African Divination Systems: Ways of Knowing (African Systems by Philip M. Peek

By Philip M. Peek

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This detailed number of essays by way of an outstanding overseas team of Africanists demonstrates the crucial position that divination maintains to play all through Africa in preserving cultural structures and in guiding human motion. African Divination platforms deals insights for present discussions in comparative epistemology, cross-cultural psychology, cognition stories, semiotics, ethnoscience, spiritual experiences, and anthropology.

"This quantity of finely crafted case experiences can also be the car for a huge common conception of divination.... this can be a ebook overflowing with principles that may powerfully stimulate additional research." ― Journal of formality Studies

"The essays during this assortment offer a really invaluable assessment of either the variety of African divination structures and of modern methods to their study." ― Choice

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Example text

L).  Such imagery is encountered throughout Africa, both in terms of tracking down the truth and of discovering the proper pattern of factors relevant to the client's problem.  This critical Page 25 matter of diviners' cross­gender identification is discussed in Peek's essay in this volume.  An individual's selection may be signaled by patterned non­normal behavior (see Blier's essay) or, as among the Bena Lulua, by a period of illness or misfortune (McLean and Solomon 1971:38).  High intelligence, good memory, and especially personal control must be manifest as well, even for mediumistic diviners (see Zuesse 1979:210–11 and Bauer and Hinnant 1980:224).

Bascom (1969:1–12 and 1980) and Bastide (1968) provide comparative studies of African­American divination forms.  Although the jao cause misfortune, they enable the Atuot to "see" the true consequences of human actions through their possession of diviners.  This process is similar to that of the Ethiopian awdunigist diviner, who also uses synoptic texts to guide his numerological diagnoses (Young 1977).  Certainly there has been Arabic influence in East Africa, as Whyte and Parkin note (see their essays in this volume), and in Nigeria (see Bascom 1969; Boston 1974; Nadel 1970); but in Madagascar, as elsewhere, Arabic systems probably were either appended to indigenous systems or absorbed in a syncretic process by the diviners to augment their divinatory repertoires.

The disparaging comments characteristic of his contemporary, the missionary Henri Junod, are absent.  He returned to southern Africa but conducted no further research before ill health forced his retirement to England in 1887. Callaway records four types of Zulu diviners (1970:259–374 and 1871–72: 177–79; see also Fernandez 1967 and Fernandez's afterword to the present anthology).  Stick diviners employ three sticks, which leap toward the client and fix themselves on "that part of the body which corresponds with that which is diseased in the patient" (1871–72: 178) In bone divination, animals' bones (each assigned a meaning) are cast and the diviner interprets their arrangement.

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