Dreams of Gold II – Miners of Gold

Dreams of Gold – Chapter 2

The Second Dream – Miners of Gold

Langa grew up as most any African village-boy would. Days were spent on the grassy hill-slopes tending cattle and playing stick fights with the other boys. Nights, everyone gathered around the communal fire to share food, beat the drums, sing, dance and tell stories. Langa loved the stories best of all – tales of great gods and monsters, ancient battles, heroes’ journeys and loves lost and found. His favourite was the one about the Golden Age of his ancestors, long before the white man invaded this part of Africa; long before this continent was even called Africa. In those, days, its name was Tangawatu, which means “the vine upon which humans grow”. The elders, with fiery shadows flickering across their animated, wrinkled faces, would tell the tale something like this:

“As the story goes, our ancestors, with their great skills in stone masonry, iron smelting, cattle rearing and food production, had built a magnificent empire in which many tribes lived peacefully united. At the heart of this ancient civilization were caves stretching deep into the Earth’s belly, in which they had discovered the golden dust of creation. This sun-kissed metal was softer than iron, but of great shining beauty. Treating it with fire, the ancestors soon learned to fashion it into many magnificent shapes, which henceforth adorned the great kings and their palaces of that age.

“So precious was the gold that in trade with distance tribes, one tiny nugget exchanged for hundreds of cattle; and later, in trade with the white people from the Waterland, the same transaction bought thousands of beads made from the rainbow itself. All this made the Great Golden Village (as it became known far and wide) more prosperous and famous still. According some storytellers, for those who were initiated into its secrets, the gold also had magical powers of transformation.”

At this point, the storyteller would usually pause and sigh deeply, concluding the tale with the haunting words that “no one knows for certain why or how the Golden Age came to an end. But it is said that some of the ancestors abused the power which the gold had unlocked and so unleashed the wrath of the great Sun King, who blazed his fires day and night for twelve long seasons, until nothing was left of the Empire of Gold, or its people, or the secret knowledge.”

The story was especially attractive to Langa because his village was poor in the white man’s money, which made life difficult and shameful for his people. Many had ceased to believe that they were ever capable of having created such a Golden Age, as the story professed, nor that they would ever manage such a feat again in future. The harsh reality of poverty and dependence was reflected in Langa’s own family.

His father often had to travel many days to find work in the cities, sending back what he could of his wages and returning only after the rebirth of countless moon. When a crop failed in the village, his mother too would have to go away in search of a servant job on a white man’s farm, or in a nearby town. There were many days when young Langa and his brothers and sisters would go without food or parental solace, crying themselves to sleep for the aching pain in their stomachs and hearts.

Even when both of his parents were at home, they were often toiling beneath some strange invisible yoke. Although Langa didn’t really understand this ghostly burden, he often heard them whispering in the night about the unjust oppression of the white man’s government, of police raids and brutal beatings, even of his father being locked behind bars for not carrying his dompas identification papers.

But all these hardships simply strengthened Langa’s resolve to one day become clever and rich, like the white man, so that his family would never be in need again. Exactly how he was going to achieve this passionate conviction, he had no idea. Until, that is, he reached the age of Initiation into Manhood.

As was customary for this rite of passage, Langa and the other boys of comparable ages were isolated from the main village and made to build themselves a remote grass shelter. There followed many days of precise instruction on their future rights and responsibilities and the customs and mythology of their tribe. Then came various tests of physical stamina and mental resilience. Finally, when all of these had been accomplished, the Initiation Elder stood solemnly before the boys and briefed them:

“In the past days, like the snake, you have shed the old skin of your childish ways; like the wild hunting dog, you have showed your tenacious endurance; like the lion, you have been courageous in the face of danger; and like the elephant, you have shown your mental savvy. Now, you will need all of these traits, plus the spirit of the eagle, to carry you through your final, most critical challenge. Each of you, alone and without food, will go out into the wilderness in search of a vision of your life’s quest. It may come as a whisper in the wind, a formation of the rocks, a picture in the clouds, a dream or apparition, or a message from an animal. You will know its truth by the liberating flight that it gives to your soul. Go well, and be sure not to return without your gift from the gods.”

