Iboga , Bwiti and the Tree of Knowledge

Tabernanthe Iboga is one of the gifts mother earth has to offer . It contains priceless knowledge and lessons that can make our world a better place .

tabernanthe iboga plant


We all know the story of Adam and Eve and the tree of knowledge .


How they got kicked out of Eden , because they disobeyed the order of their creator not to eat of its fruits . The story of the divine tree can be found in almost all the major religions . In the Hindu Vedas for example (Rig Veda Samhita, Mundaka and Svetasvatara Upanisad) there is a legend for two birds . One of the birds has eaten fruits , the other only watched . The first bird symbolizes Jiva – the soul of all beings . When she started eating the fruits she instantly forgotten her God , represented by the second birth Paramatman , who accompanies from the birth in the material realm till his death . This ecstatic state of Jiva is her MahaMaya(delusion) , her spiritual death . She falls off the divine world and enters the mortal realm .

Another example can be found in Buddhism . The Buddhism calls the tree of knowledge the Bodhi Vriksha . Under this tree Lord Buddha got enlightenment . The Peepal tree(Ficus Religiosa) , unlike the biblical tree of knowledge grants enlightenment in return of physical pleasure .

Which is the actual tree of knowledge and enlightenment ? Is it the apple or the Peepal or some other, unknown tree ? Maybe we will never know .

There is a tribes in the heart of Africa however , followers of the Bwiti spiritual practices . Bwiti is a practice based partially on some Christian influences and the ritual usage of the hallucinogenic plant Iboga (Tabernanthe Iboga) .

female bwiti iboga shaman

The iboga is called the Tree of Good and Evil and it is related to the African myth of Obola and Biome . The Creator has made Obola and all the men in his own image and placed a divine part of himself in everyone . When they use iboga they can once more feel the Creator’s essence . Unlike the Judeo-Christian apple however Bwiti don’t uses the fruits , but the root barks of the plant . Accordingly to the Fang tribe’s beliefs Pygmies are these who has initially found the psychedelic effects of the plants , including Iboga . In general the pygmies tribes are these who know all the secrets of the equatorial African forest . Part of their knowledge has spread among the indigenous people of Africa and this is how the Bwiti spiritual practice has been born .

Actually the Fang tribe uses Iboga from centuries .

Way before the Christian influence on the continent . The Iboga usage during ministration is in the base of the Syncretic cult . The new form of religion become so popular , so that for only few decades spread out of Gabon borders . Temples of the Syncretic cult in appeared in Equatorial Guinea , Cameroon , Congo and Zaire . Bwiti is slowly becoming the most followed spiritual practice in Africa .

The Bwiti’s mythology has a lot of similarities with the Old and the New Testament .


old picture of the fang tribe members


For example the original sin was an incest between Obola and Biome , the first human twins . The tree of knowledge , good and evil is the Iboga . The biblical flood is a fact for the Fang people . It made their tribes to move from Cameroon to Gabon . Furthermore the Holy Trinity has its equivalent in the Bwiti beliefs . The Nzame , Gningone and None . None is the evil . Nzame and Gningone are the creators of the first people – the Gabonese Obola and Biome . Biome conceived her first child by treachery . None has entered her womb in a form of snake . She delivered triplets . One black , white and red . The white is with the color of Obola , the black with the color of None , the color of the devil , and the red is considered a messenger of another realm . Finally 12 more childes are born . The 12 founders .

This interpretation of the Christian dogma infuriated the missionaries . The accused Bwiti followers in drug addiction , ritual human sacrifices and cannibalism . The persecutions of the Bwiti supported by the French colonial government , reached its peak between 1920 – 1940 .

Between 1948-1969 the Bwiti cult has undergone some changes and some of the tariffing rituals of the practice , like sacrifices and etc. were removed . The Bwiti became a part of the movement for national and racial freedom in Africa , which led to the end of the French colonialism and the forming of the new Republic Gabon . The first president of Gabon - Leon Ba was a Bwiti follower . So the Bwiti cult has turned in to an official religion and the peace has spread among the country . This peace still lasts today . Gabon is the most stable country in the area .

In every Bwiti society there is a strictly followed hierarchy .


The highest place in this hierarchy belongs to the Nima . He is the Bwiti supreme shaman . He is the direct messenger of the spiritual realm . The N’ganga is the healer . His responsibility are the dances . Kombo is the person that takes care of the temples and the rituals held there . There are also musicians that are playing on the traditional drums and Ngombi harp , which music is central to the rituals . The one who plays Ngombi must be with a pure soul . It is believed that his life belongs to the harp . The female leader in the Bwiti society is called Yombo . She is responsible for the behavior of the female followers of Bwiti .

The Bwiti followers are experts in the usage of Iboga .

iboga ceremony

A ceremony involves between 20-50 people of every age . From children to elders . Each dosage however is independently determined by the Nima . The participants in the rite which have taken smaller dosage are responsible for taking care of the others if necessary .

The incredible tree of knowledge Tabernanthe Iboga has granted the Bwiti community peace, love and understanding . The spirits behind his sacred plant taught his children how to live in harmony with the nature and one-another . It transformed a whole country in an example for social way of life . Now Gabon stays as a symbol of how the population of Africa must live like . The sacred Iboga has found its way in the western civilization too . Furthermore the root barks of the plant and its effect are used by the modern psychologists for treating horrible addictions , like the heroin , cocaine and alcohol addictions . It contains limitless potential and is one of the most suitable candidates for the real tree of knowledge .

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