A spiritual journey

May 13, 2011 at 8:34 am (Uncategorized)

I would not say that I am a spiritual person. I have grown up to be pretty cynical of religion, of God.. along with several million others of my generation in the UK I should think. But I’m beginning to wonder.. how can you truly appreciate nature without understanding and appreciating the ‘spiritual’? Without spirituality there is no mystery and no wonderment (again McIntosh). By always wanting to know every detail and have everything explained scientifically we have effectively disconnected ourselves from the spiritual dimension, because how can God exist logically? And disconnecting yourself from the spiritual is also disconnecting yourself from knowing and truly living within Earth.


A few months ago I would have been embarrassed to admit it, and probably would have laughed it off .. but I am learning, my well educated and finely tuned mind is being woken up to the realisation that perhaps it is this that has been missing, this that has the key to a deeper sense of living; the spiritual dimension. This is NOT to say that I have suddenly been duped by some religion, I am merely allowing myself to truly accept the notion that there is something connecting everything on Earth, that has always been there and that has had a hand in its creation, its sustenance.

Last week I went to a shaman who threw the bones for me. It was a personal experience, so I’m not going into details but what came out of it was something quite poignant for me. The bone reading was done in the shaman’s wooden shack, he had all his medicines on one side and his certificate of traditional healing stuck to the wall along with some photographs of elders in full traditional clothing and a portrait of King George. I had to blow on the bones and he threw them on the floor. They were all sorts of objects; carved bones, actual bones from a small animal, shells, a coin.. a fossil. After the reading he banged a sculpted wooden stick on the ground and put snuff down, and gave me a mixture of medicines to go away with, with instructions of what I needed to do to fix the thing that the bones revealed.

For the first time in a long time he made me to think of my grandfather, my only grandparent to have died, and therefore my closest ancestor. There were many things the shaman said during the reading which resonated with me, but one thing I was brought to realise was that my grandfather, and so many generations before him, made me, and that because I didn’t know them when they were alive, I mostly don’t give them a second thought! How can I really know who I am if I don’t know my ancestors, my roots? Like Mphathe says; “if you are a leaf of a tree, how do you propose you can you live without the roots?”. Which then again reveals the madness of mainstream religion in this area where people are told their ancestors are demons and you should burn all trace of them, never talk to them and instead pray to the dead son of Mary and Joseph (/God obviously), a white couple who lived 2011 years ago. Who is he if not ancestor to a great many people? (But unlikely to be ancestors of the Venda people). Madness. Also, where they are taught to pray directly to God and are given dominion over all things, traditional Venda spirituality teaches that you speak to your ancestors, who are closer to God (Nwali) than you on Earth, because they do not feel God should be bothered with small troubles; Nwali is the creator, the provider. And whatever you take from the Earth should only be enough to meet your needs, allowing all others to live also.


The afternoon after my bone reading a group of us packed our pots and pans and drove way high up into a hidden mountain valley waterfall and camped under the stars. We cooked wild greens (to have with our bottle of red wine and tinned pilchards) on a fire with the pot balancing on big stones, on a rocky plateau looking out over a big valley basin with big steep rock faces on the other side. It was such a peaceful place, I spent most of the time in the small (but very fast moving) river, picking leeches off me and persuading Thama to “get in the water!” (the deep bit), he did eventually! The task the shaman gave to me meant I had to wait until the sun was nearly setting and find a part of the river that was fast flowing; pretty much feared for my life on the steep slippy rocks when I was testing to see if it was safe. Turned out it was safe once you had slipped down into the rushing water, and was easier getting out than in. After I had completed the ritual I sat on my own on the rocks looking out over the valley, Mphathe said I should wait until the first stars appear before coming back down. I have often been outside at this time of night, especially in Patagonia; where we were outside every night.. And I have even sat alone in a similar way a few times before, thinking about the beauty of the place. But I never really knew what I was doing it for before and I have never sat for such a long time either; I was contemplating the changing light in the sky and how the grasses move in the breeze.. and how the ants move along their road. I watched the clouds changing shape and the rocky mountain face changing its mood. I also discovered that it takes quite a long time for the stars to come out.. then only 2 appeared, and a satellite darted across, then another one appeared, then 5 more.. back with the others Thama was telling his extra long, extra action packed story. I lay close to the warm fire and the warm people and continued to look at the stars, but there were WAY too many to count now.

That night we went to sleep in our sleeping bags, under the gazebo, I bent round a bit so I could still see the sky.. when at 3am we were woken up by a heavy rain shower! Water was everywhere and it was cold, so Mphathe magicked up a fire from wet wood and we sat it out before deciding we would have to go home.


1 Comment

  1. Susan said,

    Oh Ruth……….the time at GOgogo was amazing and I too saw shooting stars……I loved it:)>
    You are a spritual being………….:)>

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