When I was finishing graduate school, I had a dream. It started as a graduation procession. Everybody was wearing purple caps and gowns. Suddenly, I floated above the procession and entered into a room. There, I saw two old time, Back men. The one on the right was sitting down. He wore overalls, boots and a red pendleton shirt. The one on the left was standing up. He wore a white suit. They were engaged in a silent negotiation.
The man in overalls seemed to be explaining his position. At one point, a huge engine appeared between them. He stretched his arms, with his hands toward the engine, as if to say, "THIS is what I want to do!" The man in the suit remained completely unmoved. Then, a desk appeared behind them and behind the desk, a door. In walked another Black man, wearing a tweed suit. He leaned on the desk and looked very seriously at each man. Then, all three of them looked at me. I awakened.
The man in overalls was my maternal grandfather, Mr. Williams. He was known as a Two Headed Man in the Ville. According to family history, people would come to Mr. Williams with their problems. After listening, he would tell them which herbs to gather. Then, he wold use a #5 tub to wash their feet with an herbal infusion. The man in the white suit was his senior brother, John. While Mr. Williams functioned as a neighborhood healer in his spare time, John Williams was a professional healer, who had used the earnings of his craft to pay for his younger brother's vocational education. Their father, Green Green, was enslaved in Mississippi. Perhaps it was he who taught them the craft. Based upon my understanding of the dream, John wanted Mr. Williams to join him in his Hoodoo practice but when he refused, the obligation fell to me.
Living in Accordance With One's Destiny as Defined by the Ancestors
In a study on dream analysis among the Nguni people of South Africa, several informants reported dreams wherein their ancestors came to them and demanded that they comply with the obligations of their lineages. In one instance, a man recalled a dream wherein an old man, who was probably his grandfather, did not say anything to him but revealed a certain bag. He interpreted the dream by firstly recalling that his grandfather had been diviner and herbalist , and continued:
"If a person looks at you in a dream without saying anything he is cross with you. So my grandfather was cross with me because I was stubborn. Six. months later I got sick and... have been sick since then. the (traditional priests) say I must not look straight but also at the back (past). They say "You are supposed to work for yourself... because your grandfather prepared things for you before you were born'".
In the interpretation he expresses his responsiveness to the mood of the person in, the dream. The figure presents as being annoyed and dissatisfied with the informant's actions which are described as "stubbornness". There is a conflict within the dream between the wishes of the informant on the one hand, and the "ancestor" on the other . The conflict relates to the person fulfilling a destiny prepared for him "before" he was "born".
The informant is apparently not living in accordance with his own possibilities as revealed by his ancestor. His destiny is revealed as not being within his own control, but through dreams and events, he is made aware of his potential life possibilities, which involves a relationship with a cosmic mode of existence. His failure t.o follow the life which had been "prepared" for him results in him becoming sick. His sickness, however, is meaningful, as it is instrumental in causing him to review his life and life-possibilities, and take cognisance of his ancestor's wishes.
His life process is defined not only in terms of the present, but in terms of the past, as well as the future. His past determines that he has been called to be a healer, like his grandfather. His future, if he is to recover and be well, determines that he be a healer and take on the responsibilities implied therein.
And so it is for all people of African descent. if we are to be well, we must awaken and fulfill the demands of the Ancestral Promise.
NOTES: A PHENOMENOLOGICAL EXPLICATION OF DREAM INTERPRETATION AMONG RURAL AND URBAN NGUNI PEOPLE