The Wisdom of Ancestral Healing

“Walking, I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.” Linda Hogan (1947)

This was said to a friend of mine recently, when she met Malidoma Some, Shaman.  and he was talking about meeting them now while she was alive. “Honor the ancestors who authorized your being and be at peace when you meet them again.” Malidoma Some


Someone once said to me, but you work with the dead. I had to laugh as it was such a surprising statement, the ancestors for me are so very much alive! And I receive the physical reality of this all the time.

As we come to the end of our Nature year and the end of my year of tracking my ancestors, something keeps knocking at my door so to speak. I am a voice for the ancestors as clarified by Malidoma Some and more recently by a name given to me as a medicine woman in the Xhosa tradition of which I recently discovered I belong, Vusamathongo which means, Awakener of the Ancestors.

I am constantly struck by what I have seen and witnessed, and which ultimately gets twisted and misconstrued in our egoic minds as acceptable actions.  Pretty much anything that is not acceptable in our physical world is not ok in the other world either! The consequences can be quite radical, and as I see it they will constantly send signs, symbols and messages to us to awaken us to this. My understanding is that when we continue to ignore them and these messages, illnesses or a radical action, loss of job, home and relationship are possible occurrences. It feels like a very tough retribution, however I see it as only for my highest good and I am always grateful that I can now avoid getting to the radical signs before they happen.  They have though been profound catalysts for change and wisdom of the ancestors.  The ancestors have been there done it, so to speak and  have the knowledge wisdom and experience to warn us, so as we do not repeat their mistakes.  Honestly my guidance from them when I truly listen and when it comes through other diviners has rarely been off track.


  My illnesses I now see were clear signs to bring my gift of divination and seeing to others and until I heeded that they persisted with the messages and when I heeded that, my life changed and definitely eased. When they were calling me back to South Africa it wasn’t  that I was not listening it was more a not knowing how and when, and that information was soon provided. Over a period of five years they made it possible. But now I see that my entire life since my family left South Africa to go to London when I was three years old has been about coming Home,  and that all the paths, journeys, challenges, joys and betrayals,  has been to get me back. It only took 59 years! Patience is not my strong virtue, although it has gotten better, and I certainly heard that more than once recently.

“ How long have you been working with the ancestors?” a diviner said to me recently

“Over 12 years”

“Well then you know you have to be patient”


I have been fortunate to have had teachers who have recognized the gift and assisted me in bringing it through, and when it wasn’t a teacher it was the ancestors that were teaching me which was the majority of those 12 years.

Here in South Africa, it is quite common to have at least one child in the family as a Sangoma or healer and it is common that that is recognized early on however when it isn’t or when there is resistance or denial then the illnesses or dis -ease in the person persists. Other barriers especially here is the conversion to Christianity not the ancestral way,  which is deeply rooted in this culture. Many feared what was called Ancestral worship many still do, and some embrace both honoring the ancestors as well as Christianity, side by side and others one or the other.

In the USA I had clients come with the notion that they were deserting God if they were to start talking to their ancestors. The ancestors feel neglected, excluded and often start knocking on our door in a variety of ways to get our attention. To embrace them welcome them is creating an open door to them, and a restoration of balance between all worlds.

In the West many peoples’ gift goes unrecognized,  misdiagnosed,  unseen, and gets labeled under many headings, or not labeled at all …psychosomatic. The person continues to suffer going from one doctor, practitioner to another not able to bring alignment with the otherworld and their purpose here. I am moved to share my understanding of the importance of our relationship with the ancestors and now I view it both from the perspective of the Dagara tradition as well as some of the traditions in South Africa as I understand it so far.

*“The dead remain present among the living as the ancestors,  omniscient guides and guardians and protectors of an orderly ethical system.” The ethical part, would be similar or the same as the Medical “Do no Harm” and much more expansive to include anything that resembles “Inappropriate action or even behavior”

253 logies mother stone rock

There is some notion as I have seen that when we continue to behave out of this ethical system wether it’s literally doing harm or treating others in ways that are either out of integrity or inappropriate that it’s okay. My work as a diviner and healer is to bring alignment to both worlds so as to bring wellbeing and uplift the spirit of the person, family.  I assist people in tracking their own ancestral legacies and woundings so the healing work can be done in both worlds thereby transforming any blockages, barriers, lack of flow, scarcity,  stuckness, that stop us from moving forward  and also to bring reconciliation and hopefully healing.  It is to restore the balance. Anything that may be done to create a rift would be seen as misconduct by the ancestors  and be considered as an abuse of this ethical system. Ancestors are also looking to us to assist them in their healing and see that there is always an opportunity for reconciliation even the word redeem comes to mind.


