'Leopard Warrior' talk in Dublin at Positive Nights

I spoke at Positive Nights with Paul Congdon in Dublin recently about my upcoming book, 'Leopard Warrior'. It was a wonderful night. I received a warm welcome and the people seemed to enjoy my talk. It was important for me to speak from my Mother's original home, Dublin, where it all began for me many years ago. It was in Dublin along the coast on DunLaoghaire peer that my Mother dreamt of Africa. She had a vision of African elephants calling her. The vision was so strong that she felt compelled to listen and travel to Africa. As she said to me years later, "she wanted to witness African elephants in the wild before it all goes..." Hopefully that won't happen. But the wilderness of Africa is under threat by poachers. The only way for this to stop is for there to be more awareness and education about the wilderness and how important it is for each person to reclaim their own wilderness, the landscape of their soul. This is part of my journey, and I was delighted, humbled and very grateful to kick off my world book tour in my second home, the lovely and enigmatic Dublin City. 

 

African Zen - 'Ubuntu' in Action

Ixopo BRC IMG_3131

 

I just completed another retreat in Ixopo at the Buddhist retreat centre. We danced, sang, drummed and prayed. I was overjoyed to be joined by the Zulu cooking staff who helped keep the rhythms sweet and joyful. It is always such an honour for me to be able to share the wisdom of Sangoma culture with people. The Sangoma people of Southern Africa are equivalent to the Buddhist monks and nuns in the Far East. After my time in South Korea in the early 90's studying Korean Zen under the late Zen Master Su Bong, I discovered a number of similarities with my Sangoma colleagues in South Africa. The similarities involved an emphasis on prayer, humility and connecting with the divine through chanting.  This included working together as a team, putting differences aside for the common good. In this way we all help to realise our ‘Ubuntu’, our humanity, and thus also our spiritual direction.

IMG_3132I was delighted to see the dedication of fellow South Africans to learn about Sangoma traditional culture. This is the future, and it gives me great hope. We had a number of elders with us who were over 80 years old. One of them said to me that this weekend retreat at the BRC in Ixopo was ‘a wish come true’ for her, and she quietly said that she had wanted to learn about Sangoma traditional culture her whole life, and now she had. She was very happy. This warmed my heart and inspired me to continue sharing the beauty of South African traditional medicine.

I will be back at the Buddhist Retreat Centre in Ixopo again next year from the 15-17th January 2016, and I welcome all South Africans to join us.

John Lockley April 2015.

Tribute to Mandela 1918-2013

Mandela5 As the sun sets on our first national day of mourning here in South Africa, I pause to reflect on an extraordinary human being, Nelson Mandela.

Words fail to describe the man we know as Nelson Mandela. As a traditional healer, Sangoma in Mandela’s tribe, the Xhosa nation, I look to nature as a source of renewal and strength. Yesterday I witnessed a bird die in a strange and tragic way. I felt that something powerful was going to happen and true enough on waking this morning I was told of Mr Mandela’s passing.

Mandela’s life was characterized by struggle and harmonized by love. Even though he was old, we ‘South African’s’ could never truly believe that one day he would die. His life and message held us all together. He gave us hope, and made us believe that one person can make a difference. His message of equality, freedom and love between all people on the planet has become a symbol of ultimate goodness for all of us.

Sadly I never met Mr Mandela, however those friends of mine who did describe him as a man of incredible goodness, humour, strength and dignity. He was as he appeared to be on TV, a man who ‘walked his talk’ and demonstrated his beliefs through his everyday actions.

When he was released from prison in 1990 we were all spell bound by his oratory gifts and whenever he spoke on TV we would crowd around and listen to him avidly. He made us laugh, cry and believe in ourselves.  Mandela made us South Africans believe that we can love one another regardless of race, creed or ethnicity. That are future is bright and that we don’t have to live in fear of one another. He was funny and always surprised us when giving serious political talks. He would finish his talks with a human interest story of things that happened to him behind the political veil. We loved him all the more for this and we felt safe and secure in the future of South Africa.

In 1994 we held our first democratic elections. I was in South Korea at the time. I was invited to become a monk in a Zen Buddhist order by my grandmaster, Zen Master Seung Sahn Sunim. I declined, deciding to rather return to South Africa to follow my African calling and becoming an African monk, a Sangoma, traditional healer in the Xhosa nation. During South Africa it was illegal for a white person to walk around in the townships. These were strictly ‘black’ areas and unless you were in the army or police you had to have a special pass to walk in these areas. This made it near impossible for me to find my teacher and follow my calling to become a Sangoma. However after Nelson Mandela became president in 1994 everything changed, and the door to my work and life in townships around South Africa, swung open. I was greeted with warmth and love, like a lost son by my teacher Mum Ngwevu. When she asked me what took me so long to find her, I said, “Apartheid”. Her response was “Ah Thixo, enkosiam”. “Oh God, I’m so sorry!”. I feel a deep sense of gratitude towards Mr Mandela for making it possible for me to fulfil my destiny and calling to become a Xhosa Sangoma.

