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Standard sangoma consultation intake form: African spiritual e-advice


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.

intake form

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,

  1. I mail back to the client to ask for specific confirmation of the consultation request;
  2. only after I have received the client's confirmation I go ahead with the session:
  3. I ritually prepare myself, the shrine and the oracle,
  4. conduct the consultation,
  5. write out the results (i.e. the protocol of my reading, usually a document of 10 to 14 or more pages), and
  6. mail the protocol to the client (usually by e-mail);
  7. the client is to acknowledge receipt of the protocol by returning e-mail.

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.

feedback service

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.


What is your name?
This CONSULTATION FORM requires the client to enter only a minimum of personal information, virtually all of which is common knowledge to anyone knowing the client personally anyway. Even so, all information you provide will be treated with the greatest confidentiality.



This form is made out in the English language, and you must expect the response to be in that language, but you are free to use any of the following languages to describe your problem and their background: Afrikaans, Bemba, Criolo of Guiné-Bissau, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Kalanga, Ndebele, Nkoya, Nyanja, Portuguese, Spanish, Tswana, Zulu (alphabetical order)
kindly state your surname:
your other names or initials:
your e-mail address:
in the box to the right, give us adequate additional personal information of your own choice (e.g. your full telephone number, or your full home address, or your full postal address, or the name and address of the company or organisation where you are working, or your credit card number and expiry date, etc.)

explanation: much as we would prefer you to remain anonymous, we need to be able to trace you in case your payment may be unduly delayed; if you fail to submit the additional personal information requested here, or if that information proves incorrect, your Sangoma Consultation Intake Form will not be processed

your father:

note: in the spiritual world, the persons you choose to designate as 'father', 'mother', sister', 'brother', etc. need not be your closest biological kin; they may not even be biologically related to you at all

his name:
is your father still alive?:

your mother:

note: in the spiritual world, the persons you choose to designate as 'father', 'mother', sister', 'brother', etc. need not be your closest biological kin; they may not even be biologically related to you at all

her name:
is your mother still alive?:

where were you born? continent:
community (town, village):
where is your home? continent:
community (town, village)
what is the principal question you want to ask from this sangoma oracle?

(you will find that the available text area may be extended as required)
kindly provide such extensive background information as would help put your predicament in perspective

(you will find that the available text area may be extended as required)

Please realise that one more step is required before a consultation will be conducted on your behalf. You will receive, by returning mail, a message acknowledging receipt of your request and specifying conditions of payment. By returning mail, you will then have to confirm your request, and declare to accept the specified financial obligations resulting from that request. Next your sangoma reading be undertaken, and within a few days you will receive an e-mail message containing the written out protocol (usually 10-14 pages). It is only after receipt of the protocol that you are expected to pay the agreed fee.



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page last modified: 29-12-02 10:49:51      
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