Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sapitwa astronomy: East rising sun, West sunset?
Sitting anywhere in Malawi one can always figure out an ancient compass by paying attention to where the sun rises which is always in the East and to where it sets which is always in the West.

This is what some Sapitwa traditional healers locally known as asing'anga amizimu claim. 

They also know some stars especially the Sirius locally known as Nthanda yaku m'mawa (East and morning star) which they claim is the brightest star in the universe which flickers at the stroke of midnight on December 31 like nature's fireworks ushering in a New Year.

They are also familiar with the Nyenyezi (stars) of October which sound like the Orionid meteor showers which they claim when hitting the ground light up a dark place and are used as good-luck charms.

Other stars are used to determine the birth or passing on of a king during ancient times, with a specific shooting star to the west symbolizing darkness and the Sirius one to the east birth by shining on the area where that birth will take place claim the Sapitwa healers.
Internet Sirius photo

For example if a Sirius star appeared low over an area we can today call a district in the West and flickered for sometime, they would "know" in their tales that a specific king would be born there so go their myths and tales.

This blog is trying to establish what other knowledge these female healers have including of the Pleiades star cluster nicknamed the "seven sisters among others.

Although these healers keep using the words Chauta, Namalenga, Mphambe (their God) in their teachings, this blog is not endorsing that but just telling it as it is.

Now with these two directions of west and east one can then figure out North and South in their house or on a hill or mountain top and also figure which areas are in those directions.

Ancient rain shrines are believed to have played on this with the sun hitting parts of sacred rocks which might have also been used to tell time but this blog is not sure.

For example for some in Blantyre, Mulanje would be to the East and from that they can draw a map in their minds of districts in the West, North and South.

Same thing with the 4 winds of Sapitwa they claim, with the north to them representing hot air to bring in heavy rains, the south for showers and the west for darkness and the east for light.

When the sun was above it was viewed as the north and today's lunchtime and when the sun was not visible they still determined things by looking where the "light" was during the day time.

North, South, West and East are the 4 winds drawn in the ancient African cross of Sapitwa and used centuries ago to figure out rainfall patterns which today are scientifically done by various Met departments throughout the world using different techniques.
4 winds of Sapitwa ancient African cross

Other healers who claim to trek to neighbouring Mozambique claim ancient asing’anga (traditional healers) were able to avoid elephant attacks in thick forests by briefly standing still to figure out the direction of the wind by somehow using their foreheads.

They claim once they knew where the wind was they would run in the opposite direction to take their ‘body odour’ to the wind because they claimed the elephant could smell human beings with its trunk and get confused and follow the scent in the wrong direction.

However there is no scientific evidence but the myths and tales told by some traditional healers about ancient times.  So no one should attempt such a dangerous thing in this century.

This blog will in future interview the Malawi Traditional Healers Association for more oral stories once ground work with Sapitwa healers known to this blog is done.

Now with their ancient compass the healers claim to also study or predict events by the way the sun reflected on rocks on Mount Mulanje with some at Dziwe la Nkhalamba (ancient swimming pool of the elderly) mythically moving in a certain direction to symbolize life or death.
2010 Dziwe la Nkhalamba photo
by Menno Welling
but not about this article

Other rocks were also used for readings or oracles which this blog does not have permission to share.

Most of these teachings are in hieroglyphics looking writings which for now we can call the Sapitwa Book of the Dead because the ancient priests and priestesses in oral history were a link between the living on earth and those who had crossed over to the other side but still believed to be existing in the spiritual realm.

These ancient priests and priestesses also involved in nsembe (sacrifice) rituals centuries ago worked closely with ancient royal kings. 

When these kings passed on they were buried in hills or mountains claim the Sapitwa healers.  And for some their nyanga (horns magical charms) ‘tools’ where hidden under trees growing out of anthills which were never touched.

Oral stories talk of many of them including the then “owner” of Mount Mulanje as being good people but okhwima (self-protection rituals) to help them fight wars, protect their people and for disappearing acts among other things.

One whose name has been withheld was said to rarely bath and when he lifted his little finger to symbolize a goat horn that would mean trouble in their myths and tales.

