Types of ancestral spirits

Blood spirits

There are two types, related to us through blood.

uMndiki

  • Named after: Mandinka
  • Geographic context: They come from West Africa
  • Who: Our oldest blood ancestors
  • Role: Messenger and custodian
  • Mndiki and your body: The energy of uMndiki affects your emotional and intellectual faculties. uMndiki is felt in your crown chakra

Mnguni

  • Named after: Nguni
  • Geographic context: They are from Southern Africa
  • Who: A family ancestor such as a great-grandmother or great-grandfather
  • Role: Protector and guide
  • Mnguni and your body: The energy of uMnguni affects your physical body and physical reality. umNguni is felt in your solar plexus

Water spirits

The water spirits are related to us through commerce and conquest.

umNdau

  • Named after: Ndau
  • Geographic context: They are from Southeast Africa
  • Who: Related to your bloodline only by commerce and conquest (they might be of European traders who interacted with your ancestors)
  • Role: umNdau takes care of the worldly aspects your life, including the sexual
  • umNdau and your body: The energy of umNdau affects your money, sex drive and fertility cycles. umNdau is felt in your base chakra

AbaLozi

  • Little is known about them
  • Named after: Lozi
  • Geographic context: Central and Southern Africa
  • Only iZangoma have them
  • They communicate in audible whistles

isiThunywa

  • Prophetic spirit
  • Umthandazi/Prophet as seen in churches such as amaZayoni. Does similar work to iZangoma, but is not initiated in any particular way
  • This spirit is not limited to human beings. It’s a universal spirit also found in nature and outer space
  • There are similarities between abathandazi/abaphorofethi and Ifa practices (diaspora expressions, for example Candomblé, voodoo and Santeria.)

In September 2016, Noksangoma will give a public talk titled Ubizo, Mental Health and Intergenerational Trauma, which gives a contemporary perspective on the ancestral and psychological landscape of the inherited pain and strife of black South Africans.

Citing reasons for the public talk on Twitter last week, she says: “I decided that it’s time to address the issue of ubizo [the calling] and what it looks like in relation to mental health issues and the pain of our ancestors and the pain we carry with us, as people, especially black people.”

In addition, she will present a map of the beliefs and cosmologies of iSintu — systems of beliefs, views and practices that are indigenous to the people and cultures of aBantu — and how they affect people’s world views regarding mental and physical health. And she will decode the lexicon of dreams, “witchcraft” and other supernatural phenomena to understand spiritual, emotional and mental distress.

Dating as a Sangoma /Dating a Sangoma

Dating As a sangoma? 

Most people with great spiritual /Ancestral powered are so afraid accept the calling of the ancestors because they think their life will fade away , no more dating ,no parties and no friends , Sadly if you have  ancestral gifts , your life will never be normal and that is the sad truth and you have to acknowledge it . You have been given ancestral/spiritual powers, to heal ,with great powers of seeing the future and connecting with the dead, and that my friend is no child’s play.However, Sangomas are human too, relationships are important to them as well. We often pray and wish for partners that have a lot of money so they can take care of us, some wish and pray for charming and career orientated companion instead of asking for a pure heart/soul .It can be quite challenging to find the chosen one, But idlozi sees the purity of ones heart long before you even meet them. The ancestors will match you with someone you never imagined dating , you maybe be spiritually matched with a person with no money or good career but trust me once they have  chosen someone for you it’s because they are good for your soul and won’t bring stress into your life. It means your ancestors trust that person in taking good of them as well. Remember when you are a sangoma a huge part of your life is owned by the ancestors that reside within you.

Some healers immediately after accepting their calling, suddenly their love life/social life ends, sadly this is not a myth but it what we go through as healers especially if ungenwe idlozi LENDODA(dominant male spirit) ,however one can always communicate with their ancestors by ukuphahla ukhulume nabo, you can always come into terms with your idlozi namathonga akini, as hard and challenging it is. You can determine on how much of your life they can control . If you ask them accordingly and they accept your request they will than direct you to a man or woman that will be good for you and them. I also know many sangomas that are happily married, engaged and in good healthy relationships, I also know sangomas that are not happy in their relationships because they still dating the unchosen person, I also. Know sangomas that are single not because no one wants them but simple Because idlozi don’t want to share. Like any other person, relationships do get complicated but it’s always different when it comes to people with spiritual or ancestral powers.
At some cases most initiates loose their partners while at the school/training to become a sangoma, you find that they loose interest in each other but most partners are cowards or don’t have patience to wait till the process is over,some get ashamed and they dont want to be known as a person dating isangoma this case they run away. Most people that do not believe in our kind have so many cruel and discouraging things to say about our world .Which is why I salute men and women who stand with their partners from the start till the end, this process can be very messy and  requires someone who is strong,wise and matured ngokomqondo.

If you are a sangoma and you haven’t found the one but you are dating or seeing different people, you need to always cleanse yourself before usondele emsamo or uthinte umsebenzi wabaphansi. It is not safe to sleep around especially if you are a sangoma, your ancestors might shut down on you. As a sangoma you need to be dignified, spiritually clean all the time because your body is their temple too.
Growing up as a normal person we are usually unaware of our ancestral gifts  and we date just normally. But most relationships don’t work out this period you might circle out of relationships and feel empty most of the time. It is difficult to maintain a relationship with the unchoosen person and will bring a lot of stress in your life. Your ancestors can see a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and can expose him/her for who they really are  and you will question yourself on why they allowing that person to hurt you. Your ancestors will test you in so many ways, while protecting you at the same time. Every person you meet in life its for a reason some will hurt you, some you might need to help, some are just there to make you strong, they are part of the plan sometimes but  we don’t fully understand this hence we end up being hurt repeatedly up until   the relationship comes to an end. Whatever the reason ,it is important to always listen and seek reason as to why a particular encounter happened and my advice to you is to always trust their judgment.
How do you find the chosen one? 
Your ancestors will always point you in the right direction through dreams, events you encounter in your life and the universe will give you hints. This is a long process and requires a lot of time and patient. Most sangoma see their soul mate before they even meet. Life is not easy and its through hardships that we learn to appreciate the true essence of a relationship. Once you have found the one, it is important ukuthi Nihlanganiswe spiritually /ritually and do Ukukhunga amadlozi, this ritual cannot be taken as a  play as it involves the ancestors and a lot more, always be sure about what you are both doing, Once this has been done your ancestors will now watch over your relationship.
Dating A sangoma? 
If you are a normal person and you are dating a sangoma than you must be really brave, patient and caring. Dating a sangoma is no child’s play, like I mentioned earlier their lives are not normal and will never be normal. There are a lot of things you will have to deal with and accept about them, understand that they will see what you don’t see, in dreams, visions and vibrations. Sangomas read energies, you might walk into a room and their mood will suddenly change .Sangomas with strong spiritual powers can see when their husband’s or wife’s are cheating on them, they see it before it happens. So always be careful with them before making a big mistake of your life, never cross or underestimate their ancestors /gift.You need to obey their ancestors, ubakhunge, ubathokozise, you may have to quit calling her/him by his first name or by Babes/sweety now and than rather acknowledge idlozi and Call her Makhosi, Gogo, Mkhulu, ngonyama and Thokoza when greeting them.
Once you are a sangoma there is ceremony held called “Ukuhlanganiswa” that is where your partner brings in a goat, amabhayi, or maybe some beer Nemali ukuzokhunga than nihlanganiswe ritually,kuhlanganiswe amadlozi enu so that they don’t fight with your partner, these spirits are very jealous and once you accept idlozi you become theirs. Konke kuyacelwa, uyashweleza in all ways. During the last stage of my initiation where the elderly Gobelas were wishing me well with my sangoma journey, they made it clear to me that Idlozi was my first commitment  umgano/umendo wami wokuqala. Now imagine dating without letting them know about the particular person you have invited into your life?? Trouble and more drama. Those that are married, will need to perform a ceremony called UKUGANISA IDLOZI, where you take your ancestors to your new home ubashadise khona, If unabantu abadala you also need to perform this ceremony, uganise izidalwa or imimoya yakho .
Sangomas can sense almost everything ,it all varies on one’s abilities, from good to bad, they can also be very moody at times.When their ancestors rise they turn to be that particular ancestor who will be present that time, the way they speak change, some get fits, some cry in screams, and some talk back to the voices you can’t hear, these are some of the things you need to deal with  if you are dating a sangoma. Practicing sangomas can be very busy and occupied now and than, they perform a lot of prayers, ceremonies and rituals now and than, and they  travel a lot meaning most of the time they will be away. Some healers keep pets such as snakes, bees, birds and cats which are most common, some work with all sort of animals, you need to be able to understand that without judging or questioning the way their ancestors want them to work, It will be your responsibility to help in taking care of this animals as they are considered as part of the family. Kuyenzeka kwesinye iskhathi umuntu angenwe idlozi elingazwani nokugeza, elithanda usikilidi, beer and snuff, every sangoma gets possessed by different spirits, you just need to deal with it accordingly. As a sangoma you can always negotiate and come into terms with your ancestors should you not agree with them. There is a way of doing this ritually. I remember when I was about to accept my calling I would walk in to my mother’s house and smell beer, and snuff I would go absolutely crazy, back than I had a belief that I was witch crafted.,I didn’t want to accept idlozi. When time went by I realized that ngingenwe idlozi elithanda beer, I would never function or touch anything without it, it was bad coz wawunuka ngathi uchitheke phansi. My mother who is also sangoma had the same problem but with her it was  Sminorff vodka that they wanted anyway she suggested that I do what she did when she had experienced this tragedy . We did a prayer emsamo brought beers, and poured some emsamo and we pledged to the ancestors that they drink from there not from me as I was still a student that time. After few days the cravings were gone, for months, even if I thought of beer I would feel like vomiting. Now I drink for them and smoke for them when necessary, Unfortunately you can never shut them off completely.
Are sangomas sexually active? 
Like I mentioned earlier on, sangomas are humans too they also have feelings, needs and wants, again people are different but to answer your question Yes sangomas do have sex with their partners. It is very complicated with them since they are possessed with ancestral spirits. You may find that certain days they don’t want to be touched at all, some days all they want is their partner This can be very challenging for a person dating a sangoma, because sometimes there are places you can’t touch them usually this where the ancestors will be sitting on them, It can be shoulders, lower abdomen, head and so on, as a person dating a sangoma you need to know the boundaries and respect that. I for myself have a big problem with someone touching my lower abdomen I cannot stand it, I completely suffocate, I cannot stand someone touching my shoulders and head,actually I cannot stand someone touching me at all, sometimes I get so annoyed when I’m sitting in a taxi squashed to death and I become in contact with someone next to me, My temperature goes up, my blood pressure rises and I  suffocate a little. Yey what a life we living bogogocheeky
Our ancestors are always with us, when they are present and busy working you cannot  touch or talk to your partner, Masebefikile /once they have arrived and are tring to reach out   you need to give them their place, listen to what they have to say ,connect with them spiritually ,umuntu onabantu abadala uyahlonishwa, awuhloniphi yena kepha uhlonipha idlozi namathonga akhe. If she/he’s quite, and don’t want to be touched give him /her  time with the ancestors.
What happens if you cheat on a sangoma? 
You dig your own grave and die cheekyhhha hhha hhha hha  I’m joking.

