Reprinted by permission of the American Anthropological Association from American Anthropologist 75, 1973. Not for sale or further reproduction.

The Superabundance of Understanding:
Kalanga Rhetoric and Domestic Divination1


Anthropological studies of divination have given much attention to decision making at seances and the allocation of blame for specific complaints or misfortunes. Less attention has been paid to the various courses of communication which people pursue at distinct kinds of seance. This article analyzes the use which Kalanga of Botswana make of stylized rhetoric in one kind of seance, the domestic seances where all the congregation are kin or neighbors and they divine at home.

THE LANGUAGE of divination has a logic of its own. In many African societies, a diviner and his congregation have to persuade each other, through highly stylized language, that certain meanings fit together, and fit in several senses at once. Both immediate events and matter of personal history, circumstances apart from the seance, must be the subject of their rhetoric. This is essential, if participants are to accept that their seance is cogent. While people reason, in a highly conventional manner, about what is immediate, they have to fit this reasoning together with their prior understanding of other, separate matters. They reject an interpretation, unless they are satisfied, often by close argumentation, that it penetrates events at the seance so as to reveal the occult significance of their own past and its implications for their future. Sometimes, they use an apparently non-subjective procedure, such as casting lots, since to the participants themselves this seems to be independent of their volition, and they can and do check it by a series of tests. But each outcome calls for interpretation: people have to interrelate implications, usually in moral terms, and they have to amplify and delimit meanings within significant sets.
Distinct types of seance give rise to distinct patterns of personal communication. The problem of how they are connected is central in this article. From seance to seance, people may hold to the same basic premise-they may take it for granted that they participate in a search for occult knowledge about the specifics of their histories- and yet they may not, indeed cannot, pursue the same tracks of reasoning or discourse. Sometimes, it is too much information, rather than too little, which preoccupies a diviner and his congregation, from the outset. Both may begin with an abundance, perhaps a superabundance, of fine, very specific, mutual understanding about the personal circumstances of the congregation's members. During the divination, there may be discourse which, manifestly at least, is concerned with very general formulations, while it moves away from some particulars. A diviner may have to extinguish some highly specific implications that are troublesome. Thus, even though there may also be enquiry that probes and reduces from the general to the particular, such as has been so adequately described in literature on divination (Bascom 1969:68-69; Fortes 1966:419; Lienhardt 1961:68-69; Turner 1961:18), this reduction is merely one among the many patterns of personal communication at seances. Indeed, much of the time, what is virtually the opposite-the appeal to general formulations to avoid or exclude some particulars-may occur, and this is especially likely at seances where the diviner and his

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congregation are all intimates and neighbors.
There is an analytic problem here which is hardly a novel one in the ethnography of communication (Hymes 1963, 1967) and is sociological linguistics though, strikingly, it is an aspect of Evans-Pritchard's (1937) classic work on Azande divination which has received the least attention in current research. For Evans-Pritchard's account distinguished the various modes of utterance and inference which Azande use at different seances, such as with witchfinders or oracles. In some kinds of seance, Evans-Pritchard showed, Azande deliberately adopt a form of speech which is enigmatic. They use this at a public seance conducted by a hired specialist, the witchfinder. The communal audience before which he performs in larger, less restricted, and seemingly more open that an congregation when it consults one of the oracles. "After a spirited dance [witchfinders] disclose secrets or prophesy in the voice of a medium who sees and hears something from without. They deliver these psychic messages in disconnected sentences, often a string of separate words not strung together grammatically, in a dreamy, far-away voice" (Evans Pritchard 1937:169). Ungrammatical speech, circumlocution, and innuendo all guarantee that the mutual collaboration of a witchfinder and his client during a public seance is protected, ominous, and, to some extent, free of self-conscious or recognized fraud. The utterances of the witchfinder have to be filled in and his innuendo interpreted in terms of the client's "own peculiar social circumstances and mental content" (Evans Pritchard 1937:173), and this mutual understanding catches both client and witchfinder in inference from suspicion. More over, the public remain in some doubt; they usually have to make an informed guess, about what is meant. The witchfinder or his client can, therefore, disclaim an implication and not be held liable for it, while at the same time conveying an ominous attach on a enemy's reputation.

With similar attention to the arts of communication, Evans-Pritchard took account of the Azande's mode of casuistry, when he showed that discourse during consultation of a poison oracle conforms to usages of rank. In such seances, Azande use language which is rhetorical. Before the poison oracle, they give their statements point with the emphatic gestures of courtly argument, the gestures customary before a human judge of the highest rank. As in forensic advocacy, so too in divinatory address, the special pleading which prevails in conventional in composition: it is rounded, fulsome, circumstantial, repetitive.

This means beginning a long way back and noting over a considerable period of time every detail which might elucidate the case, linking up facts into a consistent picture of events, and the marshalling of arguments, as Azande can so brilliantly do, into a logically and closely knit web of sequences and interrelations of fact and inference (Evans- Pritchard 1937:279).

Such divination is wholly unlike a mere search for a definitive decision such as a yes or a no answer, or a person to blame and a ritual remedy for a personal predicament, because consultation of a poison oracle is an occasion for a small or representative congregation to historicize so tightly. Yet it would be a mistake to take the "marshalling of arguments" before oracles to imply a levelling of speech in seances down to plain talk, with the same implications necessarily acknowledged by all in the congregation. Transparent talk without counterpoint of hidden and manifest meanings is inadequate for divination. Members of a congregation at a poison oracle seek the underlying, occult significance of events through "traditional refrains, pieces of imagery, compliments to the oracle, ways of formulating a question, and so forth which occur in every consultation" ( Idem). The metaphorical language they use unavoidably involves the simultaneous expression of meanings on different levels.

Members of a divining congregation communicate and revise highly specific understandings of events while, at the same time, they rely on a language of metaphors about, to use Fortes' phrase, "the common occult"

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(i.e., "the universe of ideas, beliefs, ritual objects and institutions, common and equally significant to everybody:) (Fortes 1966:419). Further study is necessary to explain this, for since Evans-Pritchard's work, much attention has been paid to the mobilizing, through divination, of support for a decision (Mitchell 1956:165-175), and to its legitimation (Park 1963), or to the relationships between the diviners and the participating public or competing cabals (Colson 1966). Yet this attention has been paid somewhat apart from problems of how meanings are amplified and delimited in seances. Moreover, many of the attempts to give a close description of a complex calculus of divinatory symbols have suffered from a critical snag. They have not managed to document in detail how communication is directed or restricted in seances of one kind or another, due to the ways people are observed to operate the divinatory calculus. (An outstanding exception to this is the full record of seances in Retel-Laurentin 1969). Such documentation might be less important if the courses of collaboration between a diviner and other members of a congregation were not so subtle and various. However, analysis of observed seances (rather than informants' memories) is essential, and it is crucial to consider divining congregations and their social composition in relation to their decoding of manifest and hidden meanings along with structured argumentation and formal rhetoric at actual seances.

The evidence I have on divination among Kalanga of Botswana is best on domestic seances. These are the seances held at a client's home, at which all of the small congregation live nearby or are close relatives, and I stress that all includes the local diviner. Such limitation of the congregation is significant in various respects, but primarily it means that their mutual involvement reaches beyond a single seance, and the can all take for granted much prior knowledge of their personal circumstances. There are, of course, other kinds of diviners and seances. Besides local diviners, Kalanga consult distant ones, too. They are unconstrained by neighborliness and kinship with their clients. More over, they proceed, when divining, as if they start from anonymity, without past familiarity or expectation of future involvement with the members of the congregation. However, my direct evidence on seances which Kalanga hold away from their homes is very limited. Therefore, I confine my discussion in this essay to aspects of their divinatory calculus which are important for domestic seances. A full report and analysis of two domestic seances which I observed, recorded on tape, and got members of the congregation to explain further from their various viewpoints forms the main body of my discussion. The seances carry forward ritual action and have a context which also must be considered fully, and I have examined this elsewhere in essays on settlement (Werbner 1971a), on land tenure (Werbner n.d.), on the domestic ritual of affliction and other rituals (Werbner 1970, 1971b) and on sorcery accusations and invocations of demons (Werbner 1972). As necessary introduction here, presented briefly in order to focus attention on the seances, I give an account of the local diviner's mode of domestic divination, its standard techniques, ideas, and rhetoric, along with the personnel who divine. I begin with he divinatory calculus whose code elements are of three associated sets, (1) terms, (2) metaphorical figures, and (3) traditional verse and refrains. Earlier accounts of Kalanga divination are given in Dornan 1923:508-510; Garbutt 1909:254; O'Neill 1907:187; and similar methods are reported for neighboring peoples in Crawford 1967:190-192; Gelfand 1956:130-153, 1959:108; Hunt 1950:40-46; De Jager 1964:2-16; Junod 1925:38-56; Krige 1943:226-230; Schapera 1953:64; Tracey 1934, 1963:108.


