The San Bushman

Page Content
  1. Introduction to bushman healing methods
  2. Bushman healing methods
  3. The trance dance



When looking at the whole subject of natural healing, for me the San of South Africa who are known as the Sho, san Basarwa, Kung or Khwe is as good a place to start as any.

I love history because by understanding the past... you can get an understanding of the present. How everything fits together... Piece by a jigsaw puzzle.

The san are genetically the oldest humans in the world and incorporated different forms of natural healing therapies, which are still used in one form or another by all of us today.

Bushman healing methods


  • Art, music and dance is used in shaman healing it has been used to heal throughout history.
  • These were amongst the first types of natural healing therapies.
  • They use a form of hypnosis. Hypnosis is still used today to treat many symptoms today.
  • They also used herbal medicine.

These days half of the men and at least a third of the women are supposed to be shamans.

The majority of young men try hard to become shamans, to serve their community in that capacity rather than for any personal gain.

They will usually serve as apprentice to a more experienced Shaman in their late teens.

The trance dance


The most important ritual in San culture is a ritual called the trance dance.

Rupert Isaacson, the author of the Healing Land spent sometime amongst the Bushman he says they have been seen curing chest complaints in children and curing a woman of stomach cancer.

  • First a fire is lit then the women with their children sit around it. They start to clap and sing medicine songs in rhythm.
  • This is the cue for the men to dance in front of the fire and thump their feet on the ground. On their feet they wear dried seed pods that are tied together with sinew cords which rattle loudly as they dance.
  • For the first few hours at least, it’s a relaxed and sociable affair. Sweating a lot, breathing heavily and glossy stares are all signs that a person could be starting to enter a trance. When the first person starts to do this, the singing and dancing will even get more intense.
  • As the men enter a trance they experience a great deal and nose bleeding. When in a trance the shamans go to the spirit world. It is there they ask for the sick to be healed and plead for their souls
  • These dances can go on through out the night. When they’ve fully recovered they share their trance experiences.

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