Middle World Parallel Non Ordinary Version Of Our World

By Viola Woolcott

The middle world is the spiritual dimension of our physical world and it is the world in which we live and breathe. The parallel non-ordinary version of our world. With all its beauty, trickery, strangeness as well as horror it is a world of controlled visionary experience. The world of ordinary reality. A world shadowed by other worlds, so that we may move from one dimension into another it constantly overlaps.

It is the world where vibes, hunches, psychic phenomena, telepathy, thought forms, extra sensory perception, unexplainable things happen. Where disease as well as illness manifest themselves before moving into the physical body. Where psychic healers work and where psychic ‘darts’ are thrown. In a healing ritual, the shaman most often travels to the middle world to gather facts about people, animals and plants, finds lost items or determines who is responsible for crimes or actions which are significant to the condition of the person in need.

The shaman seeks a cure before getting ill. When someone feels ill or dis-spirited they should seek a shaman for advice and to look at their energy field to make sure there is no intrusion or that an intrusion may be removed. Shamans see disease as a result of dis-ease as a result of an invasive force acting against health.

As there is an infinite number of lower worlds, upper worlds and middle worlds, not to mention that time can operate differently there, journeying can be very tricky. You need to be very experienced before attempting the middle world, as it is a very difficult place to navigate.

What Is A Shaman

By Viola Woolcott

The title “Shaman” belongs to many cultures and has been for eons. It originated from the Tungas (extinct Ural-Altaic) language of Siberia where the term Shaman eventually came to be applied to all medicine men and women of indigenous cultures. It refers to a group of traditional beliefs and earth based practises, which have existed throughout the world since prehistoric times.

Shamans denote indigenous healers, divination, visionaries (one who sees‘), spiritual leaders, prophets, therapists and herbalists in tribal societies. They are people who set about to put things right.

Some religious scholars and even some anthropologists describe a Shaman as a “middle man” of the natural as well as the spiritual world we live in. Being able to travel to both the upper and the lower worlds, they travel these worlds when they are in a trance like state. Once they have crossed the bridge into the spirit world, they would interact with the spirits to find guidance. These traditions are said to date back to prehistoric times.

Shamans have also been believed to control the weather, interpret dreams and read astral projections. They have knowledge of other realms of being. They are masters of altered states of consciousness. The cosmology of those regions is the basis of the shamanic perspective and power.

Power is just power – an ability is just an ability. It is what we do with these that makes them good or evil.

Modern Shaman

By Viola Woolcott

The image of the North American Indian, or medicine man is usually conjured up in the mind when one thinks of Shamanism.

Shamanism does still exist today and not only in secluded little villages deep in the woods. A new form of the more traditional Shamanism is taking shape and gaining increasing popularity in the West. The hunger today for spiritual experience and finding meaning in life is enormous.

They had very strong ties in Europe around the time before monotheism. Though Shamanism is still a traditional organised religion in their own right in the cities of Mari-El and Udmurtia, two provinces in Russia. It does exist in other parts of the world as well.

Shamanism is practiced in Siberia of all places. Many people from the Uralic, Altaic and Paleosiberian do continue to practice even in today’s world.

Many hunters and reindeer breeders practiced shamanism as a living tradition in modern times. It was mostly practiced by people who lived in isolated areas. When the People’s Republic of China sealed off the border with Russian Siberia, the Tungas groups that were practicing were confined to the Manchuria and Inner Mongolia. The last of the Shaman in that region died in October in 2000.

Shamanism is still practiced in a lot of locations in Asia. South Korea has shamans but the role of the shaman is mostly filled by women. In Central Asia there is a strong tie to shamanism. The Tibetan Buddhism became associated with the Shamans in places like Tibet, Mongols and Manchu. There were some forms of shamanism that became like an organised religion under the Chinese Yuan and Qing Dynasties. Many people feared shamans in the early 8th century, they believed them to be witches who put spells on people rather than help them. Some people still believe that today.

What Are Spirits Part 1

Submitted by Bob Makransky

Most people rely upon the dictates of their society to know what to do – what they’ve been taught by their parents, teachers, pastors, bosses, advertisers, and the media. Magicians, by contrast, rely upon the counsel of spirits, at least until they’ve got their own intuition and intent operating.

