Saturday, May 2, 2015

Musings on the Sangoma path

As this particular blog on sangoma wisdom comes gradually to an end the next few blogs will discuss some personal impressions gleaned along the way of my sangoma walk.

Painting by Paul Cumes

As Westerners we lack the words and rituals that could assist us in connecting with the afterworld. Language to describe these phenomena must be appropriate to each person’s culture, belief system, and education. Semantics can offend and confuse, and we must choose words that reflect what each one of us feels to be true. We are the knowers, who explicate reality, matter, the physical, the microcosm—the ones below who exist in body in this world and in the here and now. However, there is also a Field: a world of spirit, the implicate reality, infinity, the macrocosm, the world above, the void, the imaginal realm, the cosmic infinity, the dream time, the unknown, the ancestors, and the collective unconscious. As sentient beings we need to find a way to relate to the great mystery above, around, and beneath us. Even if we do not understand it, by knowing some passwords and a few simple rules we can enrich our lives. We will all access these realms in different ways. 

Ancestral reverence and the different healing techniques I’ve described are highly valued in African society and have been in force for eons. Sangomas are able to communicate with the dead. This phenomenon is quite alien to Western thinking, and is often dismissed and even ridiculed. Yet dead spirits may play a much bigger role in our health, wealth, and happiness than we may think. The dead are not really dead, and it behooves us to come into some sort of relationship with our loved ones who have passed on.  They have merely gone out of one doorway and through another into a realm we are able to reach, but only with difficulty and diligence.

 A lengthy study over many decades by John Hopkins Medical Center on 1337 medical students that were followed well into the maturity of their respective careers showed some interesting findings. They discovered that those physicians who developed cancer had much lower scores on “Closeness to Parents” scale. As Westerners we might say that the parent’s love created balance, stability and meaning and facilitated good health in the child that lasted a lifetime.  African belief, however, may have attributed the progeny’s good health to the dead parents’ and the grandparents’ protective spirits.  The commandment to honor they father and mother adds, 
“…that thy days may be long upon the earth.”
and is the only commandment that speaks to longevity.
Both notions, psychological and mystical, may be true.

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