It’s fairly simple if your partner uyaziwa and nahlanganiswa, you can do cleansing nenhlambuluko. This will require chickens, traditional beer, exchange of silver coin, umlotha , amabhayi and a blanket can be brought for ukukhunga, nokushweleza,This all varies according to cultures /umthetho weziko lakho. For cleansing you might need to go to the sea or river  especially if the cheating partner slept with onather person. If this is not done, your ancestors will fight, and you will always have arguments or fights with one another, a lot will go wrong, you will even assume that you have been witchcrafted kanti cha indaba ilele emsamo kufuneka inhlambuluko UGEZE nedlozi namathonga ngesenzo sakho. During this ceremony the elders can be present the time kwenziwa inhlambuluko and you will ask for forgiveness from the ancestors. Inhlambuluko is a confession followed by sincere apologies, you do this for your ancestors so that they can be at peace with you namathonga .
I will end it here, And Hope you are cleared on your confusions. And please remember that what I write on my articles is mainly based on  my personal experiences, and what I have been taught. We have different journey’s, each person should relate to their own path. Feel free to contact me  via email or WhatsApp should you need help

Accepting a calling – Part 2

People need to understand that not everyone onabantu abadala and not not everyone who completes ukuthwasa aphothule will become a practicing isangoma.

Sometimes all the ancestors want is for someone to rectify the mistakes that they made besaphila. i.e. It could be that they never accepted their calling nor acknowledged abanikazi beziphiwo zabo or perhaps they did not believe in ancestors etc. So as a result, when they pass on they are unable to be reunited to the rest of the ancestors and their spirits linger around in limbo or in search of a soul that can fulfill the what they were not able to. Once they attach or possess that soul, they start to make themselves known by afflicting pain and misfortune on their subject. This by the way is their way of saying, ‘get your ass up and go find out why all this is happening to you’ which is very selfish if you ask me. Mind you labantu come to their subject in an uncleansed state, they carry so much baggage with them in terms of emotions and unfortunately the chosen soul gets to feel all of this.

The affected soul then seeks help and goes through ukuvuma or initiation with the belief that they will become great healers or that they will never have to to work a day in their lives because of these great spirits that they carry with them. Which is all misleading! All is good and well until the end of intiation/ukuphothula. Once at home umakhosi:

  1. akakwazi ukukhulela emadlozini/emakhosini,
  2. akawazi ukuhlolela abantu??!!
  3. he/she complains that abadala don’t communicate anymore

Aqale phansi now and goes to consult. He/she gets told a load you know what about ukuthi waphambaniselwa etc. etc…. When all there is to it is that :

  1. amadlozi are now appeased hence the lack of communication
  2. all they wanted was for he/she to cleanse them, fulfill their wish of going through ukuvuma and ukuthwasa so that they could be reunited with our maker and the rest of amathongo and amadlozi

Having said all this, I would like to encourage everyone to ask as many questions as possible meniyohlola. Do not come out of a consultation with unanswered questions! If healer admits that they don’t know or do not have answers to a question, don’t fret and push them into a corner until they tell you fibs. Be satisfied and appreciative of that honesty and do your research.

Mermaids & Mermen: Facts & Legends

Mermaids and other Marine Monsters

With most of our blue planet covered by water, it’s little wonder that, centuries ago, the oceans were believed to hide mysterious creatures including sea serpents and mermaids. Merfolk (mermaids and mermen) are, of course, the marine version of half-human, half-animal legends that have captured human imagination for ages. One source, the “Arabian Nights,” described mermaids as having “moon faces and hair like a woman’s but their hands and feet were in their bellies and they had tails like fishes.”

C.J.S. Thompson, a former curator at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, notes in his book “The Mystery and Lore of Monsters” that “Traditions concerning creatures half-human and half-fish in form have existed for thousands of years, and the Babylonian deity Era or Oannes, the Fish-god … is usually depicted as having a bearded head with a crown and a body like a man, but from the waist downwards he has the shape of a fish.” Greek mythology contains stories of the god Triton, the merman messenger of the sea, and several modern religions including Hinduism and Candomble (an Afro-Brazilian belief) worship mermaid goddesses to this day.

Many children are perhaps most familiar with the Disney version of “The Little Mermaid,” a somewhat sanitized version of a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale first published in 1837. In some legends from Scotland and Wales mermaids befriended — and even married — humans. Meri Lao, in her book “Seduction and the Secret Power of Women,” notes that “In the Shetland Islands, mermaids are stunningly beautiful women who live under the sea; their hybrid appearance is temporary, the effect being achieved by donning the skin of a fish. They must be very careful not to lose this while wandering about on land, because without it they would be unable to return to their underwater realm.”

In folklore, mermaids were often associated with misfortune and death, luring errant sailors off course and even onto rocky shoals (the terrifying mermaids in the 2011 film “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” are closer to the legendary creatures than is Disney’s Ariel).

