Dogon Cults = Awa – Lebe – Binu…

Circumcision Is Seen As Necessary For The Individual To Gain Gender…

In Dogon thought, Male and Females are born with both sexual components. The clitoris is considered Male, while the foreskin is considered Female. – Originally, for the Dogon, man was endowed with a dual soul, and circumcision eliminates the superfluous one. Rites of circumcision thus allow each sex to assume its proper physical identity.

Most men, however, have only one wife, and it is rare for a man to have more than two wives. Formally, wives join their husband’s household only after the birth of their first child. After having children, divorce is a rare and serious matter, and it requires the participation of the whole village.

The religious beliefs of the Dogon are enormously complex and knowledge of them varies greatly within Dogon society. Dogon religion is defined primarily through the Worship of the Ancestors and the spirits whom they encountered as they slowly migrated from their obscure Ancestral homelands to the Bandiagara cliffs.

*** Three Principal Cults:  Awa – Lebe – Binu ***

The Awa is a Cult of the Dead – whose purpose is to reorder the spiritual forces disturbed by the death of Nommo, a  mythological Ancestor of great importance to the Dogon. Members of the Awa cult dance with ornate carved and painted masks during both funeral and death anniversary ceremonies. There are 78 different types of ritual masks among the Dogon and their iconographic messages go beyond the aesthetic, into the realm of religion and philosophy.The primary purpose of Awa dance ceremonies is to lead souls of the deceased to their final resting place in the family altars and to consecrate their passage to the ranks of the Ancestors.

The cult of Lebe – Earth God, is primarily concerned with the agricultural cycle and its chief priest is called a  Hogon. All Dogon villages have a Lebe shrine whose altars have bits of Earth incorporated into them to encourage the continued fertility of the land. According to Dogon beliefs, the God Lebe visits the Hogons every night in the form of a serpent and licks their skins in order to purify them and infuse them with life force. The Hogons are responsible for guarding the purity of the soil and therefore officiate at many agricultural ceremonies.

The cult of Binu is a totemic practice and it has complex associations with the Dogon’s sacred places used for Ancestor Worship, Spirit communication and agricultural sacrifices. Major Dogon sacred sites were related to episodes in the Dogon myth of the creation of the world, in particular to a deity named Nommo. Binu shrines house spirits of mythic ancestors who lived in the legendary era before the appearance of death among mankind. Binu spirits often make themselves known to their descendants in the form of an animal that interceded on behalf of the clan during its founding or migration, thus becoming the clan’s totem.

The priests of each Binu maintain the sanctuaries whose facades are often painted with graphic signs and mystic symbols. Sacrifices of blood and millet porridge the primary crop of the Dogon are made at the Binu shrines at sowing time and whenever the intercession of the immortal ancestor is desired. Through such rituals, the Dogon believe that the benevolent force of the ancestor is transmitted to them. Kananga masks form geometric patterns and represent the first human beings. The Dogon believe that the Dama dance creates a bridge into the supernatural world. Without the Dama dance, the dead cannot cross over into peace.

  ***The Dogon are strongly oriented toward harmony, which is reflected in many of their rituals. For instance, in one of their most important rituals, the women praise the men, the men thank the women, the young express appreciation for the old, and the old recognize the contributions of the young. Another example is the custom of elaborate greetings whenever one Dogon meets another. This custom is repeated over and over, throughout a Dogon village, all day.

The Hogon is the spiritual leader of the village. He is elected from among the oldest men of the extended families of the village. After his election, he has to follow a six-month initiation period, during which he is not allowed to shave or wash. He wears white clothes and nobody is allowed to touch him. A virgin who has not yet had her period takes care of him, cleans the house and prepares his meals. She returns to her home at night. After his initiation, he wears a red fez. He has an armband with a sacred pearl that symbolises his function. The virgin is replaced by one of his wives, and she also returns to her home at night. The Hogon has to live alone in his house. The Dogon believe the Sacred Snake Lébé comes during the night to clean him and to transfer wisdom.

There is also a secret ritual language Sigui So – language of Sigi , which is taught to dignitaries – Olubarū of the Society of the Masks during their enthronement at the Sigui ceremony.

***The Dogon people believe the fox has supernatural powers. In the morning, the diviner will read the fox prints on the sand and make interpretations. The fox is sure to come because offerings of millet, milk and peanuts are made to this sacred animal.

The Nummo were referred to as “Water Spirits.” Although the Nummo were identified as being “Dieu d’eau” (Gods of Water) identified the Nummo as hermaphrodites and they appeared on the female side of the Dogon sanctuary.” They were primarily symbolized by the sun, which was a Female symbol in the religion. In the Dogon language, the sun’s name, (nay), had the same root as “mother,” (na), and “cow,” (nā). They were symbolized by the colour red, a Female symbol.

“Most of the conversations indeed turned largely on Twins and on the need for duality and the doubling of individual lives. The Eight original Ancestors were really eight pairs… But after this generation, human beings were usually born single. Dogon religion and Dogon philosophy both expressed a haunting sense of the original loss of Twin-ness. The heavenly Powers themselves were dual, and in their Earthly manifestations they constantly intervened in pairs…” The birth of human Twins was celebrated in the Dogon culture  because it recalled the “fabulous past, when all beings came into existence in twos, symbols of the balance between humans and the divine.”

The Twin Sect: The birth of twins is a sign of good luck. The enlarged Dogon families have common rituals, during which they evoke all their Ancestors back to their origin—the ancient pair of Twins from the creation of the world.

***The Dogon use this entertainment to gain profit by charging the tourists money for what masks they want to see and the ritual itself.

Funeral Masquerade – This particular ritual incorporates the elements of the yingim and the danyim. During the Yincomoli Ceremony, a gourd is smashed over the deceased’s wooden bowl, hoe, and Bundukamba, (burial blanket), which announces the entrance of the masks used in this ceremony, while the deceased entrance to their home in the family compound is decorated with ritual elements.

Great Mask or Mother Of Masks  The  Mask represents the Women Ancestors, who are said to have discovered the purpose of the masks by guiding the spirits of the deceased into the afterlife.

The Lébé Sect worships the Ancestor Lébé Serou – the first mortal human being who in Dogon myth was transformed into a Snake. The celebration takes place once a year and lasts for three days.

Certain researchers investigating the Dogon have reported that they seem to possess advanced Astronomical knowledge, the nature and source of which have subsequently become embroiled in controversy. Puzzled by this Sudanese star system, and prefaced their analysis with the disclaimer. The problem of knowing how, with no instruments at their disposal, men could know the movements and certain characteristics of virtually invisible stars has not been settled, nor even posed.

= We have in the Dogon information a predictive mechanism which it is our duty to test, regardless of our preconceptions.

“The Dual Soul Is A Danger; A Man Should Be Male & A Woman Female. Circumcision & Excision Are Once Again The Remedy.”

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