I was born in a family that religiously used sangomas, ancestors and traditional doctors. My father and my grandfather on my mother’s side, were both sangomas or traditional doctors. At some point in my life I wanted to become one as well. My whole family practiced this part of our culture religiously. I am sure this part of my life represents a situation that quite a number of black people grew up in and still live in. We relied on sangomas, ancestors and traditional doctors for every part of our daily lives. Our reliance was most especially on ancestors. We thanked them for when things were going well and we appealed to them when things were not going well. We spoke to them, sacrificed to them and cut our bodies for them. Sangomas and traditional doctors were simply vessels that connected us to our ancestors.
Who are sangomas, ancestors and traditional doctors?
There are a number of verses especially in the Old Testament that deal with the topic of sangomas and traditional doctors. Obviously the Bible does not call them using those words but rather uses words like mediums and necromancers. Mediums are those people who consult the spirit of the dead and necromancers are those people who allow the spirit of the dead to occupy and use their bodies. Mediums and necromancers represents more or less what we understand today, and have always understood as sangomas and traditional doctors. I am saying this because sangomas and traditional doctors, just like mediums and necromancers, consult the spirit of the dead as the main part of their work. Some allow the spirit of the dead to speak through them.
Ancestors are dead people whose spirit can allegedly be consulted for whatever purpose. They apparently have interest and are believed to can influence what goes on in life.
What does the Bible say about Consulting the Spirit of the dead?
There are a number of verses but I will only use some to make the point.
In 2 Kings 1:1-5, We lean about Ahaziah who fell through the lattice in his upper chamber in Samaria and lay sick. He sent his messengers to inquire from an idol god called ekron. This idol god called baal-zebub, was to tell Ahaziah whether he shall recover from the sickness. While on the way, God send an angel to Elijah to tell the messengers, to tell Ahaziah that because he went to enquire from an idol god instead of from the true God, about his sickness, he shall surely die of his sickness.
In Isaiah 8:19, God through Isaiah asks, when people say let us go an inquire from mediums and necromancers, in our case sangomas and traditional doctors, and they will tell us what to do. Should people not actually ask God instead for guidance? Should the living ask guidance from the dead? God is asking this question because mediums and necromancers, in our case sangomas and traditional doctors, consult the spirit of the dead to get guidance, which they then pass on to those that consult with them. This is why God asks whether the living should ask guidance from the dead. The answer is that people should not consult mediums and necromancers, in our case sangomas and traditional doctors, but instead they should consult God for guidance. The living should not consult the dead for guidance. If you doubt this, look at the following verse Deuteronomy 18:10-12.
In Deuteronomy 18:10-12, God gives a command to Israel and by extension to us that there shall not be found among us, mediums and necromancers, in our case sangomas and traditional doctors, or anyone who inquires from the dead. God says whoever does these things is an abomination to Him.
In Leviticus 20:6, God says those who turn to mediums and necromancers, in our case sangomas and traditional doctors, will face His judgement and will be cut off from His people.
In 1 Samuel 28:6-7, Saul did exactly what we have been discussing above. When God did not answer him, Saul resorted to consulting a medium. In 1 Chronicles 10:13-14, We are told that Saul died because he breached his faith by doing two things, firstly, he disobeyed God and secondly he consulted a medium seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from God and as a result, because he chose to seek guidance from a medium, God put him to death and gave the kingdom to David.
What do we learn from these verses?
Firstly we see that God forbids/prohibits anyone from consulting mediums and necromancers, in our case sangomas and traditional doctors. God forbids anyone from consulting or inquiring from the dead. The reason why sangomas and traditional doctors are also forbidden, it is because they also consult the spirits of the dead. Anyone who consults the spirit(s) of the dead is an abomination to God and will face God’s judgement.
Secondly, we see two people, Ahaziah and Saul. Ahaziah was sick probably for a while and wanted to know if he will recover. He consulted an idol and God punished him with death. Saul was facing an army and was afraid. He consulted God, God did not answer him, he then decided to consult a medium and, God punished him with death.
Whether we are facing sickness or life troubles, consulting mediums and necromancers, in our case sangomas and traditional doctors, will bring God’s punishment upon us. God makes it very clear that we should only inquire from Him for guidance, whether He answers us or not. The very lives that they were trying to save by consulting idols and the spirits of the dead, they ended up loosing them.
So, I am appealing to you today, if you are a christian, stay away from those who consult the spirit of the dead, stay away from sangomas and traditional doctors, stay away from idols. Trust only in God.