There are moments in the healing dance when I feel I am standing in a ray of light. In this light I am able to see inside others. I see everything as if I'm inside you.... The light sometimes seems to be inside other people. That light is given to us to see into others so we can find out what is wrong.
Mamolelo Shikwe, Bushman Doctor
This book provides a fascinating account of the spiritual universe of Kalahari Bushmen, mostly as a series of first-hand accounts from the "doctors". Keeney has spent a lot of time in Kalahari and has written a lot about his experiences there. In this book, he takes a back seat and allows the Bushmen to speak for themselves. I was fascinated by the love these people have for God and for each other, a love which is uncomplicated, obvious and delightful, without the burdens of expectation or rationalization. It is simple - when one is happy, one loves. Dancing is a primary technology Bushmen use to enter that space of cleansing and communion with oneself and one's fellow beings. Bushmen healers obtain their "power" during healing dances. The power can come from ancestors, totem animals or directly from the Big God. The doctors themselves describe in great detail how this power arises in the belly, rises up and leaves the body "as steam" from the top of the head; then it falls down to the ground, rises through the feet and starts the process again. The process of becoming a doctor entails mastering this cycle of energy. Interesting parallels with some Eastern methods for manipulating Qi.
An initiate learns to see "lines or strings of light that go up to the sky" as well as horizontal lines across the physical world and learns to travel along these lines. In the sky one meets the ancestors:
"The oldest Bushmen ancestors have heads of animals, usually that of the eland. While I'm up in the sky village I may learn from the old ones or from the Big God. When it's time to come down the rope of light I bring the entire village (of ancestors) down with me to the ground where the dance is held. This is a very special moment. When this takes place, the whole community enters a spiritual time and space where the past and present are brought together as a singular moment."
While the material is fascinating, the way it was put together is somewhat haphazard and the "antropological" discussion at the end way too simplistic. Keeney is well aware of the difficulties in presenting and analzying something as fluid and as intangible as experiences of these doctors, each of whom has a different way of describing what they see and do and he basically leaves it at that. Still, this is a worthwhile book to get your hands on.