Langa was sent off in a westerly direction into the barren bushveld. Immediately, he began to apply his knowledge of bush lore, which he’d been taught since a young child. What was the spoor telling him about animal life in the area? Which edible and medicinal plants grew here? What was the flight of the insects signalling about nearby sources of water? What were the calls of the birds saying about the presence of danger?

By nightfall, he had found a suitable place for building a shelter, raised above the lie of the land, with partial protection from an overhanging rock and close to a trickling stream. The shelter was a simple construction of supple sapling sticks woven together and laced with green leaves, providing adequate relief from the stinging rain and the baking sun that he was likely to encounter in the long days ahead. Alongside, Langa had stacked wood to feed the fire during the night, to keep him warm while warding off unwelcome predators.

The days which followed were a mental battle – to prevent boredom and depression from setting in, to disregard the pangs of hunger and other physical discomforts, and to deal with hurtful and nostalgic memories that seemed to rage like rabid crocodiles within him. Most difficult of all, however, was the anxiety of the vision quest itself, especially the self-doubt that increased with each unyielding passing hour.

Langa tried desperately hard to maintain an attitude of openness to inspiration, to tune his senses to be aware of esoteric subtleties and covert signs, but all seemingly in vain. By the fifth night, feeling weak, tired and defeated, Langa had reached his threshold of tolerance. “At sunrise”, he reasoned with himself, “I will bury my deep shame and return to the Initiation Elder, conceding with whatever dignity I can still muster, that I am not yet ready to pass over this watershed into Manhood.” This resolution being made, he immediately felt great pressure ease from his temples and he drifted easily to sleep. And into a dream:

A dank, earthy smell filled Langa’s nostrils. Crouched in semi-darkness, his hands traced the jagged, cool wetness of underground rock. Great thunder boomed and echoed all around him, shaking the uneven ground beneath his feet. A light from his forehead dimly illuminated the snaking stonewalls of a narrow tunnel. Veins of glittering gold caught in the beam of light and flashed back at him. He caught his breath!

In the distance, a strange looking cart was filled with rubble and gliding magically away from him. When he followed the cart, he came to a place where the tunnel was intersected by a vertical bottomless black shaft. Suspended in the shaft was a large box, which apparently took to flight as he stepped into it. When it came to rest again, he stepped out into blinding, brilliant sunlight. Through the glare, he could see a large wheel towering over him against an horizon of strange looking conical hills. As he stared in confusion, the chant of men’s voices drifted up the eerie hole. Langa could just barely make out the words:

“Diggers and dreamers are we
Slaving that we might be free
Meanwhile our Mother Earth bleeds
To satisfy men’s hungry needs
For riches and glory and wealth.”

With the last line of the chorus still echoing in his ears, Langa awoke with a start. He immediately knew that the dream was his gift from the gods, and though he did not understand its meaning, he rose with the sun feeling that his soul had indeed taken flight like the eagle. Without hesitation or delay, he began his journey back to the original grass shelter, where the other boys and the Initiation Elder awaited him expectantly.

That night, around a fire that seemed unusually warm and homely, each boy recounted his vision and the Elder, in consultation with the Diviner, offered an interpretation. When it came to Langa’s turn, he recalled the unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells of his dream world experience and waited in suspense for an explanation of its significance. After protracted whispering and nodding between the sangoma and the elder, the latter said simply:

“We believe this is a literal dream that foretells your destiny amidst the gold mines of South Africa. But it speaks also a warning about the seductive power of wealth and the harmful exploitation of nature. Therefore, you would do well to remember the reverent relationship that our ancestral gold diggers cultivated with our living Ma and her sacred shiny seed. Hamba kahle – go well in your life’s journey!”

Langa could hardly contain the excitement and anticipation that he felt as his dream was being deciphered. In one grand sweep, his escape path from poverty and deprivation had been revealed. Soon, he would be rich! And he would save his family from their embarrassing indignity. As winter turned to spring and the daisies ignited into a blazing carpet of technicolour, Langa turned his back on his birthplace, his youth and his family, as he set out on the long journey to the Highveld, to the place they call iGoli, which means “place of gold”.