A local diviner's congregation believe that there are "pools" of the occult of which he should speak. They believe that some diviners can and do reveal to great depths;

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others superficially, but none can reach bottom. Kalanga call the visible signs of these pools madziba dze hakata, "pools of the divining lots"; and Kalanga read them as code figures, such as Endurance or Fatigue, for example. The divining apparatus is simple. It consists of four separate and clearly distinguishable pieces of ivory or, more rarely, wood. Each piece has two surfaces, one marked and the other unmarked; and it also has characteristics of age and sex, plainly evident at a glance or touch. One piece is primary; the one considered "the foremost" and "the senior of all" is the Old Male. Diviners rank the others by reference to it, according to maleness and oldness. The formal order of importance is as follows, since sex takes precedence over age: (1) Old Male, (2) Young Male, (3) Old Female, (4) Young Female. Binary discriminations, weighted in pairs according to sex and age, formally generate the pieces' terms. Figure 1, in which + indicates like and - indicates unlike, shows the set and its coordinates.
The code figure which a diviner reads from a permutation of the apparatus is fixed according to a combination of age and sex terms, that is, according to which of the four pieces, if any, fall with the marked side up, when all the pieces are thrown down at once, smartly, after having been hidden in both hands of the consulter (not the diviner), shaken together, and scrambled. The reading is constant: each figure is associated with one of the sixteen possible permutations, but some permutations have alternative figures. It is crucially important that this is standardized, and that the terms for the figures have categorical coordinates which do not vary2. Members of a congregation are thus able to derive personal bearings, for the reading of implications during a seance, and from one seance to the next. There are reference to universal categories of persons along with the metaphors of the figures. This simplifies ad hoc documentation in post-seances or sessions after a seance. For it is at post-seances that people meet apart from apart from any apparatus, and perhaps also apart from any recognized diviner, and they draw inferences, citing from the outcomes of the seances some choice figures so as

Figure 1. Coordinates of tems for pieces.

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to confirm an interpretation, sometimes one disallowed during earlier divination or, other times, a revision first suggested at another post-seance. A full account of a seance will show more of the crucial importance of standardized and categorical coordinates in the transmission and confirmation of readings. But first a formal analysis is necessary. It will clarify the schematic relations on which a diviner's logic hinges, when he reasons with his congregation about patterns of figures and terms along with configurations of meaning during a seance.

Each figure along with its permutation of terms is a cast, as listed in Table I. The arrangement of the table is mine, rather than Kalanga's. But it lists common knowledge; it has no secret of diviners in it; and many adults are familiar with its contents, though some, such as young women, deny that they have the expertise to recognize the casts rapidly or completely. I use the following conventions in Table I: (1) Pieces are shown in terms of age and sex; capitals indicate the old, and small letters, the young (i.e., m for young male). (2) Brackets around a letter show that the marked side of a piece is down, "uprooted" as Kalanga put it. (For example, in the cast of Fatigue, which appears in the table [M] m F f, the Old Male along has its marked side down.) (3) The vertical columns of the table are its "files," and the horizontal rows, its "quartets"; and an index number locates each cast (for example, in the second quartet and first file, Fatigue is 2.1).

The question may be asked whether any table, if elaborately arranged, is useful. Each figure might, perhaps, be understood separately as an apt metaphor for the terms of a cast. An example is Endurance (1.1): it epitomizes old manhood, and it fits the sex and age terms of the cast, somewhat obviously from a Kalanga point of view. But this fit is not so obvious for, say Fatigue (2.1), if it is taken in isolation. The fit does become more apparent, however, once Fatigue (2.1) is seen in relation to Endurance (1.1): one is the complement of the other, and the pieces of one show sides which are the obverse of the other's ([M] m F f and M [m] [F] [f]). Or as Kalanga would put it, in Fatigue (2.1) the Old Man is "uprooted," and in Endurance (1.1) it alone is not "uprooted." The


.1 .2 .3 .4
1. Endurance

M [m] [F] [f]

[M] m [F] [f]

[M] [m] F [f]

[M] [m] [F] f
2. Fatigue

[M] m F f

M m] F f

M m [F] f

M m F [f]
3. Tower

M m F f
Two Stallions Mbizi Mbili
M m [F] [f]
Bellows (post) Vuba (Bango)
M [m] F [f]
Take (Shange)

M [m] [F] f
4. Sweepings

[M] [m] [F] [f]

[M] m [F] f
Tagging After

[M] m [F] f
Apron Strings Mitembwe
[M] [m] F f

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figures and terms fit together in a total set, and there is an organization of meaning which must be considered in any analysis of this divinatory calculus. Diviners often remarked to me, with a look of revealing something they believed to be profound, that "After all, truly, the 'pools' (i.e., the casts) are only four". Moreover, the formal exposition which diviners gave me, apart from any seance, was always relative to the first quartet.

To catalog each figure and its terms as if these were isolated elements would grossly distort the way people make sense of casts. The interconnections between the people's categorizations must be taken into account; otherwise, an outsider might consider that people do leave it to chance to take their decisions at seances. Yet divination can hardly give random decisions, because that would require discontinuity of evidence from the viewpoint of the people who divine; metaphors would have to be restricted, without mutual cross-reference; and outcomes would have to have a constant discreteness.

My arrangement of this table is a matter of convenience. It shows various arrays, it is an order of casts according to the way the metaphors in one quartet are expanded or transformed in relation to the others. In no way does it imply that the divinatory calculus lacks alternative configurations, or must be used without variation. However, my suggestion is that there is, in essence, a matrix of metaphors-it might be called the comprehensive concordance of divination-and that this concordance conditions the play of verbal art at seances. The point to be made goes beyond an appreciation of the aesthetics of divination. It recognizes what are sociologically significant aspects of the ordered relations which free divination, to a great extent, from the risk of being a gamble. There is a cognitive control such that contextually relevant meanings within a matrix shape divination, rather than randomness.

A diviner is aware, and opportunely, he may make his congregation aware of relations between casts which hold within a formal scheme, for the schematic relations and interconnections between metaphors enable a diviner to achieve shifts of meaning, such as crossing from one implication to another, while he appears to himself and his congregation to pursue formal and non-subjective paths of reasoning. People can decide, as problems arise during or after a seance, which casts or how many casts are relevant to an outcome (i.e., a cast actually thrown during a seance). Given the proportionately small number of outcomes at each seance, usually not more than seven, some of the sixteen casts must be not thrown, and I shall refer to them as a seance's "hypothetical outcomes". Actual outcomes may convey contextually problematic, troublesome, or trivial implications, but these are subject to cross-reference. A diviner or his congregation can refer to the hypothetical outcomes in order to extinguish unwelcome or unsatisfactory implications of the actual outcomes. The reasoning is about configurations, and it may be pursued as if it were an exhaustive search among alternatives. People may be asked to put a construction on a complete cluster of casts, such as is linked by terms of age and sex in common, and they have to consider certain categories of persons and relationships in connection with the others covered by the cluster. The premise they have to work with (or against) is that implications have been rejected within a coherent set, and that if some were not meant to be extinguished, then a mesh of hypothetical outcomes should have been actual outcomes, contrary to the facts of the seance. Later, I shall examine an example of such interpretation with its reference to a complete cluster, in the first of my cases. However, to illustrate the clusters, Figure 2 is necessary.

Figure 2 locates casts according to the pieces and, thus, the combinations of age and sex terms. It can be seen that sets of pieces define clusters of casts which cover an association of metaphorical figures along with a grouping of elementary categories of persons and relationships. For example, Old Female, Young Male, and Young Female

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Click on the thumbnail to see the diagram
Figure 2 Scheme of casts.

define a cluster around the triangle marked [M] on the chart and including Clicking (f), Panting (F), Stabbing (m), Duetto (mf), Apron Strings (fF), Tagging After (mF), and Fatigue (Fmf). I chose this example because it is one discussed by a diviner in the first case that I analyze fully below; and of the many formal properties of the Figure, I comment here only on those that bear on my observations about seances. In the first case, Tagging After (mF) was a troublesome outcome, in various respects. One device which the diviner used to reject awkward suspicion was to direct attention to what would be needed to confirm the suspicion yet was actually missing from the outcomes. This is, he played down the significance of Tagging After by tracing the rest of a cluster which includes Tagging After and pointing out the elimination of these casts

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from the series of outcomes. The cluster of hypothetical outcomes which he constructed was not arbitrary, it was apt because its pieces, Old Female, Young Female, and Young Male, signified persons and relationships worrying the congregation, and also because the metaphorical figure for the cast with the three pieces (Fmf) Fatigue represented in one of its central senses a main problem and danger the congregation was coping with.

Ambiguous understatement of a configuration of meaning is the essence of a diviner's art (see Turner 1968:43); each seance is an exercise in reasoning from a whole to a part, and reciprocally. A diviner strings together riddles, paradoxes, and equivocal figures of speech, with barbed emphasis in rhetorical questions, each associated with a cast of the diviner's four two-faced lots. Often, he makes explicit comment about equivocating, "We are still making lies [ tica nyepesa ]." Or about the indirectness of his speech, "We speak indirectly [ toleba tipesa , speak evasively, missing]; we speak in allusions [ matama anopesa , words that avoid]." And he also has standard remarks to make about being shown a human being's inner self which is otherwise unknowable, "Even though we cannot know what is inside a human being, it would have shown us what is inside." He speaks in evocative praises, pregnant with imagery which, appealing from the concrete and particular, may be cryptic and general. In some respects, his art refracts common sense: it triumphs with and over it, since it seems to reveal a transcendental reality of which everyday perception knows merely the reduced appearance.

The verses for the praises are stock. The personal repertoire which a diviner has is drawn from a standard fund of verse, but does not exhaust it. His repertoire may be richer in verse for some casts, and this, as well as its overall richness, varies from diviner to diviner. Usually, it includes some verses that may be understood to be about, as Turner observed for Ndembu divinatory symbols, "the seamy side of social life" (1961:6): treachery, adultery, scandalmongering, greed, aggression among kin and affines. But these same verses may also contain allusions to various rituals and to acts which are symbolic of basic axioms of dutiful behaviour, such as between kin, affines, or neighbors. For example, a diviner may recite this verse for Sweepings (4.1, it has all the blank sides of the lots showing):

Of the dust and the wind. Going, going-that is for boys; we old men rest our feet. The sleeping mats are spread by women; we old men, our going is for sleeping.