Though not as well known as their comely female counterparts, there are of course mermen — and they have an equally fierce reputation for summoning storms, sinking ships and drowning sailors. One especially feared group, the Blue Men of the Minch, are said to dwell in the Outer Hebrides off the coast of Scotland. They look like ordinary men (from the waist up anyway) with the exception of their blue-tinted skin and gray beards. Local lore claims that before laying siege to a ship, the Blue Men often challenge its captain to a rhyming contest; if the captain is quick enough of wit and agile enough of tongue he can best the Blue Men and save his sailors from a watery grave.

Japanese legends have a version of merfolk called kappa. Said to reside in Japanese lakes, coasts and rivers, these child-size water spirits appear more animal than human, with simian faces and tortoise shells on their backs. Like the Blue Men, the kappa sometimes interact with humans and challenge them to games of skill in which the penalty for losing is death. Kappa are said to have an appetite for children and those foolish enough to swim alone in remote places — but they especially prize fresh cucumbers.

‘Real’ mermaids?

The reality of mermaids was assumed during medieval times, when they were depicted matter-of-factly alongside known aquatic animals such as whales. Hundreds of years ago sailors and residents in coastal towns around the world told of encountering the sea maidens. One story dating back to the 1600s claimed that a mermaid had entered Holland through a dike, and was injured in the process. She was taken to a nearby lake and soon nursed back to health. She eventually became a productive citizen, learning to speak Dutch, perform household chores, and eventually converted to Catholicism.

Another mermaid encounter once offered as a true story is described in Edward Snow’s “Incredible Mysteries and Legends of the Sea.” A sea captain off the coast of Newfoundland described his 1614 encounter: “Captain John Smith [of Jamestown fame] saw a mermaid ‘swimming about with all possible grace.’ He pictured her as having large eyes, a finely shaped nose that was ‘somewhat short, and well-formed ears’ that were rather too long. Smith goes on to say that ‘her long green hair imparted to her an original character that was by no means unattractive.'” In fact Smith was so taken with this lovely woman that he began “to experience the first effects of love” as he gazed at her before his sudden (and surely profoundly disappointing) realization that she was a fish from the waist down. Surrealist painter Rene Magritte depicted a sort of reverse mermaid in his 1949 painting “The Collective Invention.”

By the 1800s, hoaxers churned out faked mermaids by the dozen to satisfy the public’s interest in the creatures. The great showman P.T. Barnum displayed the “Feejee Mermaid” in the 1840s and it became one of his most popular attractions. Those paying 50 cents hoping to see a long-limbed, fish-tailed beauty comb her hair were surely disappointed; instead they saw a grotesque fake corpse a few feet long. It had the torso, head and limbs of a monkey and the bottom part of a fish. To modern eyes it was an obvious fake, but it fooled and intrigued many at the time.

Modern mermaids?

Could there be a scientific basis for the mermaid stories? Some researchers believe that sightings of human-size ocean animals such as manatees and dugongs might have inspired merfolk legends. These animals have a flat, mermaid-like tail and two flippers that resemble stubby arms. They don’t look exactly like a typical mermaid or merman, of course, but many sightings were from quite a distance away, and being mostly submerged in water and waves only parts of their bodies were visible. Identifying animals in water is inherently problematic, since eyewitnesses by definition are only seeing a small part of the creature. When you add in the factor of low light at sunset and the distances involved, positively identifying even a known creature can be very difficult. A glimpse of a head, arm, or tail just before it dives under the waves might have spawned some mermaid reports.

Modern mermaid reports are very rare, but they do occur; for example, news reports in 2009 claimed that a mermaid had seen sighted off the coast of Israel in the town of town of Kiryat Yam. It (or she) performed a few tricks for onlookers before just before sunset, then disappearing for the night. One of the first people to see the mermaid, Shlomo Cohen, said, “I was with friends when suddenly we saw a woman laying on the sand in a weird way. At first I thought she was just another sunbather, but when we approached she jumped into the water and disappeared. We were all in shock because we saw she had a tail.” The town’s tourism board was delighted with their newfound fame and offered a $1 million reward for the first person to photograph the creature. Unfortunately the reports vanished almost as quickly as they surfaced, and no one ever claimed the reward.

In 2012 an Animal Planet special, “Mermaids: The Body Found,” renewed interest in mermaids. It presented the story of scientists finding proof of real mermaids in the oceans. It was fiction but presented in a fake-documentary format that seemed realistic. The show was so convincing that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration received enough inquiries following the TV special that they issued a statement officially denying the existence of mermaids.

A temple in Fukuoka, Japan, is said to house the remains of a mermaid that washed ashore in 1222. Its bones were preserved at the behest of a priest who believed the creature had come from the legendary palace of a dragon god at the bottom of the ocean. For nearly 800 years the bones have been displayed, and water used to soak the bones was said to prevent diseases. Only a few of the bones remain, and since they have not been scientifically tested, their true nature remains unknown.

Mermaids may be ancient, but they are still with us in many forms; their images can be found all around us in films, books, Disney movies, at Starbucks — and maybe even in the ocean waves if we look close enough.

Additional resources

What is a Tokoloshe?

Well, the first problem is one of spelling – is it Tokoloshe, Tikoloshe, Tokolo or Tokolosh? All of these are accepted, and (for the most part) the name is usually capitalised. It is unusual, except in cases like the Zombie Maskandi, for the plural to be used – this implies that the word was initially a name, a Mephisto or Hermes or Loki, rather than a description like ‘demon’ or ‘imp’.

Linguistically, the root of the word is not apparent – for one, what is interesting is the use of the hard ‘T’, which is fairly unusual in isiZulu. Other than the literal translations offered for the words used above, among which is…

“a fabulous water-sprite or kelpy, supposed to haunt certain rivers, to be very fond of women, to be mischievous to people, and to be used by witches for nefarious purposes, and said to resemble a tiny, hairy dwarf”

                                                                     (Vilakazi and Doke, s.v.)

… the only related words with the same root are ‘isitokolo’, which is inexplicably a kind of Tsetse fly trap, and ‘utokolo’, which is a contracted form of the full name. There are no verbs with this root, nor any other nouns. Expanding the search to include variant spellings such as ‘thokola’ or ‘thokoloshe’ reveals nothing at all.

So the linguistics don’t help us – but we certainly have enough evidence from other areas, and particularly from people who claim to have seen or known the Tokoloshe. Berglund (1976, page 280) points out a number of interesting things about the ‘Tikoloshe’ – that he was traditionally harmless and mischievous, and “becomes harmful when he is caught by a witch”, and the he “is the most sought after of all the familiars because he can really satisfy (sexually) the hunger of the witches”. The sexual prowess of the Tokoloshe is well noted – Berglund’s informants stated that he “has an exceedingly large male member which, due to its size, has to be carried over the shoulders and around the neck”. In appearance he is “hairy like a pig”, is very short and has a split tongue – of interest here is that he cannot speak before a witch catches him and turns him into a familiar, and she is the one who splits his tongue so that he can speak the language that they understand.

There are many stories about the Tokoloshe, but one in particular adds another interesting dimension to the composite picture of this creature – on uKhozi FM, an isiZulu radio station broadcast from Durban, there was an interview one morning with a man who claimed to have the recipe for ‘seeing’ a Tokoloshe. The recipe ran thus:

First, you must remove the ubuthongo (the sleep) from a dog’s eye, first thing in the morning.

You must then put this sleep in your eye – dogs can see Tokoloshe, and so you must take their power into your own eyes before you can also see him.

Then, it is very importance that you stay far away from the hearth – the Tokoloshe is terribly afraid of fire, and the smell of smoke on your clothes will chase him away immediately.

You will see him in the lonely places, near water.

Seeing Tokoloshe is only the first step, however – there are many imithi which need to be used to strengthen yourself against his magic, and to trap him, and then to keep him.

So, how do these things fit together? What possible explanation can there be?

If you look at the different characteristics of the Tokoloshe, there are broadly two divergent aspects – his hyper-sexuality, and his fear of civilization.

