The Xhosa call the plant "undlela ziimhlophe" which translates as "white ways" or "white paths." The Xhosa use the roots of this plant to induce prophetic dreams and to communicate with ancestral spirits.
Many of the visionary plants in South Africa are oneirogenic (dream inducing). These effects have been confirmed by a number of western researchers studying South African traditional healing.
The Southern Bantu-speakers value oneirogenics and other psychoactives because of the fundamental association of dreams with the ancestor spirits in their culture. Dreams are the primary medium through which the ancestors communicate with the diviner.
Success story :
I was a little uncertain as in how much to start with, but knew that it was taken in small amounts for the most part, so caution would be advised. I started with a couple droppers full one fine morning on the required empty stomach. I swished it all around in my mouth for several minutes before swallowing. I repeated this procedure after lunch, dinner and before bed. At no point did it make me feel queasy. This was a good sign because nausea would indicate that I had had too much. Dosage in fact is limited by potentially purging any overly ambitious amounts right back out of your system. A nice safety feature I did not want to test.
Night one was uneventful. My dreams and the quality of them seemed quite normal. Night two was entirely another story. I had six long, and colorful dreams. I recalled them all upon waking, they were clear and detailed, one right after another. I was very impressed with my clarity, usually this sort of thing wouldn't be possible without waking up to record each one as it happened. The third night was also remarkable. I seemed to have just one very long and very detailed dream. This in and of itself seemed quite unusual. I decided to follow this first initiation with a holiday that was ubulawu free, to see if there were any after effects or negative repercussions.
Over the next few nights, I seemed to have a random sampling of very vivid dreams, which actually wouldn't be considered too far off my normal state. Satisfied that nothing was amiss so far, I decided to start a second round, with the goal of going at it much longer this time.
Night one was uneventful and night two contained a "big dream." I would define this as an important dream that contained a message or a prophecy for me. This was quite interesting, but it was the third night that was truly astounding. In the dream I was having, I was aware of being at a place where animals are being cared for. I was working with a horse and this involved a sort of hugging meditation with my head lying on top of his. I found this to be very pleasant. Down near this moat or slough filled with this murky reddish water was a couple of friends that were working with snakes. They kept motioning for me to come over and join them. I was reluctant to do so, working with a horse seemed like a much better deal than fooling around with big snakes. Did I mention big? These were about twenty foot pythons sleuthing around in the murky depths of the water. I finally and somewhat reluctantly wandered over to see what was going on.
These two teachers were capturing these pythons and then somehow calming them and they wanted me to try it too. It seemed important to do, but I have to admit to feeling a little squeamish about taming snakes. They instructed me in the capturing of a snake by getting into the water with it and making a quick grab for the head. After securing the snake by the head, I was to pin it behind the head under my left arm and immediately place my right hand into the snake's mouth. This insertion of fingers was done behind the teeth towards the back of the jaw and caused the snake to chew vigorously on my hand. I could feel the bones of my hand being ground between these bony feeling plates in the back of the snake's mouth, which was unpleasant to say the least. Next I could release the snake from under my left arm enough to begin stroking it at the back of the head with my left hand. Much to my surprise, this seemed to immediately calm and tranquilize the snake and the chewing on my hand became very slow and gentle.
After a period of tranquil stroking, the snake was gently released into the water. Now, I had to demonstrate my skill by accomplishing the whole feat again with a second snake of the same size, maybe they were twins? At any rate, everything went very smoothly and after I released the second snake I got out of the water and stood on the shore examining my right hand for damage. It seemed a little bruised and battered and I decided I should give it a good washing. By luck, there was a faucet right next to me equipped with a nice bottle of a green liquid soap. I became very fixated on carefully washing my hand when I sensed a movement out of the corner of my eye. There was no time to respond as a big python suddenly reared out of the water and snapped its head around like a whip, striking me squarely right in the crotch. Not only was this startling, it was painful! I let out an involuntary yelp and the next thing I knew, Tim was shaking me awake from what must have been interpreted as a nightmare.
I would certainly classify this dream as a vivid dream! It was not lucid in the sense that I was aware that it was a dream while it was happening. It more so seemed like a "big dream," but I didn't have a clue what it should mean. The two friends that seemed to be instructing me couldn't be recalled at all after the fact. I can't remember what they looked like or who they were, there was only the sense that I was somehow acquainted with them, whoever they were. This was definitely a dream to be noted in my journal, it seemed to be important.
Later that morning at work, we were having a slow day at the front desk. On days like these where I have no specific work assignments or deadlines to meet, I am allowed to surf the internet to my hearts content. Of course I went in search of more information on the ubulawu herbs of Southern Africa. I happened across a website that had a transcript of an interview of a healer who was describing the initiation rites of her tribe, both past and present.
In the past, initiates were expected to go to the river and capture a big python and bring it back to their village. The only way this dangerous mission could be accomplished safely was if the ancestors gave their approval in the form of calming the snake for the initiate, so the deed could be done without a fatality. Needless to say I was breaking out in goose bumps as I was reading this account.
In modern times the initiates still went to the river, but they had the option of bringing back whatever the ancestors presented to them. In this particular case the individual brought back some bones that were found and this was deemed by the villagers to be the blessing of the ancestors and the training could then proceed. This whole story just blew me away. Was I to interpret this dream as some sort of an initiation? What about the presentation of the evidence to my village? How was I supposed to do that? Why did that darn snake whack me in the crotch anyway? So I would awaken and remember???
Day six; the amazing dreams have continued. In nights past it has usually been one long, detailed dream, well remembered upon awakening. Last night was no exception, but the content of this dream was once again very instructional in nature. It seems that the ancestors or whoever they are, have taken me in hand. Strangely, I do not remember the beginning of the dream in question, but at the point in which I recall, I find myself in the middle of a very intense lesson on possession. I am being specifically instructed on how to do an exorcism! In the first example I am confronted with a victim who has an uninvited guest clinging to them like a piece of Saran Wrap. In this situation I seem to be instructed to surround both of them with an intensity of feeling that somehow easily causes the clinging spirit to drop loose from its victim.
Now I am being shown by doing, how to evict an internally lodged spirit possessing someone from the inside. This would be a true horror movie type possession where the victim is being controlled and manipulated from within. This is definitely a more serious and difficult matter to deal with. A child is the victim and I find myself instructing him to focus on the invader intently while blowing the invader out through his mouth in a violent exhalation. I place my mouth on his and powerfully suck the errant spirit into myself with an equally huge inhale and then turn away and blow it back out again. I am to focus on fire as I do so, so that the spirit is seemingly incinerated as it is expelled. This strikes me as part of a serious punishment so that the spirit won't be foolish enough to try this again. Even as I do it, the seriousness of the situation calls for swift and decisive action. This seems to be a very serious business indeed.
After I awaken, I begin to ponder the merits of such a talent. Surely there isn't a big demand for exorcists in the society in which I live? Also, I can see the cultural advantages to being raised in a society in which the matter of spirit possession is scoffed at and perhaps invalidated in our skepticism. Somehow, this is actually a protective belief to have, and it is a strange privilege to not have to feel vulnerable to this sort of an invasion. Our disbelief in the possibility of such matters protects us, how ironic!
So, I truly have no idea how I will utilize such a skill. I am fascinated that I am being taught how to do things by actually doing them. There is no doubt in my mind that this hands on style of tactile teaching is a totally impressive way for me to understand things, as least as far as I can understand them; all considered. I am after all a white woman that has spent half her life in the Alaskan bush. At first glance, it seems like this is a long stretch from being a tribal member of the Xhosa people in Southern Africa! Or is it?
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