Saturday, December 31, 2011

The African Labyrinth

The labyrinth in its many shapes and forms has, throughout the ages, been recognized and used as an archetypal symbol of healing, rebirth, re-generation and transformation. The spider-web labyrinth design is based on the sand drawings of the Tchokwe people of northeast Angola. These drawings (sona) are linked through dots in the sand and show the skill of a visionary/sangoma.

According to Credo Mutwa, African labyrinths have existed for eons in Africa and are an integral part of every tribe in some shape or form. Apart from divination, the labyrinth is also used as an initiation tool into Umlando, the Great Knowledge.

The African Labyrinth
Every culture uses the path as an initiation; the sanusis and sangomas have to walk through several gates to reach the center where they perform certain procedures before they can exit. In some traditions one has to follow the path encountering seven dangers to find the green chief (representing the Earth God) without a leg in the center dome, receiving a gift for your journey forward. On the way out various people wearing different masks try to take the gift away, reminding one to take great care of the gifts of life bestowed on us. In the Zulu tradition kings were exposed to nine temptations (representing the nine months in a mother's womb) before they could finally enter the cave of rebirth, where they would find a young virgin sangoma that would usher them into this world giving them a blessing.

No comments: