Sunday, June 28, 2015

This week's blog reveals important information about the dark side

         Witchcraft and sorcery arise from a heart of envy. Therefore anyone can be a witch or a sorcerer e.g. a spouse who is jealous of her mate or a businessman or politician seeking to eliminate the competition. The trait can be inherited. A distinction should be made between Wicca or white witchcraft and dark witches. Here it will be used to refer to someone who uses occult forces for evil. 

The general term, witchdoctor, which is sometimes used by whites in South Africa to embrace all traditional healers, is not only inaccurate but demeaning and insulting. Most sangomas work on the light side for the sake of good and not bad. 
Witches in African tradition are regarded as a necessary depravity. Jungian philosophy and Kabbalah believe the same thing about the dark side. There can be no good without bad, no rose without a thorn.
Witches and sorcerers work with the help of evil spirits. They too have real power and are able to manipulate the "Field" which is non-denominational, or spiritually neutral. Evil messages go through the "Field" just as effectively as do healing ones. Illness and misfortune can occur because of hexes imposed by these malevolent people. 
         In the West we tend to disbelieve in witchcraft and consider it a primitive idea. However, witchcraft also abounds in the West in many different forms, including the more “primitive” variety described above. The employee who undermines his competition by innuendo, gossip, and back-stabbing is practicing witchcraft just as effectively as someone in Africa using noxious potions. Witchcraft, like jealousy, is universal. There are only ten commandments, and one of them is to not covet your neighbor anything that belongs to your neighbor. This commandment strikes at the root of witchcraft and sorcery. 

Kabbalah describes the “evil eye,” which is synonymous with evil intention or witchcraft.  Just thinking harmful thoughts about someone can have a noxious effect.  Kabbalah’s concept of the “evil tongue” we would label gossip. There is a fable about a rabbi who was seen by someone from his congregation taking fruit from a stall in the market. This fellow spread the word that their rabbi was a thief and the rabbi was excommunicated. The man responsible for the rabbi’s plight felt guilty about what he had done and went to speak to the rabbi. When he told him what he had seen in the market, the rabbi informed him that the stall from which he had taken the fruit belonged to his brother-in-law who had given him permission to take whatever he wanted. The man apologized and asked how he could make amends. The rabbi instructed him to take a piece of paper, tear it up into a thousand pieces, go to the highest hill in the village and toss the pieces into the wind. When asked if that would be enough to atone for what he had done, the rabbi replied, “No, you must now go and pick up all the pieces. The “evil tongue,” which many use to a greater or lesser extent, is another form of witchcraft. The media are common perpetrators.
Sorcerers and witches also use herbs, poisons and body exuviae of their victims (hair, nails, urine, and so on).  The Law of Contagion states that once two things are in contact they can affect one another. Hence the importance of exuviae for sorcery. The hair or nail from the victim can be used with harmful medicines to cause illness or even death.
         Witches use “familiars” which they ride or send to perform their treacherous deeds. Familiars in Africa include spotted hyenas, baboons, polecats, weasels, genets, wildcats, snakes, owls, and bats. Witches can manipulate these animals to their own advantage e.g. a snake positioned where it can bite a targeted victim. Witches are also said to sometimes ride these animals to transport their spirits. The tokolosh (English) or thikoloshe is a dwarflike being with one buttock and oversized genitals, and witches are said to use them as sexual consorts.  The Tokolosh cannot climb, and hence many Africans, to protect themselves from intrusions at night, will raise their beds up on several bricks.
 Homesteads and people affected can be protected from witches by various rituals and medicinal plants. There is no curse that cannot be remedied but in order to reverse it the diagnosis of the problem must be forthcoming. Divination bones will reveal the answer. This is why the witch typically chooses to be "the traitor in the gates" and would prefer no one know they are a witch so there nefarious deeds go unchecked. The belief that witchcraft only works on people who believe in it is incorrect. Just as distant healing can work without the knowledge of the person who is being healed the same is true for distant hexing.
Historically before the arrival of white Europeans in the African interior, witches and sorcerers were used as scapegoats, sniffed out and eliminated much as they were in the middle ages by the church. In this way unfavorable events, such as drought, could be blamed on the witch and be "officially corrected."

"Pollution" occurs as a result of contact with some occurrence or phenomenon that is impure and is recognized by the Zulu as “Dirt” or “Dirty.” Some causes of energetic pollution or ritual impurity are similar to those sited in the Old Testament especially around issues of blood or death. They include menses and sex during menses, pregnancy, miscarriages, abortions, birth (especially of twins,) attending a dead person and eating the meat of an animal that died of disease or old age. To some Africans pork is ritually unclean. Pollution can also result from illness, taking a journey and by having certain objects that have been subjected to negative influences.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

More general musings on Sangoma Wisdom

To the sangoma, each helper spirit, foreign or ancestral has a role to play. One may assist the sangoma in divining, another with plant remedies and yet a third may want to come and dance. Others may be able to manage financial and business affairs. Depending on the talent of the spirit the knowledge of the sangoma will vary. Some have more powerful ancestors than others. A sangoma's expertise is reflective of the effectiveness as his or her spirit guides. Usually the ancestor assists the channel with the abilities he or she had when alive. My ancestor who helps with the bones was a sangoma in her previous life.

