The role of the ancestors in healing : a Zululand follow up study
GE SubjectsSpirituality and ethics
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AbstractAncestral consciousness, reverence, beliefs, and practices, forms an essential foundation for religion and healing. African religion and healing are based on the interconnectedness of all life, including ancestral heritage linked to an original creative Source, usually known through dreams via the extended family, community and collective unconscious. People only exist because of their ancestors’ gift of life and nurturance. Zulu people traditionally recognize and honour ancestors as the existential foundation for all humanization and socialization. Motivation for this study arose because of the popularity of a previous Zululand study on the role of the ancestors in healing, as well as the more recent one on coping with COVID-19. A convenience sample of twelve participants was asked to describe their understanding of the role of the ancestors in healing. Respondents indicated that although ancestors are typically not healers, unless they occupied healing roles in life such as Shembe, in their closer connection to the Creator/God, they play various roles in healing. The most important roles were of guidance, protection, direction, advice, warning, presence, communication, mediation, and intervention. The implications of these healing roles are discussed with special reference to Zulu indigenous healers. In addition to common components of healing found throughout the planet, Zulu healing is holistically interconnected with everyday life and death, as facilitated by indigenous healers through ancestors (amadlozi) breath/soul (umphefumulo), spiritual energy (umoya), humanity (ubuntu) and coherent communication (masihambisana).
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