Das Sandorakel eines Seereer-Heilers im Senegal und seine Rolle in der Heiler-Patient-Interaktion
Curare 26.2003:67-80

##The sandoracle of a seereer-healer in Senegal and its role in the healer-patient-interaction
This article gives an in-depth description of divination sessions of a Seereer-healer to show that the traditional sand oracle is not only a means of diagnosis but the basis of the healer-patient-relationship. In the way the healer speaks with the patient on the basis of traditional beliefs he is giving a sort of life-counseling which can be considered as the core of therapy itself. The healer composes a story of the individual´s suffering which he can accept as reasonable for himself. This story is based on the traditional understanding of the bicausality of sickness; there are natural (= non-social) and supernatural (= social) causes that have to be taken into consideration. A divination session follows a standard procedure: the healer traces a figure in the sand, the patient has to spit his sorrows on a piece of horn, the healer starts an interrogation of the patient with the intervention of his ancestral spirits‹the pangool‹during which several themes are discussed. The causes and the story of the suffering are established, the patient is asked to give alms, the healer confirms his responsibilities for the given suffering and the price for treatment is fixed. At the end, the patient is asked to make a ritual washing at the altar of the pangool in the backyard.
The healer takes his legitimacy from events in his life which made him be socially accepted and also obliged to take this function in his society. He inherited the responsibility for the pangool, but before becoming healer he suffered an initial illness during which he was taught his art. His authority is guided by the special relationship with the ancestral spirits with whom he is communicating in divination. This presence of a third power in the healer-patient-interaction embodies traditional moral values, that oblige the patient to work on the reconstruction of his normal social relationships, that have been recognised being the causes of his suffering. It also marks the influence of the sacred in healing processes. Analyses of divining-systems have often stressed the importance of their social role, how they influence the individual and how they contribute to the construction of social realities. Most of them are very attached to their theories and regard only certain aspects of the phenomenon. This essay tries to show, how a traditional practice is associated with its underlying concepts of suffering and its causation. nevertheless. the sandoracle does not seem to be a genuine Seereer practice but it has its roots in Arab geomancy. It has been adapted in a way that only the fact of tracing on the sand has been retained, this has to be seen in respect to the importance and symbolic meaning of the sand (earth) in Seereer culture.##

Keywords: Seereer, sand-oracle, medical anthropology, healers, oracles, patient-healer interaction, ancestral spirits, spirits and healing