Thursday, March 6, 2014

Anthropological Studies of Divination in Africa

About dices and spider divination
http://www.era.anthropology.ac.uk/Era_Resources/Era/Divination/

Mambila spider divination
You find a hole living spider, make sure that the hole is clean, place some items around it, then place a broken cooking pot over the whole thing, so that you can watch the spider while it does its thing.
This kind of method could easily be adjusted for small pets. You could for example as your cat, gerbil or spider divine for you.

Venda divining dice

The four pieces represent (from left to right): Vhami (old man), Tshilume (young man), Twalima (old woman), Lumwe (young woman).

Each die has two sides (engraved =1 and plain =0) so that there are sixteen possible permutations.
Each of these positions has a name and a recognised interpretation.

Many practioners throw several sets of dice at the same time, but each set of four is read independently.

1 - 1 - 1 - 1
combination: Mufhirifhiri (dissension)

Formulae uttered: Vhumbedzi ha vhu nga dumbu: vhu sa ungi, mgvula-mubvumbi. 
The country of VhaMbeddzi is not like a storm; it does not rage. It is drizzle-rain.

Interpretation given: fighting in the village and unsatisfactory people. If it falls continually, fighting with wife. Rain and storms. Enemy to attack from outside. Chief will drive away any one making mistake.

1 - 1 - 1 - 0

Combination: Makulela (that which has grown to big for its power. A thing beyond one's power).

Formulae uttered: Masunda - phuli mahulu a vho ndougwana.
The great driver away of slaves is like a small elephant, i.e. He who drives away slaves on a big scale is like a small elephant, very powerful.

Interpretation given: Always connected with the head of the lineage. In illness the father's spirit is worrying the sick person and the spears must be brought and phasa madi done. If there is quarreling the head of the village must be approached at tevula.


1 - 1 - 0 - 0
Combination: Mahe (gristle?)

Formulae uttered: Ndi na zwimbi; ndi na mela; tshi na muto waa u lala - nawo.
I have got a swelling; I have got a growth; which has a fester for remaining with it (i.e. which will not burst).

Interpretation given: A good omen. Also connected with the head of the family.


1 - 0 - 0 - 0
Combination: Hwami (burden carrier)

Formulae uttered: Tsha hwami ndi u lalamisa, u vhonisa a mmbi ndi halo.
I bring peace into the world, and it also sees war.

Interpretation given: the time for birth has come. In war the people will be driven from their village. The sick animals will die. Connected with the spirit of father's father.

0 - 0 - 0 - 0
Combination: Mutangula - (u tangula, to strip naked, to take away everything).

Formulae uttered: Wa tangula us a rwimi u dzi: tshanga tshi do vhuya.
If you rob and are not beaten, it is mine is going to come back. (i.e. if you steal and are not punished you will steal again).

Interpretation given: very good sign. There will be no trouble. In sickness, recovery will be quick

0 - 1 - 1 - 1
Combination: Murwarwana (beating each other, i.e. general upset).

Formulae uttered: Lushada - vhalindi-vha-noni, vhalisa mdudzi tshiwela.
Noise of watchers of birds; sheperds of goats are at their pastime, i.e. all noise.

Interpretation given: Bad omen. In illness the muloi has sent a turi to enter the sick person. A journey shoould not be undertaken for fear of harm from a snake or other evil thing. Family quarrels are the work of a muloi. A man consulting a ngaga about an accusation of madness, drunkenness, etc., receives confirmation that he is in the condition of which he has been accussed. Quarrels between uterine brothers are the work of their wives. Associated with the mother's spirit.

0 - 0 - 1 - 1
Combination: Vhukata ( u kata, to enfold).

Formulae uttered: Tshikatele ndi tshikatele a tshi na mukatululi-mukoni.
Enfolding is enfolding, and it is not a 'be-able- to unfold".

interpretation given: Peace in the village. Recovery from an illness, except for women, for whom it portends serious illness. if it falls three times no journey must be undertaken. An enemy will not be successful.

0 - 1 - 0 - 1
Name of the combination: Thamba-dzivha (the washers in ht epool - indicating a crocodile).

