World Tarot Day – 25 May

Today is World Tarot Day – Time to learn something new, or if you have been thinking about starting your own deck, why not today.

Iminyanya20 The World or in the iTongo Tarot The Earth.  Concept: Good judgement; Rebirth; Introspection; Transformation; Evaluation; Metamorphosis
Iminyanya (The Ancestors) invites you to follow your destiny. Be guided by your inheritance and history.

Reaping reward from past actions; Analysis and evaluation; Absolution; Responsibility; New view of reality; Making wise judgements; Integration; Wholeness; Ancestral and family matters; Avoidable influences

iTongo Legend: The snake is commonly found in African mythology and is regarded as immortal because it sheds its skin and continues to live. For the Zulu, the snake is a metamorphosed amalgam of the ancestors, who visit either in dreams or in reality. A snake that enters the house is unthreatening and is viewed as ‘family’ and as such is never harmed.

Ouroboros (tail-devourer), a snake depicted with its tail in its mouth forming a continuous circle, is considered a symbol of eternity. It is present in many African artworks – cloth patterns, wall paintings, and metal works.

According to legend, the snake carried the creator in his mouth while the earth was being created. The creator feared that the earth would sink into the sea beneath the weight of the mountains. The snake coiled itself around the earth, holding firm with its tail in its mouth; this hold must never be loosened, otherwise all of creation will disintegrate.

In order for African people to live in harmony with the creator and creation, all natural laws and observances were divinely revealed to the first African generation as a community at the beginning of time. The death of that generation meant the beginning of intercession between the living and the creator, or ancestor worship, as the first generation had now joined the spiritual world thereby marking the beginning of the ancestors.

Many African peoples regard the earth as a female deity, a mother-goddess who rules all people and is the mother of all creatures. The earth lives and gives birth to ever-new generations of beings and the ancestors live in the earth.

The earth’s elements: fire, air, and water are recognised as gifts from the great mother, yet the earth is seldom worshipped. Nevertheless, the earth has a very powerful spirit that rules over life and death.

The Stages of Life (Rites of Passage)
Birth is the first rhythm of a new generation and the birth rites incorporate the newborn child into its new society.

Initiation rites continue that process and make the child a mature, responsible, and active member of society.

Marriage makes the young adult a creative and reproductive being, linked to both the departed and future generations.

Death stands between the world of humans and the world of spirits, between the visible and invisible. Burial rites make it quite clear that the bereaved feel that the dead are only making their way to their final destiny, i.e. to the new world of the living dead – their ancestors.

6 The Lovers – UTHANDO (uthando n. (-thando): Love)

iTongo Tarot Card

Key Words & Phrases:  Art of relationships /The harmony between lovers and friends /Harmonious connections with other people /Spiritual or transcendent power within /Balance between male and female /The understanding of paradox /A love affair with a trial or choice attached /Humanism /Time and space to integrate experience /Nurturing and care-giver

I usually talk refer to the Lovers as a card of choices and decisions, but it does also have romantic love connotations. They say that we cant choose who we fall in love with. So what is this magic that happens between two people? Why those specific people? Is it all part of a grand design or is there something about Soul Mates?

I have a bit of a problem with the concept that there is half of me somewhere waiting to meet up. I also have a problem with the theory that until we meet that soul mate we are not whole or complete. I prefer to subscribe to the theory that we are whole and complete and that finding that special someone ‘compliments’ our life.

Love and certainly romantic love is such an intangible, only when you are in the bloom of love does one seem to make sense of it all. Throughout time philosophers, poets, musicians have pondered and wondered about this feeling and state of being. How it works, what it is, how to explain it.

How do we love? Why do we need to love? I believe that we are born with the instinct to create, and in order for that creativity and (pro-creation) to succeed it needs positive loving energy to motivate and manifest to all that it can be.

The emotions of love can raise us up and can devastate us. That is the paradox of loving. We owe it to ourselves to nurture our own spirit, to love who we are and what we do. When we achieve that, we are so much more powerful and have greater capacity to love and nurture others.