In the context of a seance this may convey breaking ground for a burial, or the grime of a journey, or the dust from dancing at a feast, or trouble from a sorcerer's familiar. One method which a diviner may use to bring some implication of the verse to the fore is to delete part of it, and he may abridge or expand the verse to suit the occasion. A second method is to recite fragments from the verse of some cast that is a linked, hypothetical outcome in order to counter what would otherwise by conveyed by the usual praise of an actual outcome. However, a diviner is not free to use any verse, at will; indeed, he must cope with the expectations people have that a verse should be, at once, apt and conventional.

To illustrate some of these points about the praising of casts, an actual instance is essential. In advance of my analysis of a whole seance, I consider the praising of a single outcome, Tower (3.1). It was the fifth in the series of seven, and the divination was for a patient whose illness during pregnancy was being attributed, at the seance, to affliction by demons, though there was also concern about the possibility that sorcery was being worked against her. (See my following discussion.) After the seance the diviner stressed to me that in this cast, Tower, all the pieces show color: none are blank. It astonishes you, he told me, so what is said about it must dazzle, just as the Tower of all dazzles. Thus he called the divining congregation to recognize, first, a bird and her brood with a quality like that of women in demonic possession, when they preen themselves in their many colors. He called out:

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It has, "The shadows have turned." It has "Where is the guinea fowl? Where is its brood?" The shadows would be its [the guinea fowl's along with its brood].

The conveyed a demand of demons that a woman initiated into the cult of possession, a host, and her daughter should perform ritually, specifically the patient and her mother.

Next, the diviner alluded to a feast, in an image which, as he explained it to me later, conveyed hope, expectation, suspense:

It would be "Of lads, of turtle-doves, people towering to see."

This extended the metaphor of the cast's figure. He unravelled it for me thus: Just as Tower is above all, and its prominence is in a gathering of many together (all the pieces with marks), so too a head of grain stands above others, with many together. His interpretation was that turtle-doves flock about and raise dust, while crops are standing, or while grain waits to be stamped. When lads gather, then, and say, "Haa, haa," the birds flutter away-and people are gathering, towering over one another to see if there is to be beer, as benefits a feast.

Continuing, his praises rendered, in a logically coded form, a demand by demons for the red, white, and black of the ritual garments which the possessed host wears, her shawl and her beaded crown. Circumlocution was necessary, because direct comment about a woman's status as host is forbidden in her presence, at a time when she is not possessed. A central meaning was, therefore, conveyed without direct statement, and through the use of a set of linguistic devices and logical shifts:

It has "A genet is a bird, a guinea fowl is a bird; and black when it flutters away, it comes with the colors of the dead." Do we understand one another? For the fifth, it is Tower. Yes, pick up, woman [i.e., pick up the lots, and throw again].

First, there was a play on the word for "lion" ( shumba) substituting for it " genet" ( simba). Such observance of the taboo on direct address was also in accord with the conventions of ritual speech for a host which, involving a substitution and mouthing of words, is distinguished from everyday usage and is a systematic transmutation of it. Moreover, the substitution in the praise focused on a category that connects and mediates between the wild and the domestic-between a "knoll" and the site of a home. It is a category to which both a genet and a host belong. For a host, while she is possessed in the ritually appropriate place, the home of a relative, becomes a lion "come from far, far" in the wild; and she is addressed as a "knoll having demons." So, too, the genet, when small-spotted, is known as "that of the knoll," and when rusty-spotted, as "that of the red loam," soil much favoured for home sites and cultivation. And, in explaining this, the diviner drew my attention, also, to the way both genet and host display three colors, black, and red and white: touches of white and black appear on the small-spotted genet, and red and black on the rusty-spotted genet.

Beyond the play on words and focus on a mediating category, the praise presented a central message, further, through the equating of moving creatures, according to a logical and abstract correspondence. What the divining congregation would ordinarily call an animal, the genet, and what they would ordinarily call a bird, the guinea fowl, were both praised to be "bird." This equation, like the initial substitution of one cat for another, accentuated likeness in common. Primarily, it accentuated an attribute-spots of color-and the capacity of this attribute to be seen to transform and be revealed as its contrary-spotless darkness or black. As the diviner unfolded the meaning to me, a genet is a bird in a sense that a guinea fowl is a bird insofar as both have an identity in spots of two contrasting colors. Moreover, the closing of the praise-"black when it flutters away, it comes with the colors of the dead"-portrayed a transformation familiar in everyday perception-seeing a bird black when in distant flight, and when closeby in its spectacular plumage, here the guinea fowl's white speckles on bluish-grey plumage (for Kalanga, black)-

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and made this familiar yet wonderful sight convey a cryptic revelation. It conveyed the marvelous manifestation of the demons in ritual, when, at the onset of demonic possession, a woman rushes from a hut, disappears into the night, and returns iridescent as a host of the demons.


The rhetoric of domestic seances depends on more than the code elements-the terms, figures, and verse-or the techniques of divination which I have considered so far. It depends also on an immediate context of communication between specific sets of persons. To demonstrate this, I must consider next who the domestic diviners are, which congregations consult them, and what their concerns are.

The domestic diviners are men, exclusively. In gross characteristics, they tend to be like their neighbors, and over about forty years of age. Their ancestral shades are believed to help them divine, but they do not undergo spirit possession or succeed a relative, though usually they have a kinsman who was or is a diviner. They are not distinguishable by simple criteria such as wealth, education, rates of labor migration, spatial distance from kin, or order of birth. There is no hierarchy or grading among them, merely fluctuations in renown and public credibility. For a time, people from a particular hamlet may rely more on one or two of the half-a-dozen diviners usually in the vicinity, but this preference is not constant. Similarly, a diviner may vary his practice and clientele, both nearby and at a distance, since the same man may be a local diviner for his neighbors and a distant diviner for strangers. However, a few are outstanding, at a given time: they are consulted more widely, by more people, and for higher fees than the others, sometimes charging more than fifteen pounds for a major divination at a distance or as little as a few shillings for a domestic one. Nevertheless, no diviner is a final authority, and members of congregation may consult several about the same affairs.

There are norms about the proper composition of a congregation at a seance. Breaches of the norms do occur, but then the divination can more easily be invalidated, in public at least, and during any subsequent litigation about it in moots of kin or courts, Attendance at a domestic seance is usually by invitation, although a casual visitor, if a much trusted neighbor or close relative, might be welcomed to join the congregation. The norms allow for variation from divination which is dyadic-i.e., an individual alone with the local diviner-to the most representative divination, in which certain relatives with jural responsibility and various interests should be fully represented in the congregation.

Who ought to attend a seance, according to the norms, is always connected with a category of complaint. Different norms of attendance apply to distinct categories of complaint. Each seance, as Kalanga see it, is immediately due to some specific complaint requiring investigation before treatment. The complaint may be about persons or livestock, a matter of death, illness, or injury; it may be about property, a theft or loss, or some damage such as by lightning or, perhaps, a whirlwind that made a shambles of a hut; and it may be a wild animal's or snake's trespass into a home. A representative congregation is appropriate, if a seance's conclusions are to have public validity, when the complaint is categorized, the way death ordinarily is, as a grievous injury. Any other divination about such a complaint is more tentative. It contributes to opinion in gossip, and people look on it as a preliminary or initial enquiry; they say they ought to pursue the matter further, though they do not always do so. I recorded one domestic seance about such a complaint-the sudden deaths of several cattle-at which various jurally responsible relatives were absent. The local diviner at first refused to divine, and then tried unsuccessfully, to parry his client's insistence that her husband's sister was

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to blame for causing the deaths through sorcery. Afterwards, the client showed other neighbors and relatives a list of the casts she had thrown, and reinterpreted their significance at post-seances. These other neighbors and relatives agreed with her that the local diviner had feared to tell all he knew, lest he be involved in a lawsuit.

A domestic seance into a grievous injury is considered somewhat tentative, even if the congregation is representative. It may also be considered inadequate or even unsuccessful, in some respects, from the viewpoints of the local diviner or the congregation. At another seance which I recorded, a local diviner advised his client about the casts and said that sorcery was at work but a distant diviner had to be consulted about it: "There is nothing that I can do here, and there is nothing else that you can do." The woman whom his client suspected of sorcery, a resident of the same hamlet, then asked, "Has it [the sorcery] come from very far?" The local diviner replied, "I cannot say about that, we eat together. If you had come from [another district], I could tell you about that." He excused himself from saying who was to blame, because to name a neighbor was to risk having his own food poisoned by sorcery.

Although a seance with a distant diviner is considered to be more conclusive about sorcery and more appropriate for a distinct category of complaints, the kinds of seance are not distinguished by a concern with quite unlike moral issues. People may have different complaints at one kind of seance of another and yet harp on the same bits of conduct and faults. However, my evidence for this is largely hearsay with regard to divination by distant diviners, and it is more useful to demonstrate the relation between complaints and moral issues through the analysis of actual seances.

This leads me to the two cases of domestic seances which are the crux of my evidence here. Extensive, intimate, and up-to-date information about the personal and familial histories of each member of the congregation was the basis for the highly specific prior understanding which the local diviner brought to bear in the seance of the first case. Along with his client and others in the congregation, he also shared a covert suspicion about sorcery, which publicly, remained unstated. His immediate interest, however, was professional-his patient was suffering a painful pregnancy-and he had personal detachment. Of all the congregation-the paying client-none were his close relatives or immediate neighbors. Yet the diviner had a central place between them, so that he was quite unlike a casual stranger. He lived near them all, midway between the patient's natal home and the client's own and his kin's locality. Moreover, the diviner had taken part in their affairs in the past, most recently a month earlier. His client had just fled from his father's hamlet and summoned the diviner after a wild animal, a duiker, trespassed from the bush into the rough clearing and temporary shelters of his new home. An insinuation of sorcery was then made, rather than a direct accusation. The client let it come out in gossip, after the divination, that he suspected his father and father's sister: they were pursuing him with sorcery, even in his new home.