Although sangomas usually work on the light and not the dark side (as witches do), they are frequently called to consult about problems related to witchcraft. They have to know how to counteract hexes and also have to protect themselves and their homesteads from witches’ antics which sometimes can even involve attempts at poisoning. Sangomas have remedies for their patients and themselves if they are concerned about witchcraft. Witches are known to consult sangomas not only for help but also to uncover their secrets so they can work more effectively against their competition. 

Causes of illness include the ancestors, intrusive spirits, witchcraft or sorcery, and energetic pollution or ritual impurity.
Illness can also just be physical without a clear explanation or may come directly from the Creator. Even benevolent ancestors may indirectly cause illness by turning away from their progeny. If the ancestors feel they are being ignored, they may cause harm by omission rather than commission. In feeling neglected they may abandon their loved ones and no longer afford them protection. Sometimes an ancestor may want a loved one to join him on the other side, which can result in sickness. Otherwise they may cause the Thwasa or "calling" sickness to get the future initiate's attention to be a healer.

Malevolent ancestors, and especially vindictive foreign spirits who may have been wronged, can also cause illness, misfortune, accidents and even death for the descendants of those who have wronged them. All these possibilities can be counteracted by the right prayers, rituals, muti and in severe cases animal sacrifices. Ancestors who have turned away can be encouraged to return and defend their descendants against malicious or intruding spirits. In addition the sangoma's helper spirits will attend to the malady. Illness is therefore frequently connected to human relationships between the living and the dead. However, if these relationships are perfectly functional and healthy, the sangoma will look to witchcraft or sorcery and pollution for the cause of the problem. Diagnoses are made with the help of trance-channeling (possession,) dreams, divination and Femba,. There is usually a remedy for any dilemma.

         Femba, the equivalent of psychic diagnosis and surgery, is used to get rid of malevolent or intruding spirits or energies that are getting in the way of a person’s progress in life.  Houses or dwellings of any sort, farms, garments, belongings, cars and businesses can be spiritually cleansed by Femba. Femba not only involves exorcism of malevolent spirits but can also be a reconditioning of the spirit body to eliminate illness, imbalance, or a block in energy flow.

Author undergoing Femba during his initiation to clear an intrusive entity.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

This weeks blog has more on the Cosmic Field

The cosmic Field is a vibrational energy reservoir through which signals pass back and forth across a veil of illusion. We could divide these unseen messages that traverse the Field simply into Knowable and Unknowable. Light, sound, radio, TV, electromagnetic pulses, and chemicals as subtle as pheromones are some of the Knowable signals that travel through the Field. 
The Unknowable forces include paranormal and healing energies that most scientists feel have not been proven, adequately defined or measured. Nevertheless more and more of these phenomena are being shown to be verifiable. Sangomas are masters of the Field, which they call the ancestral realm. Many of these “unknowable” aspects are well known to them. With the help of drumming, dancing and chants, the sangoma can enter this realm where their spirit guides dwell. This Field is encompassed by the Creator and the ancestors are said to work as intermediaries between us and the Divine. Remote healing comes from energy channeled through the ancestors to the healer and through the healer to the patient. This is sometimes called universal healing energy which is just God's love in disguise.

Westerners may have difficulty in conceding there are  communications from our spirit guides both in the day and at night in dreams. I prefer to think of the information from the Field, in whatever form it occurs, as arising from the “Cosmic Triad” which consists of the Causal realm, the Astral realm and the Higher Self.

The first part of the triad is our higher Self, (true Self, real Self or soul,) and our subconscious or psyche which is also able to glean non local information from the Field. To the extent that one masters Kundalini energy and is able to "open" the sixth chakra or third eye, this is more likely to happen.

The second source are the Astral realms where we go to reconcile with our karma before we reincarnate unless we choose to stay for a while and do service as a spirit guide. This can improve the quality of the next incarnation. Jungian analysts might refer to this source as being the collective unconscious or the archetypal world although some may place this information as coming from the psyche. This knowledge is likely to be very practical; instructions, warnings, nudgings etc

The third source would be attributed to a higher vibration of spirit guides and there would be a matching hierarchy of illumination coming from here. The Causal realm is where enlightened beings reside who may impart teachings on spiritual transformation. These sources could be sages, saints, bodisatvas, gurus and others. These spirits do not have to reincarnate unless they choose to. Most of us do not have access to this type of instruction which is often imparted to us by others. 
However, we all can glean help from our Astral spirit guides.
We should also recognize that there are multiple vibrations depending on our level of spiritual development and hence countless realms. The above is an oversimplification.

