My Mysterious Son

In the latest issue of “Sacred Hoop,” a magazine published in England and devoted to shamanism, I have published a piece based around my new book, “My Mysterious Son.” – Dick Russell


(click to read in magazine format)

About eighty miles northwest of where I live, in West Hollywood, California, inside a white stucco house in the valley town of Ojai, I sit facing Malidoma Patrice Somé, a renowned shaman from West Africa.

A white cloth, containing a circle at the centre, occupies a small table between us. Around the perimeter of the circle, and also used to divide it into quadrants, are five coloured stripes of black, blue, green, red and white. Within the circle rest a number of objects – many cowrie shells, stones both precious and plain, coins from various countries, a ring, and a key.

I have come to Malidoma for a divination, not for myself but on behalf of my 35-year-old son, who was diagnosed in his late teens with a severe mental illness: ‘probable schizophrenia.’

Malidoma asks that I use my primary hand to spread the shells and other objects, clockwise within the circle, and he’ll tell me when to stop. After about ten seconds, he does so, and peers intently at the pattern that has formed.


Malidoma’s divination cloth set up for Frank and his father

Then Malidoma says: “The way this pattern is laid out, it is like a mirror of other-worldly scenarios. Almost like two magnets, each pulling the other, and your son is in the middle of that.

“Your job with him is to hold the space… basically the humanisation of the clinical labelling of him as psychotic, schizophrenic, which is a reflection of a profound misunderstanding. Because the structure of the world afforded by people like him has not been studied sufficiently, it’s not a fair approach to look at him as sick. That frequencies of this nature are not allowed – this is really a major discrimination.”


Schizophrenia remains as mysterious today as it has been throughout human history…

complete article

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