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Africa in my Bones

by David Cumes, MD

(Reviewed by Ann Todhunter Brode CST)
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David Cumes, MD has a medical practice in Santa Barbara specializing in urology…he is also a guide, author, teacher, and traditional African sangoma.
  Born in Africa, Dr. Cumes has returned regularly to his homeland to “renew his soul” and pursue the ancient healing wisdom. As he explored over the years, sangomas (shamans, medical intuitive) told Cumes that he was called by the ancestors to learn their techniques of healing. They said his unique task was to “help bring this knowledge to the West, as it had lost the way.”
  In the book, Africa in My Bones, Dr. Cumes shares his unusual journey of seeking, learning and initiation as he responds to the invitation of his “ancestral spirits” to become a bridge to the West. In reading Africa in My Bones I was reminded of Malidoma Some’s story of his initiation, Of Water and the Spirit. Cumes gives us more that his personal memoir as he includes descriptions and explanations of the varied shamanistic practices used by African traditional healers, including: trance, channeling, dance, drumming and chanting, exorcism and cleansing, and . . . reading the bones. Cumes was particularly drawn to reading bones as a vehicle for accessing intuitive healing and began his intensive training which included tutelage under master sangomas with healing rituals and initiations. In addition to writing this informative and interesting book, Cumes also offers us the transformative experience of bone reading. The “bone ceremony” is like other divination processes where you focus on an issue of concern and a toss of various seeds, shells, bones, and other objects as they fall in a certain pattern. The sangoma bone reader will then interpret this certain pattern and its meaning for you. As Cumes says “Reading the bones is a little like unraveling the metaphor of a dream.”
Africa in My Bones is a deeply personal story of a western scientifically trained man of medicine who is called to learn more about the human spirit… and becomes, as well, a medicine man following the beckoning of his ancestors.

"This is a thought provoking book written by someone who walks along two roads, who is on the one hand a surgeon of note and on the other a sangoma. The world needs such people who see Africa through two eyes, the African eye and the Western eye." Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa: Zulu High Sanusi

If you would like to learn more about David Cumes, MD and his work please visit his website

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