It’s not always what we say that makes a difference, it’s the follow through of our actions that underlines the emotions we share. This week, be loving, be centred within yourself and your heart and share that well being with others. Do random acts of kindness. Smile at a stranger. Remember loved ones who have passed. Most of all show those you love that you care, that they are special and a light in your life.

zayn adamsToday’s card is for a friend who has passed into the light. A man whose voice brought chills and could move you to tears. Zayn Adams truly mastered the art of relationships. He embraced the concept of uBuntu and was warm and giving to all that he met. He was a deeply spiritual man with a keen sense of humour.

His music lives on.

Double the Abundance

Today 26 – 01 – 2015 is an 8 day which is also the number for the year.  So brace yourselves, its double everything.

iTongo Tarot CardKey words and concept for 8 Justice – Balance; Justice; Realignment; Equilibrium; Logic and reason.

StrengthFor those of you who follow Waite 8 is Strength – Strength; Passion; Creative energy; Taming of the beast within; Courage; Moral victory.

Need for clarity of mind, impartial judgment and a balanced intellect.

Justice is about The mediator, adjuster, arbitrator. — One who has a deep love for simplicity, clarity, fairness and balance. So today especially for Libra, be aware of your centre and stay grounded because balance is needed.  If you haven’t set your resolutions yet, this is a good time to start that diet, balance your cheque book, tidy up your life, let go …

8 Justice is also about Karma.  You may have noticed changes on a spiritual level, these energies are adjusting your cycles which will lead towards balance and harmony.  Expect some profound moments and clarity and better sense of equilibrium.  Embrace the laws of cause and effect.  Embrace logic and fairness – a sense of judgement will prevail.

If you are dealing with any legal issues this card is a positive sign.  Things will go well this week. Also a good week to sign contracts or enter into agreements with others. If you are hesitant seek sound advice and keep your cool. Its best not to be ruled by emotions at this time – apply your intellect and logic.

If you missed “The Year Ahead” here is the link

iTongo Tarot Legends
As with most of the other tribes of South Africa, the Venda (VhaVenda) came from the Great Lakes of Central Africa. The Venda people are one of the last groups to have entered the area south of the Limpopo River. They first settled in the Soutpansberg Mountains.

The Venda language, TshiVenda or LuVenda, emerged as a distinct dialect in the 16th Century. In the 20th Century, the TshiVenda vocabulary was similar to SeSotho, but the grammar shares similarities with Shona dialects, spoken in Zimbabwe.

Venda law and custom constituted a system designed to protect firstly family rights, then the chiefdom and finally the individual. This placed the onus on the individual and the realisation that his actions affected the greater community, especially his/her descent group.

Venda culture has a strong emphasis on male authority (patrilineal). Moral behaviour is essentially the right and good actions of the man who does not upset the balance and harmony between the clan, society, and nature. Nature and man work together in harmony as the actions of one has consequences on the other.

The good man was not only one who respected seniors and was loyal to his family, he was also a good neighbour1. He was to live with generosity of heart and possessions and be free of the suspicion of witchcraft. He needed to be meticulous in observance of custom and loyal to the chief.

The formal handling of disputes began with the local headman and ended with the chief at the capital. A panel of elders assisted the chief and would advise on points of law and provide continuity of experience.

The process of bringing a case to court was simple and logical. If one felt that his rights had been violated, he would report the matter to his immediate headman. A date was set for the hearing and all parties concerned instructed to attend with any relevant witnesses. The case was heard in the men’s meeting place, which was a prominent feature of the homestead of chief or headman. Women were not permitted to attend these proceedings, unless they were directly involved in the case. Witnesses were allowed to hear all the testimonies and were often allowed to modify their own. In a case of civil wrong, the judgement would be restitution and compensation – the intention to ‘right a wrong’, i.e. stolen goods to be returned, the trespasser removed, or unfulfilled contracts honoured. In the case of damage or actions, which could not be undone, compensation was awarded and was usually paid for in livestock. Failing the ownership or possession of livestock, the complainant was entitled to exact satisfaction and take what he could.

