In the Dagara tradition from West Africa, the Wedeme (oudeme) are the elemental beings who are the keepers of the wild. What could this possibly mean? To better understand this it is useful to examine closely the words wild and keeper.
In this tradition there are 5 elements: fire, water, mineral, Earth and nature/wild.
Wildness is the potentiality of the life force. Wildness is that which sustains life.
Wild is what might happen.
Wild is untamed, undomesticated.
Wild is virgin: untouched, unharmed.
Wild is free.
Wild is pure. Pristine. Innocent.
Wild is fierce. Wild is unknown.
Source Energy is Wild
The term “virgin wildness” has been used by the Wedeme. These are not my words. According to the Wedeme, wildness is purity. The source energy of the origin of the Universe is wild. “Sweeping” (cleansing) rituals are often prescribed in divination to remove “psychic” dirt and return people to their original blueprint*, but it is more accurate to say these rituals return them to their own wildness—original source. Original source is wild. Whatever you conceive of source to be; Goddess, God, the One, the All, the Universe, to be disconnected from our own wildness disconnects us from source. The Wedeme are the keepers of the wild. They remember source. To make pure, to return to a virgin state, is to return to our own wildness.
The Call and the Response
The wild is the fertile potential created by the call and response; the meeting of the two that creates the three. Wildness is birthed in the interaction between the creator and the created. The unexpected, unanticipated, unimagined which continuously births potentiality—this is the wild.
In this way source and origin are ever new, because they are truly wild.
The Wedeme are also known as the elemental beings of the land, as opposed to the elemental beings of the water (kontomble). They live on and in the land, are born from the meeting of Earth and other large elemental forces. They are keepers of the wild places, the wild animals—the four legged, the wild grasses, the wild underground and inner Earth.
The Wedeme are keepers of the wild. What does it mean to be keeper of?
To keep is to continue having or holding something, to maintain a relationship to, to be faithful to, to stay in accord with.
In the Dagara tradition, a term often used is sob. Those who tend to and keep the relationship with the Kontomble (also the broad word for elementals which includes Wedeme) are Kontomblesob. The keeper of the Earth shrine (Tengan) is the Tengansob. The keeper of the sacrificial knife (suo) is suosob. Sob is commonly translated as “owner of,” but a better translation is indeed keeper, one who maintains right relationship with, one who tends to. These sobs are keepers of the medicine, keepers of these particular shrines and practices, keepers of the relationship with these beings and entities for the good of the community.
Sob is also translated as priest. A priest is again a keeper. One who priests or priestesses a tradition is keeper of that which they priest, one who tends to it and listens and responds and holds it for others.
Wedeme are Keepers of the Wild
The Wedeme are in reciprocal relationship to the wild. They are intimate with it. They keep the wild alive and whole.
This is incredibly interesting and intriguing. How do these beings possibly keep the wild? These must be magical creatures indeed. I don’t know that we can ever understand how the Wedeme do this. But I am ever in awe at the magnificent choreography of a Universe that creates keepers of its own wild potentiality to ensure continued birthing of the new.
And we, humans, get to interact with these beings! No wonder this relationship is called magic and that they appear in our stories and mythology as just that—magical and enchanting beings that can take many forms and grant our wishes.
The Wedeme are the tricky and loving pranksters. Playful, they love to laugh and giggle and delight in making us laugh. Our laughter is food for them. The Wedeme craft witty and brilliant jokes. They play with our languages and words. They create riddles— want to “puzzle” us. Because of this, they can appear child-like in their innocence and presentation, though they are ancient and wise.
Their relationship to the wild may be one of the reasons why they have also been so maligned and are often feared, accused of evil doing. Though they are small, this is a huge power they hold and a huge responsibility. They must be true to the wild. No matter how domesticated we humans try to become, the will keep the wild.
Keeping a Relationship to the Keepers of the Wild
Humans who are in relationship to the Wedeme are keepers of the keepers of the wild. This is a very important commitment; to tend to those that keep the wild, at-tend to the keepers of the potentiality of life. As a diviner, much of this tending is done through shrines created for them, as well as ritual and divination. This is how we listen to them and all they have to say, how we at-tend to them; offering them sustenance from our dimension and deep friendship in the shared heartspace.
They are also sovereign beings with free will and choice and must be respected as such.
You do not have to be an initiated diviner to be in relationship to the Wedeme. Entering into a relationship with one is not a small commitment, but you will not be punished if you do not “do it right.” Like any relationship, you get out of it what you put into it. Relationships grow and thrive and have a wildness of their own that needs to be tended to and kept.
Your relationship to your Wedeme will mirror your relationships to other beings and humans in your lives. This is simply an inter-dimensional affair. You can learn a lot if you are willing to go the distance with these wise and magical beings. The “pay off” far exceeds any “cost” on your part.
Go to the wild places and listen to what they have to say. Examine your own relationship to the wild, both internally and externally. If you decide you wish to know them, begin by carrying that simple prayer in your heart.
~Theresa C. Dintino
*Conversation with my original mentor in the Dagara Tradition
©Theresa C. Dintino, August 2014. Excerpted from the book, Notes from a Diviner in the Postmodern World: A Handbook for Spirit Workers.