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 Post subject: Shamanism and Witchdoctors
 Post Posted: Mon Sep 14, 2009 5:54 pm 
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I am new to the forum and wanted to impart some of my experiences of East African shamans/witchdoctors and hear the thoughts of others on this topic and related issues.

From my experience in East Africa, I was under the impression that benevolent jinns/spirits effectively dwell in the bones of shamans/witchdoctors – and it is from this agreeable possession that such folk derive their power for divination, auto writing, knowledge of healing plants etc etc. Some types of jinn favour rhythmic drumming hence the associated activities of shamans.

Additionally, I was informed that jinns can take human form, and in that state breed with humans – thereby creating a hybrid of sorts, with many prominent businessmen/politicians across the world (in particular amongst the Jews and Sikhs) being of this nature. David Icke’s shape shifters?

Jinns dwell in a dimension where one must suspend notions of linear time – hence why the jinns can foretell human future. In such a dimension human fear, health etc can be seen in what I believe the Rosicrucians refer to as the vital and ego bodies.

For the East African shaman – dwarf, elves and alike are all grouped in as jinns

They can indeed live for a thousand years and they all have an appetite for blood (often chickens and goats) which takes the form of an offering.

Despite reading considerable ‘western text’ to the contrary, I did not see the local ‘mgangas’ (witchdoctors/shamans) worshipping ancestors – moreover they give offerings and seek knowledge from the world of jinn and angels

Thanks :D


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 Post Posted: Thu Sep 17, 2009 2:57 pm 
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Thank you for sharing this information with us. Your presence here is much appreciated!


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 Post Posted: Wed Sep 30, 2009 4:49 pm 
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I'm sorry, I don't know anything about African shamanic practice but I recently attended a couple of ceremonies conducted by South African Sangoma John Lockley (From Cape Town) while he is in the UK. The culture he has learned from most certainly does worship the Ancestors, honours them and requests their help and attendance at ceremonies.

Whilst in the Gambia, I found the local Marabou men were predominantly interested in soliciting the help of local spirits and creating juju's but I saw little evidence of Ancestor worship. It may well go on, I simply didn't witness it, thats all.

Do you live in East Africa? Are you following a local East African tradition?


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 Post Posted: Fri Oct 09, 2009 3:03 pm 
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Thank you for your response Forest Child.

To give you a little background I am Canadian and I live in East Africa. I have been here a number of years and have learnt the language. I am fortunate enough to share a house with a ‘shaman/witchdoctor’. I have spent many a night chatting away, speaking to his spirits whilst he’s in a trance, seeing his clients, their requests, and his work.
I use speech marks for the title shaman/witchdoctor as I until I came here I was not very aware and I am not entirely sure that this would be the western term.
He says he has four spirits that actually live in his bones, in the sense that he does not have to call them per se to autowrite and give him information – would a western shaman call these spirits helpers?
I cannot emphasize enough how non-‘primitive’ he is and his doctor friends are. His clients are mainly politicians and wealthy businessmen who use him mainly when they face serious junctures – namely, court cases, elections, business deals etc…to the extent that two recently jailed politicians called him immediately after their incarceration.

I have had the most wondrous experience from my association with him and other doctors here. He has helped a number of my friends and family with issues they have faced yet very few would be in the vain of healing. It seems there are a myriad of different ‘worker’ spirits out there, many that can be bred for specific purposes – e.g. for carrying medicine across the Atlantic and quite literally delivering it into the blood of the patient.

Does this fit the description of a western shaman? Would love to hear your/others appreciation of how this fits in with their shamanic understanding/experience.

Thanks again


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 Post Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2009 2:51 am 
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Hi Kash!

You had quite a many questions, and to me those deal between cultural differences.

As I have been told about terms, all helping spirits can be called as 'helpers'.

The place where main helpers dwell, may vary. There are those, who use possession during the practise, so they are not under control of themselves during possession. When spirit leaves the body, person gets control over himself again.
I would say, that my helperls are just on other dimension, where I call for them, when needed. I communicate and try also let spirit to do the work, or follow the orders when doing healing.

I have heard similar beliefs, that human's and spirits may have family together. It can be many ways, human is immersed and taken into spiritworld, sometimes against his will. Human may have two partners, one in spiritworld and the other here. And also spirit may have taken human form and lives as a human, until disappears. We have also our own words for the elves and dwarfs, which may be of germanic linguistics origin, but also own finnish words as maahinen, menninkäinen, keiju, peikko, veden-neito, haltia.

I just received a dream last night, where small men were walkin around a old sacrificial stone and climbing it up, following path formed on stone. I think they were ancestors, because of the place and form (small, quite old men, with old clothes). I do not think they were actually deceased individuals but rather a form of energy, which carried old wisdom and ways of life, taken the form of small men. But actually I do not know.

