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Ubulawu - African Dreaming :


Stirring the ubulawu medicine of entry into `the white'

[ Stirring the ubulawu medicine of entry into `the white'. ]


What is Ubulawu? :

One traditional diviner (sangoma) calls ubulawu, `The medicine which belongs to the ancestors. It opens your brain, it opens your brain to work. It is used to induce or clarify dreams of ancestral spirits and opens minds to receive the messages of the ancestors.'

In all traditional Xhosa rituals, isilawu or ubulawu is used. This is a medicinal preparation made from certain medicinal plants. This is mixed with cold water in a container, and using a prong-like stick, the mixture is twirled vigorously to form a white froth. This is then drunk by the diviners and sangomas performing that ritual. The isilawu plays an important role in all Xhosa rituals and ceremonies. All rituals are believed by the Xhosas to be therapeutic.


An initiate preparing ubulawu

[ An initiate preparing ubulawu. ]


The foam generated from certain plants, the sacred ubulawu, is used by the Zulu and Xhosa in order to purify and connect an individual to the ancestors through dreams.

Many of these species come from trees, bushes, and vines that grow near water sources. Ubulawu is often administered to healers during rituals conducted in river pools. Significant cave sites, often with San paintings, are often found in close proximity to sacred pools, and many rituals for healing are performed at these sites.

The term `ubulawu' refers to a specific type of plant that is used in traditional healing practices in Southern Africa.

Its uses include -

a tool to aid with divination and prophecy,

to facilitate communication with the ancestors and ancestral spirits,

to access conscious dream states.

The ingestion of ubulawu plays a fundamental role in the relationship between the diviner and the ancestors and is made by twirling a mixture of ground roots of particular plants with water.

Some types are psychoactive and their use, together with the ritual complex (song and dance), often results in altered states of consciousness with accompanying visionary phenomena such as visions or lucid dreams relating to the ancestors.


A group of Xhosa diviners, dancing

[A group of Xhosa diviners, dancing.]


Our research clearly indicates 19 different species of plants which are used either singularly in an ubulawu mix, or mixtures of these and other plants are made into ubulawu mixes.

We currently have several of these ubulawu plants on offer.

See the botanicals `ubulawu obuxutyiwe', `izaza omhlope',

`impendulo', `ubhubhubhu', `undlela zimhlophe', `umagupu' and `uqume' which are all ubulawu plants. `Uvuma-omhlope' is also used in an ubulawu mix.

`White herbs mix' is a secret ubulawu mix.

Keep in touch as we will soon be offering more of the plants used to make ubulawu.


A photo of traditional South African healers

[ A photo of traditional South African healers. ]


In South African traditional healing, river and forest rituals constitute essential components for the training process of individual diviner-healers (igqirha -sing/amagqirha- pl ). There is a variety of rituals performed during the training process which are usually prompted through dream messages that the novice receives.

Ubulawu, a concoction of plants soaked in cold water that is beaten into a foam, is consumed by the initiate during these rituals.

These rituals provide a neutral space whereby moral and social commentaries can be made. Inherent in this cognitive framework is an awareness of the integral balance between the social, natural and spiritual worlds.


Traditional sangoma diviner healer

[ Traditional sangoma diviner healer. ]


It is said that, "The most sophisticated processed herbal products are special mixtures, known as 'ubulawu', consisting of mixtures of chopped bark and bulbs and other plant parts."

The different kinds of ubulawus may also be "used in cleansing the body of 'pollutants' encountered in the crowded, stressful and highly competitive urban environment ."

African Dream Root, Silene Capensis
African Dream Root, Silene Capensis
African Dream Root, Silene capensis (Ubulawu) We have been very lucky and acquired a small quantity of a VERY rare ethnobotanical from Africa, Silene capensis. Th...

African Dream Root, Silene Capensis in more details >>

Out of stock

Email me when available

Alepidea amatymbica
Alepidea amatymbica
The true extent of the use of psychoactive plants in Africa, and the context of this use, is not yet fully appreciated or understood. With the rapid pace of acc...

Alepidea amatymbica in more details >>

Out of stock

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Synaptolepis kirkii
Synaptolepis kirkii
Synaptolepis kirkii - `uvuma-omhlope' Family : Thymelaeaceae. Botanical description : The plant is a multi-branched, scandent shrub with dark brown, almost black...

Synaptolepis kirkii in more details >>

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