David Cumes, M.D. / South African Healing Wisdom & What it has to Offer the West
Cures, divination, trance-channeling and more
What a delightful surprise it was to discover David Cumes’ presentation among the offerings of this year’s YogaHub Conference. Indigenous medicine and healing is an area of deep interest to me, so I made a beeline for this presentation and was not disappointed. With a couple of weeks left to delve into the conference sessions on the site, I’d highlight this for anyone involved in healing work who wants to at minimum, expand their awareness, and perhaps go on to learn more.
I’ve done some study of Native American healing and in that respect I was immediately reminded of another Western, allopathic medical doctor who has incorporated traditional healing wisdom and spirituality into his practice and teaching — Lewis Mehl-Madrona, who has written such books as Coyote Medicine and who teaches on the subject of incorporating Native wisdom into our healing repertoire. This is the first time, however, that I’ve had the pleasure of coming across any sharing of the wisdom of South African Healing practices with the West. What an exciting learning experience to sit with a South African “Sangoma,” or Shaman and feel as if I’ve been allowed into a tent of healing secrets.
Dr. Cumes is an engaging presenter who both presented a fascinating introductory session and handled questions with thoughtful and succinct answers — paving the way for more in depth study for those who are drawn to it.
The native South African healing techniques Cumes shares are rooted in the spirit world and practices that involve divination, spirit channeling, and types of exorcistic healing work. There are similarities to indigenous practices found throughout the world, of course. But the particular wisdom of South Africa and the faith involved in it give it a flavor and distinction of its own. The herbal medicine too is unique to the plants grown in the region, and so imbued with the medicinal power of locality. Cumes provides several short video clips from actual healing rituals for those attending the session to view — very helpful visuals to help place his talk in context.
Hearing a doctor who has a successful practice in Santa Barbara, California as a urologist and surgeon also talk about trance-channeling diagnostic information and “throwing bones” in order to read a person’s state of health and the cause behind the symptoms can be a bit of cognitive disconnect — but it is precisely his role as a respected Medical Doctor that gives credibility and weight to the embracement of these practices in addition to allopathic means — for those who want this holistic path in their wellness. Cumes spent about ten years learning from shamans in South Africa and works with a Black African Spirit Guide who is always with him — and together he helps her complete her karma as she helps him in healing work on the physical plane.
Much is made of the presence and either help or hindrances of ancestors. A Sangoma can “read” the presence of spirits and gain help from those good spirits whose mission it is to assist us, or, on the other hand, “cast out” spirits that are causing interference or harm by haunting a living person.
Hexes: diagnostic curses and Internet juju
Hexes? Yes, hexes. One of the most interesting things Cumes said was something many of us have witnessed in western medicine. It is the power of a diagnosis of a serious illness, coupled with a doctor’s delivery of a timeline for the progression of the illness to create a self-fulfilling prophecy often to the date. Cumes says that when a doctor tells a patient they only three months to live, this is a “hex.” In a very real sense, he believes, they have cursed their own patient. The patient then goes home having believed this, internalizes it, and complies with it.
People also get hexed by the Internet, says Cumes. Trying to self-diagnose in an hour on the Internet what it takes doctors decades to learn is a form of self-hexing and very harmful. Yet another warning about getting our health care delivered via an Internet search. When we use a word like “hex” to describe this, it really puts up the warning signs in neon.
Distance healing, distance hexing
Cumes assures us that distance makes no difference in healing. It also makes no difference in hexing! Just as energy healing and intention is not hindered by distance, he reminds us that the power of negative thought, ill will, or deliberate cursing also “travels” energetically and can harm others.
Cumes says hexing or cursing of course creates VERY BAD Karma. It is, he asserts, the basis of systemic negativity such as found in politics and, well, Wall Street. Put this way, it sure makes sense. It is the essence of witchcraft and sorcery, and it is as alive and well as is healing — the antidote. This all comes as a very clear reminder to be careful of our thoughts and words. They are powerful.
And there is much more. Cumes packed his hour-long session with an enormous amount of information, though it never felt like too much — it was simply fascinating and — dare I say — important. Now is not the time in our human history to dismiss practices like divination and channeling for healing, but rather to reconsider, learn anew, and be open to the way of the Shaman — the way of spirit working in cooperation with us in this world.
Getting beyond the veil
How can we begin to tap into the Source of spirit and healing ourselves, short of studying with a shaman for ten years? To open the veil between the seen and the unseen, Cumes says, can begin with any kind of spiritual practice that releases Kundalini energy. Prayer by singing, chant, yoga, dancing, drumming — these are all ways to tap into a gentle release of Kundalini. Another method is to open the heart chakra (meditation or yoga practices are most often used for this purpose). And the practice of subordinating ego to the higher self will open the veil. Visiting sacred spaces and places also will enhance the opening the veil.
Dr. Cumes has written several books, produced music and in addition to his medical practice in Santa Barbara, offers readings as a Sangoma as part of his healing vocation. He has also created a healing process that leads groups to remote areas to experience the healing power of nature, called Inward Bound.