During the Apartheid years we were all imprisoned because we couldn’t express our human feelings for one another. No-one epitomized this more than Nelson Mandela. He came out of prison like a diamond from the roughest soil and taught us how to be human again without restrictions and fear. We will always honour his memory, and be forever blessed that he walked amongst us, and showed us how we can empower ourselves with dignity and grace. He set an example for us all to follow. Like many South Africans today I feel proud to have had him as my mentor, guiding me along the road of how to be a human being.

In Xhosa we say: Uthando lo thando, ubuntu olothando. ‘Love is love, humanity is love’.  It means that when we act with compassion from the deepest part of us, then we realise our humanity. Mandela was a fine example of a man who overcame huge obstacles and demonstrated ‘Ubuntu’ (humanity).

Hamba Kahle Tata Mkhulu ! Go well reverend Father.

Picture of me 1

 

Written by:  John Lockley  6/12/2013

Sangoma Medicine coming to the USA

P1010572 Ancient prophecies predict that African and American teachings will help save the planet. The reason is that they still remember the old ways and how to reconnect us to Mother Nature. I have been encouraged by my Xhosa teachers and medicine colleagues to bring our ancient teachings to the Western World. These teachings are simple and profound, focusing on helping people to reconnect to their Ancestors and Dreams.

The Sangoma tradition in Southern Africa is literally thousands of years old. I am lucky to be part of the Xhosa lineage that represents one of the oldest living shamanic cultures in the world today. The ceremonies we perform are simple and profound encouraging people to go deep within themselves and their roots (ancestors).

The ancient ways teach us that it is no important how high we travel but how deep we go within ourselves. Because all life's questions about destiny, pain and suffering reside in our DNA. Our ancestors, and all of life within the great mother have battled with these questions. When we sit and ponder the question of 'why are we alive' and what is life all about we are left with a deep question ? This question takes us directly into the world of the mystic, sage, shaman, where it is okay to not know and this not knowing world opens our minds to multiple dimensions beyond time and space.

In South African Sangoma culture all spiritual journeys begin with saying our name out to the universe and announcing ourselves to all our Ancestors. For we believe that the first gift our parents gave us was our name. And our name holds within it the seeds of our destiny. In the same way that a small acorn holds the seed and potential of becoming a great oak tree. Gratitude is central to Xhosa ritual. We invoke our ancestors by showing gratitude to them for the gift of life. For without them we wouldn't be here.  The question is never 'what can our ancestors do for us, but rather what can we do for them'. For the circle of life needs to be healed now more than ever before. We heal the circle by welcoming our elders home to us and thanking them for the sacrifices they made.

Join me in ceremony. Here are a list of dates and places  where I will be in the USA.

I look forward to meeting you.

Warmest wishes,

John Lockley,

Ucingolwendaba (Above) I stand  with my medicine colleagues, Elliot Rivera from Puerto Rico, brought up in New York; and Dancing Thunder, medicine chief of the Susquehannock nation.

 

Portland, Oregon  1st -10th  October

New York City  10th - 30th  October
  • 11th - New York Shamanic Circle (NYSC) - Open Circle
  • A time for the Community to gather, pray, rattle, drum and dance.
  • John will lead the group in some dancing, drumming & praying.
  • By Donation: $20
  • 20th - New York Shamanic Circle's 15th Annual Gatheringin Central Park.
  • A gathering of indigenous & urban shamans from all cultures and walks of life.

 

Trance Dancing the Ancient Way

John dancing at a traditional Xhosa ceremony in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. In Southern Africa we 'Sweat our prayers' through the trance dance or ‘xentsa’ .

This dancing practice is an integral part of traditional Southern African life. Traditional healers known as Sangomas use the dance to connect to their ancestral spirits. The word ‘Sangoma’ literally means ‘people of the song’ because they use particular kinds of chants and rhythms to connect to the spirit world. Sangomas are the traditional Shamans or medicine people of Southern Africa. The job of a Sangoma is to ‘nceda abantu ukuvula indlela’ – to help people realise their spiritual calling. For we believe that when people are in harmony with themselves then they are in harmony with the world around them. There is no word for depression in the Xhosa and Zulu language from SouthAfrica, only ‘umoya phezulu’ okanye ‘umoya phantsi’. Spirit energy up or spirit energy down. Through rhythm and song the Sangoma helps to uplift people and in doing so helps them realise their spiritual potential.

The Sangoma rhythm is part of the sacred music from South Africa. Whenever a Sangoma plays their drum in a particular way it is said that they invoke the spirits of the land and community. The drum beat is a particular heart beat rhythm that helps ground, calm and connect people to their roots (ancestors). I have been playing my drum and singing my Sangoma chants all over the world. I am pleased to say that no matter where I am people connect with their ancestors in the most profound and humbling ways. I have often been touched to hear people in New York or Mexico come to me a few days after a ceremony, recounting beautiful and uplifting dreams from their ancestors. Music is truly universal, and the Sangoma drum is a call to spirit and the unseen world. Now let us wake up! Now let us rejoice in the beauty of being alive. With our chants, hands and feet, we pound the earth and feel at one with all things. Camagu!  (We honour & praise the divine).

On the 17th August Londoners will dance and shake their bones like never before. Are you ready to wake up?