In the Kogi tribe in Colombia, the mamas (diviners) are raised in darkness from birth away from any external voices or distractions so that they may know intimately what they call the inner music of the cosmos. The Kogi believe in the world of aluna (spirit). They believe any action in the physical happens in the aluna as well. The mamas are trained to know the world of aluna better than the physical 3D world. Because of this, they can be diviners.The Kogi make all their decisions through divination. Their form of divination is reading the patterns of bubbles formed by hollow beads dropped into a gourd full of water. They have four different colored beads that are used for different inquiries. The beads are made for this purpose in ritual way.

Red—blood, to ask about illness
Black—spirit, the time before the dawning, and issues around death
White –abu, the Mother, represents water and the primeval spirit ocean
Green—plants and trees, questions of vegetation.

The bead is called a tuma and the bowl a tu-tuma. Once they had golden tumas and golden tu-tumas. Most of these are housed in museums now.

The mamas divine on all questions regarding the community. If there is a dispute between diviners, this is resolved by further divinations. The mamas are concerned with keeping balance. It is important what offering to make and where to make them to keep it all in balance. They believe they live in ‘the heart of the world’ and what they do in their small ecosystem keeps the whole of the earth alive. They tend to each element in the heart of the world, in this dimension and the dimension of aluna (spirit).

In his book about the Kogi people, The Elder Brothers, Alan Ereira describes divination in this way:

“Divination is a formilisation of the link between the world of aluna (spirit) and the physical world. It may be understood as speaking with ancestors, because physical death is not the extinction of life, only its transition from the body, but that alone would be a travesty of it. Nor is it enough to understand divination as a way of receiving messages from gods, though aluna is the Mother, and the Mother is listened to by divining.

Divination is the reading of signs. Since everything that happens is an event in the world of aluna, everything that happens also reflects that world. To put a question is an act in aluna, an act of pure thought, and if it is properly put then its answer is instantaneously present, here in the physical world as well. Divination is the mental process of properly shaping a question, and the highly formal process of reading the answer.”

Ereira also states, however, that divination can only exist in a context of a people who believe in aluna. “Divination would also, of course, be meaningless if there were no higher reality, no world of aluna where all things have their essence and all things are bound together in a single life.”

Aluna is an alive presence in everything and all is deeply connected and interwoven. There is one whole. Actions anywhere affect the whole. Therefore we too can have an affect on the aluna and we do whether conscious of it or not.

Divination brings conscious engagement between humans and aluna. This is but one more beautiful articulation of the ancient art of divination.

~Theresa C. Dintino

Source: The Elder Brothers: A Lost South American People and their Wisdom, Alan Ereira, Random House, 1990



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