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182 Two ethereal human figures are superimposed on the tree below its branch level. One of these is clearly female as it has breasts. The second therianthrope with a rounded head is a little lower to the right. Associated motifs include a field of flecks, human figures, kudu cows and indeterminate buck on the right of the tree. Another notable feature is a copulating couple that is surrounded by a field of flecks that flow to link it with other images. The panel depicts metaphors of potency (e.g., flecks, Dowson 1989; Garlake 1990), trance posture (bending over) and transformation (therianthropes and ethereal human figures). The bending over therianthrope is placed where the tree roots would normally be. The position of a therianthrope where roots would normally be is not coincidental; it suggests the subterranean spirit realm below the tree, which the figure has accessed. Michael Harner (1982: 32) showed how the Conibo healers of the Upper Amazon travel down to the bowels of the earth by following the roots of a tree. In southern Africa, San “…shamans go into the ground on their out-of-body journeys. They travel underground and then come out again to see where they are” (Lewis-Williams 1988a: 17, 1994: 282). In a myth, /Kaggen sunk himself into the ground and emerged again until he got close to an eagle whose honey he wanted (Orpen 1874: 8). Equally, old K”xau, a healer himself, said his teacher in n/om told him that he would enter earth, travel through it and come out at another place, in his quest for the house of God (Biesele 1975a, 1980: 56). The two ethereal figures could be what Garlake (1995: 108, 109, 143, 158) describes as more than transformation, the “spirits with only the remote residues of their bodies, almost entirely unworldly and ethereal.” More specifically, I suggest that they could be the spirit world residents, //gauwasi, or hallucinatory creatures encountered in the spirit realm.

Continuity and change in San belief and ritual  

A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Arts, University of the Witwatersrand,Johannesburg, for the degree of Master of Arts. 2002, by Siyakha...