At the seance about the pregnancy, the diviner's diagnosis was auspicious. It followed along a direction that was crystallized when, quite involuntarily (so I sensed), the client's mother exclaimed in relief at the very first cast, Ululation. She took the figure to mean the sound made at a recovery from a dangerous condition, here a safe deliver3a meaning which the diviner spelled out later in an address to the whole congregation. Moreover, afterwards, it was in response to her leading questions, when he reviewed the completed series of casts, that he confirmed where specific blame lay. This was in the patient's mother's relationships: the wrath of the spirit had been provoked, and a sorcerer was not to blame. Eventually, initiation of the patient into the cult of demonic possession (Werbner 1971b) was required, as a remedy to appease the wrath; but this

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would be at her natal home, in a locality where the suspected sorceress and other kin of the patient's husband (such as that other suspect, his father) would not attend the ritual. At the patient's marital home, her mother's ritual services, blowing water to "cool the wrath," would do, temporarily and without delay. A moral and spiritual condition had to be remedied, the diviner discerned, but this could be done without involving a suspected sorceress.

The diviner's skill enabled him to bring paradoxically coherent fragments to the fore, out of his repertoire of possible praises. These fragments, which posed startling contradictions, were coherent only if a pattern of occult meaning was grasped in the seance as a whole. The diviner integrated the sequence of casts, he spoke as if he tracked clues along a trail, so that the fragments of praises combined as illusions of acts of demonic possession: displaying spectacular colors, digging herbs, crying far away, sharing sustenance with kin. It was not that the patient's special suffering, her personal experience during pregnancy and at the onset of labor, was apart from these fragments. Yet he treated it in an aside, after the casts had been thrown. Its part in his discourse was not central. He mentioned the patient's symptoms very briefly, during his review of the casts, when he reassured her mother-in-law: a sequence of casts from (2) Endurance, to (5) Tower, to (6) Panting showed that the time for delivery was not ripe, despite the tumbling about in the patient's belling. Most of the reasoning during the seance went far beyond her physical condition. The diviner's rhetoric3his persuasive language and logic3was such that he could not define with his congregation what would be a remedy for the patient's suffering unless he also reached with them an understanding of her relatives' moral relations, their sins and failures of duty. The integration which was achieved in dialogue between the diviner and the congregation was a simplification of knowledge about what ought to be done and was being done by the close relatives responsible for her well-being. Privately, the diviner considered that his client still had cause to blame kin, especially the father's sister who had been absent from the earlier divination. After the subsequent seance, at which she was present, the diviner told me, in confidence, that she was persisting in her sorcery and still troubling his client. Yet, as he said during the seance, "And even a sorcerer, if we can see him and speak, what have we done? As for us, we live with our wrath [ kaba] with our spirits [ midzimu]." To accuse sorcerer might be to no avail, he suggested, but to appease the wrath of spirits would bring life. One of his major achievements during the seance was reasoning his way around his own and his client's suspicion. This he achieved through arguments about a connected whole. By reference to a total configuration of meaning, he overcame connotations of casts which could have confirmed their worst suspicion, and bared it.

At a moot of kin or neighbors, the convention is that an elder reviews issues: first he addresses all present collectively, then some individually, once the litigants themselves have put their arguments and had the basic evidence heard. This convention was followed by the diviner at the seance, after he announced and praised the series of casts. He asked the congregation to recognize auspicious evidence along with a direction of moral duty, while he reviewed the series, first for all present, then in individual address, singling out, in turn, the patient's husband (the client), her mother-in-law, and finally her mother. Much of his reasoning in these addresses overcame an atomizing of meaning: it was against suspicion which would seize on once cast (Panting, the Old Woman) and render its significance3i.e., an old woman as a sorceress3in isolation from the rest. His method of controlling an atomic interpretation was to define a set of counter-bearings. During the earlier part of the seance, in his praises for the cast, he used an argument for serial significance, and he gave Panting its immediate bearing, Tower: the right interpretation had to be according to succession in the series, the sixth in relation to the fifth, thus "Panting born by Tower." Throughout the rest of his discourse, he defined other bearings, and used.

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a complementary argument: the right interpretation also had to be according to elimination from the series, so that he cited praises to take account of virtually all the casts not thrown except one (Sweepings).

First of all, he drew the whole congregation's attention to the fact that Apron Strings (4.4) was omitted. This cast conveys restraint, and it shows the Old Woman along with the Young Woman. He implied that the congregation could discount suspicion and fear about an old woman using sorcery to restrain the patient from a safe delivery, because the series had excluded the cast with the two females together; it had merely included the Old Woman alone (Panting). Reference to this omission allowed him to particularize implicitly, rather than explicitly. Using innuendo, he discounted the suspicion, pointedly; he achieved this without any vagueness, and at the same time, without having to make explicit who the suspect was. Moreover, he maintained the covertness of the suspicion, while he used verses of the omitted cast, asking rhetorically if these had been called for, and thus introducing protective meanings and a relevant homily about ties of rearing.

An undercurrent of suggested meaning must be appreciated long with highly systematic aspects of the diviner's discourse. For only by implication, and obliquely, did he deal with the problematic significance of two of the casts, the fourth Tagging After (m F), and the seventh Hewing (M F f), though he stressed others repeatedly in his review of the casts. He amplified the immediate meaning of Tagging After and yet did so without further reference to its connotations such as "those who succeed one another at the breast," "children of one person," connotations which were worrisome for his congregation and, most importantly, for his client in particular.

Explicitly, he discussed omissions of casts in sets that are distinguished according to trios of age and sex terms; first, four omissions, Clicking (f), Apron Strings (f F), Duetto (f m), and Fatigue (f m F) of the primary trio, m F f; and second, Bellows (M F) and Stabbing (m) of the trio M F m. In the Chart of Casts from the sets described within the triangles marked [M] and [f] it can be seen that his first set completed a rejected construction of Tagging After in relation to the second set for Hewing (Fig. 2). His reasoning had the force of a formal logic, because it required the congregation to exclude meanings, in a highly systematic fashion, and pursue the significance of a mesh of hypothetical outcomes. The congregation had to consider, on his argument, casts correlated with the problematic casts according to a formal distribution of the casts' terms. Such conclusion from connected sets of omissions confined meaning within one configuration to the exclusion of another. What the diviner urged the congregation toward was a holistic understanding of the seance, and this meant that casts thrown had to be regarded in relation to each other and in relation to those not thrown.

In comparison to the rhetoric of this seance, that of the second case to be considered here was less elaborate, and there was a greater compression of argument and inference, because the second seance was, in key aspects, even more domestic. Apart from the ethnographer, members of a single household formed the congregation: a diviner (not the one in the first case), his wife and patient, and their adolescent son. I, too, was virtually a member of this household; I lived in a hut of theirs during two field trips; and they addressed me as "sister's son." In the first seance, the diviner had the information and understandings of a neighbor with a continuing, professional interest in his congregation's affairs. In the second seance, the basis for communication was unlike that: the husband divining for his wife had a direct personal interest, and perhaps even more importantly, both he and his congregation recognized that his own affairs and faults were at issue along with the patient's and others'. Each of the seances required persuasive reasoning by a diviner about contextually problematic casts, and about a configuration of significance in a series of casts. But the second seance was quite unlike

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the other, in at least two basic respects. First it called for a confession on the patient's part. Secondly, its course of personal communication between the diviner and the congregation had to seem determined by the lots and yet it had to cope with suspicion about blame on the diviner himself.

The confession and the suspicion arose from quarrels that involved various kin and affines. Possibly, the diviner did not have complete information about his wife's most recent clash with her kin3and he made a great point of a revelation from the lots and his own prior ignorance3but they both took for granted mutual understanding of the details of earlier quarrel and also much that was unstated at the seance about their more recent suspicions. Thus an account of what they and their son told me about the quarrels is necessary in order to make sense of much of the highly condensed, intimated discourse at the seance. My account must be a reconstruction from hearsay evidence, because most of the events happened in my absence, shortly before my second field trip. However, I did visit their kin and affines, and I checked what they told me. In this account I refer by number to the relatives who were most prominent in the events, and my reference is to Figure 3. For a discussion of ritual action which some of these relatives performed earlier, during my first field trip see Werbner 1971b: 322-324, 327 n. 19; on the genealogy there ( Ibid.:323) the local diviner's wife is shown as (5) and as a host in the cult of affliction.

The congregation were mainly concerned about their involvement in a sequence of events that began remote from their hamlet. This largely took place in another section of their chieftaincy where some kin of the local diviner (2) lived near the closest kin of his

Click on the thumbnail to see the diagram

Figure 3. Genealogy.

