- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Ringing Rock Press / Leete's Island Books; Pap/DVD edition (April 1, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0918172403
- ISBN-13: 978-0918172402
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,248,123 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ropes to God: Experiencing the Bushman Spiritual Universe (Profiles of Healing) Paperback – April 1, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Transformation is a way of life in the Kalahari, and Keeney (editor of the Profiles of Healing series, of which this is the eighth volume) offers us an insider's view of the shaman-like healing dances of the Bushmen of Southern Africa. A psychologist by training, Keeney has been dancing with the Bushmen for more than a decade and has himself repeatedly experienced spiritual transformation in the manner of the Bushman doctors. This book distills his many interviews with Bushman doctors into a synthesized, first-person narrative that serves as a clear, compelling orientation to the core elements of Bushman spiritual life. Among other things, he describes the three basic ropes of light that Bushman doctors see during the frenzied, ecstatic dance: vertical, white ropes that serve as conduits up to "the Big God"; and knee-high, horizontal green (good) and red (evil) ropes that can spiritually transport doctors to other people, villages, or animals. The book then offers excerpts from the interviews with Bushmen doctors, both men and women, as well as Keeney's own intriguing, though somewhat haphazard, discussion of his conclusions. 184 color and b/w photos of the dance are liberally interspersed throughout the text, which comes with a DVD of the ceremony. Though the writing is at moments stilted and repetitive, Keeney effectively combines his professional methodology and his personal experience to deliver a work that is part study of and part testimony to the transformative power of the Bushman healing dance.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Keeney combines a psychotherapist's sharp intellect with an experiential practitioner's sincere desire to learn . . . provide[s] new insights into the Bushmen's potent shamanic trance dances.” —Shaman's Drum, #65
“Each book stands alone, but [the series] provides a whole larger than the sum of the parts . . . Breathtaking.” —Milton Erickson Foundation Newsletter
“A culturally sensitive book that truly captivates the reader.” —Healing Lifestyles & Spas
Top customer reviews
Mamolelo Shikwe, Bushman Doctor
This book provides a fascinating account of the spiritual universe of Kalahari Bushmen, mostly as a series of first-hand accounts from the "doctors". Keeney has spent a lot of time in Kalahari and has written a lot about his experiences there. In this book, he takes a back seat and allows the Bushmen to speak for themselves. I was fascinated by the love these people have for God and for each other, a love which is uncomplicated, obvious and delightful, without the burdens of expectation or rationalization. It is simple - when one is happy, one loves. Dancing is a primary technology Bushmen use to enter that space of cleansing and communion with oneself and one's fellow beings. Bushmen healers obtain their "power" during healing dances. The power can come from ancestors, totem animals or directly from the Big God. The doctors themselves describe in great detail how this power arises in the belly, rises up and leaves the body "as steam" from the top of the head; then it falls down to the ground, rises through the feet and starts the process again. The process of becoming a doctor entails mastering this cycle of energy. Interesting parallels with some Eastern methods for manipulating Qi.
An initiate learns to see "lines or strings of light that go up to the sky" as well as horizontal lines across the physical world and learns to travel along these lines. In the sky one meets the ancestors:
"The oldest Bushmen ancestors have heads of animals, usually that of the eland. While I'm up in the sky village I may learn from the old ones or from the Big God. When it's time to come down the rope of light I bring the entire village (of ancestors) down with me to the ground where the dance is held. This is a very special moment. When this takes place, the whole community enters a spiritual time and space where the past and present are brought together as a singular moment."
While the material is fascinating, the way it was put together is somewhat haphazard and the "antropological" discussion at the end way too simplistic. Keeney is well aware of the difficulties in presenting and analzying something as fluid and as intangible as experiences of these doctors, each of whom has a different way of describing what they see and do and he basically leaves it at that. Still, this is a worthwhile book to get your hands on.
I became interested in this book after hearing about a DVD that was included which showed video footage of African Bushman shaking and dancing around a fire. Unfortunately what I had pictured in my mind of what I was going to see was nothing like I ended up seeing, so if your buying this book to try and learn some shaking techniques, then maybe you should borrow it form the Library first.
Other than the compliant about the DVD, this book is excellent. Everything you ever wanted to know about the African Bushman is here, and explained from someone who actually lived the life and walked the walk, not from someone who just observed from a distance which is what the majority of scientists who study people end up doing.
Learn about the African Bushman's (male and female) spiritual practices and how they are related to all aspects of their lives. Keeney goes into depth on Shaking, Nails & Arrows, Lines, Threads, Strings, Chains and Ropes of Light and of course the Dance. If you had read Bushman Shaman fist, you will know what I am talking about. This book is not just for people who are fascinated by other cultures spiritual practices, it is a book for anyone who has any interest in the African Bushman.
I would highly recommend adding it to your Library.