Nature as I see it works in the same way. With its constant messages to us, Tsunamis, earth quakes, Katrina, Sandy, and natural disasters. In the physical reality an example would be …. if I try to exclude one of my family ( family used loosely here not necessarily blood) from the family, banish them inappropriately without consulting with my ancestral family then I am creating a rift in the otherworld. I do consult my ancestors before I do most things, they are my counsel before any physical being. The trees are ancestors, water,  rocks and mountains.

*“The ancestral spirits watch over their descendants bestowing goodness and blessings when they respect them when they live according to their ways. But the ancestors can withdraw their protection allowing illness, suffering or misfortune to descend on those who displease them by not carrying out their wishes or by deviating from the moral ethics and codes of conduct for which they stand.”

I am in service to my ancestors to help restore the balance but I am not their servant. I have an equal partnership with them and I have agreements. Their work is also to ensure that I bring my gifts to the world, and for that I too require certain basic needs, so I request a home, roof over head, food transport.  It is also my work to assist people through their healing to recognize and bring through their gifts. I must be very careful to know when my actions are my actions and not blame it on my ancestors( they made me do it) they cannot make me do anything, it will be my choice, however as in any universal law what ever you chose to call it, there are consequences for wrongdoings to others.

Foul play requires a book, not a blog.  It works like any other Karmic belief. As I said in the beginning of this blog for some reason we think we can get away with foul play  and some have forgotten there are many forms of foul play, or feel they are above that or don’t even in recognize it as unethical when they are the perpetrator.  Those who treat others badly under the guise of a cause, a saviour, a demi God, are dabbling deeply in the realms of Foul play. If we trust that Karma or ancestral ethics and universal law of what comes around goes around etc, etc, then we know we do not have to DO anything, and leave it in the hands of the afore mentioned. It will be taken care of. Unfortunately those who live in the depths of insecurity, and wrong use of power, jealousy and greed have greatly misused the gift.

Mbali Crazzo  in her Oakland living room, with all her divination objects.

*“The presence of spiritual forces in the form of the ancestors above all in the midst of ordinary life is a keen aspect of traditional world -views of the southern African peoples. (and other peoples and cultures) The otherworldy is believed to flow through physical actuality in the same way that rivers and streams wend their way through dry land. Together they form a whole. Water as a way if pervades belief systems of southern African peoples both as a liminal zone within which otherworldly and physical intermingle and also as a gateway into another dimension. It is also imbued with spiritual potency and not solely necessary for physical sustenance. Among southern Africa peoples water plays a vital role in the training of spiritual healers and diviners.”

Living without the honoring, inclusion and acknowledgement of other worlds and the unseen,  thinking we are all there is, is part of the disconnect that is creating a huge disruption in our Natural Laws. To ignore or think we are above the ethical system of these other worlds is to create rifts that cause severe consequences in the universal healing of our world and Spiritual Unity.


I love how and where and when they show up.  When the ancestors send me beautiful messages, via a whale sighting, a light bulb at the beach alongside the Indian Ocean,  a goat at my door, a bee with bulging eyes hovering in the air, in divination, an ant, a leopard or via a complete stranger thats when I know the physical reality is REAL, is working is very much alive.

May all worlds bless and protect you always


*Excerpts From The Extraordinary Khotso Millionaire Medicine Man from Lushikishki

Felicity Wood In Collaboration with Michael Lewis




4 thoughts on “The Wisdom of Ancestral Healing

  1. It is no accident or “coincidence” that I’m seeing this today. My ancestors are sending me a beautiful message… an important message via you. Thank you so much, Mbali, for sharing. 1 Love. 1 ❤

  2. Mbali…your writings and snaps are marvelous. A huge kind of encouragement…I remember YOU
    with fondness whenever I use my alcohol swipes…I so graciously shared with you in Burkina. Hee/Haw!
    You probably don’t know what in holy hell I am talking about…THANKS FOR THIS WONDEROUS BLOG…With prayers, gratitude. Richard Crawford

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