In truth, I don’t know what spirits are; and this is said after twenty years of intimate acquaintance with them. The problem is that we humans tend to impose features of the known upon the unknown. We want to make the unknown familiar and comfortable to deal with. Therefore, we naturally tend to regard spirits in terms that are already familiar to us.

We can’t be wholly objective about them. What I will describe here is my own view of what spirits are, based upon my own interactions with them.

Materialistic science says that spirits don’t exist; but this doesn’t mean that spirits don’t exist. My materialist friends, who reject the existence of spirits, do usually credit my integrity. They don’t question my belief that spirits are communicating with me, but they think that I’m mistaken in my interpretation that the spirits are outside of me rather than parts of my own psyche. However, I do make a distinction between my own thought forms such as inner child, lower self, anima and animus on the one hand; and spirits on the other.

I really don’t know what spirits are, or whether they are inside or outside of us. I do know that every religion and culture in the world except materialistic science is based upon spirit communication.

Christians, for example, often forget that their religion is spiritualistic. Jesus is a spirit; the Virgin Mary is a spirit; and of course the Holy Spirit, needless to say, is a spirit.

When Christians say: “Jesus talks to me and guides me, ” that’s what magicians call channeling. Christians and magicians use different spirits, but the technical basis – communication between spirits and people – is the same in all religions.

Have you ever noticed how rituals in many different religions have basically the same accoutrements? They all tend to take place in darkened rooms with candles and incense smoke, with monotonous chanting or litanies repeated over and over. The reason for this is because spirits themselves like such things: darkness, smoke, repetitive incantations.

Originally, and still today in traditional religions, the purpose of religious ritual was to make contact with the spirit world. Participants enter a light trance state to make them more accessible to spirit messages. Religious rituals originally were magical acts. In the Roman Catholic mass, for example, bread and wine are magically transformed into the body and blood of Jesus.

Recent converts to any religion often experience a high, a state of grace, which usually doesn’t last very long. These epiphanies are gifts of spirits who have the capacity to temporarily lower people’s sense of self-importance and self-pity, which in turn opens their hearts.

This often happens when people are at the end of their rope with nowhere to turn. It’s often at such times of complete desperation that they open to the Spirit and allow grace to descend upon them. This state of grace is channeled through spirit intermediaries such as Jesus, Krishna, or Buddha. This grace is usually temporary because the people still have inner work to do in order to embody the state of grace permanently in their everyday lives.

Spirits can temporarily bestow grace to people who are open to it – usually because they’ve exhausted their own resources. But it’s not the spirits’ job to carry emotional cripples on their backs forever.

Spirits can reveal a temporary glimpse of open-heartedness to animate people to seek such spiritual goals on their own. Having been given a model of what to strive for, it becomes the responsibility of the individual to continue the work begun by the spirits.

Everyone is receiving messages from spirits, both angelic and demonic ones, all the time. However in our society “hearing voices in my head which tell me what to do” means that you’re crazy. Therefore nobody takes a close look at where his or her thoughts are really coming from.

Even people who aren’t consciously aware of receiving messages from spirits nonetheless know that they experience hunches, inspirations, or dream messages that guide them in making decisions. Spirits are the source of these communications.

Moreover, lots of people are possessed by spirits – both angelic and demonic ones, but in our society mostly the latter – whether they know it or not. Spirit possession is not a bad thing when the spirits involved are benevolent, like Jesus, Krishna, or Buddha.

This possession occurs when people invite a spirit to take possession of them. When Christians “make the decision for Jesus” or “invite Jesus to come live inside” them, or Buddhists “take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha”, they are inviting spirits to take possession of their souls. Possession by a good spirit fortifies people’s faith and dedication to the spiritual path. It gives people backbone, something to rely upon in times of doubt.

However in our society demon possession is much more common than is possession by a benevolent spirit. It’s easiest to see that someone is demon-possessed when they get old, since by that time the demons have eaten up most of the people’s souls and left uptight, angry or depressed, self-pitying, burned-out hulks in their stead.

Life is a bitch, no question about it.

However it tends to mellow out people who are not demon-possessed. Demon-possessed people, on the other hand, tend to get worse and worse the older they get. When people are still young, there’s usually enough of the original person left there so that you can’t see the demons as readily. As the people get older, however, the demons eat up more and more of their souls and their joy.

