What is an African Traditional Healer or a Sangoma?

What is an African Traditional Healer or a Sangoma?

As an African Traditional healer, African Shaman or Sangoma, there are various roles that you can be called to. In my lineage and some others, I was trained in a number of roles, and the roles sometimes cross over.

Gogo M praying

A Sangoma is mainly a spiritual healer that is consulted by anyone with any issue be it health, money, work, social, family or love problems. They are sought out to consult the oracle of the Bones i.e. to read the Bones and divine what is causing the problem and how it can be corrected. The Sangoma may apply various methods in restoring mental, physical and spiritual health and balance.  I will write more about that in future posts.

The different healers or healing roles.

Sangoma – meaning  “from the drum” – a drum person. One who works in a trance state and communicates to the ancestors on your behalf, calls in the spirits and uses their assistance in divination’s, reading oracles such as bones and diagnoses what may be the cause of your illness. A Sangoma is able to access and use the energy of “umbilini” for divination’s and healing. It is similar to “Kundalini”, “Chi” or life force. This energy is accessed in trance states which can be spontaneous or invoked by drumming and dancing. They are also trained in the use of magical aspects of muthi (medicine) to cast “spells” for healing, luck and protection .They are also trained in reversing bad spells or bad luck. They also clean people and their ancestors to facilitate healing and harmony. In my opinion a Sangoma’s work is mostly about cleaning up. We are always cleaning away hindrances in people’s lives that prevent them from thriving.

Inyanga – A medicine person that mostly heals physical ailments, but also mental or spiritual illness, with plant medicines (Muthi). A moon person. They learn many rituals around harvesting and preparing muthi or medicines. The rituals are connected to nature cycles and energies such as the full moon cycles and seasons and when is the right time to collect and prepare certain medicines. They also learn about the power places in and on the earth and where certain medicines can be found and will be protectors of these secrets. Sometimes known as a witch doctor if they work dark or harmful magic.

Witch Doctors – The term is sometimes used as slang for Sangomas or Inyangas. In certain tribes there are witch doctors who are allowed to live outside the villages and work their magic. They are warned that if anyone in the village comes to harm or if the village is harmed, they and their whole house will be burned to death.

Prophets – They heal with water rituals, holy or blessed water, candles & prayer and through “washing”. Washing can mean washing or cleansing with muthi, baptism, or washing in the rivers or oceans. They are called by very specific dreams and visions.

Sanusi – the higher aspect of an Inyanga/Sangoma – one who works to ascend or uplift the spiritual energies of a group, nation or land, and direct them. A keeper of wisdom and seer of higher or hidden things. Keepers of traditional history, culture, art, myth, legend and music. Keeper of sacred artifacts and talismans. Holds knowledge of sacred sites and the spirits that dwell there. Can access the deep medicine in the earth and on the planet. Communicator with plants and animals and spirits.    (Credo Mutwa: Song of the Stars / Zulu Shaman).

Thokoza. Thank you for reading my blog. Please contact me if you have any questions.

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