Saturday, March 11, 2006

Oldupai Gorge

The cradle of mankind.

Oldupai, your secret's still unknown
Oldupai, ancient stones and ancient bones
Oldupai, the heritage we share
Oldupai, we will take care
—from a song of the gorge

Somewhere in the eastern region of the Serengeti Plains, in northern Tanzania, which is in East Africa, lays the Oldupai Gorge. The gorge is named after the Masai tribe's word for sissal, which the Europeans transliterated as "olduvai," as it's more commonly spelled. It was there, in the gorge, that archeology's royal family, the Leakeys, found fossil evidence of the earliest known human ancestors.

In addition to the ancestry of humankind, there is a personal ancestry that includes blood relatives, claimed spiritual lineage, and the ancestors of the places from which we come. Thus I can claim as my ancestors anyone from my great-great-great grandmother to Queen Nefertiti to those who lived in the place where I was born, long before I was even a sparkle in either of my parent's eyes.

Ancestors are a storehouse of wisdom. If honored properly through regular communication, i.e. if we cultivate a relationship with them just as we would with the living, they can teach us, protect us, and guide us back to the roots of ourselves. That is my purpose here.

Sometime last year, I began expanding the notion of my relationship to the universe. I don't have a map or a compass, and most of my actions have been hit or miss, but I am trying to get to the heart of me. This will be one of my respositories.