On December 9, we lost a great spiritual teacher, lover of ritual and of young people, Malidoma Patrice Somé, an ancestor from Dano, Burkina Faso in Africa.

Malidoma Somé, 1997, in Portland, OR. Wikimedia Commons.

Some 27 years ago, I visited Sheffield England to check out the Nine O’clock Service (NOS) in which young people were reinventing liturgy using elements of rave such as dj, vj and rap.  On returning home I took my experience to Malidoma Somé.  We went walking in the redwood forest near Oakland where we both lived. 

The moment I told him about NOS, I could sense that his soul went running up a giant redwood tree.  I had to wait a while for him to retrieve it.  He told me:

For several years living here in the States I have had a message recurring in my meditation.  It said that America needs a great awakening.   While my work in the men’s movement is useful, it is not of the scale that is needed to wake up the West.  But the Sheffield movement is. 

Dagara elder Malidoma Somé speaks on The Relationship of Cosmology and Home at the Sacred Fire Foundation interspiritual conference in 2009.

First, because it is made up of young people.  Only the young can recover spirituality when it has been lost.  Second, because it uses technology, and the language of technology must be used for spirituality.  Third, because the work is ritual and there is nothing more basic to regenerating a community than ritual. 

In a follow-up letter, Malidoma elaborated.

The rest of the world–including those who have checked themselves out of Christianity and those who dare not enter it or are pretending they are [Christian] because it makes them look good in certain quarters–is waiting for NOS to happen in this country…. I see the radicalism in it as one aimed toward healing, reconciling, and restarting people’s identity.  It is like a massive homecoming for the rest of the world which the stultified religious conservatism has left out….

“The Cosmic Mass: where rave meets sacrament and the priest is the posse” A Marco Mascarin Documentary (c) 2005

Thank you for sharing this wonderful and most worthy project with me.  I would feel most blessed to be part of it.  It is worth a life commitment. 

The fact that I became an Episcopal priest to carry this vision forward in what became our Cosmic Mass is due in great part to Malidoma.  I and many are grateful to him.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-denominational Priest, pp. 5-16.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: Young men of the South African Basotho nation prepare for initiation. Photo by Leo Moko on Unsplash.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you know of Malidoma Somé and his teachings and his personal story?  Or of the Cosmic Mass?  I share more about both in the accompanying video.

Recommended Reading

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

Share this meditation


Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox is made possible through the generosity of donors. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation

Search Meditations





Receive our daily meditations

12 thoughts on “In Memory of Malidoma Somé, <br>1956-2021”

  1. Avatar

    Several years ago, the Gateway Worship Center, in my little northern rural town, held a three day long, 24/7 revival worship event, which was live streamed. We had various styles of worship teams join us from all over Ontario, as well as several pastors from various denominations with us as well. We had artists painting, flag waving prayer dancers, healing teams, prophetic utterances, prayer warriors, and fire tunnels, and weaved throughout all this creative worship we incorporated the Eucharist service, prayer, and readings of scripture. We simply surrendered to the movements, leadings and promptings of the Holy Spirit throughout this worshipful time of revival.

    It was in the summer, and the Church doors were left wide open for the entire three days. All kinds of people just walked in off the street, through the open doors, some for the first time entering a church, some just curious to see what was happening, young and old, day and night, all free to come and go as they pleased. I participated in the entire worship revival experience, for three days, not sleeping at all during this time. This experience for me personally, put me into what I can only describe as an altered state of spiritually heightened consciousness, as it did for many others. It was such a liberating time, filled with the presence and essence of the Holy Spirit of love and joy and the celebration of remembering and reviving this within our relationship with not only God, Christ and the Holy Spirit, but also with this Divine essence and presence within ourselves and each other. We were all transformed during those three days of worship together, and this experience will be forever etched upon my heart. We were all blessed in so many ways, and we were all so grateful for this Sacred moment in time. After watching the video clips in todays DM, I now see that I was participating in Creation Spirituality before I even knew what this was, which I find really interesting.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, It sounds like you had quite a spiritual experience a virtual smorgasbord of spiritual things to feast upon. When we’ve done our Cosmic Masses we’ve had similar experiences, but our “raves” take the form of what I, and Gabrielle Roth would call “trance dance”–I did one one time and called the event “Trance Dancing in the Urban Sweat Lodge.” Sometime I hope you might be able to be a part of one of our Cosmic Masses–either if you are in our area, or we’re in yours.. and of course when ever the pandemic is over…

  2. Avatar

    RIP Still remember clearly when Malidoma Some told me one day at Omega when I was assisting MC Richards in the 90s,
    “You Americans don’t call on your Ancestors for help. They aren’t allowed help unless you ask.” I took this to heart and have been asking our Ancestors for help often, and especially when I was taking care of my mother with her dementia. Called on them quite often in fact. Hope my decendents know to call on me in the future. A wonderful teaching, I am forever thankful for it..

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Peggy, What a gift to have known Malidoma and assisted MC Richards! I knew who Malidoma was and was very impressed by his book on Ritual, but I was a student of his then wife, Subonfu, and we had some wild drumming in her class at UCS. Yes, we need to call upon the ancestors–our ancestors and other great ones who have passed on but left a marks on our lives.

    1. Avatar

      Hoofnote: I met Jackson Senyonga many years ago and he carried the same message for this nation. Only a great movement of God in the midst and desperation and devastation can transform the evil and brokenness.

      Yet sadly, like many religious leaders who gain wealth and power . . . well, you heard it or seen it all before. As Dallas Willard so aptly and wisely said, “We become like Christ in following him in the overall style of life he chose for himself.” #humility #simplicity #vulnerability #compassion

  3. Avatar

    The memorial today for Malidoma Some awakened a past impression (no words to go with it) and a desire to know him much more. Thank you for your continued present work and the bringing of Holy people to us all. Amazing what a few of your words can bring such openings of my spiritual journey -my everyday life.

  4. Avatar

    Wow!!! My first experience if a Cosmic Mass was 15 mins ago on the You Tube clip. Thanks to Matthew and others for the daily meditations which have connected me more to the universal within me….Bless you all.

  5. Avatar

    Malidoma was a sweet, humble, kind and generous spirit. He blessed us with indigenous Dagara spirituality in the Mendocino Men’s Gatherings, described his remarkable life in traditional and modern worlds in his powerful book, Of Water and Spirit, was a frequent quest in spiritual gatherings, and kindly honored one of my books. I am so sad he is gone. His work was the build bridges and he did it beautifully. You did such good work, Malidoma. Thank you.

  6. Avatar

    I knew Malidoma before, when he still went by Patrice. We were friends while both at Brandeis. He stayed with my family for a short time, sharing stories over long meals. I eventually reached his village in Burkina Faso and visited his family for some time. His fierce wisdom and warm friendship made a profound impact on me. How did he die?

Leave a Comment

To help moderate the volume of responses, the Comment field is limited to 1500 characters (roughly 300 words), with one comment per person per day.

Please keep your comments focused on the topic of the day's Meditation.

As always, we look forward to your comments!!
The Daily Meditation Team

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join us in meditation that supports your compassionate action

Receive Matthew Fox's Daily Meditation by subscribing below: