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Obey the Sheep in South Africa
When a ritual becomes a warning.
Hello, wonderful witches!
Coming to you from 35,000 feet, on my way to Vancouver. I’ll be there for a week, so if you have any fun recs, let me know!
Things have been a bit wild lately. My tyromancy workshops are going strong — they’ve been in the news a lot recently — and you can officially sign up for the next one in Chicago. It’ll be at the cheese shop Beautiful Rind on October 1. Claim your spot now (sorry, the hyperlink function isn’t working on my mobile browser):
I am, of course, still offering individual and group sessions. Head on over to my new tyromancy page for everything you need to know about booking.
In other news, my next book goes to print on Thursday! I could not be more excited to share all of my retrograde knowledge (and the smarts of twelve full-time astrologers) in “The Retrograde Guidebook.” Preorder it here:
Hopefully this Mercury retrograde hasn’t been as COMPLETELY AWFUL for all of you as it has been for me! Travel problems, internet outages, miscommunications… it’s been a time, everybody.
OK, back to business! Today’s story is about how an animal sent to slaughter can tell you if you’re going to be in a car wreck — at least in Black South African communities.
When Doomed Sheep Predict Evil
By Nyasha Bhobo
Slaughtering sheep, goats, or pigs in the garden for family feasts, rituals or just a home food diet is common in Black South African communities. Slaughtering is preferred to ordering meat (pork, poultry, and beef) from commercial butcheries as Americans might do with Thanksgiving turkey, for example.
But if slaughtering sheep, there is one critical ritual that must never be violated here in Black South African community beliefs. If the sheep makes a bleating cry before you slaughter it, you must abort the mission at all costs, inform family elders, and possibly even sell off that sheep.
If a sheep bleats before slaughter, it’s believed that’s a serious advance, a spiritual notification that witches are about to attack your family and injure or kill one of your family members in an accident on the roadway. It is thought that in the spirit world, witches’ hidden plans to cause an accident is leaked by the sound of a sheep that bleats before slaughter.
I remember numerous incidences of family confrontations here in South Africa whenever a car accident impacts a family member. Loud arguments flow along the lines of, “Now that you came out alive out of this car accident… We heard the sheep bleated. Why didn’t you refrain from slaughtering it?” Or, “The sheep bleated. You disrespected your guardian angels’ warnings!”
So, each time a sheep is slaughtered for a family feast in Black South Africa, family elders will listen attentively to make sure it doesn’t make a bleating noise. Before the slaughter, elders kneel down for five minutes and listen attentively to see if the rattled animal will bleat out. If it does, the slaughter must be aborted before the knife crosses the neck of the animal, and any planned, immediate family car journeys are stopped for a while to fool and frustrate the witches. Road accidents are very numerous here in South Africa, topping 22.4 accidents per every 100,000 inhabitants. And road accidents are surrounded by deep cultural beliefs among Black South Africans that car fatalities are the handiwork of witches. This flies in the face of research showing that South Africans’ excessive drinking of alcohol is the chief cause of car accidents in the country.
But, no matter what, “It’s witches, and a sheep’s bleating is your protection signal that you shouldn’t take this car trip, full stop!” my elderly uncle always shouts at me — contrary to the scientific explanations, of course.
Nyasha Bhobo is a culture, technology, and food writer, and a supply chain student. Her work appears in Rest of World, the New Arab, Canada’s Globe and Mail Newspaper, and Remedy Health Media. Her interests span fishing, baking, and chess.
In the next issue…
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See you then!