Criminal offences were homicide, grievous assault, rape, incest, crimes against the chiefdom’s authorities and witchcraft/sorcery.

2015 – What to Expect

2015 has two influences. The Universal Experience (The year 15 which relates to The Devil) and The Personal Experience (2+0+1+5=8) Justice or in Waite system Strength (iTongo 11).

What does 2015 bring?
This will be a good year to handle legal issues. Outstanding issues will be resolved, new issues arising will be easier to reach a resolution, often resulting with out-of-court settlements.

2015 is a good year for finances – things begin to come into balance. New ventures are likely to succeed. If you heeded the energy of 7 The Chariot which was 2014’s card, took control and made the required changes, then 2015 is going to be a bumper year.

Promotions/increases are possible. If you have a dream 2015 is the year to realise it. Keep it simple, direct and clear. 2015 will not be a good year for anything covert and complex. Focus on what you want. Mind your motivation and intention. Set the course and you will reach those goals.

Body, mind and spirit. Pay close attention to health and care for your body – exercise and nutrition are key components towards good health in 2015. Part of good health is a healthy mind and spirit. Assimilate and adjust to the changes made in 2014. Watch your habits and addictions.

2015 is about abundance – make sure that what you are receiving is positive. Your balance and harmony will be reflected by those around you. If you are negative then you will receive in abundance. If you emit a positive energy and attitude then that too will be received in abundance. Its about understanding and being mindful of the laws of cause and effect. What you put out there comes back to you.

15 The Devil - Thikoloshe15 The Devil (Thikoloshe) in 2015. Universal experience.
This is the year where ‘our chickens come home to roost’. Whatever we put out there in 2014 comes back to us in 2015 – either to haunt or bedevil us or to ‘lay old ghosts to rest’. The upside is that whatever effort and hard work was done in 2014, we will reap the rewards in 2015.

2015 will ask us to look beyond what we are doing and look deep into what our inner world is doing, because this is where the motivation and intent comes from. Our thoughts and emotions drive our actions. Our sense of self is what determines the quality of our actions.

This is the year to set your boundaries and limits. To combine practicality with productivity. It’s a year to be dynamic and assertive and accept ‘what is’.

Watch out for those bad habits – Vanity/ego, lust and addictions. You are the master of your destiny, be aware of what limits you and re-balance. 2015 could amplify bad habits or addictions at times making us feel trapped and helpless. We need to remember that we hold the power and the key for release and freedom. I recently read an article about how mankind suffers because of his base physical nature – which is all about the pursuit of pleasure, his lust for life rather than his passion, how when living without boundaries and limitations we self destruct. The sentence that struck a chord with me is “of course, we all have cracks, that’s how we let the light in”.

So even when we are troubled by our demons, we need to remember to let the light in – guiding and stabilising our need for physical gratification.

Keeping a positive attitude is one of the keys during 2015. Knowing that no matter what the situation, no matter how hopeless we feel – we can find a solution, we can with a little effort overcome. Consider your options and take positive action, don’t run away or numb yourself with chemicals, alcohol and sex. Each time you face that particular demon its power is diminished and eventually will not have an effect on you. Live triumphant in 2015!

Live life with focus and positive reinforcement this year. Keep telling yourself ‘I am worthy’, ‘I am fearless’, ‘I can overcome’. Take note of your own inhibitions which block your growth – once managed and removed you will experience growth. Growth is not without its challenges but its rewards are well worth the effort. When we are able to transcend fear and shame and guilt we are kinder to ourselves and to others. We are able to forgive and most importantly we are able to view and love others without conditions and strings. The Devil reminds us that there will always be temptation, its part of our basic human nature that arises at times – this card cautions and reminds us … all things in moderation. If you cant do it yourself, seek guidance and help.

