Ukuthwasa underwater a Traditional healing in the Xhosa culture in South Africa is a visceral experience because of the involvement of the ancestral spirit, idlozi, and the ancestors of the traditional healer.
Traditional healing involves a collection of indigenous knowledge, practises, and beliefs to diagnose, treat, and prevent physical, spiritual, and mental illness and maintain a holistic sense of wellness. The indigenous knowledge and practises that a traditional healer possesses are passed down to them through an itasi, typically a suitcase or a bag with writings of spiritual treatments from many generations ago or through their dreams, visions, and intuition.
In the Xhosa culture, there are two types of traditional healers: first, Igqirha, a well-trained and experienced spiritual diviner who can help provide insight into an individual or family situation, problem, or illness.
Second, Umthandazeli, a prophet and healer who works together with the holy spirits and their ancestral spirit to heal people through water, prayers and indigenous knowledge and practices.
Those who are the chosen ones have a spiritual calling, known as ithongo, inherited from their ancestors. They generally have one or a combination of these spiritual gifts, which leads them to begin their journey of ukuthwasa – becoming a traditional healer.
The journey of ukuthwasa is a unique and sacred spiritual path that requires itwasa, an initiate, to exercise discipline, perseverance, patience, resilience, and actively listen to their dlozi and ancestors.
Itwasa need to listen to their ancestors when they communicate with them as they will guide their process of intwaso. The ancestors of a traditional healer predetermine their process of ukuthwasa, such as the beads, animal skin and the ancestral cloths that they must wear, the number of ceremonies they must do and more.
Thus, they are required to surrender to their ancestral spirit and ancestors when they heed their spiritual calling. One of the most monumental processes that itwasa undergo is ivuma ukhufa, a process whereby the selfhood of itwasa dies as they accept a new life purpose as a healer.
When the time comes to go to emphehlweni (initiation school) itwasa must prepare themselves emotionally, mentally, spiritually, physically, and sexually to withdraw from their home life, family, friends, romantic partner, and career.
They will experience a metaphysical transformation that will change their spiritual life to help them reach spiritual ascension. The divine teachings, practises, wisdom, and inner illumination that itwasa learn and experience in emphehlweni prepare them for their life purpose.