If, as people age, they get lighter and more joyous, then they’re not demon-possessed. On the other hand if they get more uptight, nastier, depressed, or more self-pitying as they age, then they probably are demon-possessed. This is why it’s so hard to deal with those old people – you’re not dealing with the person anymore, just with a demon.

People call demons in to possess them when they feel especially vulnerable and in need of drastic protection. For example, a baby may call in demons at birth to protect against abusive parents. Demons can be called in at any stage in life, usually unconsciously, to alleviate pain or sorrow by providing a protective shell of hardheartedness or self-pity. Luckily, it’s not that hard to cast out demons. The hard part for demon-possessed people is wanting to cast them out in the first place. We’ll discuss this subject in depth in a later article.

When we channel spirits we usually receive the information as thoughts or feelings. This is because thoughts and feelings are all we know. We don’t know how to process information in any other fashion. Therefore, we interpret the communications we receive from spirits in terms of thoughts or feelings.

However, that is not how the spirits themselves view this communication. Spirits see it as a mingling or bending of light fibers – an interaction within the aura, or shell of luminosity, which surrounds every being. In other words, spirits’ cognition is very different from humans’ normal, socially-conditioned mode of cognition. For example, spirits see time in terms of potentialities rather than concrete events.

Moreover it is undoubtedly anthropomorphic to believe that spirits have sex (male or female) and personalities (jolly, somber, laid-back, strict, etc.). However, that is how they appear to most people.

My own spirit guides are rather indulgent and soft, probably because I am indulgent and soft and get riled unless I am indulged and treated softly. On the other hand Mescalito, the spirit of the psychedelic peyote cactus, is cold, hard, and detached. I find him terrifying, in fact, although I still go to him on occasion. Mescalito doesn’t indulge anybody.

In other words, spirits have different personalities, just as people do. They are not amorphous energies or something of the sort. Possibly it is a feature of human cognition that we humans apprehend spirits as having sex and personality, rather than that sex and personality are properties innate to the spirits themselves.

This is similar to Carlos Castaneda’s conundrum about psychic apprehension, what he termed seeing, being so visual, when it had nothing to do with vision whatsoever – whether his eyes were open or closed. But to him it seemed visual. His teacher Don Juan’s explanation of this was that we humans come to magic as adults, with our perceptual biases already formed.

Therefore when we learn a new form of cognition we tend to try to fit it into a familiar mold. Similarly, we tend to experience spirits’ communications as thoughts or feelings, since these are our usual forms of communication. We relate to spirits’ personalities because we are accustomed to relating to others through their personalities.

In actuality spirits are not as individuated / separated as we humans fancy ourselves to be. For example, my efforts to get Mayan priests to explain exactly who’s who in the Mayan pantheon have always failed because it’s not that simple – the various deities overlap or join together: they’re not separate entities per se.

On several occasions during ceremonies I have felt the presence of the Mayan earth divinity Tzul Taka, Mountain-Valley, as a male being. The priests have told me that this is my interpretation because I am a male, that Tzul Taka is neither male nor female, nor is even a single entity but is a union of entities, or a link between the Heart of the Earth and Heart of the Heaven. In other words, to the Mayans the divinities are ineffable, or at least can’t be pinned down or defined by mental constructs.

The easiest spirits to communicate with are your own spirit guides – what some people term “angels”. More detailed information on what spirit guides are and how you can contact them is given in the Channeling Spirit Guides article which can be downloaded for free from http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MagicalAlmanac/files.

(excerpted from Magical Almanac free monthly ezine: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MagicalAlmanac)

Click here to read: What are Spirits? Part 2

Native American Church Peyote Meetings

By Ina Woolcott

Amongst Native Americans today, the most widespread religion is known as the Native American church. It merges elements of native spiritual practise from different tribes and symbolic elements of Christianity. The main rite is the peyote ceremony. Many of the ills that sadly came about due to colonisation – alcoholism, crime and gambling to name but a few – have been combated with considerable success.

