Indigenous people believe that dreams are scripted by our ancestors to instruct us, and are every bit as real as the waking state. In South Africa, sangomas (shamans) use dream interpretation to make diagnoses for a patient’s waking life based on this ancestral instruction. Because dreams are most often expressed in the subtle language of metaphor, and are also vulnerable to pollution by trickster spirits, the sangomas’ ability to interpret dreams makes it a mastered skill. Learning how the ancestors reach us and how to distinguish true dreams from those scripted by dark spirits, opens us up to a source of wonder and sometimes even life-saving information.
David Cumes, MD, received his surgical training in Johannesburg and has taught at Stanford Medical Center. After extensive travel which included time with the Bushmen and shamans in Peru and South Africa, Dave was initiated as a sangoma in South Africa. He is a bridge between Western medicine and indigenous healing wisdom maintaining his surgical practice while also practicing as a sangoma out of his home. Dave has authored five books including The Spirit of Healing and Africa in My Bones.