The hyper-sexuality is a common feature of nocturnal demons such as succubi, as well as trickster or magical mythological figures such as Loki and Hermes. It may, in the South African context, be very tempting to trace the stories of Tokoloshe’s sexuality to more real predators, especially in light of one detail – the modern tendency to associate the Tokoloshe with the ‘bricks under the bed’. In modern South African homes, many people still raise their beds using bricks, or empty paint tins, in order to avoid the Tokoloshe’s advances. To anyone aware of the current issues around child abuse and rape in South Africa, these details speak of a fear of being sexually assaulted, as well as the fear of the real person committing the assault – by saying that ‘the Tokoloshe raped me last night’, you are avoiding saying that ‘my uncle raped me’.

However, in light of the fact that the Tokoloshe’s hypersexuality is found in other mythological and folklore figures around the world and across time, it’s probably better if we move away from the immediate context of South Africa and consider the facts a bit more objectively. Folklore figures noted for their prominent sexuality are often associated with fertility, and are equally as often associated with apotropaic (defending against evil) qualities, e.g. Hermes, and his ithyphallic statues used as street signs in ancient Athens. However, the ones who sneak into bedrooms at night, such as the succubi, are usually part of a more complex category of bogeymen – stories told to children to scare them into doing (or not doing, as the case may be) something or other. So the Tokoloshe is probably part fertility figure and part bogeyman.

But the issue of his fear of civilization is an intriguing one – according to many different sources, he only appears in wild places, near water, and at night. This may be an added feature of his bogeyman status, but there are also elements of Pan-type deities in this description. Of interest too is his fear of the smell of smoke from hearth-fires. I haven’t quite wrapped my head around this, but I have a few as-yet-unproven theories about it.

So… what’s the deal with Gcabashe and his oTokoloshe in the courtroom? The simplest explanation would be to say that he is schizophrenic, and hearing the Tokoloshe speaking to him is just his way of explaining the voices in his head. But there is also the possibility that he was indeed bewitched in some way, and that the Tokoloshe is actually real. Maybe he found a dog, first thing in the morning?

Accepting a calling

Accepting an ancestral calling is not as complicated as it believed to be. Most people are of the impression that in order to accept an ancestral calling one must part with hundreds or even thousands of rands to pay the isangoma who oversees this. This should not be the case at all.

Ukungazi kuyahlupha (not knowing is problematic), because our priorities and the priorities of the ancestors are very different. Ancestors are more concerned with the emotional and spiritual well-being as opposed to physical and tangible things. Hence even when it comes to ukuvuma Idlozi/accepting the calling one does not need to spend a lot of money doing and buying thing that the ancestors are not bothered with.

Ukuvuma Idlozi requires sincerity, purity and a deep understanding of who and what it is exactly that you are accepting. One has to be patient as well because Idlozi can be very stubborn and feisty more especially if you have been ignoring it for a long time. Now the most important thing to note is that an ancestral calling is innate. One is born with these gifts/powers but as to when they will start manifesting in your life is entirely up to Idlozi and how fast it matures. All of creation is from God and Idlozi/amadlozi are no exception, hence it is important to run everything through Him. When accepting a calling your heart has to be in the right place and your reasons for accepting must be for the benefit of amadlozi akho and not you. Accepting a calling means that you acknowledge and accept the healing powers in you and you are prepared to allow your ancestor/s to work through you until they say otherwise. You also need to understand that these are not YOUR powers but the ancestors’. Accepting this path may also mean that there are some things that you will need to give up in your life because you now carry your ancestors on your back and shoulders. One who has accepted a calling must get closer to God in order to hear and heed all the messages that will come through. The moment that you start using the powers in a positive manner and help other people Idlozi is set free (liyelapheka/likhululeke) ngoba usuke ufeza izifiso zalo kanti futhi wenza lokhu lona elingakwazanga ukwenza lisaphila emhlabeni.

Understanding traditional African healing

Abstract

Traditional African healing has been in existence for many centuries yet many people still seem not to understand how it relates to God and religion/spirituality. Some people seem to believe that traditional healers worship the ancestors and not God. It is therefore the aim of this paper to clarify this relationship by discussing a chain of communication between the worshipers and the Almighty God. Other aspects of traditional healing namely types of traditional healers, training of traditional healers as well as the role of traditional healers in their communities are discussed. In conclusion, the services of traditional healers go far beyond the uses of herbs for physical illnesses. Traditional healers serve many roles which include but not limited to custodians of the traditional African religion and customs, educators about culture, counselors, social workers and psychologists.

 

Keywords: African cosmology, traditional African healing, African religion/spirituality, traditional healers

Introduction

Relative to other African countries, South Africa is a young democracy. Having been liberated from minority Nationalist Party rule in 1994, many areas of activity are still divided between Western and African philosophies. To encapsulate these divisions, one needs only to listen to the discussions and debates about religion, traditional healing, ‘lobola/magadi’ and traditional ceremonies on radio stations, in the newspapers and other public forums throughout the country. One would immediately realise that South Africa is a complex country with diverse cultural beliefs.

The colonial authorities and subsequently the apartheid government imposed a Western worldview on the people of South Africa without an attempt to determine the validity of the African worldview on issues such as traditional African healing and traditional African religion/spirituality, which are in most cases mutually interwoven. This idea was well captured by Gumede (1990) who asserted that it would be difficult to understand the traditional healer and his/her trade without taking the concept of traditional African religion/spirituality into account. Chavunduka (n.d.) gave two main reasons why it is difficult to separate traditional African healing from traditional African religion or spirituality. Firstly, the traditional African philosophy of illness in most cases encompasses relations between God, ancestors and the universe; and in many traditional healers double as religious leaders (priests and prophets) in African independent churches and vice versa.

Traditional African religion /spirituality: Communication between the living and the living-dead

Nigosian (1994: 4) defined religion in general as “an invention or creation of the human mind for regulating all human activity, and this creative activity is a human necessity that satisfies the spiritual desires and needs inherent in human nature”. The traditional African religion, in particular, can be described as tribal (Van der Walt, 2003). In other words, its practice varies from tribe to tribe but the substance remains the same all over Africa. A tribe is defined as a “social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognised leader” (Pearsall, 2001: 1530).

Traditional African religion had existed for many centuries before the arrival of Western Christian missionaries and Western political expeditions on the African continent. With the challenge for and the Westernisation of the African continent in the 19th century, many Africans became Christians not by choice but via intimidation. Nonetheless, it is also worth mentioning that others became Christians by choice (Nigosian, 1994). In many parts of apartheid South Africa, an African child had to have a ‘Christian’ name before she or he could be enrolled at a primary school. This is where many African children were introduced and ‘converted’ to the Christian religion. Contrary to the intentions of colonial authorities and the apartheid government, this forced conversion and Westernisation did not lead Africans to completely abandon the traditional African health care system and African religion (Nigosian, 1994). Instead, many Africans practiced Western and traditional African religions concurrently and as such utilised the services of both the traditional and Western health care systems (Nigosian, 1994).

Before the Westernisation process, Africans had always believed in God and the ancestors and had been profoundly spiritual. This is contrary to some colonial authorities and Christian missionaries’ general beliefs that Africans were unbelievers. Africans believed and continue to believe in the eternal and ubiquitous spirit of the ancestors and the Almighty God. The ancestors are called by different names depending on one’s ethnic origins. The Bapedi, Batswana, and Basotho call them ‘badimo’. The Amazulu and the Amaxhosa call them ‘amadlozi’ and ‘iinyanya’ respectively.

The ancestors are the ‘living-dead’, compassionate spirits who are blood-related to the people who believe in them. The ancestors continue to show an interest in the daily lives of the relatives that are still alive (Van Dyk, 2001). They are superior to the living and include, amongst others, departed/deceased parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles. These spirits, because they have crossed over to the other side of life, act as mediators between the living and God. This way of life is regarded as ancestor reverence, veneration or remembering and not as ancestor worship (Berg, 2003). The word ‘worship’, when referring to communication between Africans and the ancestors, is therefore inappropriate since the ancestors are not worshipped but remembered and revered by their relatives (Child & Child, 1993). In traditional African religion, God is above and beyond the ancestors and is called the Supreme Creator/Being and the main pillar of the universe (Thorpe, 1993). This is one aspect that many people who do not subscribe to this belief system fail to understand: that the God that the traditional African religion subscribers worship is the same God that Christians and other religious groupings believe in. Because African religion reveres and holds God in the highest regard, worshipers do not speak directly to Him. Their prayers and wishes are communicated to Him through the medium of the ancestors. This is often aided by enlisting the services of a traditional healer who advises on how to communicate with the ancestors, depending on the purposes of the communication and the type of ritual that needs to be performed.