Card 15 (1+5) adds to 6. Its essence is about choice. You choose your action, you choose your result.

iTongo Tarot Card8 Justice (Khathulo) in 2015. Personal experience.
We have a double whammy here – 15 and 8 bring our past actions back to us in 2015. Justice is about truth in action. It’s about the natural law of cause and effect. We are responsible for our actions and reactions. Therefore we need to accept the punishment or the reward. The main theme of this year is “truth in action”

An 8 is made up of two perfect circles – balance and harmony, each in equal measure. The lemniscate or the horizontal number 8 also known as the infinity symbol represents the concept of perpetual motion, which is the supreme signature of the Universe and all cycles – as you sow, so shall you reap.

2015 is about the laws of cause and effect, Karma and the return of all your energy in infinite cycles. Take a close look at your situation and work in practical ways to bring balance and harmony. This is a good year to stabilise, use your time efficiently and be dependable. Don’t make promises or arrangements you know you cant keep. Work hard, but don’t be a workaholic. Sometimes a break and some time out allows new energy to flow, making you more effective.

2015 on a personal level is also about balance, realignment and finding that perfect harmony. The first step is TRUTH. Without absolute honesty we cant move forward. Make time this year to examine your truth and if you are living it. The more unfocused we are in 2015 the less effective we will be.

The number 8 is about control, domination and achievement. It’s also a number of abundance – attracting financial security. 2015 could see some relief in finances and legal matters. It could be as simple as renewing a passport, or committing to life insurance – take note of what you need to succeed. Be self confident in your abilities and go for your goals. Push for that promotion, ask your loved one to marry you – take a chance on YOU, you know you are worth it.

The message for 2015 is one of accountability for our actions. This card reminds us that we all have a conscience – we should listen to it more often. Pay attention to the whispering in your ear. We need to learn from our mistakes. Take some time to examine the past. What choices and actions would you have done differently? What can you do today to bring change? What are you setting up now for the future? What do you expect the results to be?

Identify areas in your life that need change, find the solution and the way to success. Start a diary, make a vision board, contemplate, meditate – In the circle of life we are all connected, we are all one.

Other lessons we will learn in 2015 are Compassion and wisdom. Natural leadership and self confidence are the keys. This is a year for taking that chance or risk on yourself. The challenge is not to pass judgement, manipulate or take decisions in anger. Be aware of becoming obsessive or addicted to the power. It’s finding the balance with logic and reason. Honour the laws of cause and effect. Understand the responsibility of choice. A clear mind will determine the quality of outcome. Experience is one of our great teachers.

2015 is a year to work for humanity. We need to take care of more than just ourselves. We need to share our talents, experience and wisdom and work towards the greater good. There are many in need – join a cause and work towards bettering humanity, the community, the nation and the planet.

For those who follow A.E. Waite tradition 8 Strength. (iTongo 11 – Amandla)
Originally named Fortitude which is the ability and willingness to face and confront our fear, pain, uncertainty. Moral courage is the ability to act truthfully in the face of opposition, shame or scandal.

2015 will see the return of wonder, awe, passion, vitality and excitement. It’s a year to follow your creative instincts and follow your passion. We are multi-faceted and we can do anything we dream of. We need the courage of our convictions to realise those dreams. Handle all situations as creatively as possible. It is through the creative process that you will renew and regenerate yourself.

Again the power of 8 is about stability, perseverance and everything in moderation, which will require inner strength and discipline. Maintaining composure and serenity will see you through the difficult times in 2015.

Summary for 2015

Maintain a positive attitude – Keep telling yourself ‘I am worthy’, ‘I am fearless’, ‘I can overcome’
Set your boundaries and limits
Honour the laws of cause and effect – Karma
Accountability for our actions – You choose your action, you choose your result.
Abundance – attracting financial security
Combine practicality with productivity
Work for humanity – In the circle of life we are all connected, we are all one
Manage those bad habits – Vanity/ego, lust and addictions
Find practical ways to bring balance and harmony
The more unfocused we are in 2015 the less effective we will be

Infinity, and beyond

When was the last time you came across something truly original?  It has been said that everything tangible and intangible has already been thought of and done, all we do is add layers or nuance to something that already exists and that someone else (usually in the dark ages) has already claimed as original.

