In the Dagara tradition, the basic sweep or “dompla” is often prescribed when one needs “dirt” cleaned off them. This dirt can collect for any number of reasons. We do not necessarily need to know why. It is common to need a sweep. Alarm need not be present with the prescription of this ritual.
If you feel “icky,” psychically burdened, emotionally weighed down, victim to “bad luck” or if you are physically ill, a sweep may very well be needed. It always feels remarkably good to receive a sweep and is equally potent to be the one doing the sweeping.
Fern is the plant most frequently used for this ritual which is performed by a body of water: creek, stream, river, or ocean. But these can be modified if needed. The dompla can also be successfully achieved with a bowl of water outside in the backyard, with branches from a tree or herbs such as rosemary. (Always ask permission to take branches from a tree, or cut fern or herbs. Explain to the plant why you need them and if they are willing to be used in that way. Listen for a response. If you receive a “no,” be respectful and go find another option.) The dompla can be carried out by anyone. You do not need to be an initiated diviner to carry out this ritual.
Be aware that this is a water ritual, meaning the element doing the healing work in this ritual is the water. Now and then something is added to the water, essential oils or healing charcoal, for example, but that is rare.
If you choose to, you may invoke before, though it is not necessary. It is good to invoke to help settle everyone’s nervous systems and to set clear intention. Sometimes the recipient is also instructed to invoke but again, not necessary, and very rare. Use your judgment and instincts here.Often I invoke, tapping upon the ground with a stick and calling in my and the recipient’s ancestors, wedeme, kontomble, water (if by a stream or river call in that place and its helpful allies), and the spirit of the plant I am using, to come and help carry out this healing and clearing.
Once you have invoked, create a circle out of wood ash for the person to stand in.
Encourage your recipient, if they are comfortable, to remove eyewear and close their eyes. They should know this is an intimate ritual with physical contact. Make sure they are ok with that.
Form the branches you have gathered into a sort of broom shape in your hand.
Dip the branches into the water and then shake them off, away from the person. Starting from the top of the head, in the front of the body, begin to brush and sweep the dirt off of them in downward and out and away movements. Literally sweep the dirt off of them from the top down. You may re-dip the branches into the water if it feels necessary. As you sweep, you may begin to feel “stickiness” in the auric field as well. If so extend the sweeping out beyond the limits of the physical body.
I tend to carry out the sweep on the 4 sides/directions of the body, using as many strokes as I feel necessary on each “side.” Starting at the top of the head–front, right, back, left–moving around them in a circle, re-dipping in each direction. I lift arms and do underarms; open hands that may be closed to sweep palms well, make sure to sweep between legs, using discretion of course, and under feet. I typically ask the person I am sweeping to be barefooted if that is comfortable for them. I myself try to always be barefooted as well.
Everyone has his or her own style and the sweep is largely determined by how it feels once you begin. Go with the flow of it. You will be led. Once completed, I touch the recipient’s heart with the branches gently to let them know we are complete. Then I allow them time to integrate.
Once all is finished, the branches are offered to the water, if you are in the wild, or to a shrine or tree if you are home, or composted if there is no other option. If you are using a bowl, the water can be returned to the Earth at the base of a tree.
Voila! All clean.
©Theresa C. Dintino
Theresa C. Dintino is an ancestral Strega (Italian wise woman), Earth worker, and initiated diviner in the West African Dagara tradition. For more than 20 years Theresa has studied and practiced an Earth-based spirituality. She currently helps others reclaim their personal lineages through her divination work. Theresa is the author of seven books which include her Tree Medicine Trilogy. Learn more about her books here.