Initiation rituals of traditional healers in South Africa.
In South Africa, when you are ill do not always go to the doctor. On all occasions there are herbalists, midwives, faith healers, soothsayers and others. Now in Africa there are about 200 000 traditional healers, and only 25 000 doctors working according to the canons of Western medicine.
Photo: 50-year-old Sangoma Chris Ntombela (Chris Ntombemhlophe Reid) Lusikisiki district, the first white Sangoma in the region. In the hands of the Chris — a whip and a stick with a cow’s tail at the end to help him in healing and serve as a means of spiritual connection with the ancestors
Among the most learned healers are considered to be “obsessed” — those who are elected by the ancestors to obtain the spiritual calling. They are usually called Sangoma or inyanga, but each culture has their own terminology.
Do not confuse Sangoma with sorcerers (those in South Africa do not really favor). Sangoma diagnose illnesses, prescribe and prepare medicines from herbs, advise and even provide spiritual support. Many people, seeking to learn the art of Sangoma, are initiated for a few years, becoming an assistant or apprentice practitioners of the healer. Stages of learning a few, and they are all connected with the special rites and observance of the rules.
It is about this photo essay German photojournalist from Israel by Corinna Kern. In 2014, she recorded all the details of the long and arduous ceremonies of initiation.
Helping Sangoma Camaguey in the ceremony, Chris breathes in the smoke of the sacred African plant mphepho. It is used of Sangoma for cleansing the spirit, communication with the ancestors and spiritual protection
Chris covers the hands of his spiritual daughters, Tatamba drug powder consisting of mineral, animal and vegetable substances. To get rid of all the bad that was in a previous life, the girl needs to lick of the powder with the back of the hand, and the remnants sprinkle the shoulders
Cantata, assistant Sangoma, prepares a special wood for a ceremony
Tatamba welcomed the kiss, his spiritual sister, Womanimage, bearing on his head a box with three chickens who will need in the upcoming ceremony
Chris goes for a swim in the river. Rural areas more attractive for Sangoma and their students than the city, exposed to Western influence
The day before the initiation ceremony, when the girl is a student of Sangoma. Today is the last day, when she is allowed to wear sunglasses, colored shoes and clothes
Chris leads a new student and the members of his spiritual family in the woods to hold a ceremony of initiation. There she will receive the crown of leaves and two sticks, which are made from a type of wood and are used for spiritual connection with the ancestors
Applicant waits until the members of her new spiritual family collect the attributes required for the initiation
Selfie in the red headdress and white beads. Things beaded, made by girl is a part of future apparel student. White robes symbolize the bones of ancestors, and serve as spiritual protection
During the initiation the disciple meditates with two hens under his arms. The third hen is sitting on her head before the bird sacrifice, the ancestors have to take the offering. South African shamans, as with the Javanese, the sacrifices are an integral part of many rituals in this ceremony they tie ancestors apprentice with the ancestors of her new spiritual family. In the background, singing and dancing of Sangoma
Girl, you must drink the contents of the gallbladder of birds sacrificed. This part of the process of spiritual purification and transformation from the “old and sick” person into a new one. Headdress of feathers to wear as new clothes to the following ceremonies leading up to the second stage of training
The face of a student covered by the blood of dead animals
Igwemba ceremony marks the beginning of the second stage: instead of white clothes, symbolizing the bones of the ancestors, the students wear red — a symbol of blood, and the simple wooden sticks are replaced with a spear of sacrifice and traditional fighting stick
On the morning of the ceremony Cantata performs a dance with rattles on his feet. Physical exhaustion and sleep deprivation are part of the path of Sangoma to spirituality, so the rituals often last for several days. Traditional dances, drums and singing contribute to the introduction into the state of trance
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