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wife (1). At her sister's (5) home in this section, their adolescent and crippled daughter (4) became embroiled in longstanding hostilities, when she fell gravely ill, while on a visit. She screamed an accusation of sorcery, at the height of her illness: that if she died, she would have been killed by the sorcery of (10); that this maternal kinswoman had come to beg flour once when she was alone, and on being refused, had threatened, "You will yet see." The girl's mother (1) arrived, heard the screams, and did not wait for a divination, this time. She rushed, somewhat hysterically, to shout abuse and an accusation of sorcery at her mother's sister (10). Neither she nor her husband (2) had themselves had cause to quarrel with the mother's sister (10), in the past; they lived too far apart. But the mother's sister had a reputation for sorcery against her nearby kin, and she had been accused repeatedly. Nevertheless, the abusive accusation gave the accused and her son (11) grounds that were acceptable among the kin for taking offense and being righteously indignant; it was disorderly, insulting, and heedless of the due process of accusation through divination. The son insisted on hiring a distant diviner, who came from outside the district and held his seance where the girl was ill, at the hamlet of her paternal kinsman (8). The fee the son had to pay this distant diviner was high, fifteen pounds; and it became a grievance between affines, the son (11) and the accuser's husband (2). Thus one of the faults at issue in the seance which I report for the local diviner's wife (1) was her husband's refusal to pay compensation to (11) for the distant diviner's fee; this refusal exacerbated the ill will her kin bore her.

The distant diviner cleared his client's mother (10). But he did more than that. He urged members of the congregation to reconsider the illness in terms of their other concerns, other troubles that they had long been aware of among themselves. The alternative accusation which was raised during the divination was grounded in these other festering hostilities. This new accusation was primarily against an own sister (6), whom the husband (2) and his wife had accused repeatedly, and whose reputation for chronic acts of sorcery against her neighbors and close relatives was public, and widely believed. She lived in a hamlet adjacent to the husband (2), and to manage sorcery against a child so remote from her hamlet, it was believed she needed an accomplice in the other section, namely the wife of (8). The accomplice at the scene of the illness had a reputation similar to the primary suspect's. The new accusation thus shifted blame from the maternal kin of the wife (1). Moreover, it could not be rejected out of hand by the husband and his wife, because it was grounded, unlike the other accusation, in what they had themselves defined about more immediate, personal relationship. Indeed, they continued to insist, or other occasions, that the sister (6) was still working sorcery against them and their children. Similarly, members of the congregation from the hamlet of their relative (8) found it difficult to reject an accusation grounded in their own definition of relationships and a reputation, the suspected accomplice's. What they were able to do at the seance was grumble and complain, as the husband (2) and his kinsman (8) did, that the divination was not conclusive; and that if they and the affines were people who were in agreement, "with mutual understanding," they would seek another distant diviner and make sure of all that this one had told them. However, this congregation held no seance with another distant diviner, and (11) the son of the accused kept to his demand that he should be repaid, because his mother was innocent.

Further divination followed, after the girl (4) recovered. But this time, the husband (2) went with his wife alone to consult a distant diviner about her sleeplessness at night and her exhaustion during the day. They divined that one cause of this was the wrath of shades, the patients mother and grandmother; and that she needed the ritual services of her maternal kin, blowing water to "cool" the wrath. This divination put an

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onus on the kin: a demand that they prove their goodwill. The test it posed had to tell in the husband's favor, with regard to the grievance about the accusation and the debt. There were alternatives, but whichever of these the kin took, their grievance would seem less justified and they would have to reduce it. One of their alternatives was to offer their ritual services to heal the patient. But to do so, they would have to fulfill a requirement of the ritual: they would have to appear to forgive, "to join their hearts together" and declare themselves free of illwill towards the patient, by blowing water. This display of forgiveness would block them, in public at least, from pursuing further the grievance against the patient. The second alternative was the one they chose: all but one of her kin refused to give the patient any ritual services. But this alternative, as the local diviner argued during his subsequent seance, meant showing a lack of trust, and not dispelling the suspicion that they themselves feared sorcery in their midst. They knew that it was dangerous to harbor sorcery and yet perform the ritual, and that was why they dared not do it. The local diviner emphasized this to me after the domestic seance. "They must know something [i.e., secret knowledge, a euphemism for sorcery], and fear that one will die, that one will be beaten down, if they all blow together."

The confession the local diviner's wife had to make at the domestic seance was about her kins' refusal to act ritually on her behalf. She was ashamed, when she came home from the kin's section of the chieftaincy; she had gone alone to them and she did not report fully to her husband, as she ought to have done, what had happened. She told him merely that water had been blown, not who had or had not done so. He let this pass temporarily. He waited until after his next visit to his kinsman (8) in the other section of the chieftaincy; and then he held the domestic seance, while he professed to make a discovery from the lots, without prior knowledge of the hostile reaction by his wife's kin. She did not confess immediately, however, so he harangued her about his fulfillment of his own duty as a wife-receiver and contrasted this with her kin's negligence as wife-givers: he had paid bridewealth, dutifully, but they who had failed to act ritually had neglected to report this failure to their wife-receivers.

At the start of the seance, the local diviner abridged his praises and recited key phrases. The message implied was highly compressed. He limited the praise of the first cast, Bawling, to a phrase about an action whose incompleteness, its hanging suspended, explained why the patient was suffering, herself being bawled about. This initial praise established the primary meanings he was to amplify later. He acknowledged a troublesome implication of the second cast, Clicking, when he gave a brief praise that is a threat of the kind a sorcerer would make. This implication was about suspicion that sorcery was being worked, by either his sister of his wife's kinswoman. However, he narrowed the suspicion and linked fear of sorcery and ancestral wrath, when he praise the fifth and sixth casts. For the third, he gave a bare injunction to feast kin, and continued the recognition of this obligation with a recognition of another, for the next cast. His allusion, when he praised this fourth cast, was about what he ought to have done himself, "Where am I when the eater of the first wife is coming?" After a repetition of the praises in the form of key phrases, he added part of a verse for the fifth cast, Fatigue, "Of the bed bugs, I will give you those with unreliable people." Later, in rhetorical questions, he opened further a hint contained in this, which was directed at swelling about scandal and grumbling among his wife's kin. He put these questions to his wife, while he absolved himself of a possible failure in his affinal duties. It was her kin, bloated with grudges, for whom he suggested that the seventh and last cast, Endurance, stood: they were the ones bearing "the great burdens."

No diviner can manipulate the lots to make them convey an indisputable message, a necessary rather than a plausible reading.

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Indeed, every divination must be an enquiry with an inner debate, if sometimes an implicit one, about discrepant inferences from actual outcomes. Thus to be cogent in this seance, the local diviner had to do more than merely slant his rhetoric in his own interest. He had to reason against inferences which others in the congregation might prefer to his, if they regarded the same outcomes in the light of their own retrospection about his and their personal affairs. In particular, the more he pursued special pleading on his own behalf as an affine, the more he had to give the lie to what might confirm his wife's prior suspicions instead of his.

In this context, one cast, Post, was especially troublesome, because it shows the Old Man along with the Old Woman. This could have pointed to the diviner's own relationship with his wife and a fault or debt of his toward his affines. He acknowledged this troublesome implication, and he reasoned against it. It had to be discounted within a dominant theme of the whole of the series; for throughout the series, starting with the first cast, there was action in vain, "contradicting." He concluded:

So you have not finished there. They [the casts] are contradicting; starting with the first, Bawling, they are contradicting. Under the seventh, Endurance, there is the fourth, Post, so some have swellings [ mapundu, irritations, ill-will], others have something else [he hinted at the sorcery]. There is the fifth, Fatigue, and there is the fourth, Post. Yes, so we see that your grandmothers are contradicted [ lambwa, rejected]. And who else is contradicted? It is contradicted by the man of the bracelet [the senior elder of her maternal kin]. Ah yes, for me [he named himself], it is too heavy. Ay yes, if it had not been that there was contradicting, in the post I would have said, "Here it is." I had the casts defeating me, because it was having "no, no" [discounting] that trip of yours. It meant remaining and divining lies. So it has not been finished over there, for it knows the truth in divining. And even for the sorcery, we cannot pass it. Here we are blocked by this spirit [wrath]. That is all.

His conclusion was that sorcery might possibly be a further cause of the patient's illness, but it could only be dealt with if the wrath were appeased first, for efforts on the patient's behalf were vitiated, because the wrath was serious due to the heavy weight of the grievances of her kinswoman along with the senior elder. After this seance, these kin did give their ritual services, and I witnessed them blowing water for her and another patient also, after a squabble and a display of mutual avoidance by some, including the suspected sorceress. This ritual cannot be considered fully here, and I reserve it for discussion elsewhere. I turn now to complete my evidence about the discourse at the two domestic seances, and present a summary then a full exposition of each seance.


I The reception of the diviner at the patient's husband's home
(a) with formal greetings;
(b) with an apology for the husband's father, absent attending a Sunday church service.
II The throwing of the casts
(a) in an introductory series:
(1) Ululation [2.3],
(2) Endurance [1.1],
(3) Ululation [2.3],
(4) Tagging After [4.3];
(b) in a concluding series:
(5) Tower [3.1],
(6) Panting [1.3],
(7) Hewing [2.2]

III Addresses and responses
(a) by the diviner and congregation: auspiciousness of the series of throws, homily about infancy and kinship, stress on ties strongest between mother and child, comparison of mother's cradling and father's covering;
(b) by the diviner and the husband of the patient: his paternal relatives' sorcery or ancestral wrath not a cause of his wife's paid in pregnancy;

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(c) by the diviner and the patient's mother-in-law: a fault in maternal relationship, demand for a new host of the demons, the wrath of deceased host (the recently deceased maternal grandmother of the patient's mother), prescription for ritual and herbal remedies;
(d) by the diviner and the patient's mother: wrath of her grandmother, her readiness to appease it ritually with a makeshift3blowing water, immediate remedy during the pregnancy.
IV A private consultation
(a) between the diviner and the patient's mother-in-law: shades' wrath due to faults in the mother's relationships, allaying of suspicion about sorcery by a member of the congregation, a father's sister of the client.
V The end of the divination and biding of farewell.

I The reception of the diviner at the home of the patient's husband.

