Of all the tribal traditions, this one is arguably the most magical. For the San people of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Angola, they consider dance a sacred power.
One of their most integral tribal traditions is the trance dance also known as the healing dance. The entire community comes together around a fire for several hours or even an entire night, led by healers and elders.
The healers dance around the fire, chant, and hyperventilate until they induce a powerful trance-like state. In this state, they are granted access to the spirit world (and are often able to walk over the fire).
The San healers aren’t just doing this to cure physical illnesses in their community, they also attempt to expel what they call “star sickness”, a force that causes jealousy, anger, and arguments.
The dance is used for healing sick people and healing some negative habits of the people. Historians believe that this trance dance was recorded by southern African rock art.
The dance is the most prominent cultural and religious practice that the San people still practice. The healing dance comes in many shapes and they still produce the same effect; healing the sick. Many people including the women are healers in these communities.
Some women may sit around a fire and do their rhythmical clapping and singing medicine songs while their healers dance around. The ritual is a night-long affair that ends with the healers in an altered state, often feeling great pain and screaming during this dance.
In the altered conscious state, the healers experience healing energy that is carefully channeled to the sick people. The healers do this by touching the sick people on their torso or body parts affected by sickness.
The dance also drives away disputes and anger in the community. Sometimes, the healers when in trance cast themselves into the fire as their spirits leave their bodies on a frightening, painful, and dangerous mission to save their people.
The people care for the healers or shamans who are in trance by rubbing them with sweat and there is a flicking of flywhisks to ward off encroaching arrows of illness.