An Open Letter from Liv Mokai Wheeler
A heartfelt letter from Kontomble Voice Diviner and spiritual teacher, Liv Mokai Wheeler
I feel called to begin this piece with a prayer to Spirit:
Ancient Ancestors, I honor you. Please bring healing to our shared, collective heart of humanity. Please support our deepening ability to understand each other’s humanity.
This sharing is for whomever feels called to read it. It is in response to Stevie Leigh’s recent article as well.
I also want to express, to anyone who has ever felt hurt or not heard by me, I am very sorry. My intention in general and in my heart is to create spaces where people can come into their authentic empowerment. My heart’s intention is to support people in coming into their unique expression of medicine and soul. I can honestly say that I’ve done my best up until this point and I’ll continue to find ways to grow and refine in my awareness.
I send my apology to anyone who has ever been hurt by my ways of being in the world or my ways of being with Spirit. Please know that it is my intention to steadily grow.
Thank you for your message to me, Stevie. Here is my response.
For those that I have not met already, my name is Liv Mokai Wheeler. I’d love to share some of my story with you to give some context to what’s recently arisen. Please take your time reading. It’s a long story; or a short one, depending on the lens that you view it through.
In this past year in my learning on my spiritual journey, I’ve been guided to study “reality” more closely. What is it that creates reality? Who determines what is valid “reality?” I find it fascinating to study the nuances of existence. I feel that these questions are particularly relevant in what seems to be evolving in our human family in 2020 as we’ve been seemingly squeezed into a collective global experience.
I’m deeply grateful that my journey in this lifetime has blessed me with the ability to travel to various countries, for having the soul-expanding experience of getting to know people from different cultures. I’ve learned so much from experiencing the various beautiful qualities of human beings. The contrasts have also helped me to understand some of what shapes and creates reality for people. Reality seems to me, oftentimes, to be made of group agreements whether spoken or made psychically.
I experience “reality” differently than many, perhaps. I’m a woman with my extra senses active. Which, for me, this means that I’m hearing the spirit world, sensing the different dimensions of beings. I could be referred to as a bridge because I am a bridge to other dimensions. This influences my existence. I’ve spoken quite openly about what I experience with Spirit through the years. Those that know some of my journey will know that it’s taken quite a long time to feel like I could be in my voice without it quivering. I’m a deeply sensitive soul who like many deeply sensitive souls has needed to work through a great deal of trauma to feel safe to be who I truly am in the world.
The beings that I primarily work with are referred to as Kontomble. They are, I feel, extraordinary beings with the amazing capacity to understand far beyond this moment in space and time. Fifteen years ago I was very serendipitously led to my long-time teacher, Elder Malidoma Patrice Somé. I studied and apprenticed with Elder Malidoma for eight years. I’ve journeyed to Burkina Faso, West Africa five times, spending about a month there each time, immersing in my deepening of my learning with the Kontomble. The true medicine that I experienced there that ignited a profound healing in my heart, was the love that lived in the people of Burkina. I am forever grateful.
It was with Elder Malidoma’s guidance through the years that I came into the authentic expression of my purpose here on Earth. He has blessed the world, I do believe, in so many ways with his medicine. I will continue to find ways to honor Malidoma. It is with his blessing that I have remembered who I truly am and with his encouragement that I stepped into my role with the Kontomble.
During my visits to Burkina, when sitting with the various diviners in the villages, I would have the experience where they would tell me each time about these Kontomble that are with me. The first diviner I sat with on my first journey was seemingly quite confused about how they were with me, this American woman of European descent in her lineage, a woman who had not been to Burkina yet in this lifetime.
These Kontomble that are with me are my dear friends. They are also my teachers. They are also incredibly intense teachers.
I am a Kontomble voice diviner. I’ve been through very difficult spiritual initiations which have enabled me to speak the tongue of the Kontomble. This means that their language streams through me and I translate it into English.
Through the years, my experience of ritual has primarily been with Elder Malidoma. It’s also been through my ritual initiations in Burkina. In a sense, I consider the yoga teacher training that I experienced many years ago in Rishikesh, India to have been a ritual intensive as well. I’ve also experienced plant dietas with incredible ayahuasceros in Peru. Each of these ceremonial experiences has been incredibly intense and also life-altering.
In many of these ritual experiences, I stretched myself seemingly beyond my capacity. In hindsight, I see this was almost the steady thread that wove through these life-changing experiences. They were intensive in the sense that we’d do rituals or practices long hours into the day and night. We were tired, even exhausted. We were physically stretched in some cases through fasting. I can remember many moments in the yoga teacher training intensive in Rishikesh where I wondered if I could keep going. It seemed to take me to my edge. Or seen differently, it brought up more pain than I knew how to be with. It seemed others were having a similar experience. I learned that this is also the process of the clarification of the soul. We were working through old karmas, as I understand it, in order to bring about growth and positive transformation in our lives.
These are some of the ancient ways that I was blessed to be steeped in. I honor the many tenders of the ancient ways on the Earth. I feel these ways are actually much of what is tending to the collective pulse.
