To some Westerners indigenous African techniques are at best puzzling and at worst smack of witchcraft. The West is replete with technological wonders. However, we seem to be lacking when it comes to the cosmic connection. Ancient African wisdom has a lot to teach us. There is a realm of spirit but there is also a veil that must be penetrated if we wish to communicate with this potential source of guidance. Most Westerners do not have the techniques to pierce the veil, sangomas do.
The divining bones are not strictly all bones but comprise shells, money, seeds, dice, domino-like objects and other items that have been appointed by the sangoma and the spirit to represent certain polarities (for instance a miniature car to represent a journey). Animal bones from lions, hyenas, anteaters, baboons, crocodiles, wild pigs, goats, antelopes and others form the large majority of the objects in the sangoma’s bag, and there are bones for all psycho-socio-spiritual polarities. The bones represent all of the forces that affect the human condition whatever their culture. The primal energies and attributes the animals represent hold distinct vibrations and know where to go and how to land when driven by an energetic field induced by the presiding spirit. For example, the hyena represents the thief that comes in the night, and a hyena bone is often used to locate a stolen object. The anteater is the animal that “digs the grave” and an anteater bone may be used where death is concerned, or it may represent a deceased person or his spirit.
First, a general reading is given and then specific questions are asked and answered. Each question is answered by a separate throw of all the bones..
It is the ancestor or guide, and not the healer, who is providing the information. The sangoma is just the messenger. There is an understanding between the healer and the spirit as to the meaning of the bones and how they line up in relationship to each other, to themselves and to the direction of the mat on which they fall. They do not fall in a random pattern but rather in a distinct arrangement which can be read by the sangoma whose training has taught him/her to diagnose past and present ailments and even predict future occurrences. It seems that a “mini-field” of attention, intention, and coherence is set up between the healer, the client and the ancestors that allows the bones to lie in an intelligent pattern (telekinesis). The metaphors they represent can then be interpreted by the healer. The reading is usually concerned with what is happening at that moment in the patient’s life. Since the healer is reading symbols, s/he may get the wrong image and have to change direction. Divining is like interpreting someone’s dream, and only the owner of the dream will know if the meaning rings true. The information is given humbly and democratically. The healer will ask the patient if he agrees and, if so, will continue along the same line of exploration. If the patient disagrees, the healer will look at the same polarity in a different way. Correct interpretation is seldom offered dogmatically. Usually the patient or client is well aware of what is going on in her life. The bones will often highlight or focus on a problem that requires attention and that may have been ignored or denied.
The healer is attentive to the fact that there is always free will and that anything can be changed. Rituals can be offered to the spirit world to correct almost any eventuality. Bone readings are usually concerned with helping people deal with their current dilemmas – marital discord, money trouble, and other problems. But the bones also can warn a person not to take an upcoming journey, and they can highlight a past event that has bearing on the present. The future can always change because of free will brought to bear on the present moment. Far- reaching and accurate prophecies are sometimes suspect since free will is ever-present to shift the variables and alter the future.
Since the information transmitted from the Field to the bones is not localized in space and time the readings can be done by phone or sent by email. The questions are sent ahead of time in the form of ; "how does it look for ....??"
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