Living Tribal in a Democracy

“You’ve moved away from each other. You’ve torn apart your families, disassembled your smaller communities in favor of huge cities. In these big cities, there are more people, but fewer ‘tribes’, groups, or clans where members see their responsibility as including the responsibility for the whole. So, in effect, you have no elders. None at arm’s reach in any event.”

Neal Donald Walsh

I grew up dismissing the value of what my ancestry had to offer me, which was overshadowed by a patriarchal system that defines women from that point of view.  I was influenced by a young and modern generation that assumed they had life figured out, and as a result, tended to ignore the older generation’s way of thinking.

But shortly after I became a mother, things changed. I began searching into my personal genealogy and quickly became fascinated by what I discovered about my ancestors’ cultural identity, my “tribe” whose tribal ways date back thousands of years. Within a decade, I awoke to answers I’d been looking for: Who am I?  Who are my people? I already knew where I came from – Iraq, but the physical distance between that place and myself and the human misery associated with it, kept me from truly understanding and appreciating its ancient history, culture, and language.

My mother and I

My research shed light on my people, the Chaldeans, an indigenous Aramaic-speaking group whose lineage dates back to ancient Mesopotamia, and it shifted my views. In television and movies, tribal lifestyles are stereotyped as backwards or romanticized as mysterious and belonging to uncontacted tribes. I soon realized that if not documented, the rewarding side of this ancient tradition will be wasted. So in 2007, I began filming a documentary that included interviews and archival footage. I  interviewed my mother, sisters, nieces, cousins, and uncle’s wives about how it feels, as women, to live tribally in a democracy. They shared their perspectives, how, despite their assimilation to the westerner lifestyle, they continue to be connected to their instinctual tribal ways that most people repress in civilized life. They embodied an East-West wisdom that we are all in need of today. I called the documentary Living Tribal in a Democracy. 

Over a decade has passed since I began the documentary. Between raising my children, working on various creative projects, and caring for my elderly mother who lived with us, I worked on it sporadically. After my mother passed away in February 2019, I screened and discussed a ten-minute segment of my documentary at Wayne State University at an event called Creative Many. The story received positive feedback and the organizers encouraged me to continue with the project. That’s when I realized it was time to revisit and complete the work. The community’s cultural identity endangered, I felt it especially important to systematize the memories of its people and heritage.

This is when I realized that the story also needs to be written into a book that, similar to the documentary, explores the role that ancient Mesopotamia played in the birth of our contemporary culture. In this book, I show that, although women played a major role in building the cradle of civilization, the rulers of that region tried to destroy/hide that knowledge. This great loss has had consequences for the world. 

The book raises the following questions, which I myself, as someone living tribal in a democracy, struggled with for decades and went to great lengths to find the answers: Are tribal societies models for future societies? How can tribalism and democracy coexist? Would it do the world good to return to some of the old ways, with smaller communities, a higher regard for feminine sacredness, the family system, and the elderly? How can we learn from the ancients, who are often romanticized as warriors or noble savages and we assume live in faraway or remote lands, in the jungles of Peru or in restricted areas such as Indian reservations, and neglect to see their presence in our backyard? Are we aware they do live with us here today? What was the role of women in ancient Mesopotamia, where once upon a time, kings attributed their right to rule through their official marriage to the goddess?

My mother and her great grandson, Mateo

Some of this material became the topic of my book Mesopotamian Goddesses. The rest I bundled up in my upcoming book Little Baghdad: A Memoir About an Indigenous People in an American City, which will be published by the end of this year. As for the documentary, the completion and release of that project is still to be determined.  Meanwhile, it’s shelved among my umpteen projects that want to bring to memory the wisdom and importance of ancient ways which revered nature, feminine sacredness, and community. 

Once someone asked me why I felt I needed to write so many books. I thought it was a strange question. Would someone ask a surgeon why there was a need to perform operations on a regular basis or a teacher, or any other profession? Still, I reflected on that question and realized that part of the joy in writing my stories is the self-discovery that occurs in the process. How can you connect to the power of your own lineage and discover the richness, beauty and wisdom as well as the wounds and traumas that lie there? Your lineage doesn’t have to be physical heredity, but can be a spiritual lineage. Looking at your heritage will help you come to terms with and understand who you really are, what role you play in the story you’re in, and how to change, if you so desire. 


Every month, I interview remarkable individuals on a weekly basis for the Virtual Discussion Series in partnership with Unique Voices in Films, the Chaldean Cultural Center, CMN TV and U of M [Detroit Center].

Check out my YouTube channel where you can watch the interviews live and subscribe. Be sure to set reminders/alerts so you can stay updated on Live and uploaded content.

You can also now find me on Tik Tok, where I’m letting loose and sharing morsels of my life.

When Women Ruled in the Middle East

Although we’ve been led to believe otherwise, women in ancient Mesopotamia had more rights and independence than women in those regions have today. They contributed to building the cradle of civilization and, unlike in modern eras, they were revered. As a result their lands flourished. 

The shift away from, and the attempt to destroy, feminine consciousness has caused so much pain and suffering for the people in my birth country of Iraq.  It has led to the gradual and systematic demise of my ancestors. During  my younger years, I experienced much trauma in that land where the principal hit me for skipping Saddam’s parade and  not knowing the answer to a question. We lived in constant fear. In contrast, in the United States I was coddled and supported by teachers and mentors so that I could follow my dreams, even though many of them had the “white skin” that is often criticized for having privileges that others do not.  As a result, I became an author, filmmaker, and have held many prestigious positions, which I go more in depth with in this article: https://voyagemichigan.com/interview/meet-weam-namou-of-sterling-heights/

Through a lot of healing work, I’ve gotten past the traumas but every once in a while something happens that brings the pain to surface once again. The recent tragic loss of a 22-year-old Iranian woman Mahsa Amini is one such incident. On September 16, Mahsa was arrested by the morality police for not wearing her hijab correctly. She died in the hospital in Tehran, Iran, due to police brutality according to witnesses. Her death has resulted in a series of large-scale protests across the country, putting a focus on violence against women in the Islamic Republic of Iran.  On October 1st, demonstrations were held worldwide in 130 cities to show solidarity with the women and men protesting in Iran, many who have lost their lives. 

