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Ukubhula and ukuhlola

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Most people use the terms “ukubhula” and “ukuhlola” interchangeably, however, these are two different methods of divining and diagnosing.

Ukubhula is psychic divination through a medium. With ukubhula there is always a medium that is used this can be bones, opele (irere), abalozi, iphondo, udizamahleba, etc. The medium is the cross-communication tool that is used by the sangoma when contacting the ancestors. Sangomas, especially novice sangomas, often use a medium to ensure that the message received from the ancestors is clear and accurate and is interpreted correctly. Overtime, a songoma learns to effectively communicate with ancestors using other methods. One of these methods is ukuhlola.

Ukuhlola is a type of divination and diagnosing technique that does not require the use of a medium to divine. Ukuhlola is either an innate skill that a sangoma has or is a skill they learn and perfect with time. Meaning a person can be born with psychic abilities and then later in life, go for initiation to become a sangoma. Or a person can be called to be sangoma, then learn how to divine with a medium first then later learn how to perform ukuhlola. There are different types of ukuhlola, the most prevalent are trans-mental divination and perceptive divination:

  • With trans-mental divination the sangoma will go into a trance in order to gain insight or information about a situation. The trance is an altered state that can either be self-induced with autohypnosis or that can be caused by using psychoactive plants such as uvuma omhlophe, ubulawu, or ubhubhubhu.
  • Perceptive divination is when the sangoma is able to see, feel, and interpret different types of vibrations. For example, this is when a sangoma can see a person’s auras and based on the colors of the person’s aura determine what is wrong with them.

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