When the diviner arrived, he and his congregation exchanged greetings formally. The client's father had gone to a church service, and the diviner, who knew this, enquired, nevertheless, about his absence. There was to be no doubt that the diviner came by invitation, not of some whim of his to interfere behind the client's father's back, and thus he accepted an apology for the father's absence, before he divined within the client's hamlet, outside his hut. The congregation sat in this order: one one side of (1) the patient was (2) the diviner, (3) the ethnographer, (4) the patient's husband (the client), (5) his father's sister; and on the other side, (6) the patient's mother, and (7) the client's mother. All formed, roughly, a semi-circle, with the patient in the middle. The client recorded each cast in a small notebook, for future reference.

II (a) The introductory series of casts .

The diviner directed the patient to take and throw the lots: "Take, Woman. We shall see whether it is what or what."

The direction of the divination was crystallized at the patient's first throw, while the diviner was announcing the name of the cast, Ululation. For this drew one response only, a quick, thankful exclamation from the patient's mother-in-law. She expressed relief and delight. The rest of the congregation kept quiet. After each of the next three throws, the diviner announced a cast, and he thanked his dice, with brief fragments of the standard praises:

(1) Ululation: The diviner announced, "Ehei, old men, it has Ululation." The patient's mother-in-law exclaimed, "It fell all right [ yakalulwama]. The diviner continued, "The spirit [ ndzimu] is Ululation only."
(2) Endurance: The diviner announced, "There is Endurance. You should hurry and take thought."3
(3) Ululation: The diviner called out, "It has been (2) Endurance. It has been Ululation again. Lift, Woman."
(4) Tagging After: The diviner praised, "Of unburdening the heart, Tagging After. It has 'When Zidi divines, Zidi knows [if there is guile, Zidi knows and is a party to it].' It has 'There are two diviners; Zelembe [the novice diviner] fears Nthekula [the veteran diviner].'4 It came by (2) Endurance. It came by (1) and (3) Ululation. There it is. You can lift it off."

II (b) The concluding series of casts .

(5) Tower: So far, the diviner had declared more about his qualifications and authority than he had revealed, explicitly, about the action that had to be taken in the future, during the ritual, for the patient's sake. The first hint he gave of ritual action was in "unburdening the heart." This demands the sharing of confidence, while being free of ill-will or a swollen heart, and it thus may mean blowing water to cool the wrath of spirits. He gave further hints, and then made pointed allusions in a set of paradoxes after the fifth throw. After (5) Tower, his praises were about demands of the demons, mazenge, for a feast and a host to replace one who had died, recently. I have already cited fully, in my discussion of the divina-

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tory verse, what he said in praise of Tower and also his explication of this after the seance; therefore, I omit this here, and continue with the sixth throw.

(6) Panting: The diviner paused, once the cast had been thrown. He gazed closely, sharply at the lots3then he eyed the congregation, knowingly and suggestively; "There it has 'pawing up.' Woman, it is of its digging. [The daytime digging for healing herbs by a possessed host is the suggested meaning.] It grasps digging. The shadows have turned. Does it 'awaken tomorrow' only in Panting? Yes, it says it awakens (5) Tower."

In this sixth cast, Panting, the only piece that was thrown with the marked side showing was the Old Woman. Taken in isolation from other casts but along with known suspicion, it could have meant an indication of blame. It could have identified an old woman as a sorceress: she would have been digging to prepare her destructive herbs. The diviner excluded this meaning, after his searching look at the congregation. There was indeed suspicion of sorcery, which he shared; but it was such that none were ready to force it into the open and confront it directly. His method of controlling the allusion was to stress a serial connection, the fall of this cast, Panting, in succession after Tower.

Returning to praises of this earlier cast Tower, he announced the most condensed expression of its meaning3iridescence. In doing so, he recalled the visible evidence that had been apparent to the eyes of anyone in the congregation3the black and white which shows on all the lots in Tower3and he mastered this evidence His praise declared that the visible had been an appearance of a quality beyond their immediate perception: a play of primary color, sheer brilliance. He continued, challenging his congregation with paradoxes which call for the contrary of immediate knowledge and direct speech: "What is Tower about? 'Iridescence [ manjanja, a play of color].' But when we speak of it, how do we do so? We speak when we are near to it. 'Go and cry far away.'"

In this sequence, "Go and cry far away" stood for the ritually required, initial act of going to the back of a hamlet, shouting out the name of a demon, and invoking it to come from afar in the veld. It is on hearing this that a host should rush out, fall possessed, and return iridescent. The diviner reached the ritual requirement through a revelation in itself occult, in accord with the tenor of demonic possession. He seemed to play on his congregation's common sense (and his own), when he twisted to the contrary the inference he himself asked them to make. To a leading question3"But when we speak of it, how do we do so?"3he supplied the obvious answer3"near to it." Then he announced, as a corollary, what was actually a counter-command, ordering an act that was common sense and the obvious in reverse3"Go and cry far away." It had a logical force, and it followed necessarily just as in ritual it precedes necessarily, because it kept attention directed on a hidden meaning instead of the obvious. What was, in common sense, a double contradiction, had, in the divination, a consistent significance. His counter-command was not merely like the display of iridescence, and an essential part of the ritual of demonic possession, but it was the very precipitating of it, invoking the demon. Similarly, the questions he put next also called for occult answers and required counter-action in ritual: his praises of Panting warned that the prey of a predator (the demon which is a lion) has an alternative, to stand still, which is death, being devoured and left bones: "'Did it eat a person when standing still? So that it left only bones?' Aha, can we sleep with Panting thus? Panting that was born by Tower?"

Connotations of this sixth cast could exacerbate suspicion of sorcery. His

rhetorical questions dealt with this, and led to the inference that the import of Panting (of the Old Woman alone shown marked) detected in its immediate connection, as "born by Tower," was light and easy: "Is it not so that it has been cross-wise [ cinjika]? It is as if it has been cross-wise, it has fallen so lightly [ ndelondelo, easily, unburdened]. We track [ londa, pursue, detect] here and there.

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Eheiii, lift, Woman. We are still 'making lies' [ nyepesa]."

(7) Hewing: At the end of the series, he omitted various praises of the last cast, such as, "I saw coming what eats a first wife." His message, had he not done so, would have extended in a direction which later he explicitly excluded: the direction of suspicion of faults or, perhaps also, sorcery among the husband's kin. He maintained his main track by first selecting praises about the duty of feast kin and, in recognition of the suspicion of sorcery, by then insisting that to appease wrath and treat herbally was to live, whereas to name a sorcerer might not avail: "And this, 'awaken tomorrow,' is it down now? It has "This is Rough Hewing. Awaken and Share. Share out among those with whom you were born.' Ah, this one is for 'the cupping of hands, for evil or for good' [ cinga zuibi ne zuibuya ]. And even a sorcerer, if we can see him and speak, what have we done? As for us, we live with our wrath [ kaba], with our spirits [ midzimu]. Yes? Let us dig 'breakers of hoes' [a ritual phrase for herbs]."

The congregation had responded silently to the diviner's announcements, since the start of the divination, when the patient's mother-in-law had exclaimed. Now the patient's mother broke her silence and agreed: "Yes." The diviner ended his calling of the series: "It is surely in Hewing down there."

III (a) Address by the diviner and silent response from the congregation.

The diviner drew the attention of the whole congregation to the auspiciousness of the series and to the significance of eliminations from it: "And thus people, what will it be? The evil casts that I can see down there, which is it? Is it (6) Panting? Or (5) Tower? Or (1) and (3) Ululation? For what is it when a person has been sick and then there is ululation? What has happened?"

His rhetorical question implied a favorable change: a release from sickness and, here, a safe delivery at childbirth. "And that (2) Endurance, 'It sits, it sits by itself. And there is a rock which stood before I was born and is still standing: I do not budge.' Ah, yes, our people, could we cry because of Panting? Or cry because of which cast?"

He now began to argue by reference to omissions, and cited a hypothetical outcome which has the Old Woman along with the Young Woman, and thus bore on the danger that an old woman might be for a young woman in labor: "Apron Strings? Awaken tomorrow. Did it have that there? When it fell on the ground, we said, 'We track it.' Did it have [praises of Apron Strings], 'The good cradle sling is the mother's, the covering [blanket] is the father's?' 'And a strong tie of a cradle sling?' 'Is that of the kudu strong?' The strongest, at the very, very, most is that of the giraffe. We compare it to that of the kudu, for it is an animal of the veld. It is not like a goat. A goat [skin] does not cradle a child."

His homily, like his earlier allusions to the ritual of demonic possession, during the praising of Tower, presented a paradox about the wild and domestic: for a good cradle sling, crucial in the attachment of a child to its mother, the strongest tie is of a wild animal, the domesticated is useless.

III (b) Address by the diviner and silent response from the patient's husband.

Reasoning with members of the congregation, individually, the diviner began with his client. He asked him to pursue the inferences from the four omissions which counter suspicion about the father's sister and her possible menacing, muttering, and sorcery. Then he dealt with his client's other concerns, and guided him toward conclusions from two other omissions. These were relevant to a denial of suspicion about sorcery by the client's father and also about the wrath of his paternal ancestors: "I mean this, Father of . . . my child [he addressed his client]. We cannot lack wrath [of spirits]; we find it. And this trust that we trust [the expected birth of the patient's child], it is near to it [will come soon]. It never gave us Clicking [1.4]. Awaken tomorrow. [He repeated himself.] It never gave us Apron

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Strings[4.4]. Awaken tomorrow. Do you not see that if it [the understood and unstated suspicion] had been so, it would have given us Fatigue [2.1]? Then we would have said, 'Woe, oh!' Well, awaken tomorrow. Again, had it put Duetto [4.2], we would have said, 'It goes where it goes.'"

