An African Custom

[Modified from an essay by an unknown author]

When a woman in a certain African tribe knows she is pregnant, she goes out into the wilderness with a few friends and together they sing, chant, and meditate until they hear the song of the child. They believe that every soul has its own vibration that expresses its unique identity and purpose. When the women become attuned to the song, they sing it out loud. Then they return to the tribe and teach it to everyone else.

When the child is born, the community gathers and sings the child's song to yon. Later, when the child's formal education begins, the village gathers and chants the yos song. When the child passes through the initiation to adulthood, the people again come together and sing. At the time of marriage, the newlyweds hear their songs sung once again.

Finally, when a soul is about to pass from existence, family and friends gather around the deathbed and, just as they did at yos birth, they sing yos song as a part of "being with" the departing one at the very end of yos life.

In this African tribe, there is one other occasion when it is customary for the villagers to gather and sing a person's soulsong to yon. If at any time during yos life, the person commits a crime or a disturbingly aberrant social act, the individual is called to the center of the village and the people in the community form a circle around yon. Then they sing yos song.

The tribe recognizes that the best correction for problematic behavior is often not punishment or rejection; it is love and the remembrance of identity. When you recognize your own song being sung by your own community, whatever overwhelming hungers or frightening threats to your self that may have motivated selfish, angry, destructive, or chaotic action are diminished; your sense of identity is reaffirmed and your self regains its cohesiveness; you remember who you are and why you do not wish to cause hurt to your family, friends, and other members of your own tribe.

A friend is someone who knows your song and sings it to you when you have forgotten it. Those who love you are not fooled by your aberrant transgressions, mistakes you have made, or dark images you hold about yourself. They help you remember your beauty when you feel ugly, your wholeness when you are broken, your innocence when you feel guilty (your retrievable innocence when you are guilty), and your purpose when you are confused.

When you feel good — vitally alive, whole, solid — what you do matches your song; when you feel awful, it doesn't.

You probably have not have grown up in such an African tribe that sings your song to you at crucial life transitions. You may have had to forge your sense of self and learned to walk through the world without such affirming recognition. Yet at times, even the strongest self requires recognition and validation to remain strong and cohesive. One of the reasons for becoming a Yoan is to have a community that can help you remember when you are in tune with yourself and when you are not.

In the end, it is true that you need to recognize your own song and sing it as only you can. You may feel a little "warbly" at times, but so do we all. Remember that no human is an island: at times, everyone needs help to remember yos song and to sing it well. Just keep singing until we catch the tune and can sing along.

Home is where your tribe is.
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Don't worry! With a little help, you'll find your way home.

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Music: Excerpt from A Very Cellular Song
by Mike Heron and the Incredible String Band

May the P.L.W.Y.G.Y.W.O

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