I’ve learned from many healers from various traditions through the years. It’s essentially my passion, healing. What brings about healing? What has surprised the western condition in me is that oftentimes incredibly intense rituals can bring about radical transformation. How we be with the process makes all the difference, I do believe. I can remember being in dieta in the Amazon and wondering what in the world I was thinking that led me to sign up for going into that kind of extremely challenging shadow healing. Had I not been essentially in isolation in the Amazon — we had arrived at a remote village by boat — there’s a chance I would have stopped my dieta early. We agreed to keep our phones off during the entire dieta in order for the wisdom and intelligence of the medicine to work. Internally, I had moments of wondering if I could actually continue. Once those energies burned through my system, I had more vitality of being. These ancient beings that work through the medicine have much to teach us modern folk, I do believe.
I am immensely grateful for the incredible experience I’ve had to study and receive healing from these exceptional healers.
What I’ve learned about ritual and Spirit through the years is that the ways that they guide us is not necessarily the same as how a Western-trained mind would think or choose to do things. I’ve learned through my own process of steady de-conditioning that conditioning creates a particular frame work or even blinder until it’s been sufficiently worked through.
I’ve known for years that the rituals that I’m guiding people in are intense and that they stretch people. I’ve done my best to prepare them for entering that space. I’ve noticed that one of the challenges that occurs is that I’m practicing ancient ways that are natural to my being in a culture that pretends as if Spirit doesn’t exist. It’s a hurdle people have to cross, if they are in fact choosing to believe in Spirit. This hurdle is not a small one.
I’ve found that there is seemingly naturally a clash of ways which can happen with the modern mind meeting the ancient. These ancient beings don’t fit into the current paradigm that’s been constructed, the paradigm much of humanity has been living in for generations upon generations. Additionally, my way of being with this work is what I would consider deeply feminine. Which means, to me, that the way that I am working is highly intuitive. The ways that I get guided by Spirit in facilitation is so different person to person or moment to moment.
With Elder Malidoma’s permission, I’ve shared the ritual of Ancestralization through the years. The rituals that I generally facilitate are taught to me and guided directly by the Kontomble. It is very common for bridge people to be taught directly by the spirits. The Kontomble guide me at gatherings in very radical ways. When I’m facilitating ritual with the Kontomble, they often guide me to begin with a communication with the Otherworld, also known as a divination. This, more often than not, is emotionally intense. They have the capacity to move energies through people and they do quite intentionally say things in activating ways to draw up energies ultimately for the purpose of healing. It is a way that I think many would find challenging. This is why we have a thorough application and preparation process.
Many of these practices are quite intense. I find it intense to clear entities and demons from people. It is also oftentimes necessary in order to create a space conducive to deeper soul level healing. In my experience, spaces that people qualify as safe and maybe even feel very safe don’t feel safe to me. They don’t feel safe to me when I sense entities on people that are seeking to find a way to internally disrupt harmony. I recognize my spiritual methods could feel jolting to a person. Many shamanic extractions that I’ve been present for in various cultures are physically jolting because the practitioner is essentially quickly removing an intruder who is seeking to bring harm to a ceremony or a person’s life. It is quite common for cultures that still have understanding of the spiritual dimensions to have methods for extraction.
Here is a potential disconnect: what I experience as reality may be different than what another experiences. This goes back to what I mentioned at the beginning- whose reality are we speaking of? My sense is that it’s a matter of which senses are open in a person. However, even among Spirit based practitioners, we could sense different phenomena present. Generally at a gathering, there are at least two or three of us that can be in a dialogue about what we’re sensing present spiritually. We’re doing our best to keep the space safe for people.
I’ve been in many ritual experiences where people are nestled closely and experience the good energy of connecting with each other. Meanwhile, there are other beings wanting to influence the space negatively. This is where a fair amount of our focus is a lot of times. It’s what’s referred to as beyond the veil or the so-called ‘unseen’ dimensions. This is what my life is devoted to studying and being with. Through the years, I’ve had moments of people experiencing me in the human realm as quite intense because I’m watching a demon, the way it’s moving through a space and where and in what way it may intend to do harm. From the human experience, I could seem like an unpleasant and sometimes fierce person. That strong energy is also helpful with some of these more intense aspects that influence the physical dimension. As I experience it, the energetic and spiritual happens first and then we experience it in the physical dimension next.
Something that I’ve learned through the years is that it’s not a given that people who are drawn to experience ritual or to connect with Spirit have necessarily done personal healing work. I’ve done my best with applications and preparing people for working together. Our application speaks about the intensity and the unpredictability of the Kontomble. It also speaks about the physical endurance needed in ritual and essentially how trying it can be. On the application we also speak about entities. There’s a question that says, “Are you comfortable speaking openly about entities?” There are also questions about triggers. We are essentially doing our best to prepare for what could be a potentially activating environment.