The world 'djinn' could be little same as here 'haltia', because all can be included haltia-subcategories.

We have a long tradition here about ancestor worship, but I would call it more honouring and remembering them, than worshipping.
We still have a days, when candles are carried on the graves of our grandfathers and -mothers and all dead relatives. When help is asked by tradition it is usually asked from some form of haltia, not from the deceased. But there are also spells, when invoking power by words they may call for:
I summon swordsmen under earth
sleepers under grass

I think the words were used, when dueling between witches, battling bad energy.

The way I see it, there are great number of ways to deal with spirit(s). Every culture has it's own methods as every individual will have. And that is the way it needs to be.
So there would not be much point to argue about the matter in general, cause everybody would have their own way anyway, fit for them.


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 Post Posted: Sun Oct 11, 2009 5:54 pm 
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Kash wrote:
He says he has four spirits that actually live in his bones, in the sense that he does not have to call them per se to autowrite and give him information – would a western shaman call these spirits helpers?


I think I know what he means, there are some spirits who are always with you, part of you, you might say. Once, I thought that I had lost a guide who had been with me from the beginning, it was very distressing and I struggled to understand why he would leave me, what had I done wrong? When I went looking (journeying to find out what had happened), I searched in many places, was given many options and came to several crossroads but finally I gave up and then he sprang out from my shadow behind me. He was and is, always there with me (but I had to learn it and he showed me by disappearing), where other spirits have to be called or invoked.

Kash wrote:
I cannot emphasise enough how non-‘primitive’ he is and his doctor friends are. His clients are mainly politicians and wealthy businessmen who use him mainly when they face serious junctures – namely, court cases, elections, business deals etc…to the extent that two recently jailed politicians called him immediately after their incarceration.


Why should he be primitive? I think thats just a western misconception of how 'native' spirit practitioners should be. We see too many photos of dark skinned, exotic looking people dancing around wearing skins, beads and beating drums. Thats fine in a limited sense because thats how some do it and how it was in the past when and where it fit the culture of that time but here and now, we wear shirts and trousers and our problems are not so much about how many goats we have lost or whether our where to find the next herd of caribou but how to deal with the courts and who will help us in our political aims to lead people.

Kash wrote:
I have had the most wondrous experience from my association with him and other doctors here. He has helped a number of my friends and family with issues they have faced yet very few would be in the vain of healing. It seems there are a myriad of different ‘worker’ spirits out there, many that can be bred for specific purposes – e.g. for carrying medicine across the Atlantic and quite literally delivering it into the blood of the patient.

Does this fit the description of a western shaman? Would love to hear your/others appreciation of how this fits in with their shamanic understanding/experience.

Thanks again


Yes, that exactly fits how diverse healing can be and how a shamanic (ie uses altered states of awareness to solicit aid from spirits who exist in other realms to effect healing in this material state of being) practitioner works. Not all problems are physical or psychological. Some are just plain old, mundane. Some issues are the same old, same old . . . when will I be married, does she love me, how can I get the job, who should be my assistant manager etc? Thats because it is real life and thats what people still need to know so they come to a shaman/witch doctor to solicit aid from the spirits.

The Mongolian and Siberian shamans have knowledge of (a pantheon of) over 100 different spirits and each have particular areas of influence. As a shaman learns and grows in power, s/he gains the ability to contact and elicit aid from these different spirits.

I don't know about breeding spirits for a specific purpose, I've never come across that but its an intriguing thought!

Although time and space are illusions and it is entirely possible to offer healing over long distances, I do wonder about the support and backup to the client by working this way? Just because something is possible doesn't always mean that it is right to do but on saying that, I have a lot to learn so perhaps in a few years I will know more and change my mind???


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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 12, 2009 12:01 pm 
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Forest Child wrote:
He was and is, always there with me (but I had to learn it and he showed me by disappearing),


This is something I just awoke into. My trust for spiritual helpers due to personal experiences and coincidences have led so strong faith for the guidance, it can be called faith. But not religion, because there is no dogmas or rules.
It was quite suprising to notice that, cause I have always been wary of religous people. Their fanatism is scary. But still it is different, no blind faith, but developed trust drawn from personal experience.


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 Post Posted: Mon Oct 12, 2009 1:44 pm 
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Location: NW UK
Jusma wrote:
Forest Child wrote:
He was and is, always there with me (but I had to learn it and he showed me by disappearing),


This is something I just awoke into. My trust for spiritual helpers due to personal experiences and coincidences have led so strong faith for the guidance, it can be called faith. But not religion, because there is no dogmas or rules.
It was quite suprising to notice that, cause I have always been wary of religous people. Their fanatism is scary. But still it is different, no blind faith, but developed trust drawn from personal experience.


Yes, thats absolutely it - nail on the head!

Faith is about absolute truth, not blind, unsubstatiated trust.


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