Many different cultures around the world have in their mythology, creation stories, customs and healing work the presence and stories of small magical beings. Even while writing this childhood memories and dreams arise, but for the sake of this piece I will start with Kontomble being introduced to me by Malidoma Some.
The people of West Africa know these beings by Kontomble. Duende/Duwende is used in Central America, South America and the Philippines. Haltija is from my Ancestral lands of Finland. Lutin is used in France, Menehune from Hawaii and Brounie is the Scottish version. Aluxes appear amongst the ancient Maya and Tata Duende comes from Belize. Tomte is Swedish, Nisse from Norway and Leprechaun from Ireland and on and on… This must be one powerful creature to be willing to be known to so many humans and from so many different cultures.
The stories are elaborate from each culture, with slightly different variation of appearance and characteristics. Common themes seem to be their size being smaller, they possess a great deal of magic, they live in caves, they protect a place- such as home, forest, particular tree or rock etc. And that they can become disgruntled and offended if disrespected. They can be mischievous and playful. There are many different rituals, traditions, offerings and superstitions around them all.
I experience Kontomble in various ways depending on the situation. My personal experiences with my Kontomble are very deep. They offer me guidance and wisdom when we speak and are specific in what they ask of me. My Kontomble speak of originating from water and I find they like to be surrounded with things from the sea. They love spirits, especially hard alcohol and I gather free water, (rain, creek water…) to offer them on their shrine. They come in dreams and often times these dreams tell of future events. I would like to share part of one that is very dear to my heart.
I am walking with a couple of close friends on mossy sand in the forest. I am leading them to the Kontomble cave. I am saying that it is just over the mountain and I know the way. I can hear the Kontomble drumming and leading me forward. The drumming is moving through my body like my heart beat is extended through the whole forest. The trees change size and color to the beat and we move forward. ~the dreams shifts, as dreams do and~
I am looking out over an open field surrounded by tall trees. I see a cement like platform with huge golden eagles and other birds gathered around something. I run over I see it is one of my cats and I grab him and run. The eagle sits there watching me with a look of compassion. I look down at my cat and see his skin is ripped off and his muscle is showing and he is dying in my arms. Grief begins to wash over.
I awoke from that dream feeling the weight of it. There was power and Kontomble and eagles and my son’s sweet kitty. Without sharing all the details, a few months later while I was out of town with a friend, where Kontomble was very present in a cave on the beach, that kitty of ours was killed on the road in front of our house. My land owner found him and being kind gathered his body and buried him for me as I was gone. As maybe you have read (see writing animal spirits) I am very connected to animals and it was losing a family member to lose this cat. Some things, like this for me, are so interconnected with spirit and the other world and they are also so filled with grief and then all the grief I carry and feel comes too. And all I can do is experience it and be with the grief for awhile. My lessons came hard and fast around this time and are all rather private. I can say that for me Kontomble has brought profound, multilayered healings, lessons and growth. I respect them deeply!
When I see Kontomble they generally look smaller and with thick body proportions. Their skin seems of the earth and they have long thick hair, that’s not quite hair. Being in a group or facilitating a class and we are calling in Kontomble they seem to come as a tribe. One such time I was leading a Kontomble work shop with my friend Liv and as we were praying and calling to them, I saw them enter in by pushing open this reality and there they all were, all as in a whole village of them. They were mighty and spoke to me as I respectfully addressed them.
When I work with people who have Kontomble with them it seems they can have varying characteristics and personalities. Some people seem to have active and very playful Kontomble. They may take things from them, such as jewelry and the such. Others have more serious Kontomble that will be very direct about how they want to work with that person and what it is they require.
Some have experienced Kontomble from a young age- one such person I know recalls Kontomble coming to get her when she was little at night time. They would arrive in a ladle, pick her up and take her all kinds of places. When she was ready she would tell them to take her back to her parent’s room. She also remembers her parents telling her she needed to stop coming into their room at night, where she promptly told them that that’s where she asks to be dropped off. Imagine what her parents thought?! She is now in adulthood reengaging her relationship with them and I can say first hand, as I work with her, things are defiantly blooming.
I had an experience once while walking in the woods behind my house, as I often do. It was a warm summer day and I was way back in the forest where there are no immediate homes. I leave offerings every time I walk back there and I have left offerings for Kontomble often at a place I feel them very strong. But this one day as I was walking by I saw a small, two feet tall Kontomble peeking out from behind a tree. I stopped and looked and there he was plain as day, a Kontomble. I’m not sure how long I stood there disbelieving my eyes as this little being was really there in a little brown body. He began to yell at me and I dropped to my knees and listened. He was upset that people were building just over the hill. He asked me to make them stop that it was trouble for them and to make them stop.
Very close to the tree he was standing behind is an old redwood tree trunk that opens to their world. Although I could not stop the building and I’m not sure if they were able to halt it in anyway, I continue to bring them offerings near that opening hoping they will continue to live there.
As with all spirits and beings I can only speak to what I have experienced and continue to experience with them. I hope this finds its way to any that may have memories or times they have had with Kontomble and that they find the courage to share their stories with others, if they have not already.