“Music Can Say Things that the Heart Cannot Find Words to Say” - Michael Manswell on Yoruba, the Arts, and Spiritual Transformation
In this episode of our free podcast series “NYC Faith Leaders,” Maggi Van Dorn interviews dancer, singer, choreographer, teaching artist, artistic director and Orisha devotee Michael Manswell. Mr. Manswell talks about the origins and practices of the Yoruba tradition (one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa), religious leadership, and "Something Positive," an arts and education organization dedicated to the art and culture of the African Diaspora and its cross-cultural influences through performance and education.
On his preferred title of "devotee": I have always felt that the word "priest" places you in a solitary position, in a kind of enforced solitude ... whereas the Yoruba [leader] is part and parcel of who the community is... is woven into the fabric.
On divination: "Opening the portals so you can see your possible paths ... or the possibilities that lay if you were take a certain action ... or not."
On chanting and movement: "It is a channel through which you can present your petition, your thanks,your rage, your disappointment, your hurt your grief, your love to the divine because it inhabits a place that’s not seen."
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