Mandela Medicine in the USA

Mandela5 Mandela emancipated Africa and made African people everywhere stand tall with dignity and self respect. He made it possible for us to believe in ourselves and practice our old spiritual ways, the ways of our ancestors, the ways of Mother Africa. One of Mandela's core principles was 'Ubuntu' (humanity) and this ties in with his traditional background as a Xhosa man.

I am proud to be an adopted member of the Xhosa nation. As a traditionally trained Xhosa Sangoma, I teach the old ways of our people. One of our principle teachings is 'Ubuntu Ubunzulu', translated as 'the depth of humanity', meaning 'one blood', 'one humanity'. As we say in Xhosa 'if you cut my arm red blood flows; and if I cut your arm, red blood flows. We are all connected. There is only one Great Spirit and one human race. A core Xhosa saying is 'uthando lothando, ubuntu olothando'.  Love is love, Humanity is love.

We believe that to be a human being is a wonderful and sacred job. Our forefathers like Mandela maintain that we are constantly realising our 'ubuntu'. We are constantly improving, by becoming more intuitive and more compassionate. Our original jobs as human beings is only service, 'how can I help you?'.

I will be teaching about Ubuntu as a way of reconnecting with our humanity. I will be in New York City and Asheville, NC. Through simple Xhosa songs, rhythms, drumming and stories, I intend to show people how they can reconnect with their own 'Ubuntu' and Ancestors.

As we focus on our blood and bones, so we energise our spirit, and we can walk as lions and leopards with dignity, love and self respect.

Do you want to learn the Mandela way? Then join me in New York City and Asheville, NC.

Written by John Lockley 9/5/2014


New York City 7th - 27th May

  • Public Talks/ Blessing Ceremonies
  • Thurs 8th - Metacenter, Manhattan, 7-9pm
  • Exchange: $30 at the door
  • Friday 9th - Golden Drum,Brooklyn, 8-9:30pm
  • Suggested Donation: $30
  • Wednesday 14th - The Fifth Line, Sterling pl
  • Exchange: $30 at the Door
  • I will perform an African Blessing ceremony with traditional Sangoma songs & rhythms. There will also be an opportunity for people to ask questions. A number of people have reported ancestral dreams after these sacred sound performances.
  • Weekend Workshop 17-18th - Golden Drum
  • 'Way of the Leopard training'
  • Ceremony 1 - Opening the Door to your Destiny
  • Donation: Early Bird price $250 - March 2nd-April 30th. May price: $300
  • To Book: Contact Golden Drum
  • Private Sangoma Divinations/ Plant healing In New York City, Brooklyn
  • May: 10,11,12,13,15,20,21,22
  • I throw the bones in the traditional Sangoma way and work with ancient plant medicine from South Africa to help heal peoples' spirits.
  • The main focus of my work as a Sangoma is 'ukuvula indlela' which means 'to open the road', so my job is to literally help people find their road or life path.
  • As the bones fall they form a spiritual constellation of a person's life. This is helpful in pointing out areas of strength/ gifts and also where more work is needed.


Asheville, North Carolina 29th May - 3rd June


Xhosa Culture; Growing up in South Africa

Voices of the Earth, a project of the Earth Medicine Alliance ( speaks with John Lockley, an African Shaman who originates from South Africa. In the 1980s, John had a strong dream calling him to train as a Xhosa Sangoma (shaman). Because of his country's Apartheid laws, it took him seven years to find his teacher. In 1994, he trained in the townships of Eastern Cape, serving a 10-year apprenticeship with his teacher, a well-known sangoma medicine woman. Today, John facilitates Ubuntu (humanity) workshops around the world, teaching people the ancient arts of dreaming, using medicinal plants and connecting with the ancestral/spirit world. He is also trained in Yoga, Zen Buddhism and Clinical Psychology. For more information, please visit

Modern Shamanism & the Sangoma's Song

I was recently interviewed in New York City by Sam Liebowitz from Talking Alternatives radio. I was joined by my good friend, Itzhak Beery from the New York Shamanic Circle. We discussed the relevance of ancient shamanic practices for the modern world. I enjoyed the interview, and I hope you do too.

Link to Interview no longer available.

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

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


st -


th  October

New York City


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th  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?