Many Native Americans say their religious practices are a form of spirituality, rather than religion. They are the only known ethnic group in the USA who require a federal permit to practise their religion. The Eagle Feather Law states only those of certifiable Native American descent enrolled in a federally recognised tribe are legally allowed to obtain eagle feathers for spiritual, or religious use. The value and validity of this is frequently challenged by Natives and non-Natives alike, charging that the law is heavy with discriminatory racial preferences and infringes on tribal sovereignty. The law dictates that Native Americans may not give eagle feathers to non-Native Americans, a common traditional and modern practise. There are many non-Native Americans who have been adopted into Native American families, made tribal members and been given eagle feathers.

The Native American Church was officially incorporated in 1918, with the help of James Mooney, an anthropologist from the Smithsonian Institution who testified in favour of Native American at congressional hearings. Lucky for the natives, for he had advised peyotists of various Oklahoma tribes to obtain a legal charter to safeguard their religious freedom. If he hadn’t, they may have been driven underground. He had researched Peyote meetings among the Kiowa in Oklahoma. He also studied its use on other reservations, as well as its use by the Tarahumara in Mexico

Peyote became the inspiration and remedy of many Oklahoma tribes during a time of torturous cultural disintegration, which peaked during the 1880s. By 1874, the Kiowa and Comanche, the once proud warriors of the southern Plains, were enclosed to reservations in Oklahoma. The severe loss of freedom and liberty that came with life on reservations brought unbelievable, unimaginable suffering to all Native Americans. Peyote religion spread like wildfire – today peyote meetings are one of the most popular Native American gatherings.

Another HIGHLY influential figure in keeping the peyote meetings alive was Quanah Parker, a Comanche, was the most famous of all Oklahoma peyotists, helping to bring Half Moon style Peyote meetings to members of the Delaware, Caddo, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Ponca, Oto, Pawnee, Osage, and other tribes. Half Moon meetings aren’t as heavily influenced by Christianity as those of the Big Moon branch of the Church which a Caddo, John Wilson, pioneered in spreading. By1910, both of these meeting styles had spread far beyond the Oklahoma reservations where they started.

Of course, as was to be expected, as soon as Christian missionaries found out about the sacramental use of peyote on their reservations they began to go against it with force. Indian agents joined the missionaries trying to get peyote outlawed. The Natives defended their religious freedom in their respective states and in Congress.

The church has around 250,000 members. Of the church’s devotional ritual, about 60% is singing. Often this is done in the local Native American tongue, although phrases such as ‘Jesus only’ can be heard now and again. Around 25 worshippers sing along with a gourd rattle and a small drum that is beat fast. Members also drum, pray and meditate, ingesting peyote during all-night meetings, with the majority of the meetings being held for healing, baptism, funerals, and birthdays.

Peyote is revered as a gift from God. Peyote opposes alcohol craving, it heals and teaches morals and goodness. It is eaten, or drunk as a tea, after a formal ritual and is not eaten for the visions it brings. The church members pass it around clockwise a number of times in the course of all night meetings. there is no professional, paid clergy within the church and members are free to interpret Bible passages in line with their own understanding. The need to forbear alcohol and be faithful to one’s partner are stressed, as well as truthfulness, fulfilling one’s family duties, economic self-sufficiency, praying for the sick and for peace.

Related link: Peyote, Visions and Alternate Reality

What Is A Shamanic Journey

By Viola Woolcott

The Shaman is said to be walking with one foot in the every day world and with the other in the spirit world. Different cultures may express their views on the two realities in differently, but the basic idea is the same.

Shamans are explorers of doorways from ordinary reality into non-ordinary (NOR) reality through portals leading him from the physical to the spirit world. They are moving between those two worlds. In order to bring about a balance between the physical and spiritual worlds the shaman uses mystical powers to journey to other worlds or realities and communicates with spirits.

The Shamanic Journey is a way of finding answers, information, healing, wisdom and knowledge as well as guidance or help with one’s personal life. During the Journey he meets with spirits who may be regarded as ancestors, elders, gods, goddesses, deceased shamans, spirit guides, power animals and angels. These beings are seen as beings with great wisdom, power and the ones who are willing to help with guiding the living.

A shamanic world is made up of three parts, the lower world, the upper world and the middle world. The shamans see these three worlds as a climbing tree to the next world. The tree represents power and courage and is used in the initiation ceremony. None of these worlds are above the other. They are equally important.

