A divination bones consultation with a sangoma or inyanga.
There is a protocol for consultation with any sangoma or inyanga. The consultation takes place in an ndumba, a sacred healing hut where the ancestors or spirit guides preside. The ritual varies from sangoma to sangoma but first, you must take off your shoes. Traditionally as the client enters he or she kneels down and claps twice to greet the spirits. The client places a fee under a grass mat, and a rattle is shaken or a chant intoned to call the spirits. Sometimes the healer will make a burnt offering of mpepo - a plant with a pleasant smell - this is similar to how sage is used in Native American tradition. Some sangomas with a Christian bent may light candles. Ancestors have the advantage of not being localized in space and time and can provide information not readily available to those of us bound to a space-time reality.
The healer’s bones are contained in a skin bag. The "bones" comprise various small animal bones as well as other objects.The healer asks the client to pick up the bones and put them into the bag. The client places a pinch of tobacco in the bag or the sangoma may sprinkle the offering on the mat. Customs vary depending on the healer’s training or the idiosyncrasies of the spirit who is “throwing the bones” for the healer. The client shakes the bag of bones, blows into the opening of the bag, states his or her name, and empties the bones on the mat.
The first throw is general in scope: it defines any problems the patient may have in terms of health or any other facet of the human condition—work, money, home, spouse, children, the presence of intrusive energies or spirits, sorcery, unhappy ancestors, and other situations affecting the cosmology of the client, her family or connected others. There is a bone or object for just about every polarity of the patient’s psycho-socio-spiritual state of being.
After the sangoma performs a general reading, the client asks specific questions, each of which is answered by a separate throw of the bones. Questions have to be specific and a good format is; "how does it look for this or that?" Because of free will the spirits cannot tell you what to do, as in the question; "what should I do with my life?" One rather has to ask; "what about this ...?" Then they will answer yes or no or state the pros and cons with reference to one's cosmology. Once the relationship between the client and the bones has been energetically established the sangoma may choose to throw the bones or ask the client to throw them using cupped hands.
The bones make the diagnosis. For treatment rituals may be done or recommended usually with the help of medicinal plants There is a remedy for every eventuality; health, luck, relationship ridding negative entities etc. Once the healing is completed, the sacred space may be closed by kneeling down again and clapping in appreciation to the spirits before leaving the ndumba.