Formulae uttered: I ri: ' Nululu!' ndi u wela thivhani: 'Nululu!' ndi u bvela nnda! I fara Mbadzi ya tshigwena-matope.
It says 'Splash!' that is, falling into the lake. 'Splash!'- that is, coming out. It catches mbedzi, of mud-crocodile.

Explanation given: Of no very great significance. Good omen. No illness, A man with no relatives will not be admitted to the village.

0 - 1 - 0 - 0
Name of the combination: Tshilume (male).

Formulae uttered: Ndi mbandambanda mudini, madiari ndi pfumbupfumbu ya musanda.
he is the man who slouches about in the village (indicating at nightime). Mid-day he is the encourager of the head kraal.

Explanation given: sorrow. Connected with lobola. if a girl has run away with a man who has not paid the lobola then child gets sick; it proves that it is because the lobola has not been paid. Child's malume must be approached to phasa for the child.

0 - 1 - 1 - 0
Name of the combination: Murubi (most probably rumbi, thigh or lap; hardly marubi, deserted village)

Formulae uttered: Murubi ndi vhula ha mme.
The lap is the womb of the mother.

Interpretation given: Connected entirely with the mother and her side of the family. The mother's spirit are causing trouble.

1 - 0 - 1 - 0
Name of the combination: Muhuluri (something black)

Formulae uttered: Ndo vala, nda hona, tsho la mukhoma tsho bvafhi.
I closed (the door). I locked (the door). That which killed the mukhoma, where does it come form?

Interpretation given: Good omen. Happiness.

1 - 0 - 0 - 1
Name fo the combination: Tshitangu (shield)

Formulae uttered: Kunga tshitangu ri ende, u sa nge munyadzi wa lwende).
Entice the shield that we may undertake a journey. Don't be like the despisers of the journey (the kill-joy).

Interpretation given: Good omen for the traveller. Illness caused by the quarrels of two brothers over their father's cattle. The father of the sick person must end the quarrel.

1 - 1 - 0 - 0
Name of the combination: Thwalima (something dangerous).

Formulae uttered: Tshi vhasa mulilo dundu, musadzi mutsuku ha malwi, ndi tshitandu tsha phaladza-mudi. it light fire (dundu-flaring).
A red (light-coloured) woman is not lobola-ed. It is the shield (hides the man) of village dispersion.

Interpretation given: Very bad omen. Fire. Village is deserted. Danger in everything that is undertaken. one of the women will suffer a great deal and a pregnant woman will given birth immediately.

1- 1- 1- 0
Name of the combination: Lunwe (or perhaps lunwe - the other).

Formulae uttered: Nd nga thenga a tshonga dzula, ndo nzula nga u tundumala, ndi vha ndi tshi ya ha Tshivhula nda wana muvhuyu wo ima nda felela u posa misevhe, matsina ndi do pfula mukhoma-tshivhul.
I am like a feather that has not got a firm seat. I am posed uncertainly. I was on the point of going to Tshivhula (the chief of the saltpan). I found a Baobab tree standing. I was on the point of shooting an arrow and I noticed that it would have pierced through the mukhoma of Tshivhula.

Interpretation given: a bad omen. Illnes is in the blood or stomach. Be very careful to guard malembe In andispute between a man.

1 - 0 - 1 - 1
Name of the combination: Muraru (the three in one)

Formulae uttered: Tsha muraru a tshi ho kule, tshi mavaleloni a tswinga
(the sing of) the three in one is not far. It is at the closing point of the tshinga (poles for closing the khoro).

Interpretation given: favourable. Prosperity in the village. In illness, the sick person must personally approach the spirits.

1 - 1 - 0 - 1
Name of the combination: Maha-a-a- khadzi (female gristle)

Formulae uttered:

Khasa! woya. Khasa! wo vhuya! madadanye tshi tshi vhuya na vhutala.
Running! you go. Running! you come back THe runner when he comes back come back on his own spoor.

Interpretation given: Lost property will be recovered. If the wife of a man maried to his malume's daughter runs away the man must get his cattle back and she will never be any good.

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