This is her mortar and pestle. I have awoken to her pounding some concoction to a fine powder many times.
During one of her first few days being back home, I tried to fish for a little information on what she claims to be able to do. I did not get very far because she was bashful throughout the entire conversation. I tried not to be judgmental in any way but she could probably pick up quite easily that I was not a believer in her type of medicine. She went as far as too show me a few of the items she uses as healing tinctures, balms and salves. One that she was particularly proud of was a little jar with a yellowish globule contained within. She told me it was lion's fat used for strength or courage or confidence and I am sure 100 different uses. I don't know where she got lion's fat but I am skeptical that it was lion's fat. If it was lion's fat, I don't feel like it was obtained in a legal manner. If it was lion's fat that was obtained legally, I doubt that it could give any strength beyond what is normally gained by eating a portion of fat. Nevertheless, I asked her if I could have some for strength but she said no.
Some bark that was called muti. Muti is just a word for traditional medicine in general so I have no idea what this is in particular. The link gives some more info and tells about Muti Killings which is traditional healing at its worst.
There is no doubt that some of what she makes and prescribes actually treats the things she is trying to cure. At one time traditional healing was the most modern form of science where parts of plants and animals were isolated or treated or mixed and then taken and the affects recorded or remembered in some way. This form of medicine has been vastly upgraded beyond blind trial and error and put into the hands of doctors, pharmacists and biochemists. In some cases, the parts of plants and animals that treat certain ailments have been investigated to where the active ingredient is identified, isolated down to the molecule and prescribed in precise doses. Sure chewing on willow bark will help you get rid of a headache but so will eating aspirin. But modern science can also tell you why and how aspirin treats pain as well as its side effects. Besides, can you imagine the logistics of having to dole out huge bottles filled with tree bark? I know my preference but I suppose it's a personal choice.
A dead varmint. There was something in this vole-like creature that she wanted. Apparently the vole needed it too...for living.
She then went on to show me her method of divination. She had a bag full of an assortment of trinkets like dice of various sizes, monkey bones (small bones anyway), little toys, rocks, etc. Then she would throw it on the ground and read from it. I didn't see the whole process nor did I get a reading because she said I had to pay, which is quite fair, but I would rather spend my money on something else.
I see much less value in the divination aspect of her position. Although, it could be said that she could do much more damage giving people things for treatments to things she cannot actually treat and may even do more harm, I believe most things she gives are innocuous or slightly helpful. Her practices would not have come this far if she were killing all her customers. The divination on the other hand just seems to be a form of cold reading blended with some aspects of talk therapy. The element of the supernatural is completely superfluous and dangerous. To me it poisons a person's confidence in their abilities to plan out and reason things for themselves and others by having to rely on spiritual guidance. If you have a good idea or were given a good solution to a problem, be happy that it has human origins and that someone was helped. Likewise, if you gave awful advice take the consequences for that as well, hiding behind a veil of the unknown is disingenuous. She might as well just be a counselor but whether she counsels well is another issue.
The most recent project which happens to be a large flayed snake. She had also found an enormous lizard recently and likewise killed and dissected it but I didn't get a picture. Wish I saw these creatures while they were alive.
The household sangoma is always open and even a little proud to show me what it is she is working on and I appreciate and am interested in what she finds but that's usually as far as it goes. The whole relationship is almost like a bizarre, poorly written sitcom. It stars an American chemistry major Peace Corps volunteer and his South African traditional healer neighbor. To all T.V. executives reading this, I am more than willing to make this sitcom. I will sell out IMMEDIATELY!
I am pleased to experience the culture but I can't help but have the knee jerk reaction of being uncomfortable around bogus claims and practices. Although I don't want her to suffer financially, at the same time I would be displeased if she were getting more visitors than the clinic. Ideally, I would be happiest if neither were required but the clinic be used for the medicine and the sangoma for the tradition and maybe some life guidance if it were agreed that all advice is drawn straight from her own experience and reasoning and not from the divine.