother as a pregnant woman. Her belly ruptures giving forth all that Nature can provide. The hunter with his bow provides the male element and one can also see a child, the fire, the sun, moon and stars (with Bisi the Creator invisibly presiding.) Simple but profound.

1987 was a small window in time when one could still experience, with the fast disappearing clans in the remote Kalahari what life was like for our ancestor hunter-gatherers.

Saturday, July 23, 2016



THIS IS THE FOURTH BLOG ON THE ELEMENTS, FROM THE ZOHAR, KABBALAH AND THE ANCESTORS

In the beginning was the Word and the universe was created in a vacuum of empty space formed by the Creator by the Tzimtzum - a cosmic contraction and possibly a referral to the Big Bang. If the Infinite One had not withdrawn His/Her presence to allow for the possibility of creation nothing could have existed. Therefore He/She had to be present but only present enough for something else also to exist and not be obliterated.
This cosmology develops from the opening lines of Genesis; "And the earth was without form (Tohu) and empty (Bohu) and darkness was of the face of the deep (Tohum.)"

Then ...

... All of which were animated by the "colored" winds or breath (Ruach) of the Creator (Prana in Yoga or Moya in Zulu.) 
(In all humility I am sharing these quotations from the ancestors and trying as best as I can to delve into their mystical meaning with the help from various writings and teachings. However, much still remains obscure to me.) 
There are six sephirot on the Tree of Life that represent Ruach. As they increase in vibration up the Tree from Yesod (Foundation,) to Hod, to Netzach to Tiferet (the Heart of the Tree) and then to Gevurah (Judgment) and Chesed (Mercy) possibly the colors change with each higher vibration as I have done above in white and shades of grey.

80% of our bodies are composed of water. Emoto's work on its molecular structure and how it can change depending on the surrounding "vibration," good or bad is profound. Prayers to water or beautiful music cause the formation of spectacular crystalline forms when water is frozen and visualized with a dark ground microscope. On the other hand rap music or negative intentions cause ugly crystalline structures. Swimming in a pristine mountain stream will have a completely different affect on body, mind and spirit compared to bathing in water coming out of a faucet using soap and shampoos. The vibration of this water can be changed with prayer, sacred music or plants etc. and by doing the mechanical cleansing prior to and separate from the sacred bath.


Emoto's photos of dark ground microscopy after freezing water that had been subjected to different energies - light or dark.

Cleansing by bathing in water was customary in ancient Israel and  has been replaced by the Mikveh, used today by religious Jews. Some biblical regulations require full immersion in water that must be flowing, for spiritual cleansing. Serious impurities or energetic pollution require "living" water eg. a flowing river or spring. 
Lourdes and other places where "Spirit" (Wind, Ruach) reside and the water is sacred have resulted in documented spontaneous remissions of diseases (Vatican Medical Commission) that have defied the best that Western or any medicine has been able to offer.
In sangoma tradition bathing with sacred plants is essential for restitution, release and healing.
According to the New Testament (Matthew) John's baptism was directed from God for cleansing and the remission of sin. 






Saturday, July 16, 2016



This is the 4th blog on the Elements and Nature


The Ancestors

In Zimbabwian culture the Nyami-Nyami is a powerful snake-like water spirit that resides in the Zambesi river. 
All Southern African sangomas know that in order to be initiated one has to go to the "water" to engage with the water spirit. In Zulu it is called the Unzunzu. Below is a Shona soap stone rendition of the serpent Nyami-Nyami.


 In Yoga the Kundalini experience has sometimes been described as like drowning in water. This is tantamount to engaging spiritually, fully with the Shakti, femine like energy that is key to mobilizing the Kundalini. When the Shakti, feminine, Kundalini rises up the spine and meets with Shiva, the masculine principle at the crown chakra a Oneness Experience or Unity Consciousness occurs. This is when the OBSERVER - THE OBSERVED & THE PROCESS OF OBSERVATION fuse into just one thing (Samadhi to the Yogi.) Many of us have had what Maslow called a Peak Experience which is like a "mimi" Kundalini. The Kundalini is described as a serpent coiled at the base of the spine or first chakra, and is key to the enlightenment process.

The sangoma who is initiated is certainly liberated in a different way after encountering the water spirit - Unzunzu or ? the Nyami-Nyami.

In the Yoga system of Chakras each has an increasingly fine vibration as the Kundalini energy rises upwards through the different chakras and their elements.


In Isaiah's vision of the Six directions, each direction; North, West, South and East has a respective element; Water, Earth, Fire Air and Archangel; Uriel, Gabriel, Rafael and Michael. In addition all Four directions have a river, wind, color, animal and "being" (growing, still, talking and wild as one travels anti clockwise from North to East.) Shechina - the feminine aspect of the Divine is above. 







Sunday, July 10, 2016


This is the Third blog on connecting with the Elements and Nature - Water, Wind (Breath) and Oneness


The top Sephira or energy center on the Tree of Life is blue in color and represents the element of water as well as undifferentiated light and thought or wisdom (fantasy, imagination or if you like the Einstein archetype.)


(These sacred rivers today are thought to be the Tigris, Euphrates, Ganges and Nile.)

We are all animated by the breath of the Creator and as Kabir said; "What is God? The breath within the breath." Furthermore 80% of our bodies are water so that there is, in a sense, 
a river running through us. Spirit and Breath of the Creator permeate all Four Beings - Still, Growing, Wild and Talking.
and...
"We are all one, though not the same." The Ancestors

There is no duality and 
"The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose, I am here and you (or they) are out there!" Roshi

 The same life force; breath, prana, chi, ruach (Hebrew,)  moya (Zulu) runs through all the beings, just giving each a different vibration. Even the still beings are "alive" with the Creator's breath.
The Ancestors