The idea that women today have to risk and lose their lives for basic human rights hurts my heart. I think about their struggles, the people we left behind in Iraq, like my childhood best friend, Niran, who I wasn’t able to say goodbye to because we fled in secrecy. I once asked my mom if she’d heard any news about Niran and her family and she said that Saddam forced them out of their home because of their Iranian roots. I often think about her and wonder where she ended up. 

From left to right: My friend Maysa in white, myself in red, and my friend, Niran, in blue

I watch the news and see women rising up, fighting for their freedom, while a broadcaster like Mehdi Hasan, host on MSNBC and NBC, says that we should stand with Iranian women protesting for their freedom, but emphasizes the hijab is a choice. He claims that “everyone wants to push their own agenda right now, their own hobby horse, while Iranian women risk their lives in the streets…”

My heart continues to weep for that land because it feels to me that the majority of its population continues to be in denial. My book event for Pomegranate was canceled last year because the Muslim community was against the storyline; a Muslim woman wanting to remove her hijab. They even refused to read the book. This happened here in the United States, 11 days before the Taliban captured Kabul. 

The Pomegranate film is led by women talent who represent the communities  in the story.  It was nurtured by well known figures in the film industry, including Scott Rosentfelt, the producer of Home Alone. The cancellation was the result of a fear to offend a highly conservative group that is not even supported by the majority of its own community.  It was the result of fearing the beauty and strength that women possess, which is a blessing, as well as their spiritual essence. 

Now more than ever, it’s important for the world to learn about the contributions and stories of women in Ancient Mesopotamia. In doing so, you will help heal old wounds and create a more harmonious way of life. You can learn about these women by reading the book Mesopotamian Goddesses. Then blast their names everywhere and teach young children about their amazing contributions to society! https://www.amazon.com/Mesopotamian-Goddesses-Unveiling-Feminine-Power/dp/1945371803/ref=sr_1_4?crid=9S4X11LV7JRJ&keywords=Weam+Namou&qid=1664815327&qu=eyJxc2MiOiIyLjQ4IiwicXNhIjoiMi40MSIsInFzcCI6IjEuNTkifQ%3D%3D&sprefix=weam+namou%2Caps%2C86&sr=8-4

Artwork circulating the Internet of Mahsa Amini

Every month, I interview remarkable individuals on a weekly basis for the Virtual Discussion Series in partnership with Unique Voices in Films, the Chaldean Cultural Center, CMN TV and U of M [Detroit Center].

Check out my YouTube channel where you can watch the interviews live and subscribe. Be sure to set reminders/alerts so you can stay updated on Live and uploaded content.

You can also now find me on Tik Tok, where I’m letting loose and sharing morsels of my life.



Mesopotamian Goddesses: Unveiling Your Feminine Power

Archaeological evidence suggests that women in ancient Mesopotamia held high governmental and religious positions during the Garden of Eden period when goddesses and gods coexisted peacefully. The Garden of Eden was said to have had a design and a rhythm, a yin and yang concept. We seem to have lost that paradise because of the veil of ignorance. I believe that, to re-establish that equilibrium, we must first heal our that land by resurrecting specific stories and re-enacting them on the page and in our collective memory.

I spent the last few months posting on TikTok about the goddesses in my book Mesopotamian Goddesses: Unveiling Your Feminine Power. Although I have done many presentations on this topic, I have not read this book since it was released in January 2019. Re-visiting these goddesses through the pages brought me back to the realization of the power that women had in ancient times.

Source: Wikipedia

In the book, I draw from my extensive shamanic training and connection to my Mesopotamian roots to bring forth a transformed understanding of feminine consciousness, guiding the reader through powerful yet practical exercises to manifest their dreams and create a healthy marriage within the one’s self, home, and society. I share my interest, research, and connection to Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization, and the amazing women who lived there historically, explaining where that region is today (in Iraq), its link to the Bible, and the culture and people that came from there. Each deity has her own chapter in which I tell her story: Enheduanna, a princess, priestess, and the first writer in recorded history; Gula, the Great Healer; Namshe, the goddess of Social Justice; and many others.

Today I’ve completed my Mesopotamian Goddesses TikTok series, and next I will start posting about Pomegranate, which we just completed the rough cut of! Working on the Pomegranate script, the book, the audiobook, and now the film, has been an amazing unforgettable experience. I’ve produced and directed a feature documentary before, but never a feature narrative. It’s a whole other ball game, requiring the kind of patience, talent, and collaboration that made me understand why I often heard along this journey that “Most films don’t get made.” I’m so glad we were able to make Movie Magic happen!

If you’re interested in mythology, history, feminine strength, spiritual lessons, heritage, love, then you will enjoy reading Mesopotamian Goddesses: Unveiling Your Feminine Power.

It’s available as an eBook and in print.

Source: Wikipedia

Every month, I interview four remarkable individuals on a weekly basis for the Virtual Discussion Series in partnership with Unique Voices in Films, the Chaldean Cultural Center, CMN TV and U of M [Detroit Center].

Check out my YouTube channel where you can watch the interviews live and subscribe. Be sure to set reminders/alerts so you can stay updated on Live and uploaded content.

You can also now find me on Tik Tok, where I’m now beginning a series on Pomegranate.