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whole-life skills for a radically different future

Grief Ritual with Sobonfu Somésobonfu

Near Asheville, North Carolina

SOIL hosted grief rituals with renowned African spiritual teacher Sobonfu Somé in 2013 and 2015. These transformative events have supported the continued growth of strong community-based rituals throughout the Western North Carolina region. 

Since the passing of our dear sister, teacher, and friend in January 2017, communities around the country have been looking to those who apprenticed with Sobonfu to support the practice of her powerful ritual tools. 

Two of Sobonfu's successors with whom SOIL is collaborating with are Susan Hough and Jennifer Halls. Susan and Jennifer are two of Sobonfu Somé's long-time students, friends, and initiates into the Ritual Healing Village. Susan provides coaching, mentoring, and rituals through Living Your Gifts in California, while Jennifer works as an intuition consultant, medium, and ritual facilitator through You know.

We all experience pain and loss in life – conflict, illness, disappointed dreams, broken relationships, loved ones who die or suffer, even inherited or ancestral pain. It is important to have healthful ways to release that pain and to regularly cleanse ourselves.  Otherwise, old pain begins to smother our creativity, our joy, and our ability to connect with others.  It impacts our health and can even kill us.

A grief ritual is a transformational and soul-invigorating ceremony designed to break through our cultural barriers of grief.  There is a need to periodically feel and express grief in order to purge the soul from hurts and pains.  The suppression and denial of emotion in general, and grief in particular, has been linked to spiritual drought, emotional confusion and certain illnesses we experience in our lives.  To begin to regain a serious and lasting sense of connectedness with ourselves and with spirit, we need to find a proper place to release our grief.

In the traditional world of the Dagara of Burkina Faso, West Africa, the ritual of grief, conducted regularly in different parts of the tribe, is a way of releasing the tensions caused by loss and of restoring continuity in relationships. Sobonfu spoke of tribal and transcendental experiences in down-to-earth, Western terms that were nonetheless startling, original, and urgent. Following the traditional model of the Dagara, grief rituals deepen our connections to life, nature, and the earth; heal family and ancestral wounds; bring a deep sense of release; and help put an end to pain.

About Sobonfu
Renowned teacher and mentor Sobonfu Somé was one of the foremost voices of African Spirituality to come to the West. Mentored by her Dagara elders, she brought ancient indigenous African wisdom to our Western culture in a compassionate, loving and joyful way. She was born in a remote West African village in the country of Burkina Faso. The Dagara people have preserved the old ways of the African village life, with family structures and spiritual practices that have been in place for over 10,000 years.

Sobonfu’s name means “the keeper of the rituals.” She began her initiation at the age of five, when the elders discovered she was speaking a language from the spirit world and foretelling important events. As an instinctive and intuitive healer who taught from the deep well of knowledge of womanhood and Spirit, she traveled the world to offer her native perspective on community, healing, intimacy, rituals, and the sacredness of everyday life. A graceful and eloquent woman, Sobonfu possessed a charm and modesty that enabled her to touch people deeply. Her message still rings with an intuitive power and truth that Alice Walker said “can help us put together so many things that our modern western world has broken.”

Sobonfu taught and led rituals throughout North America, Asia, and Europe and published three books — The Spirit of Intimacy, Welcoming Spirit Home, and Falling Out of Grace — as well as the CD set Women’s Wisdom from the Heart of Africa.

Past Participants Say:
“The Grief Ritual with Sobonfu was soul healing medicine for me.  Through her compassion, she inspires participants to let go of their pain, anger, fear and to understand the blessings behind their grief.”  Robert A., East P.A.

“Many workshops I’ve been to are like putting my emotional issues in the recycling bin.  They come back in other forms.  My experience with the Grief Ritual is akin to putting them in the trash.  They are taken away and are gone.”  Rob Miller, Pleasant Hill, OR

“My blood pressure was normal for the first time in years after the Grief Ritual.”  Bennie Brown, San Jose, CA

Who attends or should attend the Grief Ritual?
People feeling grief for the earth, anyone who has lost a loved one, a job, a dream or pet; people who are stuck in unhealthy relationships or emotionally unhealthy situations; therapists, educators, business people, retired people, veterans, Holocaust survivors, gardeners, lawyers, scientists, musicians, doctors, nurses, artists; people exploring their feelings or experiencing loss — people like you and me.

videoWatch and Listen to Sobonfu Somé
Watch this Youtube clip of Sobonfu Somé speaking about The Natural Way in Portland, OR
We offer our thanks to Earth and Spirit Council for sharing this video clip with us. Contact them if you'd like a full-length DVD of this talk.

Healing Historic Harms by Meta Commerse in Urban News, October 10, 2013

More Sobonfu Some Videos (on her website).

Travel Information
Closest airports (in order of proximity): Asheville, NC;  Greenville, SC; Charlotte, NC
Hotel options near event location in Black Mountain
Carpooling is encouraged and can be facilitated once registered.


Experience a developing ecovillage for yourself!

Most of SOIL’s classes take place at Earthaven Ecovillage, giving participants a hands-on, skill-building immersion within an authentic community-based, village setting. Tours of Earthaven are also available on a monthly basis, a great way to dip your toe into this long-standing, intergenerational social experiment.

Learn More
COVID 19 Response: SOIL is publishing resources and deferring all programs to 2021.Read More
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