The Way of the Leopard Training
Find your vision and re-discover your Destiny
Learn Ancient Indigenous medicine from a senior Xhosa Sangoma
An intensive 5 weekend vision quest to find meaning and soul purpose
With my teacher, Mum Ngwevu, and her husband Tata Sukhwini. Happy, after a good ceremony!
From time immemorial the medicine person’s job was to help the community reconnect with their ancestors and thus find their vision and soul’s purpose. For it is well known that all people come to earth for a particular purpose and when that purpose is realized then there is tremendous healing for both the living and the dead. We are all intricately interconnected with our forefathers, for it is their blood running through our veins. In South Africa we talk about ‘Ubuntu’ humanity and how we are all intricately interconnected. Ubuntu involves a circle whereby each person forms part of their community. ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’.
In order for us to realize the hope of our Ancestors we need to ‘wake up’ to the blood in our veins and reconnect with our dreams.
This course is about taking people on a mystical journey. A journey of ceremony and initiation to the world of Ancestors, spirits and nature. The soul’s journey is a journey about dreams, images, colours, symbols, signs and omens. It is about going beyond language and all forms of dualism, for therein lies truth.
Sangomas are connected to an ancient world. They represent one of the oldest living shamanic cultures in the world today. I have had the good fortune to have spent over 20 years in training with both Zen Buddhism and Xhosa Sangoma medicine. In 2007, I graduated from my Sangoma apprenticeship as a Senior Sangoma. Since then, with the encouragement of my elders in South Africa, I have followed the guidance and visions from my ancestors to bring these ancient teachings to people in the West.
My vision behind the Way of the Leopard is to take people on an ancient journey to rediscover their destiny, their heart’s call, their soul’s purpose in this life. I liken this journey to a deep sea voyage fraught with challenges, joy and divine intervention. I see myself as the captain or navigator on this journey: my job will be to guide and encourage participants. Each journey begins with an intention. The more devoted the seeker, the clearer the message will become.
It is my dream that by sharing these ancient ways, we will sow the seeds for establishing communities of people around the world, who together can hold ceremonial space and ground the ancestral energy into everyday life.
In traditional cultures the world over, spiritual knowledge is gained through experience. Experience is gained through doing ceremonies. Over time, this experience turns to wisdom. This course takes its inspiration from traditional Sangoma training. Wisdom is gained in a cyclical or spiral fashion with new knowledge and information building on the previous ceremony.
The four foundation ceremonies can be completed in any order. While every weekend will include the following fundamental elements; each workshop will focus on a particular theme to give participants a more in-depth experience:
- Connecting with your Ancestors through prayer
- Sacred Sangoma drumming, chanting and trance dancing
- Receiving a plant medicine healing in the traditional Xhosa way – for cleansing, protection and help with dreams
- Learning about dreams in an indigenous way
- Mindfulness Meditation – in South African traditional culture spirituality is infused with the heart beat rhythm which pervades the songs, prayers and dancing. As a balance to our hectic lives, participants will learn mindfulness meditation through focusing on the heart beat. Each weekend workshop will be conducted as a ceremony, with an opening and closing. The ceremony is important because it creates a container for the work. Learning the sacred Sangoma songs, and trance dance is a vital part of the work. In South Africa, ancestral and spiritual work must always be done with joy. And joy comes from singing and dancing. I will open each weekend with an ancestral altar in the middle of the room to ground the participants into the earth.
Dreams are accepted as the gateway to the soul. Sangomas are known as dreamers. I will help people to navigate their dreams. There will be time set aside each weekend to listen to people’s dreams.
* A community is formed when a circle of dreamers come together.
Participants must have completed all (four) of the foundation ceremonies to ensure they are able to get the most out of this full three day ceremonial weekend. Together we will experience:
- Making offerings and saying prayers in nature, in order to connect us more deeply to the nature and water spirits. This is one of the most sacred ceremonies in the Xhosa medicine tradition, which is performed to help people connect to their ancestors
- Ancestral empowerment ceremony, using traditional Xhosa initiation herbs to help open and deepen the connection to our ancestors
As part of this final ceremony, participants will receive a traditional certificate in the form of beads.
