The author wishes to begin by thanking her mentor who, over the years, has passed on wisdom and skill, but who, in the true spirit of generosity attached to all sacred knowledge, does not wish to be named.
Zuna, which means 'abundance', is the name bestowed upon the author by her mentor, who chose the name after communing with the ancestors.
Displayed in Zuna's sanctuary is a miniature bronze Dogon door. The door symbolises the link between the ancestors and the living: in other words past and present. This Malian door is a tangible symbol of the wisdom and insight passed on to Zuna by her mentor.
The ancestral home of Zuna is in Wales which is integrally linked to Celtic mysticism. As well as having travelled extensively worldwide from Russia to Tomboctou, she has lived in Southern Ireland, Canada, USA, Spain, The Canary Islands, England and the various provinces of South Africa, absorbing many different influences and inspirations.
As a practitioner of several disciplines, Zuna has studied the occult and herbalism in many forms and was initially introduced to the African inspiration of the ancestors and the Inyangas soon after her arrival in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa. Her first revelation of the power of the bones came when the diviner she initially consulted confirmed occurrences only Zuna herself could have known of.
Zuna's travels in Africa have taken her to Mali, Senegal, Swaziland, Botswana, Congo (DFA), Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Algeria, Morocco, Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Uganda, and Nigeria, enabling her to gain deeper insight into the power and magic of the African mystery and to absorb much of the ancestral wisdom of these lands into her practice.
All Zuna's life experience, travels, and her work in several spiritual disciplines have united themselves in her being in the form of a synergy which has created a counsellor of acute intuition and perception. Her gifts are at your command. She is also a fully fledged member of 'Litiko Letinyanga', the Traditional Healers' Organisation.
Addiction and The Calling
If, as in the case of the author of this article, her 'calling' was masked by addiction, how many people could also be masking their 'calling' by such escapism?
As a recovering alcoholic, addictive behaviour is something Diane (given name: Zuna) knows all too well, together with the co-dependency behaviour that inevitably surrounds the addict. She actually credits her experience with alcohol and the realization that " there is no escape that way" as leading up to her 'calling'.
Diane's calling was to becoming a Sangoma (drum in Zulu). In a mystical process the Sangoma is one who is selected by the ancestors (spirit) and called to the task of healer, priest, counsellor and diviner. Channelling and the ancient art of 'throwing and interpreting the bones' are used as forms of divination. Muti (medicine) is used in the form of herbs, tree barks and certain animal derivatives. The esteemed Sangoma is seen as having been chosen by the ancestors as the connection between the living, the ancestors and Ngunkulu (the Creator). This is in keeping with the African concept of all creation forming one harmonious unity.
In her initial search for some 'glimpse' of inner peace some 30 years ago, she sought guidance from another Sangoma and this revealed how she was masking her calling in favour of addiction. This initial advice was ignored as Diane sought escape in all kinds of jobs, in travel and in oblivion. Many days and nights passed in a blur. Often there were times that Diane was led into dangerous situations or risky behaviour, but it seemed as if some guiding spirit or angel was protecting her, as she survived to drink another day. At last, one day it was clear that there was nowhere else to run to: the stark choice was between answering the call and death.
One does not decide on a career as an addict. Addiction, like a cunning selection board, chooses the individual. Similarly, you do not wake up one day and decide to be a Sangoma or follow any other spiritual path, - the 'calling' chooses you.
When the word addiction comes up, it is generally seen in people's mind's eye as relating to hard drugs, sex or alcohol when, in fact there are myriad other forms of addiction just as sneaky and pernicious. Some are of a more 'subtle' nature, as Diane has discovered in her practice and these are masked in the form of obsessive tidiness, cleanliness, and controlling behaviour - very destructive to the addict and to those around them. However diverse the lives of different addicts may be, we all have this one thing in common, we are powerless over the object of our obsession.
Addiction involves other kinds of destructive obsessive, repetitive behaviour, generally accompanied by absolute denial of the problem. There are those people who plunge into insane work routines to avoid having to deal with their feelings. Others take refuge in so much shopping that they run up gigantic debts. Some people are so terrified of offending others that they hide any anger even from themselves, whilst others eat and / or vomit in secret. Another pattern common to all of these is the absolute necessity of deception, and therefore usually of telling lies.
Diane's mentor would refer to those in their obsessive states as 'those ones that have run away'. She felt that they were suppressing their very life force and emotions. She would explain to the author how their emotions had been generally suppressed from childhood years, as the child strove to conform in a desperate search for love and approval from peers and family.
Substance abuse does appear to be gaining power amongst the original tribes and inhabitants of many countries such as Australia, Canada, USA and South Africa where these people have up until recently lived within a structured society and a familiar order. They now feel as if they are losing their sense of identity and their valued traditions as confusion sets in as to their true calling. A feeling of disillusionment and alienation from their ancestral roots leaves them drifting without any sense of purpose.
Those deep thinkers examining the current human condition have stressed that when we are doing what we were born to do, there is no void in our soul. People who have survived addiction and are living some kind of spiritual programme often refer to the "Hole in the Soul" which bedevils the existence of the active addict.
In Diane's life experience and her work with many different kinds of people from all ethnic groups, she has come to believe that all kinds of addictive behaviour fit into Jung's conviction that an addict needs a spiritual awakening. Jung could have been talking about any obsessive behaviour when he wrote: "His craving for alcohol was the equivalent, on a low level, of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness, expressed in medieval language: The union with God."
Diane thinks of her calling and rescue from addiction as being what Jung called" a higher education of the mind beyond the confines of mere rationalism." She is not sure that she completely understands where it came from or where it will lead her but knows that it saved her life - both the physical and the spiritual parts of her. She has been set on Jung's "path which leads to higher understanding".
Sometimes Diane sees the calling and her addiction as being two opposing sides of the same coin: Addiction is the dragging down and emptying of the soul and appears to originate from darker influences. In contrast to this, the calling came to Diane as a call to rise; it came from the ancestors who were guarding and guiding her and summoning her to the light.
One other feature of addiction is that the addict faces a complete breakdown in communications with any being, especially with Spirit. The calling is the exact opposite of this because the ancestors are determined that the person being called should break out of this prison of silence and set up lines of communication. (And this would mean setting up lines of communication with spirit).
It was as if a great struggle took place between these two forces, each one pulling at Diane, trying to compel her to do its bidding. The forces of good won when Diane finally accepted that she needed to heed the call and take the higher path and to surrender the struggle. However, Diane never loses sight of the fact that addiction is a permanent condition, always waiting to pounce and reclaim possession of the soul. She continually asks the ancestors for protection, and every day she once again commits herself to walking and working in the light.
Some sangomas work with the forces of darkness, dispensing spells that will bring harm to people. Diane's calling was to the light, and all her efforts are directed at cleansing and healing, and helping people to live in love and well-being. As a recovering addict, Diane knows that her sobriety depends on staying away from resentments and hatred.
Diane is now convinced that when a person is doing what he / she was destined to do the, hole in the soul is no more. She believes that her acceptance of her calling in life and her pursuit of this calling have been the greatest spiritual learning journey of all.
- Diane Williams