A short while back I spent some hours working with a Sangoma. Sangomas are the traditional healers of South Africa and I visited one in Orange County. Her name is Gretchen Crilly McKay and she is a Shamanic Practitioner who trained as a Sangoma and was initiated in South Africa. I went to see her because I want to learn more about bone reading. She does not call what she does bone reading in deference to the ancestors. She calls it bone and small object reading. Our first order of business after my arrival was for her to do a reading for me. It was a general reading as I had no specific questions. The reading is heavily influenced by the ancestors – who they are, what they think and what they want. I won’t tell you what the reading said, but the ancestors were supportive of my reading the bones.

She showed me how her method worked. There are a lot of items representing various people, particularly the ancestors, but other people as well. Her bone set had many more pieces than mine and there were a lot of beautiful shells from South Africa. Several of the bones have beads strung on them, and some stones are adorned in jewelry. It was a visual treat as well as an informative reading.

I then showed her my set and I did an impromptu reading for her. At that time I would generally reach in and take a handful of bones from my container, but she insisted I throw the entire set. This was very difficult for me as it seemed overwhelming. I had over 40 pieces in my set, but I got through it. We talked about how to read with so many pieces and she recommended I get a piece to represent the person I am reading for. I also liked that she had a piece that represented herself. She did another reading for me with specific questions regarding my spiritual path and this reading was extremely powerful. I don’t know yet what to do with the information, but I will be considering it and meditating on it.

Bones and Small Objects

Gretchen’s Bones and Small Objects

Her beautiful set led me down to the beach shops in search of shells. She said that  they have Sangoma shops in South Africa where you can buy many of the pieces. How cool is that? I would not be surprised if we don’t see some spiritual entrepreneur open a similar shop here, where you can pick up or order a new raccoon baculum and a few sheep astralagi along with a new goat skin and some psychic blend incense.

If you get a chance to have a reading from a Sangoma I recommend you do so. If you already read bones you will get a lot of new ideas to enhance your readings and if you don’t the reading alone was well worth it.