The San and the Bantu are still much closer to their original primal selves than we are. In the West, we are victims of our religion, education, culture, and conditioning.  We are unable to fathom how disconnected we are from our primeval humanness. This is both good and bad. Our Western education has brought us many technological marvels, but we have paid a  price for them. Africa on the other hand has aboriginal psycho-spiritual technology that we are only now beginning to appreciate. We need to recognize how much we have forfeited and how much we can learn from native peoples who are still in touch with their original energies and can access these realms with such ease. We invent fancy names for mystical phenomena, such as coherence, physiological arousal, cathartic conversion experience, congruence, medical intuitive, distant mental influence on biological systems.  African healers laugh at us. They have known these principles in more simple terms for eons. In fact theirs is the original medicine. We should call our standard allopathic techniques complementary and alternative. We are going back to what we once knew.
In order to access mystical spaces we have to challenge ourselves and go beyond our fears. We can remain ordinary and keep sailing our boats around and around in the confined harbor of our discontent. Or we can make a leap of faith and sail out of the harbor into the ocean of the spirit world which is also represented often as the ocean. We can become our own unique wave co-mingling in the  vast ocean of the Divine mystery. It may not be easy and it may at times not even be enjoyable. When we return to the jetty we feel different, we are not the same, we are no longer alone, we belong.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

This week's blog discusses some aspects of Kundalini and the sangoma

One of the key factors during a sangoma's initiation is mobilization of the Yoga concept of a feminine, Shakti, snake like, Kundalini energy. The Zulus call this energy Umbilini. In Southern Africa this is done with drumming and dancing. All tribal South Africans acknowledge a feminine force which resides in the lower belly and is key to spiritual power and fertility. Sangomas going into trance can be seen to be having a Kundalini experience. Their bodies shiver and shake prior to the entry and channeling by the spirit guide. 

Depiction of the Yoga system of Chakras.
The Kundalini is coiled around the lower spine like a serpent.

Anyone undergoing the "calling" or Thwasa sickness may exhibit physical symptoms that are a manifestation of similar dramatic energy shifts in and around the body’s energy system as a result of being, in a sense, "possessed" by spirit guides. The symptoms may take many forms but often come as severe headaches, neck aches, migraines or pains in different parts of the body. At times the adept, may hear voices, see white light, have strange dreams and even feel there is a serpent at the bottom of his spine. The sensations can be disabling and make the initiate feel she is going insane. 
A Westerner undergoing these sudden explosions of energy would consult a psychiatrist and be given medication which would eradicate the whole experience and impair any spiritual awakening.  The Yogi or Buddhist might seek out a guru to help direct the energy in a positive way. The guru would understand that the powerful energy moving in the disciple was part of the enlightenment process. 
An traditional Bantu (this collective word embraces all South African tribes) would seek out a sangoma who would diagnose the “ancestor illness” and recommend Thwasa. 
One might question if the sangoma, because of a cultural bias, has mistaken “possession” by the ancestors for what is simply a Kundalini phenomenon or possibly even psychosis. On the other hand are the Yogis and Buddhists disregarding the importance of an ancestral realm and how best to access it? Are they ignoring it or are they spiritually fearful of this possible vital source of guidance coming from the Astral rather than from the higher Causal realms? 
The Bantu have a greater appreciation of the ancestors and therefore open up to them with the help of the Kundalini. They guide their people by accessing valuable non local information. 
The Yogi enters Samadhi and the Field for the purpose of enlightenment and self-realization. Both groups use the same mechanism, but each has a different focus. The sangomas cannot afford the luxury of prolonged ecstatic states and navigating higher realms for the purpose of enlightenment. However, in their own way they may have realized Self. Above all they have an obligation to work for their people as visionaries and healers. They still have to chop wood, carry water, take care of the children, cook the meals and attend to homestead tasks. They live very much in the workaday world of Africa. 

Depiction of Bushmen rock art showing the energy they call Num (Kundalini or Umbilini) vibrating up the spine. The healer is going into trance.

The common principle remains—the Kundalini is the gateway to the cosmic mystery and the miraculous in whatever way the individual nurtures it.  Kundalini awakening is a normal manifestation of spiritual growth, as is the calling from the ancestors to heal. We must be careful not to label these manifestations in traditional healers as psychopathology. Hearing voices and seeing visions can also be regarded as auditory and visual hallucinations and may be labeled psychotic. Sangomas are anything but psychotic. They are highly charismatic and influential people who are the cornerstones of their communities.