Young Dogon Women Masques Dogons by Marcel Griaule (1938)
The Dogon are an isolated African tribe who live along the Cliffs of Bandiagara near Timbuktu in Mali. Their religion is based on knowledge of immortal amphibious beings, who reportedly came to Earth from the stars. In 1946 the Dogon tribe was one of the last group of people to come under French rule. Because they had maintained their own beliefs and religious practices, they were thought to have been one of the best examples of "primitive savagery" known to the world at that time. Even African Muslims were said to have trouble understanding the Dogon belief system.
Dorey's research shows the Dogon religion to be the world's original mythology. It existed in Africa long before humans migrated to other areas. When humans left Africa for other continents, they took their religion with them. Fragments of the Dogon religion exist all over the world. In The Nummo she reveals examples of the Dogon religion in the Arthurian legends, the Book of Kells, the Masonic Society, the Merovingian myths, and various ancient cultures including the Maya.
According to Dorey, the Dogon religion was created in an oral culture and its symbolism is connected through a circular pattern with no beginning or end. This is different from most written literature being presented in a chronological fashion with a beginning and end. By using the circular structure in its creation, Dorey believes the religion provides us with a metaphor for immorality.
The first person to record the Dogon religion was Marcel Griaule, a French anthropologist, who had established a relationship with the Dogon people during field trips which began in 1931. After years of questioning the Dogon elders about the religion, the Dogon finally agreed to let Griaule in on the religion's innermost teachings. Ogotemmêli had been chosen to present the secret knowledge to Griaule. This was done in 33 days, which began in October of 1946.
Ogotemmêli was considered one of the most powerful minds on the Cliffs of Bandiagara in Mali where the Dogon lived. Ogotemmêli's grandfather had initiated him into the mysteries of the Dogon religion when he had been 15. After his grandfather had died his father had taken over the instruction, which according to Griaule had gone on for more than 20 years.
It was because of Ogotemmêli, that Griaule recorded the religion so accurately. According to Dorey, without this accuracy it would have been impossible for her or any other researcher to decipher it. When it was created, the religion's continuity was established through its symbolism rather than through its chronology. Without the consistency of the symbols, the religion's meaning would have been lost.
It was the isolation of the Dogon tribe, who lived so high in the Cliffs of Bandiagara, which has permitted the mythology to survive to the present in its purest state. According to the Dogon, it was the Nummo who taught the Dogon about the stars and other aspects of their religion, including knowledge of DNA. According to Dorey, so much of the belief system was intertwined with the Dogon's daily existence, that there was the sense the mythology was deliberately manufactured in a way that would help them remember it. Even the descriptions of the serpent and fish like Nummo, were exhibited in the jewellery, clothing and tattoos of the Dogon.
The mythology of the Dogon is analyzed in detail in The Nummo. Follow the link if you would like to purchase, The Nummo. If you would like to contact the author, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow this link if you would like to read a Sample Chapter.
This is Dorey's second book on the Dogon religion. The first, The Master Of Speech was published in 2002 and has been updated several times, with the last one being in 2013.