Dreams of Gold I – The Gold of Creation

Dreams of Gold – Chapter 1


I am Shado. I am called sangoma and sanusi by my people; shaman and mystic by others. I am the keeper of legends, the healer of disease, the voice of ancestors, the interpreter of dreams, the teller of stories. In days gone by, the people of my tribe – young and old, rich and poor, chief and beggar – would gather around a blazing fire under the star-beaded African sky, and listen to my stories. Today, my people are scattered by the winds, but my stories live on. Through the written word, I speak to a larger tribe, who reside in places and listen at times that are unknown to me. Still, I think of them – of you, the reader – as seated around a common fire, which is the soul’s yearning for meaning in an often-times bewildering world.

The First Dream – The Gold of Creation

This is a true story. I tell it from my own recollections, spanning more than sixty years. It is a life story, but not my own. It began one African summer night. I, a young initiate in the ways of divination, had seen an omen in the sky: bright-crimson blood smeared across the sun-bleached, dusty horizon. This was no ordinary sunset, I could tell. Something significant had happened, or was about to happen. A massacre of sorts. I alerted the village chief of my premonition, and he wisely doubled the number of guards on duty that night.

But, as we were soon to find out, the danger had not been our own. Two days later, the news from the city finally snaked its way across the green hills to our remote, rural location. More of our brothers and sisters had made the ultimate sacrifice in our struggle for freedom. It happened when government police opened fire on an angry crowd, comprised mostly of school children. They were protesting against the racism that grips our troubled land like the icy hand of death. In the wake of this tragedy, outrage spread like a bush-fire throughout the country. Angry youths took to the street, looting shops, petrol-bombing cars and smashing public property.

The reaction in our small community was thankfully less violent, although emotions ran high. It was in the midst of this turmoil that the ancestors delivered a message of hope. It came in the guise of a recently-married woman in our tribe. This young woman (I was scarcely older than her at the time) came to me for a consultation about a disturbing dream she’d had. She described her strange journey across the ethereal night plains as follows:

I came upon a praying mantis in the field. Knowing this to be a sacred sign, I prayed my thanks to the sky gods. Then I noticed a golden thread, which reached up from the thatched roof of my hut to a hole in the clouds. Without hesitation, like a spider, I climbed up into the clouds, where I was met by a hare, who escorted me to the foot of a fertile hill and told me to wait. After a short time, a radiant, golden light appeared at the mountain top and descended slowly toward me. As it approached, the glare was unbearable and I shielded my eyes from its painful brilliance. Suddenly, I realised that this was the mighty Sun King, so I threw myself on the ground in awe and began to worship his glory.

Then, in a voice from nowhere and everywhere, the King said that He had sent for me in order that I might carry a special gift back to the Land People. Whereupon He sprinkled a few grains of golden dust into my hand and said, ‘Swallow these, for they are like the gold dust that I once commanded the mole to bury in the womb of the Great Mother Earth.’

This being said and done, a blinding flash of lightening struck me on the forehead and He was gone. Still dazed and confused, I was led back to the hole in the clouds by a porcupine, who gave me one of her quills, saying, ‘This is for protection in the World of Dust.’ At last, I awoke and told my husband of the dream, but neither of us could decipher its meaning.

Even as a young and relatively inexperienced initiate, it was immediately clear to me that this dream held great significant. The night-land journey that the young woman had described to me was full-to-bursting with sacred symbols, like a rain-pregnant black cloud just before the refreshing thunderstorm breaks. I felt so strongly about the importance of the dream that, before I conveyed its interpretation to my anxious supplicant, I first consulted the senior sangoma of the region, as well as the elders of the tribe. They confirmed my intuition, that this was indeed a timely and potent message from the gods. In the animated dialogue that followed, we debated long into the night, until we reached consensus over its meaning. After informing the chief of our conclusions, I summoned the woman back and proceeded to decode the dream’s contents:

“Two of our greatest deities, Praying Mantis and Sun King, have ordained that you will give birth to a boy child, whose life will be greatly blessed. Our brother, the hare, confirms this message of fertility, but also cautions that this boy’s weakness will be his hasty desire for success and his easy distraction from the true path. Our sister, the porcupine, warns that in order to survive in this hostile land, he will need protection from the forces of evil, but the quill has the power to create a new era of harmony between black and white. He will need to learn the lessons of gold and his mission will be to re-establish the glory of the sun among the peoples of the Earth. In him is the fire of creation, but also the winds of chaos. He will be a blazing star in the world, ever under the watchful care of our ancestors in the sky.”

Tears were streaming down the young woman’s face, as waves of emotion crashed upon the shore of her consciousness – relief, joy, hope and fear, all swirling together in eddying currents that overwhelmed her senses.

