The Sacred and the Profane

This Sunday morning I awoke clear I had to go to the gallery down the street and purchase the large stone cross I had seen there yesterday with an Angels head in the center. Knowing the gallery was closed for renovation I hoped that someone would be there and they were. The cross also has shards of beautiful colored glass embedded into the stone, it reflects the light it catches from the sun back out to the street. These stone objects, an array of mermaids, angels, crosses and crocodiles are made by a Cape Town gangster turned good. See where im going here…….

Angels cross
Crosses and angels have not featured in my life since I was 14 years old when the nuns at my convent school in Zambia used to put the fear of God in us, pun intended, that not going to church would result in numerous afflictions and demise. I never understood how God could be good as well as fearsome and threatening. What it did was turn me away from believing in pretty much anything mostly myself. I liked them on Christmas cards, and when they come up in conversation I would definitely glaze over. I am open is all i’m saying now.


Angels have been emerging these last few days in my information stream, “bring me into your life” they whisper and much to my dear mothers joy, (I am sure she is pleased,) I surrendered. This after confirmation from a couple of diviners about what I am to do next….. “I’l take all the help I can get” I said. Their purpose to be revealed when I know, or not. Knowing my occasional lack of patience and sometimes temper I ( Yes me) I could definitely do with some angelic medicine and I look forward to welcoming them into my life.


I pray more too, on my knees ( who knew) Kneeling though is part of my training as a traditional healer, I have to kneel for most things. I love the form of prayer I use. I light candles, impepu to connect to the ancestors and sometimes pour some alcohol onto my front step or top up the already semi full tot glasses. I see the photos of my great grandfather, mother and my parents, grandparents and I feel love welling inside me and then I begin.

I begin the day with gratitude because I do have a lot to be grateful for, and as my past teacher, beloved Angeles Arrien used to say “gratitude keeps the heart open” and Lord knows my heart tries to shut close on many occasions, so its a practice that is mandatory for me to stay open and grounded.


I was speaking to a dear friend this week about how I dont read the newspapers, it came up a few weeks ago too. My chief asked me how I stayed connected to what was going on. I have a general idea, I said, if I knew the details. I may not get out of bed each morning. Sure enough I took a sneak peak at the article this morning, in the cafe, about a mother of one of the miners in Marekena, “ When I saw my grandchild eating a candle I knew I had to do something, there was no food left” I put the newspaper down and did not read on. Personally it doesn’t help me, I know there are many children without food and I also know no child need ever go hungry, I dont need the details.
Just three weeks ago I was close to a 3 year old girl where a rape was attempted. The rapist was disturbed, by someone who heard the little girl screaming, that was close to home. That’s what I know, that’s the news, once only read about, now in my face , and I also know that I am numbed not so much by a closed heart but I know that my own dramatics will not help. That girl is a part of my journey now, I cannot turn away. I will watch out for her and ask those angels and my ancestors to watch over her in a sacred way so that she may be kept whole as she begins the new part of her journey, and that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning and I now already have a job for those Angels.

Another friend stunned me when he said we are all responsible for her rape…… Now that statement wakes me up, keeps me vigilant, upstanding determined. What if, he also said a few weeks ago, everything is as it should be. I found that strangely comforting because in some way it released me from the drama that actually keeps me stuck and immobile, where we scream and shout at others, blame them rather than actually taking an action or take responsibility, you know, that drama.

My heart stays still it seems. Sometimes I wonder if its still in my chest that red beating chunk of muscle, these days its only at night when slight palpitations wake me up or when I look into a childs face, it explodes, so yes its there, being used for more useful things I am happy to say.

The sacredness of my life has been my guiding light, my strength, and if that sounds pious its far from it as anyone who knows me will contest. The root word of sacred descends from the latin, sacrum, which referred to the gods or and wholeness.
I do not do new age or sugary sweet, holier than thou. One of my brothers recently accused me of not living in reality, hmmmmm.

Profane: treat something sacred with irreverence or disrespect, violate or defile.

Radical, risk taking, adventurous and laser beam truth would be closer to how I would describe myself. Sacred is not a claim to a new way of being, as I see it, and along side of that is also being close to the profane. They do go together.

Recently seeing a hunter standing over his kill, a lion with half his face shot off, transported me into the underworld, the belly of the beast, as Malidoma once described it, and in the same stream of posts, two lions frolicking together in the water hole. And that’s it sacred and profane live along side each other or we may just all fall asleep.

photo courtesy of Alwyn Myburgh

After I bought the cross and dropped it at home I took a stroll along the beach (5 mins from my home) Thank you…..I am visibly a traditional healer not because of the glowing aura around me but because of the garb I now have to wear. In the space of an hour this is what I encountered
A large fish lying at the feet of two brown fisherman, its mouth tied, the fisherman asked me to bless their rods. ( Fishing) A group of young black men holding hands fully dressed emerging from the water. One was dressed in all white carrying a large turtle shell. What’s happening I asked. We have asked the mother he said pointing at the turtle shell and the water to cleanse our brother of what has befallen him so he can move on in his life. Yes people do still talk like that it seems.


Literally a couple of feet away a wedding, the bride and groom, standing in the water. I sit on the rocks for a minute to take all this in when a white woman comes to me and asks if I can help her, she tells me her story, and as I head home a young black man stops me and says I have seen you around may I take your number, my wife needs help. I bought an ice cream hazelnut and chocolate, remembering watching the TV series Castle last night where he takes his daughter for “make up’ ice cream when they have argued, at the moment it felt like I needed to make up…. with my self and God.

To make sense of all this I understand, in no pious, new age terms, that light comes out of great darkness and for me to say that, one who did not believe is quite something.

But then I only have to to think of the moon and the deep meaning of ukutwasa which I am in, training to be an indigenous healer. It means coming out or emergence.   I have my own past path as a reminder of that and that I do think the fish, the turtle, the lion have their purpose in ending up the way they did and that the little girl and all those who have been raped or who have raped will somehow be shown, the path of wholeness ( sacredness, light) in their own way. The underworld is real as are the superheroes who come along with them.

Some say we have desacralized the world. That’s a bit big for me to get my simple brain around. Look around you, it’s on your morning walk, alongside the Sunday newspaper, and a child eating a candle. My own journey is getting clearer.

I leave you with a true story: There was a white lioness, who had been held in captive in Joburg zoo for many years, looked after by the same keeper for as long. One day by mistake, the old keeper left the cage open, and the lioness, attacked the keeper, he died. The lioness was to be put down but a number of people fought for her freedom she is now in a “sanctuary” doing ok by captive standards. The findings were that the old keeper dedicated to the lioness for all these years had cancer and not long to live. He had not told his family this……… He came from a very poor family. The lawyers and the family sued the zoo and won, a sacred agreement bewteen lioness and keeper?…….


How we are with it all, without getting swallowed up is also the work.
I am grateful that tomorrow I take a 30 minute train ride to meet a friend who transports me to Cape Point, Eden, my sacred place, where I can commune with God, in the company of wild Eland, Baboons, Ostrich, and sharks.

May all worlds bless and protect you always.



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