A few days ago I received this …


I have never seen the infinity sign used to mark the passing of someone.  What a brilliant idea!

It got me to thinking about how many of us get ‘stuck’ on that death date.  We forget that our loved one had years and years of life before that dreaded day.  We also forget that energy doesn’t just stop – it transforms and lives on.  They live on in our memory.  They stay with us and we pass on their life and legacy to the next generation.

Nelson Mandela was a world icon.  He embodied the principles of humanity, forgiveness and hope.  We often say rest in eternal peace.  Got me to thinking again about the difference between eternity and infinity.

20earthEternity means no beginning and no end (symbol Ouroborus)

iTongo Tarot card 20 The Earth – IMINYANYA (The Ancestors)

CONCEPT:  Good judgement; Rebirth; Introspection; Transformation; Evaluation; Metamorphosis

Infinity means a beginning but no end. (Symbol Lemniscate) card back

Madiba’s beginning in this life (18 July 1918) his energy and spirit lives on in infinity.

iTongo Tarot Card Back.  Embracing eternity and infinity.  There is a beginning without end.

Ladies of iTongo – Queen of Earth

iTongo Tarot CardOur final lady of iTongo this month is Queen of Mavhele (Coins/Earth) we pay homage to our earth mother Modjadji, the Rain queens of the BaLoBedu.

In a country where rain means the difference between life and death, the ability to control it is a most valuable gift. This gift is about abundance, fertility and growth.

What do we learn from Modjadji? Through our gifts we are able to nurture, guide and support others. We act with generosity and patience. As light workers we understand that we act as the agents of transformation, we nurture, push and advise but their issues are not our issues. We do not take up the burdens of others. Each one of us needs to take responsibility for our own choices and ultimately the outcome.

In business, there are people known as rainmakers. These are people who bring in new business ‘almost like magic’, and are often key figures within their community or organization. These people are ‘connected’. To the universe of possibility, and the ability to recognize an opportunity when it presents and to have the will to see it through.

Let your imagination flow with the rhythm and timing of life. Protect the earth and all her treasure, be aware of the foot print you leave behind. Take responsibility for your choices and your position. Be prepared for growth. Immortality comes from what you leave behind.

Make it Rain!

Modjadji – The Rain Queen

The legend of the Lovedu people of South Africa includes the deity known as Modjadji, the Rain Queen, who has the power to cause rain to fall on her people and send drought to their enemies. The land of Modjadji is known as LoBedu (land of offerings) and her people as the BaLoBedu.

In a savage world of ceaseless warfare and oppression, this small tribe was left unscathed for fear that the awesome queen would take umbrage and curse offenders by withholding the precious rain. The Zulu held her in awe and called her Mabelamane.

Modjadji I lived in isolation and was beautiful, wise, and immortal. The impenetrable wall of mystique around her person and power brought her fame, and led to the weaving of many myths and legends. Immortality is achieved by the succession of the queens. The secrets are imparted to the successor just before the death of the queen. The new queen must accept the inevitable ending of any career and/or public life she may already have embarked upon, thus ensuring that Modjadji (meaning ruler of the day) continues. The second Rain Queen, Masalanabo Modjadji is said to have been the inspiration for H. Rider Haggard’s novel, She: A History of Adventure.  She also is said to have inspired the song ‘She’ written and originally recorded by Charles Aznevor was made popular in the sound track from Notting-hill sung by Elvis Costello.

The current status of the Rain Queen dynasy. After the death of her grandmother, Rain Queen Mokope Constance was crowned the sixth rain queen on 16 April 2003. This made her the youngest queen in the history of the BaLoBedu tribe. She died on 10 June 2005 at the age of 27. A son, Prince Lekukena (b. 1998) and a daughter, Princess Masalanabo (b.2005), survive her. Since Princess Masalanabo is fathered by a commoner, traditionalists are not likely to accept her as the rightful heiress to the Rain Queen crown. There is concern that the 200 year-old dynasty may come to an end.

iTongo Ladies of Water (Cups)

“wathint’abafazi wathint’imbhokoto uzakufa” (you touch a woman you dislodge a boulder, you will be crushed) captures the essence of this feminine power. Our iTongo ladies of Water (Cups) Queen Mantatisi (Four of Water) and Queen maMohato maBela (Queen of Moritsoana) – Great wife of Moshoeshoe I epitomise feminine power in action. In a patriarchal society both women had to rise above their stations and circumstances and take control of their lives, their families and their communities.