Each shaman begins there journey with a theme, if they are looking for guidance on a specific issue, their theme would be whatever the issue is. They form a phrase or a sentence they repeat it over and over again. This phrase or sentence helps to transcend them into the spirit world. Shamans also finds a place of tranquillity in his mind, there can be no other noise around them, and they must achieve a totally calm state of mind with no outside distractions.

Shamans do rely on their instincts as well as their powers. They have no limitations, they ascend into each world and they stop in each world and get the wisdom and the power they need from each world before going to the next. Once they have achieved the last world, they are ready to descend back into the present, into reality. From each world they have received word from the spirits and the knowledge to help who have come to them in their hour of need.

Plants Used By Shamans

By Viola Woolcott

Shamans and spiritual seekers have been using plants for millennia. Teacher plants are a gift from the plant kingdom. A consciousness raising medicine. They are one of the most common, sacred ways for gaining knowledge of the universe. But bear in mind that the teacher plants are not necessary for the shamanic journey, they are a tool to give help to those who find it difficult opening to the universe.

The plants seem to communicate with animals as well as humans as their psychoactive molecules join certain brain receptors. Depending on the psychic skills as well as the intent of the shaman or spiritual seeker the plant spirit can exchange information with its embedded intelligence.

The spirit world and the use of plants are very closely related. The Shaman uses the teacher plants for healing as well as to achieve ascendance into the spirit world.

These plants listed below are used for altering states of consciousness and the aromas have been used at spiritual welcoming.

Plants to induce altered states of consciousness as well as incense (aromatics) like:

=> Ayahuasca – Quechua for Vine of the Dead – also called Yage
=> Cannabis
=> Cedar
=> Datura
=> Deadly Nightshade
=> Fly agaric
=> Iboga
=> Jimson weed
=> Morning Glory
=> Psychedelic mushrooms
=> Peyote
=> Sage
=> Salvia Divinorum – also called Diviners’s sage
=> San Pedros Cactus – named after St. Peter. Guard and holder of the keys to heaven
=> Sweetgrass
=> Tobacco

Caution: Teacher plants should only be taken in the presence and with the guidance of a master of the plants in a safe environment. Every person will have their own unique experience. The teacher plants should only with the greatest degree of respect.

What Is Shamanism Interview With Abraxas Jan Irvin Andrew Rutajit

Posted By Ina Woolcott

The definition of shamanism is a broad one. it’s a knowledge of medicinal plants, everything from medicinal to spiritual purposes. Shamans also are able to communicate with the ‘spirit’ world.

So…what is Shamanism? This video tackles that tricky question and attempts to shed light on such a clichéd and misrepresented word.

Special Guests: Jan Irvin & Andrew Rutajit, authors of ‘Astrotheology & Shamanism in Christianity and Other Religions’.

Topics discussed are

* The origins, evolution & ideology of Shamanism (and how it has been misunderstood in our New Age era). * Healing * The reality that Judaism and Christianity, like most religions, were fertility, solar cults who utilized entheogens in a widespread manner. It just wasn’t the priest who partook of the ‘funny herbs’. * Clues in the Bible, Gnostic texts and the Judeo/Christian tradition that point to the positive usage of entheogens and hallucinogens. * How the war on drugs (which is also the war on the Goddess) began hundreds of years before Christ with a changing Jewish Priesthood, fanned out into the Christian worldview centuries later, and continues today with the same nefarious intentions. * The spiritual and scientific effects of using certain entheogens such as mushroom, natural LSD and cannabis. * Evidence of entheogens also in Hinduism and Buddhism. * Redeeming John Allegro and his controversial discoveries of The Dead Sea Scrolls * ….. And much more!

Gnostics have always been accused of being ‘out there’. But ‘out there’ often means an inward journey into the wellspring of gnosis.
Related links:
www.gnosticmedia.com
www.thegodabovegod.com

Practices Of The Shaman

By Viola Woolcott

The Shaman’s role is to portray the healer in the shamanic society, they gain the knowledge and the power by going into a trance and ascending into the heavens and bringing back the knowledge they seek.

There are times when the shaman may need some help in entering the spirit world. They may use healing plants or sometimes spirits of a deceased shaman.

In some of the societies a shaman can use a magical force they call a Quechua. In a case like this, if a person has come to the shaman because they believe they have been cursed by evil spirits or even witchcraft, then the shaman uses this magical force and enters the affected person’s body and cleanses out the bad spirits by ‘extraction‘.

