When I navigate the currents of the soul, I find myself within my ancestral pool. I find myself swimming in their grief, and the longing during the great event and initiation called the Middle Passage. I find myself in their collective soul journey from a place of homeland to a dream of the Promised Land. This book is a telling of the soul striving of people of African heritage into the American experience of creating a community—a community created for the possibilities of new covenants within the larger collective sphere of human life.
The work to which I have dedicated my life is to attend to the ancestral shrines. Ancestral shrines are co-creative imaginative influences on how I see the world. They serve to enhance the human encounters that form relationships and communities within which I work and live. The primary emphasis of my work is to support the recovery of the individual’s capacity to stand in openness for the higher purpose of one’s own life. My work is in service to the creative freedom of others.
This book reveals through the spiritual tradition of African Gnosis my identification with the impulses of particular individuals in the history of the African experience in America. Their lives and work reveal the spiritual frameworks that have guided me to my understanding of the promise of the Spirit of America.
This book navigates the flow of the American stream from sovereignty to slavery to service of the higher mandate of the collective soul quest for a covenant of prosperity into which human beings can live.
The Spirit of America is born in this service.
C O N T E N T S:
Part I: History as Initiation
1. The Darkness of Night
2. The Middle Passage
3. Making the New Covenants
Part II: Personal Initiation
4. The Beginning of the Personal Path
5. Gnostic Initiation
6. The Story of Lazar
7. Ritual and the Rites of Passage
8. Shade Tree
9. Ancestral Memory
10. The Veil
Part III: Returning Home
12. Accessing the Seventh Shrine
13. The Prophecy of Martin Luther King Jr.
[Cover image: Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851): Slave Ship (Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying—Typhoon Coming On), 1840, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston]
“I am not even all the way through this book and already I feel an embedded sense of protection/isolation loosen its grip. Orland's journey is an opening to the promise of initiation through living our relatedness to others across species, gender, race and class.”—Joan Jaeckel (review on Amazon)
Orland Bishop is the founder and director of ShadeTree Multicultural Foundation in Los Angeles, where he has pioneered approaches to urban truces and mentoring at-risk youth that combine new ideas with traditional ways of knowledge. ShadeTree serves as an intentional community of mentors, elders, teachers, artists, healers, and advocates for the healthy development of children and youth. Orland’s work in healing and human development is framed by an extensive study of medicine, naturopathy, psychology, and Indigenous cosmologies, primarily those of South and West Africa.