By Spring, she was the proud mother of a baby boy and stood beside her husband beaming before the gathered tribe, ready to perform the sunrise ceremony of dedication. I was called upon to exercise my ceremonial duties of consecration (for the first time, if the truth be told). Fixing my gaze on the innocent young couple standing across the crackling fire from me, I began.

“Will the parents please bring the child forward so that we might dedicate him into the care of our ancestors. By what name do you call this boy?”

The father spoke, in deep and measured tones. “Before the child was born, we were given a sign by the Sun god. Therefore, in all humility and respect to the great Giver of Life, we wish to call him Langa, which means ‘sun’”.

Gently, I took the baby from his mother and held him outstretched towards the morning star which shone brightly above, and raised my voice in a song of recognition. As the sun rose on another African dawn, the assembled community joined in singing the chorus of blessing and support:

Oh, Langa, our boy from the sun
From the blessed dust of gold you grew
Like an arrow from the bow of the hunter you flew
May your flight in life be swift and true
Carry this quill every tightly in your hand
And bring light and reconciliation to this shadowed land.





Prose by Wayne Visser

~ Dreams are the swirling smoke of our spirit’s fire ~

Do you dream often?
What do they mean, these wispy, incoherent images that drift like clouds across the moon of our nightscape?
Should we just dismiss our dreams as the daily unwinding of our clockwork minds, the inevitable uncoiling of our highly sprung emotions?
Or are they vital messages from our unconscious depths, waiting to be deciphered?
There are many kinds of dreams – nocturnal dreams and waking dreams, dream of the shadow and dreams of the light.
Dreaming takes us into a world of transience.
Nothing is fixed, everything is dynamic; nothing is solid, everything is fluid; nothing is predictable, everything is volatile.
Maybe that is why dreams sometimes appear as nightmares.
We fear the unknown.
Uncertainty makes us anxious.
It is also why we often discard dreams as nonsense.
They don’t conform to our neat boxes of rationality.
They are the genie which refuses to stay inside the lamp of logic.
Dreaming is our more honest way of being – an uncensored state, where thoughts manifest as actions and emotions flare as colour.
When we dream, we glimpse inside a compressed time capsule – intention instantly translates into motion and the gap between cause and effect is closed.
This too can be frightening.
Are we prepared to accept responsibility for our wishes if they come true?
Will we like what we see in a world where we reap what we sow – in thought, word and deed – instantly?
Another reason for the sometimes ominous quality of our dreams is that they represent our shadow.
Everything we suppress or ignore or deny in ourselves – whatever we push below the surface of our consciousness – ends up in the subterranean caverns of our dreaming.
It is our psyche’s way of encouraging us to embrace our shadow, to restore the balance between light and dark, seen and unseen.
Have you ever noticed what happens to the monsters in your dreams when you respond with love rather than react with fear, when you offer acceptance rather than rejection, when you seek to understand rather than judge?
They mutate – the monsters are transformed into something less sinister, or they may disappear completely.
But not all dreams are nightmares.
What of ecstatic dreams – transcendent dreams of flying and connective dreams of love?
Could these dreams of light be a form of communication with our higher selves, an encounter with our angels and spirit guides, a discarnate meeting place for friends and loved ones?
Sometimes the power and authenticity of such dreams lead us to wonder whether they do in fact represent a larger reality.
Perhaps our waking world is the real dream-state, the more limited manifestation of our potential as spiritual beings.
Whatever our beliefs, dreams are sources of great energy, which we can tap into and channel in our lives.
Dreams remind us that anything is possible.
They give us the courage to think big, to pursue our visions.
Dreams are wormholes in time, allowing us to slip into parallel dimensions of reality, to glimpse how our lives might be different, to imagine what spectacular secrets the universe may contain.
Daydreaming sneaks us past the soldiers that guard the fortress of our three-dimensional rational world and lead us through the tunnels and catacombs of possibility into a lush landscape of sagacious knowledge.
And when we return – when we snap back into our normal waking consciousness – we still carry the gems from our otherworldly travels in our pockets.
Don’t fret if you don’t know what your dream-acquired treasures mean.
When the lock appears, the key will present itself.
In the meantime, dream on.
Follow your dreams today and see where they take you.

Wayne Visser © 2005


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