I’ve learned so much about triggers throughout the years. I’ve learned about my own personal triggers as well as witnessing trigger activations in others. At this point, my understanding is that our triggers can be seen as invitations into deeper discovery of our own being in addition to hints at the traumas that we’ve experienced. I encourage people that I work with to have practices of working with their triggers. In my own triggers through the years I’ve learned that they can really flood and overwhelm an experience. At ritual gatherings, we’ve worked with clearing circles typically in order to try to clear what can arise for people and also how people can get activated interpersonally in community.
As long as I’ve been on my journey with Spirit, I’ve also been on my journey with healing. My approach to showing up as a teacher is to be very transparent that I’m a work in progress. I work with healers regularly to continue to heal and integrate my blind spots. And, I’m human, I can always grow.
To clarify my feelings about practicing ritual in various lands, I feel that it is incredibly complex. This is how Spirit has guided me thus far and I’ve been finding ways to seek counsel with people about this to try to move through the world respectfully while also being true to my calling from Spirit. At times, I haven’t understood why I was being called to particular lands when the initial calling happened but I’ve trusted the Kontomble. Nevertheless, thank you for the invitation to find ways to come into deeper integrity. I am listening.
In general, what I teach about is largely from my direct experience through the years and it’s also from the ways the spirit-beings teach and guide me. It is true that I’ve heard many nature spirits around the Earth upset that humans seek to control them. I would not be doing my Sacred job if I didn’t say that. My commitment to the Otherworld is to share the messages that they ask me to share. I understand their messages can be upsetting to humans. I can both be delivering their messages and simultaneously feeling deeply in my heart that the message will likely be difficult for the person to receive. I can feel empathy. It’s a space of tension, in a sense, to be a bridge between the worlds.
By now, I’ve had the experience multiple times of connecting with indigenous Shamans, Priests, and Elders in different parts of the world where I’ve been called by Spirit. They let me know that the spirits of the mountains and nature call me there. The Kontomble that I move with are connected to the mountains and they’re Earth guardians. Part of our work around the Earth has been to pay respect to the Little People of the Earth who are Earth guardians, to honor their realness as well as their contributions to humanity that have largely been forgotten. In this, my work with Spirit is actually quite connected with the Earth in a particular way. This is what my expression of saying yes to my medicine looks like thus far, while also being with the inherent complexity. I’ve essentially been quietly living in the question, listening with my whole being. Much of my process is quiet.
Many times, when we enter a new culture, the Kontomble have us do rituals of bringing gifts to people that we’re meeting with. For example, when we went to Iceland and connected with an extraordinary soul who is deeply connected with the Elves, the Huldufólk, they asked us to bring gifts. This is their way of weaving with the Little People of the Earth to restore humanity.
I feel that I live in the tension of complexity by nature of the ancestry that I was born in while being who I am at the soul level as well. I recognize that I was born in a land currently referred to as America that was not where my ancestors came from. My ancestors have come from many different lands. I’ve been doing healing with my ancestors for close to fifteen years now and have been supporting others in ancestral healing as well. I live in this complexity. I’m so sorry for any actions that my ancestors have taken that have hurt others’ lives or others’ ancestors. I’m so sorry for any actions that I’ve taken, consciously or unconsciously, throughout my life and my lifetimes that have hurt others. In my heart, I know that I don’t wish to harm anyone. I’m also human and I make mistakes.
What people sometimes refer to as ‘being in right relationship’ is actually something I strive for quietly. It’s a value of mine. Giving back is actually part of my spiritual practice. I am guided by Spirit in how I do that and I trust the ways that they’re guiding me. At times, it’s been through giving to an organization that supports clean water in Burkina. At other times, it’s been supporting families in Burkina. Each month, I give to an organization that supports the planting of trees around the Earth. Spirit guides me in ways to creatively give steadily. It is very much a part of the Kontomble energy and how they’ve guided me through the years.
I also believe that a form of giving that can be overlooked by modern humans is giving to the spirits of the Otherworld. To the modern mind, this can be seen as illogical because the Western mind has been conditioned to believe there’s nothing there. I am a strong believer in making offerings to our ancestors as well as to the Earth. I have a daily practice of giving to the Earth. I listen to her daily.
My feeling in general — any time and especially now — is that it’s helpful for us to all humanize each other a bit more.
Stevie, you spoke about me crying and what I experienced when we were together. That has happened at gatherings before. I’ve cried. I’ve grieved. Many times, Spirit has grieved through me and many times I’ve also grieved from my lived human experience. It is true that the pains that I’ve experienced have spilled over. I’m sorry for that. As I mentioned before, I’m quite diligent with working with healers and personal healing and I’m also deeply sensitive. I’m sorry for any ways that this has spilled over onto anyone’s experience negatively.
Thank you, Stevie, for your recent article. Thank you for sharing of your experience and what others have experienced who have worked with me. I have taken it into my heart and will work to make changes to deepen in my understanding of the complexity of trauma. I will work to find more ways to support people in feeling safe to speak their voice and what’s coming up for them.
I’ve taken in what you’ve spoken about in your article. I will find ways to do better. Thank you.
Liv Mokai Wheeler