Traditional African religion, therefore, involves a chain of communication between the worshipers and Almighty God. This chain is, as would be expected, influenced by the cultural context in which it exists, just as Christianity and other religions are embedded within their particular cultural milieus. Christians communicate directly with God, or through Jesus Christ, whilst traditional African religious believers communicate with God through the medium of the deceased relatives. The deceased relatives are ‘means-to-an-end’ and not the end in themselves. The deceased relatives are conduits of their relatives’ prayers to the Almighty.

At times, communication between the living, the living-dead and God is done through the ritual slaughtering of an animal (Gumede, 1990). The practice of ritual slaughtering in traditional African religion is akin to the animal offerings carried out by people in the Old Testament of the Bible. It can be argued that the main difference is that people in the Old Testament were making animal sacrifices directly to God whilst traditional African religious believers make animal sacrifices to God through their departed relatives who have attained the status of being ancestors and therefore mediators between their living relatives and God. Different types of animals can be slaughtered for the purposes of communication between the living, the ancestors and God. These include chickens, goats and cattle, depending on the instructions or preferences of the ancestors. The slaughtering of an animal has to be done properly and at an appropriate place. For example, such sacrifices could not be made at the modern abattoirs. They must be made at the homestead of the person/s concerned so that blood can be spilled there. Blood is an extremely important aspect in the traditional African religion and customs. It serves as a bond between the ancestors and their descendants. This is one of the reasons why an animal has to be slaughtered when two people get married, for example. The blood of the slaughtered animal is believed to be the eternal bond between the families and the ancestors of the two families that are coming together through the bride and bridegroom. Gumede (1990) explains that there are three basic tenets of a properly made sacrifice. These are that there must be an appropriate animal, such as a cow or bull of a particular colour depending on the occasion, there must be home-brewed beer and frankincense.

Sacrifices and ancestor reverence are not confined to the ancestors at the personal and family levels only. These kinds of sacrifices can also be made, during an extended period of famine that threatens the life of humans, animals and plants, to what are normally called ‘the village ancestors’ which are the spirits of departed chiefs and other high ranking royal figures. In the Bapedi tribe, found in the Limpopo province north of South Africa, this is achieved by gathering all of the village girls who are still virgins and have not, as yet, gone through the rights of passage into womanhood or adulthood. These girls draw water from the river using containers made of clay, called ‘meetana’ (‘moetana’ – singular) (Harries, 1929). This water is carefully mixed with rain-medicine to sprinkle the earth with (Hammond-Tooke, 1974). This is done with the proper guidance of the chief traditional healer for that particular village called ‘Ngaka ya Moshate’ in Sepedi. It is believed that the rain will come down as soon as the girls arrive back from the river having performed the necessary rituals both at the river and at the place where the departed chiefs are buried. It must be emphasised that these rituals cannot be performed without the rainmaker’s instructions and the spiritual guidance of the ancestors. If it happens that these rain rituals do not yield satisfactory results, another ritual is performed. This entails village men hunting a type of buck with short horns, called ‘Kome’. The buck must be caught alive and brought to the rainmaker who mixes some of the fur of the buck with rain-medicine and call upon the ancestors to shower the village and its environs with rain (Eiselen & Schapera, 1962).

Traditional African healing

The definition of traditional healing varies. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) (WHO, 1976: 8) traditional medicine/healing is “the sum total of all knowledge and practices, whether explicable or not, used in diagnosing, preventing or eliminating a physical, mental or social disequilibrium and which rely exclusively on past experience and observation handed down from generation to generation, verbally or in writing” and “ health practices, approaches, knowledge, and beliefs incorporating plant, animal and mineral based medicines, spiritual therapies, manual techniques and exercise, applied singular or in combination, to treat, diagnose and prevent illnesses or maintain well-being”. Further, traditional healing encompasses treating illnesses with herbs to spiritual treatment (United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS – UNAIDS, 2006). It is holistic in its approach and embodies the collective wisdom of indigenous knowledge handed down over many generations (Ashforth, 2005).

Although researchers use the umbrella term ‘traditional healing’ when referring to many healing systems different from the Western (modern) healing system, traditional medicines across the world are dynamic and variable because of the different regions and countries of origin and because of the different agricultural systems in which they exist (Good, Hunter, Katz & Katz, 1979). Traditional healing is not a homogenous healing system, but varies from culture to culture and from region to region. It seems to be more established in some countries and regions when compared to others (Sofowora, 1996). In this regard, it is apparent that traditional healing is well organised and established in countries such as China compared to countries such as South Africa.

Craffert (1997) argued that illness and health care systems in any society, whether traditional or Western, are in one way or another determined by or closely connected to the culture or world-views of those societies. Every society develops its own cultural way of dealing with illnesses. For example, the Chinese, native Americans, native Hawaiians, Australian Aborigines, Indians, Maori in New Zealand, indigenous Africans and many other indigenous peoples have their own special methods and remedies for dealing with physiological, psychiatric and spiritual conditions. To use Carl Jung’s concept, these could be regarded as part of the ‘collective unconscious’ of these societies (Berg, 2003). Aspects of this collective unconscious tend to resurface in some few select individuals in the form of traditional healers.

George Kelly, an American personality psychologist and philosopher, developed the philosophy that he called ‘Constructive Alternativism’, which challenges the notion of a single objective reality (Boeree, n.d.). Although reality exists, it can be constructed, interpreted and understood in different ways. For example, the traditional African healer has a different construction and etiology about schizophrenia to that of a Western healer. The Western healer may primarily look at the biological (chemical) basis of schizophrenia, while the traditional African healer might look at witchcraft and ancestors as possible causes. The question arises as to when one construction is perceived as superior than another, especially if the two constructions of reality seem to be very different, as is the case with schizophrenia. Boeree (n.d.)maintained that no one’s construction of any phenomenon, including schizophrenia, is ever complete because the world is too large and complicated for anyone to claim to have the perfect perspective which could be regarded as universal. Thus, practically everything, even science, is a matter of opinion, merely because it is so difficult to verify or discern anything beyond doubt or question (Rudinow & Barry, 2004). Therefore, what needs to be emphasised in the case of ill health is the issue of ‘cultural relativism’ which suggests that experiences and interpretations of illness or misfortune are culture-dependent (Teuton, Bentall & Dowrick, 2007). Effectively, the differences in the interpretation of illnesses and misfortunes are qualitative in nature.

Types of traditional healers

Traditional healers, like medical doctors, are not a homogenous group (Ensink & Robertson, 1999). The term traditional healer is an umbrella concept that encompasses different types of healers with different types of training and expertise. Researchers have identified different types of traditional healers in different regions (Freeman & Motsei, 1992Green & Makhubu, 1984). In the Bapedi tribe, traditional healers are generally called ‘dingaka’ or ‘mangaka’. The different types of traditional healers include, diviners (‘Ngaka ya ditaola’), Sanusi (‘Sedupe’), traditional surgeons and traditional birth attendants (‘Babelegisi’).

The diviner uses bones and the spirits of the ancestors to diagnose and prescribe medication for different physiological, psychiatric and spiritual conditions. This category includes those that deal with ‘mafofonyane’ (schizophrenia) and ‘malopo’ (being possessed by the spirits of the ancestors that can be healed without the possessed person becoming a traditional healer him or herself). ‘Malopo’ can be treated by a combination of therapies that include dance (Hammond-Tooke, 1989).

A Sanusi can be both a diviner and herbalist, or as is the case in the African independent Christian churches, in the form of a prophet or what the Zion Christian Church calls ‘lebone’. This is someone who is possessed by the Holy Spirit and is able to foretell the future and advice on how to avert an undesirable event.

