Even though we live in the modern world, every continent — despite having pharmacies and doctors — has its traditional medicine man/healer, who can perform mystical healings (often involving some sort of sacrifice). Even better, these healers usually have the “gift of sight” to tell your future.
There are witch doctors in Haiti and the United States, shamans in West Africa, yogis in India, Mayan priests in Mexico and Central America, and snake healers in the Appalachian Mountains. And in South Africa, the healers are called sangomas, and they practice Muthi.
Lest you start scoffing, this isn’t a phenomenon found in far-flung, nontraditionally educated places across the globe. Every year, billions of dollars are spent on psychics, astrologers, and tarot card readers. And those billions usually come from First-World countries.
Touring the Faraday Market in South Africa.
I’ve always been fascinated by these types of ceremonies and people. I’ve had my cards read (Nothing was ever right on that.), visited a psychic in New York City (who was spot-on with me but then died a few months after he told me to come back and see him in five years, so… maybe his “sight” didn’t work on himself?), a close friend of mine is an astrologist (Karen Thorne — She is never wrong!) and I like to look into local traditions while I travel. I find these customs fascinating because nothing tells you more about the history and culture of a people than the person who heals them, as their rituals are steeped in legend and stories passed down from generations. And the practices are what have kept people alive since we started walking upright.
I was once told by the high voodoo priestess in New Orleans that I was a Buddhist nun in a former life. Who knew? I’ve checked out the witch-doctor market in Bamako, Mali, and still regret never visiting the Palm Leaf Library in Bangalore back in 1997. So when I found out about Muthi, the South African form of voodoo or traditional healing, I knew I had to meet a sangoma.
Well that, and I love markets — even if they are as creepy as the witch-doctor market in Bamako. And Faraday Market, which is like the Costco for sangomas, gives the Bamako market a run for its money.
Thabo Tsotetsi is a sangoma a.k.a., a Muthi healer in South Africa.
Who: Thabo Tsotetsi
What: Muthi is a traditional healing practice that involves a sangoma “seeing” your problem, which usually involves things like luck, love, or physical/spiritual pain, then prescribing you a concoction made of herbs, animal parts, bark, and other ingredients. All ingredients are usually bought at Faraday Market or other smaller markets like it found across South Africa.
Where: Muthi healers are found all over South Africa, but their main supermarket is Faraday, which is found in the center of downtown Johannesburg, under the highway overpass next to the car park where all the minivan buses park. Thabo is located in Soweto.
The Low-Down: I love my life. I have been very blessed… and the only thing missing is my special someone.That one piece to my puzzle who I just haven’t found yet. So I asked Thabo for my soulmate.
According to Thabo, who I’d never met before:
My Grandma Sophie, who died 17 years ago, is my guardian angel.
The spirits say I’m “Ready.”
- He then gave me three concoctions to drink, snort, and bathe in.
Tsotetsi assured me that all of the bones he used in my reading were from animals—not humans.
Side Note: He warned me that after I took the concoctions, I’d be inundated with men and that I’d have to choose wisely. And… well, I have had an uptick in attention thrown my way. But that could also be my new hair color (I went back to blond, and blondes do have a lot more fun.). As for “the one” — he hasn’t shown. Yet. I’m an optimist.
To get your own reading, email Thabo: firstname.lastname@example.org
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