How To Become A Sangoma
How to become a sangoma: The Sangoma is a central figure in South Africa, and 84 percent of the South African population consult a Sangoma more than three times a year. It was estimated that there are 200 000 practising Sangomas. Many sangomas go into training after an “initiation illness” called the ukuthwasa.
There have been various attempts to categorize traditional African healers.There is a primary distinction between the ancestrally designated diviner or mediator isangoma, and the herbalist or doctor inyanga, who works primarily with herbs and other forms of medication and who has not been called by the ancestors.
Many Sangomas (izangoma; plural of isangoma) or diviners are also herbalists, while many herbalists (izinyanga) practice divination and communicate with their ancestors.
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Basic rituals like collecting firewood and fetching water are part of a sangoma’s path to spirituality since representing the way of life that was practiced by the ancestors. The burning of mphepho is an important part of traditional rituals, such as spiritual cleansing, connecting to the ancestors and protection of people and belongings, for example before journeys.
A trainee puts medicine named ‘khotha’ on the hands of his/her trainer. Khotha consists of a variety of animal, mineral and plant materials and is used to leave the past and bad things behind. After as much as possible is licked off the hands, the rest is symbolically thrown over the shoulders.
The main function of the Sangoma is to heal and protect people in the community. The healing that a Sangoma performs is holistic and symbolic in nature, and thus is powerfully determined by cultural factors.
The three major causes of illness and misfortune that a sangoma seeks to divine and heal are ancestral illnesses, illnesses caused by witchcraft, and those due to “pollution” (ritual impurity), such as menstruation and miscarriage.
The Sangoma is a wanderer of borders and boundaries and confronts within himself/herself the unknown spiritual terrain of the ancestors. The position of the Sangoma at the very limit of the community is both a privileged position and a dangerous one in that the initiation of the Sangoma becomes the death of the old self and the rebirth of a new Sangoma.
The individual is “called” by the ancestors through an initiation illness (ukuthwasa), one of the dangers of liminality. The initiation of the novice is a healing process, during which a relationship with his/her ancestors is forged, enabling the formation of a new identity, turning a citizen who conforms to social norms into a wanderer who explores and goes beyond the established limits.