Sunday, April 19, 2015

This weeks blog is on reverence towards the helping spirits 

Reverence for the ancestors is very much part of the Thwasa’s training and will continue throughout the sangoma's life. When entering the ndumba where the ancestors reside, many sangomas take off their shoes, bow down on entering, and clap twice as a greeting. Pahla, or praying, is done kneeling down, and each sentence is punctuated by a clapping of hands. Spirit guides prefer prayers to be made out loud though silent ones work almost as well. In some traditions there is no walking in the ndumba; instead the healer will hobble forward on her or his knees out of respect. Tobacco, preferably home-grown, is a frequent offering used in rituals. The plant mpepo  (helichrysum) is burned to attract the attention of the ancestors and show gratitude. This is similar to how Native Americans use sage. 

Boophane disticha (amaryllis)

         Many tribes have an amaryllis plant in the homestead where the ancestors reside, and offerings will be made to this plant while holding conversation with the spirits. They may check in with the plant on arriving or leaving to report and to ask the ancestors for favors and safety along the way. Depending on the tradition, a tree, a forked branch planted in the ground, or even river stones may be used in the same way. Trees are important, and some traditions support the idea of a “trouble” tree to which someone can go and tell one’s troubles, walk away, not look back and not revisit those issues again.

Since the ancestors cannot communicate with the living in the normal way, special techniques to “bridge the field” are required. Thwasa initiates will drink foam or bubbles made of water mixed with special muti, which is soul food for the spirits. By spiritually "feeding" the spirits, one draws the ancestors near. The ancestors are always fed when there is a ritual involving food or sacrifice. Libations of sorghum beer or regular beer or wine may be offered as well. 
An ancestral altar is a more Western way of relating to the ancestors where one can go and give thanks and make requests. Because of free will requests need to be highly specific. A dream journal is also a method of maintaining contact. Taking dreams seriously and logging them is a way of showing gratitude for the efforts expended when spirit guides script a dream to help the healer. Gratitude is the ultimate prayer to spirit guides.

No comments:

Post a Comment