The Sangoma Lesson of Honoring the Ancestors

Sangoma is a shamanic spiritual practice of South Africa on which the majority of the South African population relies daily .
annual sangoma ritual

The birth place of Homo Sapience and cradle of the human civilization , Africa is also a home of many shamanic cultures and spiritual traditions . One of the major shamanistic movements in the southern territory of the African continent is the Sangoma . The sangoma tradition is preserved for thousands of years as a beacon of spirituality . Accordingly to latest studies , there are more than 200 000 sangoma practitioners still practicing the ancient shamanic tradition . These practitioners are trusted and consulted by more than 84% of the south African population .

The Sangoma shamans are divided in two groups .

The first one and a major groups are the ancestral shamans . They tap in to the spiritual ream and communicate with the ancestral spirits . With their help the shaman can see in to the future . The second type of sangoma shamans are the healers . They use traditional medicinal practices and mainly rely on plants and other natural gifts . They normally do not interact with the spirits . These frames however are blurry , as these who work with the spirits often engage with healing practices . Furthermore they use the help of their ancestors to diagnose their patients and to establish the best cure possible .

The beginning of the shamanic journey isn’t easy for the sangoma shaman . A new found shaman usually suffers the so called shamanic illness . A severe disease that puts to the test one's mental and physical capacity . Enduring these troubled times can mean only one thing .  The ancestral spirits protect and guide this person . He is considered connected to the spirits and fitted for shamanic initiation .

The ancestral trail is of major importance for the sangoma traditions .

The ancestors are the direct link between the divine beings and the humans . The sangoma shaman is the messenger of the  these beings . These messages are of major social and political importance , as they often provide a field for discussion of topics , which otherwise are taboo .sangoma soothsayer

The sangoma prophecies are covering a variety of aspects . From the weather conditions and the forthcoming harvest to the personal and health problems and conditions . The sangomas believe that all health problems are caused by three factors . By the ancestor’s spirits , evil magic or contamination . After the source of the illness is identified the healing process may begin . In order to connect with the spirits , the sangoma shaman falls in to state of trance . This state is achieved by variety of rituals , including shamanic drumming , dances and songs . The plants and the herbs are also part of the sangoma shamanic tradition and are often used for achieving that state . The clothing also plays an important role in the sangoma rituals . The ritual clothes are colorful and amply decorated with ostrich feathers , beads and trinkets .When in a state of trance the sangoma shaman starts shaking  and breading rapidly .

In this moment the ancestral spirits is entering the shaman’s body .

In this state the shaman hyperventilates and his body functions are hyperstimulated . This condition of the body , allows the spirit to take possession over the shaman . Then the shaman uses bones , shells , coins and sticks as tool for reading the prophecies . He throws these tools on an antelope hide . Then the sangomas are reading the signs from the location and position of the bones . These positions contain key information for the prophecy or the illness of the patient .

 The sangoma shamans are part of the life of millions of people throughout South Africa . As messengers of the ancestors they play important role in almost every aspect of the everyday life of these people . As healers they are even more important , as they take care of people’s health in places otherwise deprived from basic health care . The sangoma shamans are bearing an important lesson for all of us . We should never forget our ancestors , as they continue to be part of our lives even when their gone . They posses wisdom and answers otherwise unreachable for us . They posses knowledge long forgotten .

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