This week's blog is on the different rolls that animals play in the sangoma's work (apologies for the strange fonts displayed on last week's blog on witchcraft. Not unexpectedly, I was unable to change it.)
The divining animal bones of the sangoma are not strictly all bones but comprise shells, money, seeds, dice, domino-like objects or even dominos themselves and other objects that have been appointed by the sangoma and the spirit to represent certain polarities. Small animal bones from lions, hyenas, anteaters, baboons, crocodiles, wild pigs, goats, antelopes and others form the large majority of the objects in the sangoma’s bag, and there are bones for all psycho-socio-spiritual polarities. The bones represent all of the forces that affect any human being anywhere, whatever their culture. The primal energies and attributes the animals represent hold enormous power. For example, the hyena represents the thief that comes in the night, and a hyena bone is often used to locate a stolen object. The anteater is the animal that “digs the grave” and an anteater bone may be used where death is concerned, or it may represent a deceased person's spirit. Each animal has its own unique energy which in a sense helps the diviner with interpretation and possibly also facilitates the expertise of the presiding spirit who "throws" them in a readable non random fashion. Sometimes it seems as if the bones themselves know how to fall and where to go. The bones, like the spirit guide, provide information not localized in space and time. The sangoma may be able to tell you about a loved one who is having difficulties thousands of miles or see challenges with a journey that the client is about to take to a foreign country (not localized in space.) Moreover, she may be able to tell the client about something that happened to them as a child that is now impacting his life (not localized in time.) Essentially the diviner is reading the waking dream that is one's life cosmology that is displayed on the mat. The bones are the psycho-socio-spiritual CT. scan of the diviner. However, the interpretation of the dream is very democratic and the sangoma may ask the client if he or she agrees. If not the interpretation will change accordingly.
Baboon in African tradition represents the trickster and small bones from the animal may be used to represent the dark forces or tricksters
Experiments at Princeton University (Princeton Engineering Anomalies Laboratory, or PEAL) have shown that human thoughts can influence a computer called a Random Numbers (or Events) Generator (RNG), not only in the present but also in the past and in the future. Shifts in the random numbers can even occur if the projected thoughts are sent by individuals miles away from the machine. Robots that move along a fixed predetermined path can also be made to change their programmed route by the intention alone of an outside observer. 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 from the Field may change the way the bones lie when they fall. This means that the throw is not random, but instead is predetermined by the spirit that presides.
The dead can also communicate with the living not only by means of spirit mediumship, dreams, and divining bones but also by using animals. Among the Zulu, snakes feature prominently, especially mambas and pythons. The python is usually a favorable message from the beyond, the mamba a warning. Some diviners have communication with the ancestors through a spirit animal (intyala), which can come in the form of a lion, leopard, or elephant and to which due respect must be accorded. Individuals, especially in days past, who seem to have control of animals like snakes, lions etc. would be labeled a snake sangoma or lion sangoma and be acknowledged for this unique power and ability. Animal medicine also features prominently amongst the "mutis" dispensed and as with plants conforms to the Law of Similars or Signatures ie. that things that resemble one another can affect one another, in other words that like can affect like. In this way fat from a lion may be used for courage and parts of a mamba to counteract witchcraft.