When a Shaman heals someone, conventional medicine is not an option, the shaman makes his own medicines and usually he makes them from herbal combination of plants.

In many societies the shamans acquire information and skills from the plants and it is through the plants that the shaman can exercise his healing powers. But before a shaman can do that he gets “permission “ from the patron spirits.

In South America, sometimes the spirits are brought about by singing the songs called icaros. Before the spirit can be summoned the spirit must teach the shaman their song and only then can the spirit be brought forward.

In some culture the Shaman’s use a totem such as rocks, they are said to have special powers because the totem is a symbol of the spirits. But these are ancient symbols and are not too common these days.

Usually the shaman enters the spirit world by influencing a change of his consciousness. He enters in an ecstatic trance, either auto hypnotically or with the help of entheogens. The techniques used are different every time and are often used together.

These are some of the techniques for inducing such altered states of consciousness:

=> Singing
=> Drumming
=> Fasting
=> Icaros – Medicine Songs / Medicine Songs
=> Listening to Music
=> Vision Quests
=> Mariri
=> Sweat Lodges
=> Dancing

Plants to induce altered states of consciousness as well as incense (aromatics) like:

=> Ayahuasca – Quechua for Vine of the Dead – also called Yage
=> Cannabis
=> Cedar
=> Datura
=> Deadly Nightshade
=> Fly agaric
=> Iboga
=> Jimson weed
=> Morning Glory
=> Psychedelic mushrooms
=> Peyote
=> Sage
=> Salvia Divinorum – also called Diviners’s sage
=> San Pedros Cactus – named after St. Peter. Guard and holder of the keys to heaven
=> Sweetgrass
=> Tobacco

In Particular to their tradition, shamans will observe dietary or customary limitations and sometimes they are more than just cultural. Shamans and apprentices who participate in a ceremonies that includes the ingestion of the Ayahuasca brew have to follow strict dietary guidelines.

Shamans do have a belief in witchcraft and sorcery called ‘brujeria‘. These beliefs are mainly in the South American region. They often compare shamans and sorcerers as this, shamans’ cure from sorcerers that cause harm.

Xhosa Tribe Of South Africa Bantu Ancestry

By Ina Woolcott

The Xhosa tribe are peoples of Bantu ancestry who live in south-east South Africa. In the last 2 centuries they have spread throughout the southern and central-southern parts of the country. Presently around 8 million Xhosa people exist. The peoples are divided into several sub-groups – the main subgroups being the Bhaca, Bomvana, Mfengu, Mpondo, Mpondomise, Xesibe, and Thimbu – with related but distinct heritages. They have their own language, with Xhosa being South Africa’s most common home language, after Zulu, to which Xhosa is closely related. One characteristic of the Xhosa language are the renowned click sounds (15 of them), originally borrowed from now extinct Khoisan languages of the region.

The name “Xhosa” is meant to have originated from a tribal leader called uXhosa, although there is also a theory that the word xhosa may be a deviation from Khoi-khoi or San meaning ‘fierce’ or ‘angry’ – the AmaXhosa are known as the fierce people. Their language is known as isiXhosa.

In 1994 the apartheid system – a system of ethnic separation in South Africa from 1948 – of bantustans, the Xhosas were denied South African citizenship, and tried confine them to the nominally self-governing “homelands” of Transkei and Ciskei, now both a part of the Eastern Cape Province where most Xhosa remain.

Lore, Religion, Rites and Arts and Crafts

The traditional Xhosa belief includes diviners/seers, also known as sangoma. These people serve as herbalists, prophets, and healers for the community. Women in the main fulfil this role, after taking a 5 year apprenticeship.

The Xhosas have a strong oral tradition. One tradition holds that the first chief and acknowledged “father” of Xhosa society was Tshawe. Here it is generally accepted that he was the patriarch of loose confederation of clans that eventually became the Xhosa, though this cant be dated accurately. Then, the Xhosa were more a group of related clans than a united nation. They were loyal to Tshawe, but were sovereign chiefdoms, governing their own daily affairs. These clans gradually expanded to meet their needs. Soon Xhosa speakers stretched west to the Groot-Vis river, North into modern day KwaZulu/Natal, and inland to the Drakensberg mountains. These clans were loyal to a local monarch, with no single chief ruling the entire nation. Some well known chiefs of this period included Vusani of the Thembu clan, Gambushe of the Bomvana clan, and Faku of the Mpondo clan. Another story claims that the leader from whose name the Xhosa people take their name was the first ever human on Earth.

