"Individuality, not individualism, is the cornerstone of community. . . . This means that a person and his or her unique gifts are irreplaceable. The community loves to see all of its members flourish and function at optimum potential. . . . To honor and support its members is in the self-interest of any community," writes Malidoma Patrice Some, the African author of the book Of Water and the Spirit.

In this edifying and eminently practical volume, he shows how the wisdom of the indigenous world speaks to the loneliness, anonymity and ritual starvation of Westerners. Using the traditions and spiritual practices of his West African tribe, the Dagara, Some writes about the ways in which nature, ritual, and the Spirit World come together to nurture and support the life purpose of individuals. All of these grow naturally out of community.

Since everybody carries into this world something important they must deliver, the tribe honors that gift before birth, draws it out through mentoring, and celebrates it through art and dance. Some writes lyrically about the important role of elders in the community. He closes the book with explanations of a series of rituals designed to bind the tribe together in a close relationship with Spirit. Some hallows the indigenous person within each of us and brilliantly tutors us in the deep wisdom of Africa.