In Africa the cradle of humankind there are many forms of shamanic practices. In central Africa Dogon (Mali), sorcerers (both male and female) claim to have communication with a head diety named Ama, who advises them on healing and divinatory practices. Traditional healers in parts of Africa were often referred to in a derogatory manner as "witch doctors" practicing Juju. The San or Bushmen ancestors, who were primarily scattered in Southern Africa, practiced a practice similar to shamanism. In areas in Eastern Free State and Lesotho, where they co-existed with the early Sotho tribes, local folklore describes them to have lived in caves where they drew pictures on cave walls during a trance and were also reputed to be good rain makers. Zulu Sangoma (Shaman), Pondo shamans and the Kalahari San. The !X? people of southern Africa were both animistic and animatistic; they believed in both personifications and impersonal forces. For Vodou (spirit) healers, (Houngan male or Mambo, female) individual sickness or social disease is the result of lack of harmony arises from either: Spiritual intrusions - perceived as energies foreign to a person which have been introduced into his energy system, where their detrimental impact is experienced as illness or Soul loss - where certain traumatic events or willful actions result in a severe loss of power which, will ultimately create illness (zombi). They use their healing spirits, sacrifice to appease or empower the spirits. or cornmeal, an egg, rum, or water. Iboga is the visionary root of African Shamanism
Sangomas of Southern Africa
Sangomas are the traditional healers in the Zulu, Swazi, Xhosa and Ndebele traditions in southern Africa. They perform a holistic and symbolic form of healing, embedded in the beliefs of their culture that ancestors in the afterlife guide and protect the living. Sangomas are called to heal, and through them ancestors from the spirit world can give instruction and advice to heal illness, social disharmony and spiritual difficulties. Sangomas have many different social and political roles in the community: divination, healing, directing rituals, finding lost cattle, protecting warriors, counteracting witches, and narrating the history, cosmology, and myths of their tradition. They are highly revered and respected in their society, where illness is thought to be caused by witchcraft, pollution (contact with impure objects or occurrences) or by the ancestors themselves, either malevolently, or through neglect if they are not respected, or to show an individual her calling to be a Sangoma. For harmony between the living and the dead, vital for a trouble-free life, the ancestors must be shown respect through ritual and animal sacrifice. A Sangoma is called to heal by an initiation illness, often psychosis, headache, intractable stomach pain, shoulder or neck complaints. She will undergo Thwasa, a period of training including learning humility to the ancestors, purification through steaming, washing in the blood of sacrificed animals, and the use of Muti, medicines with spiritual significance. At the end of Thwasa, a goat is sacrificed to call to the ancestors and appease them.
Sangomas are steeped in ritual. They work in a sacred healing hut or Ndumba, where their ancestors reside. They have specific coloured cloths to wear to please each ancestor, and often wear the gallbladder of the goat sacrificed at their graduation ceremony in their hair. They summon the ancestors by burning a plant called Imphepho, dancing, chanting, and most importantly playing drums. Sangomas are able to access advice and guidance from the ancestors for their patients in three ways: possession by an ancestor, or channelling; throwing bones; and interpreting dreams. In possession states the Sangoma works herself into a trance, through drumming, dancing and chanting, and allows her ego to step aside so an ancestor possesses her body and communicates directly...