For healing purposes, some of the prophets, as is the case with the prophets in the Aladura church in Nigeria, use water in addition to prayers (Rinne, 2001). They often combine the Christian Holy Spirit with the ancestral spirit which falls within the realm of traditional healing (Truter, 2007). According to Green and Makhubu (1984), the ‘baporofeta’ (prophets) emerged out of independent churches that sought to Africanise Christianity by including African traditions and customs in their religious practice. The ‘baporofeta’ and the ‘Africanness’ of the independent churches are some of the major aspects that attract millions of Africans to these churches; hence, the Zion churches are the largest in South Africa (Anderson, n.d.). It is, however, noteworthy that Green and Makhubu (1984) do not regard the ‘baporofeta’category as traditional healers although they concede that they share a common theory of health and disease with traditional healers. The basic difference between faith healers and traditional healers is that the former receive guidance from God and the Angels while the latter are guided by the ancestral spirits. What is confusing about their argument is that some of the former use herbs at times; how this is connected to God and Angels is not entirely clear (Green & Makhubu, 1984). Contrary to Green and Makhubu‘s (1984) assertion that ‘baporofeta’ are not traditional healers, the Traditional Health Practitioners Act of South Africa classifies the ‘baporofeta’ as traditional healers (Government Gazette, 2005).

Traditional surgeons include those who are qualified, accredited, trusted and recognised by village chiefs to perform circumcision on boys (Government Gazette, 2005). Their practice and expertise as surgeons can also encompass the practices and expertise of other types of traditional healers such as diviner and sedupe/sanusi.

Traditional birth attendants are usually older women who have perfected the skill of midwifery over the years through experiencing, witnessing and assisting in many births throughout their adult lives. The skill is transferred from one generation to the other. As a result, any older woman can become a birth attendant. It remains to be seen if the traditional birth attendant category will survive for long, as more Africans people prefer to give birth in hospitals and not at home as was previously the case.

Training of traditional healers

For certain categories of traditional African healers such as diviners, training is a formal and meticulous process that can take between months and years depending on how fast the trainee learns the trade (Peek, 1991). To become a traditional healer a special calling from the ancestors is required. This calling can come through what is generally called an ‘illness’ in the Western paradigm. These include schizophrenia and psychosis, as well as constant visitations through dreams by one’s ancestors and apparitions instructing a person to become a traditional healer. The authenticity of such callings is verified by a diviner who advises on who should undergo training at an appropriate trainer.

Moreover, not every qualified traditional healer is qualified to train prospective traditional healers. Training of traditional healers is a specialty and yet another calling, in addition to simply being a healer. A traditional healer has to be called to become a trainer of other future healers. There are traditional healers who combine both the normal traditional healing and who specialise in training of prospective traditional healers.

During training, the trainee is required to live with his/her trainer, the trainer’s family and other trainees, and is therefore constantly observed by the trainer (Rudnick, 2002). During the training process, trainees receive instructions on a variety of aspects such as different medicinal plants and animal extracts to use, interpreting bones, dream analysis, communicating with the ancestors and different illnesses and how to treat them. There are certain practices that are proscribed during the training process as per the instructions from the ancestors. For example, a trainee does not greet other people by shaking hands. When greeting others, especially when they meet others in the homestead, they kneel down and clap hands by placing one hand over another in an up and down fashion or sideways. When they meet relatives outside of the homestead, they curtsy and clap hands without kneeling down but does not normally greet strangers outside the homestead. A trainee is also prohibited from engaging in a sexual relationship (Hammond-Tooke, 1989).

Once the training is completed, the trainee is taken to a river where final rituals are performed at a ceremony in the presence of community members, called ‘go ja ntwase’. Animals are slaughtered according to the instructions of the ancestors that are communicated to the trainer through the trainer’s divination. This ceremony is a form of an assessment to test if the trainee has mastered the trade and can be allowed to practice as a traditional healer (Mutwa, 2003). One of the methods that the trainer healer employs when assessing the trainee’s level of competence in using the spirits of the ancestors is to hide a safety pin in the vicinity or in one of the spectators’ pockets. The trainee is required to find the pin by being guided by the spirit of the ancestors. If it happens that the trainee fails this assessment, the training may be extended by some more months.

The role of traditional healers in their communities

In all African regions, traditional healers are very resourceful and play a pivotal role in many spheres of the people’s lives since they are ‘medical knowledge storehouses’ (Yeboah, 2000), African traditional healers serve important roles as educators about traditional culture, cosmology and spirituality. They also serve as counselors, social workers and skilled psychotherapists as well as custodians of indigenous knowledge systems (Mills, Cooper & Kanfer, 2005).

The services of traditional healers go far beyond the uses of herbs for physical illnesses. A particular example of the role of traditional healing extends to its use in Mozambique. Traditional healers were found to be invaluable in post civil war social reconstruction and community rebuilding in Mozambique, particularly in the rural areas (Honwana, 1997). It is doubtful whether modern psychological and psychiatric services would have been appropriate in Mozambique, since traditional healing was highly involved by rendering culturally relevant psychological services that included communication with the ancestors (Honwana, 1997).

Conclusions

This paper exemplifies traditional African healing by discussing how it is linked to traditional African religion/spirituality in order to promote optimal wellbeing. Traditional African religion entails a chain of communication between God and the living with the living communicating with God indirectly through the mediation of the ancestors. This paper has also detailed a rigorous process that traditional healers undergo before qualifying as healers.

Christianity vs African Tradition

God speaks to us everyday.

“God has spoken to us since the bible times, he still speaks to us even today.

He spoke to Moses and Abraham in the bible, he still speaks to us even today but are we listening ? Do we ever listen? God is everywhere, he is more than a spirit form, he is the reason why we are alive”.

Some people think that God is only for the Christians and that he doesn’t listen to those who believe in ancestors. This is the reason why some sangoma didn’t want to believe in God, in the past, let alone acknowledge his presence in our lives. People believed in God long before colonialism came to our country. They knew about our creator who is above us all. The problems came about when they were told that worshiping ancestors and doing rituals is wrong. This took them away from their rituals and into the church. People were forced to choose between the church and their ancestors. Those who wanted to do it both, were discouraged and removed from the church.

People who believed in ancestors never stopped doing it but they kept it a secret from the church. They would do their rituals quietly and then go to church on Sundays. As time went on, the church realised that more and more people were doing ancestral prayers to such an extent that some of them would choose to leave the church, so the church started to become lenient towards this group. They began to accept and not be too harsh on those who were found to be practicing.

Ethnic people find it hard to accept the God that came with the religion because this would mean that, they never had a God before then. It would mean that they lived a life which had no spiritual background until religion came and this does not make any sense at all. People believed in God and he spoke to them in a way they understood. Even today God still speaks to his people and only those who have an ability to listen, do hear.

The question we need to address in the future, is what is a God? 

I think that if we understood the concept of God and his existence in our lives, it would be much easier for us to listen when he speaks.

God is above us all, he makes everything possible whether its good or bad. God speaks to us everyday through our life experiences. God is behind each and every lesson that we learn from this life. He is the reason we grow and become better human beings.

 

We need to realise that our daily life experiences are orchestrated by God himself and he brings to us that which can help us move to another level, in our lives. God speaks to us through other human beings everyday. He expects us to take lessons from our daily life experiences, as they are meant to teach us one thing or another. Your interactions on a daily basis must teach you something. Never say that you can only learn from good experiences. Try and find a message from everything you go through in life because that is the main intention behind our existence.

When you begin to accept your life the way it is, that is when you begin to get closer to your purpose in life. That is the time when you are mature enough to accept the reality of this life. We live our lives concentrating on what we want for ourselves and this takes the most of our youth life. I wish someone could tell us earlier in life that we need to work towards finding our purpose in life. And that could bring us closer to happiness and a much fulfilling life.

Children should be touch much earlier in life about these things. They should understand the importance of God in our lives as well the connection we have with our ancestors. We need to teach our children how to listen to the messages from God. They must never take anything for granted and should embrace all life experiences the same way, whether good or bad.