He conveyed his meaning through cryptic cliches, such as in this praise for Duetto which alluded to the two feet of a sorcerer that come and go, secretly. He acknowledged that a person's inner nature, too, is hidden and not directly knowable, but he insisted that it can be revealed through divination: "It would have been, 'Ah, yes." For even though we cannot know what is inside a person, it would have shown us what is inside. We would have said, 'Male' [a sorcerer], or we would have said, 'Female' [a sorceress] because we cannot know what is inside a person. It is God ( ndzimu) alone who knows what is inside a person. God alone knows what he does.

"So we see that this wrath is of (2) Endurance. It is of (6) Panting, of (1) and (3) Ululation. We see it there. There is no 'Bellows [3.3] from the day that people were born.'"

By reference to the absence of Stabbing [1.2], he concluded his address with a rounded homily. It accentuated the rightfulness of elderhood and, while it discounted paternal wrath or sorcery, also called for the client to "be at ease" and dutiful as a son: "There is nothing of 'the scatterer ( mabalule) of the man [i.e., the apical ancestor, first in patrilineal descent, and this is a praise in omission of Short Stabbing].' (6) Panting, (5) Tower (2) Endurance3ah, we speak and avoid [ toleba tipesa speak directly], we speak in allusions [ matama anopesa , words that miss] here. There is nothing of [praises of Short Stabbing] 'the scatterer of all things, impressed for all days.' The saying is, 'An elder was invested with the bracelet of elderhood, and then tapped with a mallet at the chest." And it was said, 'Be at ease. Let the children know, let each and every tribe know that he is the one who is the father of the children.'''

III (c) Address by the diviner and response by the patient's mother-in-law.

Responsibility for the patient's suffering was credited and the ritual remedy defined most explicitly, when the diviner advised the patient's mother-in-law. She replied with questions, leading the diviner, in turn, to answer and attribute the wrath, specifically, to an ancestress of the patient: " This wrath [of spirits], Mother of . . . [he addressed the patient's mother-in-law], it came from (2) Endurance. It put (5) Tower. It put (6) Panting. Is that not so? Yes, now it is tumbling about in the belly, child of my mother. Hmm, and yet, it has not come to the time. [She agreed.] It is not ripe. The healers of the hamlet, eh? [ zui nganga zue nzi .]"

The diviner gave another knowing and suggestive look, playing up his allusion to healing by the hosts of the demons, mazenge. "Oh yes, men; fill it up, boy. [i.e., supply the implicit meaning yourself.] The wrath is of the old women. [The mother-in-law again agreed.] They say their thing has not been pursued [ londolodziwa] with duty [ nge fanilo ]. Nevertheless, find 'the breakers of hoes.'" Mother-in-law, "Yes, ask the old women.'" Mother-in-law, "Yes, I know."

The diviner then gave her detailed instructions on how to prepare the herbs which he had brought, crushing them with a mallet then cooking them; and I omit the details of his prescription. After this, he returned to the casts and their meaning for the healing of the patient: "I see it thus, child of my mother. The wrath is of the old women, child of my mother. Of that (2) Endurance, of that (6) Panting, there they [the spirits] say we eat and are stinged [have not been given an offering due]."

The mother-in-law led him to be specific and explicit, and asked about maternal ancestresses: "And the old women, are these her mothers or her grandmothers?" Diviner, "Her great grandmothers." Mother-in-law, "Those who bore her mother?" Diviner, "Yes, who bore her mother." Mother-in-law, "Those who died yesterday?" Diviner, "Yes,

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the old woman who bore her mother." Mother-in-law, "That one who just now slept and died suddenly?" Diviner, "Yes." Mother-in-law, "She dwells at Tegwane [in Southern Rhodesia]?" Diviner, "Yes, it has not been pursued well [ londolodziwa zuibuyanana ] from her side."

The mother-in-law turned to the patient' mother, "The spirit is of your mother, for as it is now, she died suddenly and has never been summoned."

III (d) Address by the diviner and agreement of the patient's mother.

After the patient's mother-in-law had made the declaration of responsibility explicit, the diviner, observing the conventions of indirect speech about demonic possession, secured the consent of the patient's mother. She promised to provide her ritual services: "And as I said, mother, since she has gone, well, yes, my grandmother, I don't say anything else. She says her spirit is in the veld and not spoken of by name. There is nothing else I can say about this hunger of hers, there is a hollow in the stomach."

He repeated, and I omit, his prescription of herbs and then got final agreement on immediate appeasement of the spirit. "'The child can sleep,' [the phrase uttered when cooling wrath by blowing water] it will be spoken here, yes?" The patient's mother agreed, "I understand you. We shall blow water, this evening."

IV A private consultation .

Diviner to patient's mother-in-law, "Yes, it is so, child of my mother." Patient's mother-in-law, "For the child, she has been suffering only, suffering, suffering. Yet if it is of the spirit only, there is no fault [ nlandu]: it is all right." Diviner, "It is of the days which have not yet come. it calls for the very day. It is already of the very month, it awaits the very day [for delivery]."

The mother-in-law then called the diviner to a private consultation which I watched but could not record. The two of them went off together, out of the hearing of the rest of the congregation. Later, the diviner told me that she asked if he saw anything more, if there was any sorcery, and that he replied to her, in private, as he had spoken before the rest of the congregation: Sorcery would have been "caught," only if other casts such as Two Stallions [3.2], Clicking [1.4], Short Stabbing [1.2], had been thrown. Their absence showed "there was no spear" and thus sorcery was absent. The mother-in-law agreed. She added that the heart of the patient's mother grieves and arouses the spirit, because she is not well looked after at home: all but one of her sons' wives neglect her, and do no heed or take care of her. Because of her grief, she had recently refused to receive her demon at a ritual, and had not performed s a possessed host, when called to do so at her son's hamlet. Moreover, when her grandmother died, she herself failed to attend at the mourning.

V The end of the divination and bidding of farewell .

Once the diviner and the mother-in-law rejoined us, the diviner praised his pieces in a conventional formula ending the divination: "'Awaken, and let us go,' shouted the retainer [ nlanda]. 'Where shall I sleep?' shouted the 'owner' of the journey. 'The Little Man (Short Stabbing) sent me briskly. I am going to offer thanks for I have sat.'"

He deferred his fee, until the patient's safe delivery, and returned with me to his hamlet, leaving the patient, her mother-in-law and mother to prepare the herbs. That night her mother blew water, saying "The child should sleep." Two days after a son, the patient's sixth child, was born. And a ritual of demonic possession was planned for the future, which I did not see, because I left the high-veld shortly after the divination.


1 The throwing of the casts:
(a) diviner's announcement of the series:
(1) Bawling [2.4]

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(2) Clicking [1.4]
(3) Hewing [2.2]
(4) Post [3.3],
(5) Fatigue [2.1],
(6) Two Stallions [3.2],
(7) Endurance [1.1];
(b) diviner's abridgement of praises;
(c) diviner's repetition of abridges praises.
II Addresses
(a) by the diviner to me, the only adult male in the congregation: circumstances of illness and ancestral wrath;
(b) by the diviner to his wife, the patient: unresolved grudges among her kin, vindication of the diviner himself as a dutiful affine, admonition about the rights of a husband's kin, failure of the wife's kin to provide ritual services;
(c) by the diviner's wife: confession, refusal by most of her kin to serve her ritually;
(d) by the diviner to his wife: repeated admonition about correct conduct between affines, own denial of illwill, sorcery possibly a further cause, first requirement for her senior elder and kinswoman to appease ancestral wrath;
(e) by the diviner to me and the congregation as a whole: appease wrath before enquiring about sorcery.
III Final discussion
(a) patient's confirmation of diagnosis;
(b) diviner's affirmation of non subjective knowledge.
IV End of Divination.

I The Throwing of the Casts.

(a) Diviner's announcement of the series.

The diviner held the seance at the back of his own hamlet. He sat on one side of his wife, the patient, and I sat on the other along with their adolescent son. At the beginning of the seance, he told his wife, "We want seven pools." Each time, after she threw the lots, he ordered her, "Lift and beat it very, very much." At the end of the series, he began to praise the casts, very elliptically at first, and then he repeated himself, before addressing me and, in turn, his wife, who confirmed his diagnosis. I have listed the casts, as he announced them, in the summary above.

(b) Diviner's abridgement of praises.

These are the brief praises he gave: (1) :For the first, it has 'I bawl about you?'" (2) "For the second, it has Clicking. It has "the we-will-see.'" (3) "For the third, it has Hewing. 'The you-should-share.'" (4) "For the fourth, [Post], it has 'Where am I when the eater of the first wife is coming?'" (5, 6) "For the fifth (5) Fatigue and sixth (6) Two Horses, 'There are two rocks; the males must not see each other, when they see each other another will be a corpse.'" (7) "For the seventh, it has had Endurance. 'The great burdens are of Endurance.' Hmm, the pools are seven [and he counted from one to seven]. We come to spirits."

(c) The diviner's repetition of the casts and addition of a praise . Once again he repeated the praises, but added part of a verse for the fifth cast, Fatigue, which he had omitted earlier: " Of the bed bugs, I will give you those with unreliable people."

II Addresses.

(a) By the diviner to the ethnographer .

The diviner addressed me as his "sister's son," reviewed the illness, its ritual remedy, its spiritual cause, and its past diagnosis in divination: "We are divining for a sick person, sister's child. This one [his wife] is sick and not sleeping. So it is that I want to give her the spirit so that she should blow water for this wrath [of the spirits]. Perhaps she will become well. They are giving spirit [wrath]. Already it has been that 'She takes two days' [the diagnosis of an earlier diviner, that she should go to her kin for two days and blow water] and that 'those of [naming himself, i.e., the husband's people] are giving her wrath.'"

