Saturday, November 12, 2011

San Religion

The San Religion consist of the spiritual world and the material world. To enter into the spirit world, trancing has to be initiated by a shaman through the hunting of power animals. When a power animal, such as an elephant or an eland (left), is killed, there is a link that opens up between the cosmos. When this happens the shaman dances and reaches a trance to enter the spirit world. Once in a trance, they are able to heal people and protect them from sickness, protect people from evil spirits, control weather,see the future, ensure good hunting, and basically look over the well being of their group or tribe.

 trance dance

In the religion, the most important being is the /Kaggen who is a trickster deity. He is in many of the myths and is believed to have created many things. In the myths, he either foolish or wise, helpful or tiresome. /Kaggen can take many forms including a praying mantis, a snake, a hare, a vulture, and even an ordinary bushman. He can change into many different forms.

The bushmen believe that /Kaggen's favorite animal is the eland, which is the most spiritual animal in the religion. The eland appears in some of the rituals: boys' first kill, girls' puberty, marriage, and the trance dance.

  • A boy is taught how to track an eland and how to kill it. The boy will be considered an adult once he kills a big antelope, mainly the eland. The eland then gets skinned, and a broth is made with the fat and the collar bone. 
  • The ritual for the girls' puberty starts when they get their first menstruation in which she becomes isolated in her huts.  The women in the tribe does what is called and Eland Bull Dance which they imitate the eland cows behavior when mating while the men acts as an eland bull. This ritual is to keep the girl beautiful and peaceful, and also free from hunger and thirst.
  • In a marriage ritual, the man gives the fat of the elands' heart the the woman's parents, then the woman is anointed with the fat. 
  • In the trance dance, the shaman tries to possess eland potency because the eland is considered to be the most potent of all.

The modern Bushmen of the Kalahari believe in two gods: one who lives in the east and one from the west. Like the southern Bushmen they believe in spirits of the dead, but not as part of ancestor worship. The spirits are only vaguely identified and are thought to bring sickness and death.


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