It is said such ancient royal families had a M’manga Mudzi (build a village or foundation) tree growing out of an anthill and when a few passed on they became the serpent spirit found underneath in myths.
M'manga Mudzi tree growing out of an anthill
Because of this ancient people never tampered with such places to prevent such mythical spirits from roaming and wandering about while disguised as human beings so go some of the oral stories.

In ancient Malawi tales, great kings also became winged spirits. This blog has attempted to translate their symbolic meaning which is abbreviated but those who know better English words feel free to share and guess as well, thank-you.

And to add that the names listed here are in no connection to those who might currently have similar names, NO…this blog is only capturing the way ancient kings and their priests and priestesses played with words while their real names remain hidden.

Now in Malawi such ancient kings of history with an attempt by this blog to translate the symbolic meaning included:
Sapitwa/Napolo – don’t go there, serpent spirit

Kuponda -  step on                      

Kasipe – kill oneself like in the Mbona story

Namakuno – mother come here

Usiyeapite  - let them go

Kalinje –it’s like nje, nje, nje….does that mean firm?

Kalinde – it’s okay or fine

Chambe  - like yera kuti mbee (It’s clean and white)

Mwala wa Nkhalamba      - the rock of the old one

Gumulanje  -  destruct like in destroyer

There is also a rock in Thyolo which has many myths and tales about it known as Mwala wa Mthunzi and Mthunzi (Shadow) was an ancient chief according to Sapitwa healers.
Mwala wa Mthunzi (the rock of Mthunzi/Shadow)

Now all this African science hidden in words, symbols, rituals, myths and tales shows a little bit of knowledge, of what the science we know today teaches.
Sapitwa healers talk of 7 spirits pulling each other to create the Light and working together which include 4 male positive charges named:

Tomasi Bona   - North   -  
the world in the hands/feast

Tagoneka Mbona        - West  - put to sleep Mbona

Chandiona Gonekela    - South – it’s seen me put to sleep

Nthanda mwana wa mwezi [Nthandi]   - East - Sirius star like in nthanda yaku m'mawa African cross and child of the moon

And three negative female charges named Dziwe tambamwana (witchcraft pool), Ife Zonse (all of us) and Sungamwana (keep the child).

Again one can see how the numbers 3,7 and 4 were played and how powerful 7 was to ancient Malawi according to oral stories of some Sapitwa healers.

Another area where the West and East, Left and Right were used was in describing a person’s eye among ancient priests and priestesses. 

In their myths and tales, enlightened and spiritual people had a protruding wide right eye like a serpent spirit because in their beliefs they could see with the mythical eyes of their heart to enable them sense good and evil.

This usually applied to asing’anga amizimu (traditional healers dealing with spiritual issues) and the left eye was symbolically connected to the nyanga ones mostly dealing in charms and magic.

These were drawn as the sun rising on the east which is the right side of the face and the sun setting on the west which is the left side of the face.

Now online if one checks the unofficial Wikipedia they will see the close-up up of a goat’s eye which shows the horizontal pupils that resemble slits or rectangles on

A quick check for the sunrise and sunset on the same Wikipedia one will notice how the sun is very bright so it represented light and an awakened eye while the sunset represented a person who was still in the dark, without spiritual knowledge and blind and not able to use their spiritual eyes.

This ancient history is long gone but something researchers and experts could probe and dig better so that Malawians also have a record of ancient beliefs, gods, goddesses etc in the same way the ancient Greek and Egyptian history among others are well documented including online.
The author of this blog has bad hand-writing but hope the point is clear

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Took this picture of children in Milange, Mozambique admiring visiting Malawian children

Tracing footsteps to lead me home

Greetings from the Warm Heart Africa, Malawi.

I'm a Malawian journalist who grew up in many countries including South Africa, Belgium, then West Germany, UK, Washington DC and New York in the US and I love New York.

Trying to come up with the production of my life and by compiling some of my 1000 poems into a book called ‘Tracing Footsteps’ to lead me Home with excellent photography.

I also plan to film award winning documentaries based on the history of this ancient land called Malawi and the mysteries of Sapitwa and the Sirius star. this space.