More about "Dem Bones"
Traditionally the divination bones are thrown in a sacred space dedicated to the ancestors and or the spirit guides presiding. The healing hut which is round is called an ndumba. It has wooden roof supports radiating outward and downward from a central point on the dome. The roof is made of thatch. The supports have a symbolic meaning, namely that all sub-Saharan African tribes have a common root in spite of the plethora of different cultures in this vast continent. The central point on the roof of the ndumba represents the original source from which they all arose. Belief in the ancestors is one of the most important common denominators permeating the multitude of traditions in Africa.
The reading of the bones is quite complex depending on which were in the front on the mat, which way they lay, where they pointed, which other bones were nearby and even which compass direction they faced. The bones when thrown by the client or healer do not fall in a random fashion but rather in a non random selected pattern and this dynamic is controlled by the energy field of the guiding spirit. Since the inyanga is reading the waking dream that is the client's life the reading is very democratic and the sangoma will ask; "do you agree?" The client is the final arbitrator of the bone's meaning. For instance money and energy are both designated to the same objects, usually coins. The sangoma might say you are losing money when the problem is that the client is exhausted or burned out. The many polarities representing the persons cosmology are represented not only by small animal bones but other objects as well. These can be dictated by the spirit guide, custom or even the sangoma's own choice. The sangoma of course must explain to the ancestor what the intention for that object is.
Experiments at Princeton University (Princeton Engineering Anomalies Laboratory, or PEAL) have shown that human thoughts alone can influence a machine called a Random Numbers (or Events) Generator (RNG). Shifts in the random numbers can even occur if the intention is sent by the individual miles away from the machine and at varying times before or after the machine is turned on.
Similarly robots that move along a fixed predetermined path can also be made to change their programmed route by an outside observer by intention. Quantum physics has taught us that the observer has an affect on the way quantum particles behave. A similar Field of “coherence” may be occurring with the divining bones. The intention of the diviner, the patient, and the ancestors or some force field may change the way the bones lie when they fall. This makes for a highly accurate reading if the sangoma is competent.
When a student begins training or Thwasa, the first step usually is to bring out the ancestral spirit with the use of drums. However, during my initiation P.H. Mntshali, my mentor, had been instructed by my ancestors to first make me a master of the bones and that is where he began. It was implicit that Mpofu, my guide, was always present to help me with the pattern and the interpretation. In fact it was her energy that would “throw” the bones. She would be learning the methods and metaphors P.H. used with his bones even though maybe when she was alive and practicing as a sangoma hers may have been different. Although an expert in her past life she would be paying attention to P.H.'s system while I the neophyte was beginning from scratch. My work would be to read her message. P.H. explained that when someone came for advice, the sangoma did not know what was needed. The ancestors guide in helping this person through the bones by showing the sangoma the correct display.