Throwing the Bones
Sangoma’s are consulted with by the traditional method of reading or divination known as ‘ukuhlola’; this involves different methods of contact with the ancestral spirits which the Sangoma is connected with and called by to do the Sangoma’s work, enabling the Sangoma to channel the messages to the client or patient. The most well known and accepted form of this reading is the ‘throwing of bones’ in the presence of the Sangoma’s ancestors and the clients ancestors, who will respond to the bones thrown with messages for the client; but there are also other methods such as direct spontaneous channeling after the calling of the ancestors, ceremonial channeling, medicinal gourds, and the ‘streaming’ of uninterrupted channeling after the burning of ‘Impepho’ (a sacred herb burnt to call the ancestors).
The reading is a diagnostic tool for the Sangoma, enabling the Sangoma to ‘see’ through the ancestor’s eyes what is wrong with the client. The ancestors talk to the Sangoma and tell the Sangoma what the issues are that the client has come to get help for, from the Sangoma.
Ancestors Spirit Guidance
Once the issues have been brought out and revealed it is then discussed with the Sangoma and ‘ancestors’ what should be done to heal or remedy the issue. This can involve anything from healing medicines prepared by the Sangoma, to ancestor’s rituals, healing ritual, energy work, Sangoma ceremony, or on going counseling from the Sangoma.
The Sangoma will look at all areas of a persons life under guidance of the ancestors so that physical, emotional, mental and spiritual influence is all examined in regards to the issues being dealt with. The work and reading of the Sangoma is a holistic approach, guided by the ‘seeing and hearing’ ancestors, whose view on the situation is much larger, expanded, heart sourced and soul/spirit encompassing than perhaps the clients. This often leads to a profound awakening for clients who consult with a Sangoma.
All of this is done by the Sangoma with great reverence for the ancestral spirits they work with and the ancestral lineage in to which they are initiated and where their teachings and empowerment to work come from, ancestral lineage being; “Sangoma Elder lineage is; Sangoma teachings and spirit that come from the Sangoma which was the mentor or teacher for an initiate, and then the teachers, teachers and mentors, as far back as the lineage stretches, mothers, fathers and grand parents who were Sangoma’s of that lineage carrying the Sangoma mentorship, frequency, vibration and empowerment. No Sangoma ever stands alone”. – Sangoma Makhosi Sarah Wager.
This means that each Sangoma is asked to recognise and show humility that behind them stands generations of Sangoma’s who walked before them handing down their experience and teaching to each new generation with the connection to the lineage. To disrespect or damage this lineage through inappropriate actions is seen as a ‘taboo’ and can result in the offending Sangoma being separated from their lineage.
So, in fact when an individual consults a Sangoma; they are benefitting from the wisdom and expanded perspective of the ancestral spirits and the experience of generations of Sangoma’s.