Long ago, in a country far far away lived a group of people known as the Bushman or San people. They were a people who lived off the land moving from one area to another as the seasons changed and the herds of animals moved. Although they never left behind any trace of their living areas, they did leave the story of their spiritual journeys painted on the walls and rocks of the Drakensburg Mountains. And we got to see them last weekend!
On Saturday of this past week, we were lucky enough to spend the entire day hiking in the mountains of Giant’s Castle game reserve which is home to some of the afore mentioned paintings. We were surrounded by gigantic green and golden hills and walked a path parallel to a beautifully clear river as we hiked up to one of the sacred spots of the San people. When we arrived, we were given a brief history of why the paintings were there and what they stood for. Apparently, the place that we traveled to was a site where spiritual experiences had taken place and the images painted on the rock were stories of what had happened to individuals during what was known as a “trance”.
The most respected and most spiritual animal of the San was the Eland. The Eland is a big antelope and the San believed that its fat contained some kind of supernatural power. Because they believed this, anytime an Eland was killed a spiritual portal was opened for them to travel through. The portal was a connection to God and a member of the tribe, often times the medicine man, would enter into a trance dance and afterword come out with the peace and healing powers of the Eland.
Regardless of what one might think about the religious beliefs of the San, it was absolutely incredible for me to walk under the same shelters as they did as many as 5,000 years ago. Just to add some perspective to that, Jesus lived a little over 2,000 years ago which means these people walked these caves approximately 3,000 years before Jesus was born. I don’t know which biblical characters were around during that time but it wouldn’t be too crazy to think that perhaps some of the major characters of the Old Testament were living on the northern part of the same continent during that time!
Although I have my reservations about what the San believed and the rituals that they enacted, it was pretty phenomenal to share the same ground as they did so many years before me.