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

Totnes Peace day festival


Glastonbury Sangoma Talk

  • Sunday 23rd, John will be giving a public talk & blessing ceremony in Glastonbury. This will include live drumming, Xhosa singing and dancing.
  • Sangoma Sessions on Monday 24th & Tuesday 25th.

Healing through Dreaming

John will be teaming up with Charlie Morley for a one day workshop on the  art of 'Healing through Dreaming' in London on Sunday 16th Sep.

  • Mon 17th - Private Sangoma Divinations in London

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An African Blessing Ceremony

As the sun started to set across the African sky the elders gathered, the herbs burnt, and the prayers were uttered. We all joined together to celebrate our community in the Sukwhwini kraal. The kraal is the sacred home of the Sukhwini ancestral spirits and my adopted family for over 15 years.

When I first me my teacher, Mum Ngwevu and her husband Tata Sukhwini I felt I had found gold. The gold of an ancient, intact medicine lineage that stretches back hundreds and possibly thousands of years. For the Sukwhini clan is connected to the Khoi San, and they are reputed to be one of the oldest indigenous peoples in the world today. As a white South African who has lived through Apartheid I have been deeply touched and humbled by the Sukhwini elders who have adopted me as their son, and taught me everything they know in terms of ancestors and connecting to the ancient world. Every year I organise a 'thanks giving' ceremony to say 'thank you' to the Sukhwini, Ngwevu (my teacher's line) and Xhosa Sangoma ancestors and elders, for keeping these ancient medicine teachings alive in the world today. We invite Xhosa elders, medicine people and local community members. It normally goes over 2 days and includes sacred prayer and ceremony. This involves going to the sea, river and forest to offer prayers in the old way. It also involves talking in the kraal (ancestral temple), and listening to the elders speak. One of the highlights of the weekend is marked with Sangoma dancing and singing.

Every time I do a workshop overseas I get a photograph taken to show my community and elders back home the people I am helping. At a certain point during the ceremony I stood up and called forth my ancestors, I spoke in Xhosa honouring the ancient ones and the Great Spirit. I then passed around my photo album covering all the ‘Ubuntu Ubunzulu’ (depth of Humanity, traditional Sangoma workshops) workshops that I lead during the past year. I told my elders how I have taught people in the United Kingdom, Ireland, United States and Mexico, to reconnect to their ancestors, elders, dreams, Great Spirit. I tell them how I use Xhosa Medicine to help people to dream. I emphasise the importance of following the old Xhosa ways because they are sacred, beautiful and very powerful. The whole community were speechless.

Then Tata Khumalo stood up. He is a dignified elder who the people respect as a preacher, prophet and wise man. He was quiet for a moment, and then he said “Andithetha ngoku...” I cannot speak right now. He had a lump in his throat and he was very emotional. The whole community was quiet and they uttered one long sigh, aaaaaaaaah. Then his voice returned and he said “enkosi Cingolwendaba!” “Thank you John!”. The spirit started moving through him and his voice returned. He shouted with joy about the work I am doing, and expressed his heartfelt appreciation for me honouring his community, Mum Ngwevu, and Tata Sukhwini. He finished with tears running down his face and saying, “hamba phesheya Cingolwedaba!” “Go overseas John and teach people these old ways”.

I was deeply touched with the support my elders gave me, and to highlight it my teacher Mum Ngwevu gave me some beautiful beads. Her ancestors had told her in a dream to make the beads for me, to say ‘thank you’ for honouring them and helping to spread the sacred teachings of the Xhosa medicine people, the amagqirha.

Please read Caroline & Charlotte's experience of their first traditional Xhosa Ceremony.

 Spirit News by John Lockley ‘Ucingolwendaba’                             


I have travelled all over this world, such as Australia, England, Ireland, Germany, France and all over South Africa. In all these places I have not seen or felt the connection to the Ancestors that I have felt here in the Eastern Cape, Joza location.

Ladies and Gentlemen be proud of your culture and customs.

You are lucky and rich. You have no money but you are connected to your ancestors.

When you sing and dance you raise the spirits of the Ancestors. I tell people overseas that here in South Africa we have gold, the Sangomas.

The world is dying, my friends.

In Europe people have forgotten the old ways of living.

The world is dying because of greediness and a lack of humanity.

You give hope because here I receive the depth of humanity through Sangoma teachings. Wherever I am in the rural Eastern Cape I feel the presence of humanity and the Ancestors guiding us.

Fathers and men don’t forget to teach your children your culture and customs.

When you do spiritual work here in the Eastern Cape you send light throughout the world.

You give people hope, thank you.

Indaba Zikacingolwendaba


Ndihambile phantsie omhlaba wonke, Australia, England, Ireland, Germany, France noMzantsi Afrika wonke. Kuzo zonke ezindawo andikubonanga okanje andiluvanga unxibelelwano eninalo apha eRhini/ Joza.

Mawethu zingceni ngamasiko nezithethe zenu. Nenethamsanqa nobutyebi obungaphaya. Anina mali kodwa ninxulumene nezinyanya zenu.

Xa nisombela nikwaxhentsa, ninyusa umoya wabaphantsi nivuselela nathi.

Ndixelela abantu phesheya, apha Mzantsi Afrika sinayo igolide engamagqirha.

Elizwe liyathsabalala bahlobo bam.

aEurope abantu bakhona balibele ngendlela endala yokuphila. Leyafa elizwe labo, ngenxa yokunyoluka nokungabina buntu.

Ninika ithemba kuba apha ndifumene ubuntu obunzulu. Naphina apho ndikhoyo ndiyaliva ifuthe lobuntu.

Botata nanimadoda sanakulibala ukufundisa abantwana benu ngamasiko nezithethe zenu.

Xa nisenza omsebenzi apha eJoza nithumela ilitha ehlabathini. Ninika abantu ithemba, Enkosi.

Lucid Dreaming Meets African Dream Shamanism

A unique workshop in Covent Gardens, London with John Lockley & Charlie Morley, a well known Tibetan Lucid Dreaming Teacher.

  • Private Sangoma Divinations Monday 30th April

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