What do we learn from them? We are the Mothers of Light. We need a strong sense of our individuality to manifest our passions in a practical way. Ego should not be about the idealisation of self, but rather a consciousness of our characteristics and powers. We need to use all that we are for the greater good.

The element of Water represents our emotions, feelings, hope, intuition, dreams and visions.

We determine the quality of our experiences. When we are warm and outgoing with a solid faith in our abilities, expressing self assurance, we find that our thoughts, ideas and wishes are positively received and responded to. When we disengage with ourselves, from our truth and our essence then we may find that life is difficult. Opportunities seem to pass us by and the people we interact with seem to be closed to our needs and desires.

Last week we celebrated Women’s Day and we need to take inspiration from the women of history who showed us that we can achieve anything when we stand together. Power in numbers and solidarity for common goals and standing up for what is right, even in the face of danger.  Our personal integrity should not allow us to stand back and do nothing when a woman is abused. We should not turn away, because we ‘don’t want to get involved’. We need to be there as support, to comfort and to protect our women.

The rate of sexual violence in South Africa  is among the highest in the world. An estimated of 500,000 rape cases take place in the country, every year. Children are now playing a game called “Rape, Rape”.  Only when we have truly become centred and strong within ourselves, when we have absolute faith in our abilities and live with vigour and strength – then we can ‘Run with the Wolves, and shop with the poodles.’ live our lives with grace and compassion. When we are able to nurture and create life within us and around us can we stand up and shout – I am Woman, Hear me Roar!

iTongo Tarot CardQueen Mantatisi (1781-1836) was the Commander of the Batlokoa of Southern Africa, and was perhaps one of the most well-known and feared women military leaders during the early 19th century. She was the daughter of Chief Mothaba of the Basia in the Harrismith District; the area that was later named the Orange Free State.

She married Mokotjo, the chief of the neighbouring Batlokoa. Mokotjo died while their son, Sekonyela, was still too young to take over control of the chieftaincy. As a result, Mantatisi assumed control and acted as regent. Reports claim that Mantatisi was a tall, attractive woman who bore her husband four sons.

After her husband’s death, her clan suffered a series of military encroachments by the AmaHlubi clans who were fleeing their homes in neighbouring Natal and Zululand. According to historians, Mantatisi took the Batlokoa into the Caledon Valley where, after seizing crops and cattle, they drove out the more peaceful Sotho clans living in that area. Her reign of military conquest extended as far as central modern day Botswana. At the height of her military and political power, her army numbered forty thousand warriors. However, she eventually suffered a series of defeats beginning in Bechuanaland in January 1823.  After Mantatisi’s son, Sekonyele, reached maturity, he took control of the Batlokoa social structures and military arm. Eventually, he was conquered by Moshoeshoe I, son of a chief of the Bakoteli – a branch of the Kwêna (Crocodile) clan.

 iTongo Tarot CardmaMohato maBela – Great wife of Moshoeshoe I
The oral traditions of the Basotho reflect the importance of women when forging political and military alliances through marriage. Ancestry and family connections were important to the social structure of the Basotho and are one of the reasons why arranged marriages used to be a common occurrence, especially for the children of leaders and chiefs. One chief would betroth his daughter to another chief to secure alliances. The father incurred an obligation to help the husband and his family and vice-versa. 

The value of women is indicated by the fact that they were often captured in battle and were then ransomed back. While Moshoeshoe was still at Butha-Buthe two of his wives were captured by a MoFokeng chief, it is said that Moshoeshoe recaptured them in a counter attack. Sekonyela captured MaMohata in an attack at Thaba Bosiu; she was ransomed for six head of cattle.