The key figure in this tradition is the imbongi, or praise singer. Iimbongi (plural) traditionally live near the chief’s “great place” (the cultural and political focus of his activity). They accompany the chief on important occasions. The imbongi, Zolani Mkiva preceded Nelson Mandela at his Presidential inauguration in 1994. Iimbongis’ poetry, called isibongo, commends the work and adventures of chiefs and ancestors.

The supreme being is known as uThixo or uQamata. Ancestors act as intermediaries and have a role in the lives of the living, they are honoured in rituals. Dreams are very important in divination and when contacting ancestors. Traditional rites include rituals, initiations, and feasts. Today, modern rituals generally concern matters of illness and psychological wellbeing.

One traditional ritual that still regularly takes place is the manhood ritual, a secret rite initiating boys into adulthood. The initiates (abakwetha), live in isolation sometimes several weeks, frequently in the mountains. White clay is put on their bodies and they observe numerous taboos. The pinnacle is ritual circumcision.

This has sparked controversy in this modern day and age. Over 300 circumcision and initiation related deaths occurred since 1994. There has been a spread of sexually transmitted diseases including HIV due to circumcising initiates with the same blade

Girls too get initiated into womanhood and are secluded, but for less time and they aren’t circumcised

Amongst other rites, there is also the seclusion of mums for 10 days after giving birth, aswell as the burial of the afterbirth and umbilical cord near the village. This mirrors in the traditional greeting ‘Inkaba yakho iphi?’ translating directly to ‘where is your navel?’ The answer tells someone where you live, your clan affiliation, your social status, and it also holds a wealth of cultural information. Most importantly, it determines where you belong”

In the 1820’s, Christian missionaries set up outposts among the Xhosa. The first Bible translation was done in the mid-1850s, though the Xhosa did not convert in great numbers until the 1900s, especially within the African Initiated Churches. There are some denominations that blend Christianity with the more traditional beliefs.

The traditional diet foods include goat meat, beef, mutton, sorghum, maize and umphokoqo (dry maize porridge), umngqusho (made from dried, stamped cord and dried beans), amasi (milk that is frequently sour ), beans, pumpkins and vegetables.

Traditional crafts include pottery, weaving and beadwork. Traditional music features drums, mouth harps, stringed-instruments, rattles, flutes, whistles and especially group singing accompanied by hand clapping. For various ritual occasions there are songs – a well known Xhosa song is a wedding song called Qongqongthwane, performed by Miriam Makeba as Click Song #1. There are several other modern groups who sing, record and perform in Xhosa. The Xhosa were introduced by missionaries to Western choral singing. Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, part of the National anthem of South Africa, is a Xhosa hymn written by Enoch Sontonga in 1897.

In the 19th Century the first newspapers, books and plays in Xhosa came into being. Xhosa poetry is becoming ever more acclaimed. Some films have also been made in the Xhosa language

Famous Xhosa people

Nelson Mandela – the former President of South Africa is a Xhosa-speaking member of the Thembu people. Charlize Theron – the South African film-star is a competent Xhosa-speaker. Helen Zille – the Mayor of Cape Town and leader of the opposition in Parliament is a competent Xhosa-speaker. Other famous Xhosa speakers include – Amampondo, Stephen Biko, Fats Bookulane, Brenda Fassie, Ken Gampu, Chris Hani, General Bantu Holomisa, Archibald Campbell Jordan, John Kani, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Miriam Makeba, Govan Mbeki, Thabo Mbeki, S.E.K. Mqhayi, Victoria Mxenge, Bongani Ndodana, Bulelani Ngcuka, Makhaya Ntini, Winston Ntshona, Percy Qoboza, Walter Sisulu, Robert Sobukwe, Enoch Sontonga, Oliver Tambo, Zwelithini Tunyiswa, Desmond Tutu, Ashley Buti , St John Page Yako, Dr. George Clark.

For information of the tribes use fo Silene Capensis, the Dream Root used for lucid dreaming click here: Silene Capensis