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SANGOMA CONSULTATION FORM
Wim van Binsbergen/Johannes Sibanda+
For extensive descriptions of the divinatory method used, and its cultural and historical background, you may consult my various articles as included in this website, or referred to from this website.
You may seek to initiate a consultation with Wim van Binsbergen/ Johannes Sibanda+ by filling out and sending the intake form below. Your confidential information will be entirely safe, protected by professional oath.
Real-life sangoma consultations constitute intensive face-to-face sessions between the sangoma and the client, easily lasting a few hours. The consultation is essentially a therapeutic conversation that gradually brings out a detailed coherent story about the client's life and predicament -- a story which the client is brought to recognise as true and revelatory, and which points to specific subsequent action needed in order to solve the predicament and to redress the client's relationship with the supernatural. The client's sponsors and next of kin, and the sangoma's assistants and apprentices, may also attend the session and contribute additional points. Visual and auditive cues play a considerable role in the divining process. Payment is direct and often in kind, and deferred payment -- if at all tolerated -- would be part of an extensive social circle of financial and other obligations involving very limited risk. All these features are absent in electronic communication. But just like the computer is somehow capable, with the proper software, of replacing the time-honoured divination tablets and produce valuable, inspired divinatory information, so also the electronic consultation can more or less substitute face-to-face consultation, provided some additional clues are offered by the client. These additional clues may compensate for the absence of so much that is taken for granted in face-to-face consultation. This adaptation of the consultation format to global conditions of electronic communication has been the subject of a long and penetrating discussion in my forthcoming book Intercultural encounters (LIT Verlag, Hamburg, 2003), chapter 7.
Over the years I have found that no first consultation ever remains under two and a half hours, and remote electronic consultation involving the writing out of the reading is even more time-consuming. In the African tradition, as in that of North Atlantic psychotherapy, neither training nor consultation are to be obtained free of charge. You must expect to be billed at a rate commensurate with the diviner's professional status.
Current procedure is that, after the consultation request reaches me,
The fees are partly used to buy sacrifices (libations) for the shrine, and partly forwarded to the sangoma cult's headquarters in Southern Africa. Another part of the fees goes into a fund to which destitute clients can appeal if they cannot pay the consultation fee (see below). In the latter case, given the global, largely anonymous, and potentially deceptive nature of Internet contacts, bona fide proof of the client's financial situation must be produced via e-mail; needless to say that such information, just like all other information exchanged in the context of the sangoma oracle, will be treated with the greatest confidentiality. I have never needed to wonder how the shrine would react to clients' dodging their financial obligations.
client is to immediately acknowledge receipt of the protocol
The electronic format has the advantage of world-wide availability, thus mediating sangomahood -- as a great achievement of Southern African culture -- to the whole of humankind, but it also has many disadvantages. For the diviner the electronic consultation has become far more lonely and uncertain than when there is the abundance of sensory cues and communicative reassurance, as in ordinary face-to-face sessions. The diviner in the course of the session braves and mobilises formidable, invisible powers on behalf of the client. In the process, the diviner allows himself to be exposed to the client's predicaments and misery as if they were his own. The diviner comes back with personal information and insights concerning the client, which may be true and relevant, but which may also be wrong and irrelevant in ways which only the distant, largely unknown client can judge. All this creates great tension and insecurity in the diviner. From these only the client can release him, notably by immediate response after receipt of the protocol. Please realise the diviner's vulnerability and respond by returning mail.
Recently I have expanded my divinatory practice to include a free feedback service. The client is now entitled to raise (within two weeks after my dispatch of the reading's protocol) specific questions of clarification directly relating to the protocol, and to have these questions briefly but conscientiously answered by me in so far as this can be done without further consultation of the oracle. The client will be informed whenever certain questions exceed her or his entitlement, and such questions will not be answered unless the client specifically agrees to pay initiate a new consultation.
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