MaMahato was a tall and strong woman. It is recorded that her marriage was a good one with mutual respect however there is a notation that MaMohato died in childbirth as a result of a harsh beating by her husband. Apparently, she had been unfaithful. The BaSotho saying “morena ke mosali” meaning “woman is chief’. Missionary D.F. Ellenberger (1835-1919) explains this as meaning “that even a chief must respect her and may not abuse or punish her, even though she may have provoked him”.


Ladies of Fire – Growth through Responsible Change

This week our two ladies of iTongo come from the Xhosa, People of the South, and their lives were intertwined by destiny.

In mid-1856, Nongqawuse believed she saw her ancestors in a pool of water in the Gxarha River. She claimed that the ancestors told her they would arise and sweep the British settlers into the sea, replenish the granaries and fill the kraals with healthy cattle. As an act of good faith, she said the Xhosa people should destroy their crops, the grain stores and kill their cattle. Those who refused would be turned into frogs, mice, and ants and blown into the sea by a mighty whirlwind.

Queen Suthu was a shrewd woman of substance and ruled alongside her son King Sandile. They were influenced by Nongqawuse and gave their blessing. Had they not done this, the terrible tragedy could have been averted.

What do we learn from these two ladies? We need to take responsibility for the choices we make. There is of course the danger of over reaching our capabilities and with that comes the burden of assuming responsibility. Sometimes life adds certain restrictions to our actions, which often delays our personal growth and blocks our energy. At times like this we need to remember that for every action there is a reaction, so we need to be mindful of our expressed intent.

When we are in a situation that could have possible negative outcomes, the best is to take a moment to reflect. Take a step back and reassess the possible damage. We need to understand our own power in action. What it takes to manifest our passions in a practical way. Simply allow that ray of light within to guide us. Be vigorous and strong within your self-assurance. Feel – think – act – change!

Remember to be gracious, warm and outgoing when approaching others or a situation. Maintain your personal integrity with maturity. These two ladies represent the feminine power in action.

iTongo Tarot CardTEN of ISIBANE (Fire/Wands) – People of the South – Key word – RESPONSIBILITY
Nongqawuse (c.1840 –1898) was the 14 year-old girl whose prophecies led to the Xhosa cattle-killing crisis of 1856–1857.

She predicted that the ancestors’ promise would be fulfilled on 18 February 1857 when the sun would rise as a blood sun, stand still in the sky, and then set again in the East. Chief Sandile, on hearing the prophecy from Nongqawuse’s uncle, Mhlakazi, ordered his followers to obey it.

For ten months, the Gcaleka acted as men possessed, killing their livestock, and destroying their crops until all that was left was their faith. The cattle-killing frenzy affected the whole of the Xhosa nation, and it is estimated that between 300,000 and 400,000 head of cattle were killed. It is reported that the Xhosa population dropped from 105 000 in January 1857 to 26 000 in December 1858.

As the appointed day dawned, a breeze blew off the sea and the Gcaleka people sat waiting. The sun rose, made its passage across the hot February sky, and set in silent majesty in the west. Darkness fell on a ruined people. Those left to rebuild the nation survived only through the help of neighbouring tribes and the Europeans.

Nongqawuse, fled to King Williamstown where she sought sanctuary with the British. There are conflicting reports of what became of her. Some believe she was sent to Robben Island, but there is no record of her ever having been there; others believe that she settled on a farm in the Alexandria district in the Eastern Cape. She died in 1898. Today, the valley where Nongqawuse met the spirits is still called Intlambo kaNongqawuse (Xhosa for Valley of Nongqawuse).

Queen of iSibane (Fire)QUEEN of ISIBANE (Fire/Wands) – People of the South – Key word – RADIANCE
Queen Suthu: According to Xhosa tradition, when a chief or king dies and the heir is under age, his mother, or uncle acts as regent on his behalf until he becomes a man.