(b) By the diviner to his wife, the patient . The diviner reiterated his praises of the casts, for his wife, and took up the fur-

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ther issue of sorcery: "For the fifth, it has 'The red multiply; I will give you those with unreliable people. For the fourth, it has 'I have built. I have seen the eater of the first wife coming and where was I?' Ah, and yet we give you spirit [wrath]. It has 'You are sick, woman.' If only you can go past this wrath, then it has that after you are past, we may divine again [about suspicion of sorcery]. When you have blown water for this wrath, we will know how this sickness goes. Hmm."

He insisted that she must return to her natal kin, again, and get them to appease the wrath, because they have not done so properly: "First, it has 'I bawl about the hanging. Why do I bawl about you?' It starts thus, and so it has that we return backwards once more [to the kin]. This spirit that you gave3no, you did not give [i.e., all of you properly]. That of the fourth Post and of the fifth Fatigue3you are still grumbling. Yet why do you grumble? Go and give for this spirit."

Urging his wife to fulfill her ritual obligation, he denied possible suspicion that some fault of his towards his affines, had aroused the wrath of his spirits; after all he had paid his wife's father substantial amounts of bridewealth: "And of your outcry [scandal wu] of Fatigue. Well, I sent out cattle; I have no debt, I have nothing. Where could I have something due? At [the wife's father]? No, I don't owe there, for sure. I mean that you must give to the spirit, this you were caught with already by that other diviner. As it has been with the first, Bawling, and the second, Clicking, and the third, Rough Hewing, so it has been. [I delete here his repetition of the praise for Post, as above. He then continued.] And the fourth, Post, and the fifth, Fatigue. And so, it is that I have nothing due [at the wife's father's]."

The diviner then harangued his wife about the failure of her kin not only to overcome their grudges but also to report to him and the other wife-receivers, that they could not provide ritual services: "This wrath as that you did not blow water, all of you together. You fear, you fear each other. How is it so? With seven Endurance, in your chests here [he tapped himself], you did not join together. Some of the others were still bloated [ zuimbigwa]. That wrath that you blew over, you did not blow over. So as for me, I have nothing due at [the wife's father's]. You should blow over this wrath, finishing it thoroughly. If it defeats you, then you should report saying, 'This wrath which was caught by that diviner has defeated us.' Yes, this wrath that you went to your home for, you have finished. If it defeats you, you should report to us, your wife-receivers, so that we would be there. Then we would take the people [of the diviner's father, i.e., the wife-receivers] together with our wife and go there. It has, is it not so, 'I bawl about the hanging; I bawl bout those with whom I am born.' It stops thus. Seven casts [ hakata]. That which you gave you did not finish. Some of the others [the wife's kin] have swellings [ mapundu, ill-will, irritation]. I stop there, Ndeti [he addressed his son by an honor name of their clan]."

(c) By the diviner's wife. The diviner's wife confessed, confirming her husband's disclosure, and spelling out what had happened when she failed to get her kin to join together ritually for her sake: "You have the very truth. The spirit was not given to the full extent [ zuaka tambunuka ]. The mother of B. (10) refused; the mother of C. (13) refused [both mother's sisters]. L. [the senior elder of the kin group] (9) also did not blow [water] and he refused. Only the mother of D (12) [another mother's sister] blew [water]. So there was noise at [the senior elder's]. He said, '[calling the patient by her personal name] I do not know her here. I saw her only when she reported to me about the sorcery of her mother's sister. No, I do not know her.' This spirit was denied. It was never settled and blown, I mean it, not for a single day. So I came back myself {i.e., she returned to her marital home, helpless]."

(d) By the diviner to his wife. His wife's confession was a triumph that he dwelled on, and he drove it home to her: what she had tried to conceal, his lots had exposed:

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"Ahaa, ah, yes, I have it so, Wife of [naming his own father's group]. I say we have seen here these casts saying, 'Thus and so,' saying, 'Finish it over there.' You did not blow water, when you were caught by that diviner. Ah yes! And did you say, when you returned, that you had finished? Aha, we just sat quiet. [She told her husband, the diviner, nothing.] Yet we have had to divine here. I see that you did not finish. So it is that we said, 'Blow for this spirit and come to an end.' For it is this seventh Endurance, the very one that is down on the ground now. You should blow water and come to an end. For the sickness goes on as long as the spirit has not been blown over."

The diviner continued to harangue his wife about her kin and their duties as his affines. If they fail to give ritual services, then his kin must ask to be present, while her kin will either blow water or be seen to be harboring and fearing sorcery among themselves: "So it is for me, the husband of the child of [the wife's father]. And what should I do? I say if it defeats you, you tell us, 'Our wife-receivers, it defeats us.' [And then we would reply,] 'If it defeats you, then you should give to the spirits while we are there. Then another person will know whether it is this or that, and whether it is spirits.' So when you return, you should tell us, 'We have blown water thus.' And as for me, too, sick one [addressed to the wife] my heart also will be bare [white, and thus glad and free of complaint]."

After affirming that he himself would be free of complaint or ill-will, when the kin appeased the wrath, he emphasized, in his conclusion, that of their ill-will had to be dealt with first, even if there was sorcery. I have already given his concluding remarks and I delete them here.

(e) By the diviner to the ethnographer and the congregation as a whole . "We speak of sorcery and we merely say, 'The person suffered sorcery [he repeated this, meaning that there might be no avail in knowing it is sorcery, since there might not be anything effective to do about it].' Yet how can we talk of sorcery while that wrath [ kaba] is not yet at an end? When it is ended, then we will talk of sorcery, and say how it is thus. That is all, sister's child [addressing the ethnographer]."

III Final discussion .

(a) Patient's confirmation . I summarize this, since it was largely repetitious. The patient's wife turned to me and repeated her confirmation of the diagnosis, and her confession that her kin had refused to blow water for her. In reply to a direct question from her husband, she explained again that only one of her mother's sisters had blown water and, then, addressing me, she complained about her weakness during the day and sleeplessness at night.

(b) Diviner's affirmation. The diviner concluded this discussion by affirming again that he had no complaint, and that what complaint there was came from the lots: "It is not I who grumbles, the lots [ hakata] grumble. They say [the diviner, calling himself by name] is troubling himself, for there is no end over there. So my word is one: finish with this spirit. If it defeats you, then it fails, or what happens. For after all, I sat without knowing it had not ended. I see it there at the pools [ madziba], because it seemed to me that perhaps you had finished. I was astonished that this sickness kept on growing from the time it started way back then. Ah yes, I might even have called [another local diviner] to throw, had I not remembered he had gone away on Monday. Ah, yes, I was being mocked [tricked, i.e., I thought I was deceived] by these casts, for they said, 'Over there it has not been ended.' No, you did not end it; so we should give to this spirit."

IV End of the divination .

(a) The diviner thanked and praised in farewell, according to the usual formula, which I give above at the end of the first case.


A local diviner gives his services in the hire of a specific client. Yet he is highly accountable and subject to control by his

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neighbors; he represents the informed opinions of intimates or neighbors, and at issue in his divination, may even be moral evaluation of his personal conduct, apart from seances. He and his congregation must collaborate, together they must revise understandings of their past and modulate retrospective knowledge, if he is to define a course of further action about a certain complaint, such as a patient's illness requiring a ritual remedy. There are various devices which he may use in reasoning with his congregation about contextually troublesome implications of the divining lots. These devices play on configurations and continuities of evidence which the diviner can stress selectively. The devices include, among others, inference from a sequence in a series of actual outcomes3the continuity from an initial one or from a specially troublesome one3and argument from omission, from a mesh of excluded or hypothetical outcomes. There are also other devices of rhetoric, such as ellipsis or compression of verse, which the diviner can use to make outcomes imply a dominant message. He and his congregation convey both manifest and intimate meanings, at once, through highly stylized rhetoric, rich in metaphors. They must consider moral duties and acts of occult significance, but they need not acknowledge fully, and with detailed reference to particular persons, the troublesome suspicions underlying their discourse. Indeed, a thoroughgoing ventilation of grievances is what much domestic divination dodges.

The literature on divination, like the subject itself, is pregnant with intuition and fine hunches. The need is to substantiate some, and discard others, in the light of direct and closely documented observation. This is why this article has given primary attention to the analysis of actual seances.


1 An earlier version of this article was read to the symposium of ambiguity, which was held at the University of Manchester in December, 1970; in a revised form, it was also read to Professor Victor Turner's seminar at the University of Chicago in January, 1971. I wish to thank Professor Turner, Professor Emrys Peters, Dr. Martin Southwold, Dr. Bruce Kapferer, Dr. Stephan Feuchtwang, and Dr. John H. Clark for their helpful comments. I am grateful to the Social Science Research Council (U.K.) for Grant HR 790/1 and to the University of Manchester for supporting my research in Botswana among the Western Kalanga during a fifteen month period in 1964-65 and a three month period in the summer of 1969.

2 Although diviners all insisted that there was one way that was the right kalanga way, the standardization covers some disagreement. This involves (Vuba) Bellows, Ululation, and Tagging After, primarily. Ululation which is usually the figure for the Old Female down, was called by one diviner as an alternative to Tagging After M m F f. For the Old Female down, he called (Vuba) Bellows, which is usually the Young Female and the Young Male down.

3 This phrase is usually associated with the complementary cast, Fatigue.

4 Again, he draws on praises of the complementary cast, this time, Joint.


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