God speaks to us through the messages we receive from other people everyday. Sometimes you talk to a person and realised afterwards that you have learnt so much from them. You realise that you are a changed person after that conversation. At times you feel bad after an interaction with someone, and this leaves you with bad feelings. You try and avoid such situations in the future, but the truth is we learn and grow after each and every life experience. If you say you don’t want to go through hardships in your life, if means that you don’t want to learn and grow in the department of strength. Stronger people achieve more and go far in this life. Wiser people have said that when we know better we do better. We need to work on the betterment of human kind because it will take us far in this ever challenging life.

God put us on earth and gave us freedom to live and be able to separate right from wrong. Everyday of our lives we get tested by tricky situations where we have to make decisions or choose a side. It is at times like these that we need to listen to our inner self and use the wisdom that God gave us. When faced with challenges we tend to look for an easy way out. We are forever worried about doing something that will be accepted by others and at times we even put our own needs behind just because we seek acceptance and understanding by other people.

This is what can happens to you, if God speaks to you, directly. I say, directly because most of the time we forget about Gods’ existence in our lives until we are in trouble when we need the power of prayer. So by the time you kneel down and pray for your troubles, Gods’ presence is  there as always and you can almost feel it. When you pray, you imagine that he is somewhere close and listening as you beg and plead.

So when God starts to talk, he doesn’t give you solutions that make sense to you at the time. He only expects you to have faith and trust that things will get better. Sometimes when you are in trouble you think too much about people around you. You wonder what they think of you and your problems. You even wonder if they still care, but when God speaks, he takes your focus away from other people. He speaks in such a way that you begin to doubt yourself. You wonder if you should implement this advise or not.

Sometimes after a prayer you feel like you have a solution but you get scared to take that route because you feel that, it will alienate you from your friends. A little voice inside will tell you that, this is the only way you can get out of this situation but you don’t listen. It usually takes us a long time to get used to this voice inside and follow instructions. In the end we say that, “ there was nothing else I could have done”, as if that was your last option. We forget that it was this option that came first but we gave excuses because we were afraid of being judged by others.

This reminds me of the time I had to accept my calling. Sometimes we say it lightly that we must accept and acknowledge the powers, but when it actually happens, it takes a long time to give in fully. Yes we accept and follow procedures but at the same time we always wait for a sign to tell us that we  have taken a correct route. It is hard to have a belief and faith in something which we cannot be able to prove to other normal human beings. Firstly it becomes hard for you as a person faced with that challenge to finally accept that you are really getting these messages. Secondly, once you have accepted, you then have to make people around you understand what you are going through.

 While you are still deciding and trying to make sense of things, a little voice speaks inside of you and tells you what you need to do. The reason why it becomes so hard for us is because we are then faced with a challenge to always prove to the people that you have not gone mad. People will then begin to test you and try to prove you wrong in everything you do or say.

This is the time when one needs to really be grounded and strong willed. You must know to know where you stand with God.

For me I had always known that I had my own special relationship with God, of which I am forever proud till today. From an early age, I got to understand that there is a God. Even though I didn’t know about the co-existence of God and ancestors at the same time, but I still believed that God is the first and far most reason for my being.

When my ancestors approached me personally, I didn’t panic either because I had always known, somehow that they would get in touch with me one day. Suddenly the little voice that I had always believed in became stronger and clear in my mind. It was awoken and brought to life. When I looked back, I realised that this was the same voice that has been talking to me all along, only this time, it had taken another form, of my ancestors. I continued to listen to the voice and asked for guidance until today.

Today I know that God speaks to us all the time, but when we have major problems with our ancestors he allows for them to become active in our lives. As they become active, they may cause havoc in our lives because they are supposed to have moved on to another world already. When the ancestors rise up in your life, it is not an easy thing to go through. It is a process that needs to be followed until your ancestors are happy and you can carry on with your life. Once you have finished this journey things go back to normal as the ancestors become more friendly and less disruptive towards you.

What is important is the relationship that exist among God, the spirits/ancestors and an individual. As long as you understand that God is there before, during and after this time of challenges then you will be able to focus and be more grounded.

So when God speaks, do not be afraid or embarrassed of what the people might say. Just follow instructions and relax. People may judge you all they want but in the end God comes though and saves the day for you.  

I know how hard it is to listen to this inner voice and follow it because we shy the risk of coming across as crazy, to other people. The downfall to this is that the longer you take to listen, the longer it takes for you to grow as a person and understand that, there are no miracles in this life, only God can create wonders for us but if you believe he will see you through.

God lives in each and everyone of us, which is why we are always advised to tap into those powers on the inside and use them to our advantage. When we free our ancestors we are actually working to wards a greater good, so that God can allow our ancestors to be accepted in his kingdom. So when God allows us to listen to our ancestors and cleanse them, it is a blessing in disguise for us. This journey is very hard but with the right support from family and friends we can share the load.

 

The next time you think God is talking to you, kneel down and pray about it, your answers will come.

 

“I am very grateful to all those who subscribe to this blog and would like to encourage you to ask more questions and put comments. That way we can reach more and more people who need this information. Those who prefer to email me, I also appreciate it and will always try and bring all the subjects that we discuss to light.

It is also very important to interact with me whenever you can, so that I can also receive your answers from the other side.

Thank God for allowing me to be able to share this information with all of you. …And the fact that you came across this information today, trust me, its’ not an accident’.

“God bless you all”

 

What these 10 common dreams mean

We all have dreams. Sometimes they give us joy while we’re sleeping and other times they ruin our rest.

Though many people do not pay much attention to their dreams, and often don’t even remember them, some experts claim they have a deeper meaning.

Psychologists suggest that our dreams may be the mind’s way of alerting us to unresolved issues, while psychics argue that our dreams hold important clues about the future.

African traditional healers, such as our Traditional Healing Expert, Sangoma Gogo Moyo, say that dreams are a platform for communication with our ancestors.

While we may have different views on their meaning, we all experience similar types of dreams.

Could that mean that certain dreams have a universal meaning?

Gogo Moyo says the scenarios we experience in our sleep have meaning, and if we understand what our dreams mean we have the power to respond to the messages we receive in them.

1. Dreaming that you’re falling

Falling in a dream suggests that you’re having trouble finding your feet in life and maintaining stability. You’re anxious, moody and find it hard to stay in a relationship. You need to seek help to bring stability to your life.

2. Dreaming of being chased

If you’re being chased while you’re sleeping it suggests that someone is looking for you in real life.

Dreams which involve being chased is a warning that you need to be aware of what is going on around you. It indicates that you aren’t safe. The biggest concern for this type of dream should be if you are caught in the dream. Then the meaning is different and trouble is lurking.

3. Dreaming of an ex-lover

When a previous lover appears in your dreams it can be interpreted in different ways.

The meaning of such a dream is dependent on various factors, including the reason for your breakup, your relationship after you broke up, and your relationship status while you were together. For example were you dating or engaged?

When dreaming of your ex, look out for the action taking place in the dream. What is your ex doing in the dream? Is he/she laughing, fighting with you, crying, or are you two in love again? Look out for specific actions and ask Gogo to interpret its meaning, giving as much detail as possible.

4. Dreaming of snakes

A person who dreams of snakes is spiritually gifted. Though snakes are scary to most people, they symbolise your ancestors.

As long as the snake in your dream doesn’t bite you, it simply means that your ancestors are trying to reach out to you. If bitten, you need to be worried because then they aren’t going to be friendly.

It means that they have tried to reach out to you on a number of occasions and you have not responded to their communications.

5. Dreaming of a dead person

When the deceased person appears in your dreams it could be that they are trying to show you how they’re doing since they’ve passed. Again, it is important to take note of what they are doing in the dream. The meaning of the dream lies in their actions.

If they’re smiling, happy and relaxed, then they are sending a greeting and letting you know they are there for you.

However, if their actions represent sadness, such as crying or anger, then you know their soul is having trouble resting. In either case, communicate with them and let them know you received their message and ask for guidance as to how to proceed.

6.  Dreaming of money

Money is something we all dream of having.

Being handed money in your dreams is great, whether you see a chest full of coins or a pile of paper money. It shows that money or good luck is on its way to you.