Way of the Leopard - Indigenous medicine for the modern world
Ceremony 1 – Opening the Road (Uvula Indlela)
Explore your destiny. Have you being following your dreams, following your heart’s call? This weekend includes a naming ceremony where participants call out their birth names. Someone’s
name is seen as their first gift from their parents and a vital link to unlocking ones destiny. Through connecting deeply with your own name, participants have an opportunity to become more authentic, more human, and more grounded with their life path.
The role of Ancestors in African culture will be expanded upon, and participants will be shown how to start to develop a relationship with their ancestors. Through honouring and praising our Ancestors we become lighter and we connect with our loved ones through time and space. This practice has the potential to create incredible healing.
Ceremony 2 – Ancestral Voices – connecting with your spirits
In Xhosa and Zulu culture, Izinyanya, or ancestors, refers to our blood ancestors, as well as nature, plant and animal spirits. During this weekend we will explore ways of deepening our relationships with our own Izinyanya. We will focus on animal totems or guiding spirits. Do you know these spirits in your life? How do they show themselves to you?
John will lead a ceremony to help deepen our relationship to our Izinyanya.
Ceremony 3 – Trance Dancing the Sangoma Way
Participants will learn the ancient ‘Xentsa’ or trance dance, as well as ‘ingomas’ or ceremonial chants. The healer’s dance has been performed for hundreds of years in Southern Africa to promote healing in various forms. The Khoi-San have been proponents of this dance. They are known to be the oldes indigenous tribe in the world today. The Xhosa tribe intermixed with the Khoi-San and adopted their ceremonial dance.
Participants will be taught this dancing style. There will be periods during the weekend of ‘free dancing’ to allow the community to ‘feel their spirits’ move.
The Sangoma rhythm is a particular heart-beat rhythm and falls into the genre of ‘sacred music’ around the world. The ingomas or songs are chants, sung to invoke the ancestors and healing spirits. It is well known that the sound of the Sangoma drum is enough to help connect people to their spirits and to dream in a mystical way.
People are welcome to bring their own instruments to facilitate learning this new rhythm.
Ceremony 4 – Healing with medicinal plants
A weekend of healing through the use of plant medicine. Local medicinal plants will be used in a particular way to help cleanse and protect the participant; thus facilitating deeper dreaming. An insight will be given into the sacred world of Sangoma plant medicine. John will discuss how indigenous South African Sangomas work with plants in a spiritual way to dream, protect and bless their communities. NB: All plants used are non-hallucinogenic!
People will be taught how to make these plant washes themselves, and in so doing take responsibility for their own spiritual & emotional cleansing.
Final Weekend – Ancestral Empowerment Ceremony *
(Participants have to have completed all 4 foundation ceremonies) – 3 days
Together we will use all the skills learned on the foundation weekends to create a traditional Ancestral Empowerment Ceremony. This will include saying prayers and making offerings in nature, in order to develop and strengthen our relationship with the spirits of nature, and also with our own blood ancestors. A special ancestral empowerment ceremony will also be performed in the Sangoma way to help reconnect participants with their ancestors. Participants will ritually wash their head and hands in a Xhosa Sangoma plant medicine (non hallucinogenic), traditionally used for ancestral blessing and initiations.
These traditional ceremonies have been performed in South Africa for hundreds of years. People have often reported an increased sense of perception, and greater dream recall afterwards.
If you are looking for a way to connect more deeply with your bones, blood and dreams. And if you are looking to connect with your instinct and humanity; then this journey is for you.
I welcome all people to join me on this mystical journey!
John Lockley – Cinglowendaba, Xhosa Sangoma
This is not a Sangoma apprenticeship or shamanic practitioner’s course! It is a healing journey to help open people’s life path, thus allowing for greater clarity of vision and direction.
I can only help people who are willing to work. I am a simple guide, teacher and healer. My job is to facilitate peoples' healing process, not to do it for them. Please be aware! Sometimes drumming can bring up intense emotions and feelings especially during Sangoma ceremonies. Sangoma drumming has the ability to wake us up on a cellular level. People are responsible for their own emotional well being.
The spiritual journey is often called the 'Hero's quest' because it involves courage, fortitude, and discipline. Saying all this it can also be a great deal of fun. John Lockley.