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57 emphasis). In accord, a Kalahari healer said recently, “We do not use any medicines to help us see the light or feel the spirit. The spirit [n/om] brings all the power we need” (Keeney 1999: 107). Another prominent healer, Mataope Saboabue, says, “I do no drink any medicine to enhance the spirits [n/om]. I only use medicine to relieve people’s pains” (Keeney 1999: 60). San medicine specialists believe in the efficacy of the trance dance to activate and generate supernatural potency, which facilitates trance and access to God’s house in the spirit world (Marshall 1999: 133). Trance was achieved through rhythmic dance movements, hyperventilation, intense concentration, and audio driving (Lee 1967: 33; Lewis-Williams 1981a: 5, 1984: 226, 1988b: 135). Medicine specialists also rubbed their stomachs, the source of this energy, repeatedly in what Kinachau called “gebesi work” (Katz 1982: 284). In contrast to suggestions that Dobe San used the psychoactive properties of Pancratium orianthum (locally called kwashi), to hallucinate (Schultes 1976), most writers note the dearth of evidence that San rituals rely on these plants (Lee 1967: 33; Lewis-Williams 1981a: 5, 1984: 226, 1997: 817). Marshall (1969: 372) wrote, “The men induce trance in themselves with apparent ease and without the use of material substances such as mushrooms, alcohol, or narcotics, none of which they have.” Equally, Silberbauer (1981: 203) notes that for the G/wi “No intoxicants or narcotics are used.” In this light (and our knowledge of the non-esoteric nature of San religion) it seems that psychotropic plants may not, for the San, have been as significant as some writers argue. Because the evidence for the use of psychedelic plants by the San is at present exiguous my explanation in Chapter Seven relies on other strands of evidence in the context of San beliefs and cosmology.

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...