For example, if you were waiting for a reply from that company you went to for an interview, and dream of tons of money, you can know that you’ve got the job.

Losing money or handing money over is not a good thing, so be mindful of your spending if that’s what you dreamed about.

7. Dreaming of water

Again, this is a dream that has more significance for spiritually gifted people, even if you don’t regard yourself as such.

If you dream that you’re in water, or in contact with water, it could be a sign that you need a “cleansing”, or that you need to pray near water. Water is profoundly liberating and good for the spirit.

8. Dreaming of a wedding

Despite popular belief, dreaming of someone tying the knot means the total opposite. It’s a warning of death.

9. Dreaming of being naked

If you dream that you’re naked, or someone else is naked, you should be concerned as it doesn’t bode well. It indicates that someone is bewitching you. Gogo Moyo advises that you pray or consult a healer if this ever happens to you.

10. Dreaming of food or eating

Dreaming of eating is as bad as dreaming you’re naked. It means that someone is trying to bewitch you through food. When you dream that you’re eating, be careful of who prepares your meals as they may just be plotting to take over your actions/thoughts through food.

Things to watch for in your dreams

Gogo Moyo says that if you want to know what your dreams mean, you need to look out for the following things and jot them down, then discuss them with a Sangoma:

Your location: where are you in the dream and are you familiar with the place or is it a venue you’ve never visited?
Your actions: what are you doing in the dream – are you running, fighting, dancing, teaching, cooking etc.?
Your company: who are you with in the dream – family, enemies, friends, or are the people in your dreams complete strangers?
Your emotions: how do you feel in the dream – were you anxious, scared, ashamed, worried, relaxed, happy etc.?

Dreams play a pivotal role when you’re working on enhancing and heightening your spirituality. But anyone, whether gifted or not, can decipher their own dreams. Understanding your dreams will always, without fail, give guidance as to what is happening in your life and what to watch out for.

Bewitched Forests and Waters of the VhaVenda

If you leave or enter the Kruger National Park through the Phafuri or Phunda Maria gates, you will see the Soutpansberg, South Africa’s northernmost mountain range. The name means “salt pan range”, and refers to a salt lake in the west, but author T.V. Bulpin calls them the Superstition Mountains. They have earned the title at least as much as their American counterparts. Here are magical pools and waterfalls, and forests that Bulpin described as “reputedly so full of ghosts that few men dare to wander through them.” Here live the Venda people, for whom, according to the traveller John Richards, “the mountains and streams – and even the trees – are inhabited by spirits.” If you have driven through the Kruger National Park north of the Luvuvhu River, you have already travelled through country which the VhaVenda claim as their own. (I am indebted to Mr Victor Rambau for the correct Luvenda spellings of some words and place names. For the benefit of visitors who may be searching by means of incorrect spelling that sometimes appear in literature, I shall sometimes put the incorrect spelling in brackets.)

Traditionally, Venda paramount chiefs swallow a white stone. When they die, their bodies are left to decompose on a platform until the sacred stone falls to the ground. The stone is then swallowed by the new chief. The old chief is then interred. Thus are some leaders made immortal.

The VhaVenda were the last of South Africa’s indigenous peoples to lose their independence. Not until 1898, after the death of the powerful chief Makhado (Magato), did the Boer commandos finally relieve South Africa’s “indomitable Gauls” of their freedom. Even this did not prevent the VhaVenda from burning the town of Louis Trichardt during the South African War of 1899-1902. When Nelson Mandela became president in 1994, the white people of South Africa had been in total control of South Africa for less than a century.

One of the Boer commandos was said to have been defeated by stone-throwing zwidudwane. Zwidudwane are half human. Literally. One half of them is in the spirit world, invisible to humans. Unless you are a priest of the Netshiavha clan, even to see their human halves means certain death. Zwidudwane are affectionate towards each other. So, if you give youself a hug, you could be mistaken for embracing zwidudwane, and cause a panic.

Zwidudwane are fond of venison, and dig game pits. Having only one eye in the human world, however, they lack a sense of depth, and often fall into their own holes. You should, therefore, be very careful before answering calls for help emanating from holes in the ground.

On a flat rock above the Phiphidi Waterfall, offerings are left for the zwidudwane. They are heard taking the gifts to the pool at the foot of the waterfall, which is on the Mutshundudi River. At night, the sound of drumming and singing emanates from the pool, which is called Guvhukuvhu. Venda chiefs of the Tshivhase clan are buried here, and their spirits enter the birds and the fish. When war looms, the waters of the pool turn red as blood, and for the fey, the pool acts as a sort of crystal ball.

If you wander alone in the Soutpansberg, you may come across malicious zwidhanyani. These are spirits which appear as disembodied limbs, heads or eyes. In Venda folklore, a mischievous being called Sankhimbi is often the central character.

Among the VhaVenda, even beads may be sacred. They treasure glass beads which are undoubtedly of ancient origin, as they were cut from tubes after they cooled down, a practice not used by skilled glass makers for many centuries. Each such bead is said to contain the spirit of an ancestor. Sometimes, the spirit may be seen as a cloud inside the glass. Among the most valued are the Vhulungu ha Madi (“beads of the water”), the colours of which are various shades of blue, grey or green. Then there are the long, white Limaanda ( Limanda )beads. Limaanda means “the powerful one”. In the most valuable bead strings, all of the beads were cut from the same glass tube, and the beads are strung in the same order that they were cut from the tube. The irregular sides of each bead can actually fit into its neighbours’. This results in a blending and merging of colours, as there were colour variations even within the same tube.

The chief deity of the VhaVenda is Raluvhimba, an eagle god or supreme lightning bird. During thunderstorms, Raluvhimba may appear as a fireball, speaking in thunder, but disappears if approached. Rainmaking priestesses propitiated Raluvhimba beneath a sacred Mufula tree, on the equally sacred Thononda Hill, overlooking Lake Fundudzi. Perhaps they still do. Lesser lightning birds are sometimes the familiars of witches.

Surrounding Lake Fundudzi, on the R523 between Thohoyandou and Makhado, is the Thathe Vondo forest. Actually, some of the forest is now farmland, including a tea estate. In this area are the Mahovhovho waterfall and the often misty Sacred Forest, where chiefs of the Thathe clan are buried. The Sacred Forest is so full of spirits that few Venda people dare to walk through it. The forest’s hauntings include a white lion, spirit of the chief  Nethathe, and a lightning bird called Ndadzi.

Lake Fundudzi is the most sacred place in these mountains. It is so sacred, in fact, that when you approach the lake, your first view of it should be from between your legs. Permission to visit the lake shore is rarely granted to tourists, but the lake may be seen from one of the roads in the surrounding mountains. The lake, on the Mutale River, was formed by a landslide. It is said that the sacred water of the lake will not mix with normal water. Because there is no obvious outlet, the lake was believed to be bottomless as far as the human world is concerned.

In Johannesburg’s Mail and Guardian of October 28,1999, Fundudzi is described as a zombie lake, where “buried ancestors are said to come alive at night and play drums beneath the water.” Like the Haitians, the VhaVenda believe that a corpse has no shadow, and this is how the undead may be recognized. A village is submerged here, and the inhabitants may be heard going about their daily business. If the water is clear, their subaquatic activities may even be seen. It is said that when the waters of the lake were observed to be rising, villagers would leave the old and sick behind, and move to higher ground. It was believed that the spirits of the lake were claiming the frail villagers for a better existence beneath the waters.

The fish and crocodiles here are inhabited by spirits. At one time, one of the crocodiles was white.

The sacred python, bringer of fertility, also dwells beneath these waters. Sometimes, it is also described as being white. This snake once required human wives. When it lived on the surface, it visited them at night, when it could not be seen. One day, an inquisitive wife did see it, and her terror so mortified the python that it fled into the lake. This caused a terrible drought, which only ended when the curious wife walked into the lake to join her serpentine husband. To prevent more droughts, maidens in subsequent years were sacrificed in the same way.

Nowadays, I presume, the python god is more easily placated. Offerings of beer are still made, but those who take the offerings into the lake are tied by a rope. This is just in case the offerings are rejected and zwidudwane try to pull the supplicants beneath the water.

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