Queen Suthu was the youngest wife of Chief Ngqika. She was a great beauty in her youth and a knowledgeable politician. On Ngqika’s death in 1829, Suthu became regent of the Rharhabe Xhosa on behalf of her son, Sandile, until he came of age. Suthu’s prestigious and important position was consistent with Xhosa tradition where the mother of the chief is always held in high esteem and occupies a place as major adviser and counsellor to her son.

Queen Suthu was a shrewd woman of substance and a survivor. She overcame witchcraft accusations in 1842 and was well known to British missionaries.  Because of her experience in dealing with the British, she often served as an emissary between tribes and the British officials and missionaries.

More than once, she appeared in court on behalf of her son Sandile when he was captured by the British during the War of the Axe in 1846. Sandile was shot by the British in 1878.

Queen Suthu attended church services frequently and was respected by the British; however, she would not tolerate their demands to desist from holding traditional ceremonies on the Christian Sabbath.

The Ladies of Air – Growth through Intellect

In South Africa, August is Womens Month  with National Womens day on 9 August.  This month I will be paying homage to the women of  iTongo Tarot.  Starting with The Ladies of Air.

Queen of SwordsQUEEN of ASSEGAI (Swords/Air) – People of the East
Nandi (the sweet one) kaBhebhe eLangeni (c.1760 – 1827) Daughter of Bhebhe, a chief of the Langeni tribe, and the mother of Shaka, King of the Zulu and the third wife of Senzangakhona, ruler of the Zulu chiefdom.

What do we learn from Nandi’s journey?
This was a woman who managed to maintain her dignity and focus, no matter what trials and tribulations she endured.  She had a single purpose, to have her son Shaka recognised as the true heir of the Zulu kingdom.  She was determined that Senzangakhona (Shaka’s father), would marry her and legitimise their son.  He offered a paltry sum for her Lobola, which she turned down (this lady knew her value) and legend has it that she settled on 50 head of cattle.

Even though she knew of the prophecy that one day her son would be murdered by his brothers, she pursued the throne, because she knew her son would be king.

“Nandi, daughter of Bhebhe, your first-born shall be king,
Giving birth to a mighty nation of blood stained spears and thundering black shields,
The conditions of the prophecy are that your son remembers
not to defy the ancestors by reaching for powers that are not of his heritage.
The heavens will destroy him from his own blood. “

Nandi was named Queen of Queens when Shaka became king of the Zulu.  She ruled alongside her son with realistic expectations, a sound philosophy and never shied away from difficulties.

iTongo Tarot CardOur next ‘Lady of Air’ is Shaka’s aunt Princess Mkabayi.  The adage “Behind every man is a woman of power” is a true reflection of the woman Princess Mkabayi was.  She had the ability to accept reality with a clear perspective.  She consolidated her resources and was not afraid to act on her thoughts.  She teaches us to follow through on our ideas, maintain harmony and balance within.  Move the focus from within and see the visible manifestation of our thoughts in our actions.

Princess Mkabayi was the elder sister of Senzangakhona, and daughter of King Jama.  She was one of a set of twins and according to Zulu custom, one twin should be sacrificed to avoid the death of one parent. Jama refused to kill one of the twins and so broke a well-established tradition. His wife, Queen Sikhombazana, died without bearing him further successors, and people believed this was a consequence of his act.

A woman of great intellect, Mkabayi presided over the reigns of four kings – King Senzangakhona, King Shaka, King Dingane, and King Mpande. They all drew on her wisdom and experience, and a famous phrase at the time was “Buzani ku Mkabayi”, which means “consult Mkabayi for any solution”.

The Four Kings
Senzangakhona kaJama (c.1762-1816), son of Jama, was chief of the Zulu clan from 1781 to 1816. During the chieftaincy of Senzangakhona, the house of Zulu was a small clan in the Mthethwa confederation, which was ruled by Dingiswayo.

Shaka kaSenzangakhona (c.1787-1828), son of Senzangakhona, ruled from 1816 to 1828. Shaka (sometimes spelled Tshaka, Tchaka or Chaka; sometimes referred to as Shaka Zulu; was the most influential leader of the Zulu empire.

Dingane kaSenzangakhona (c.1795-1840), son of Senzangakhona and half-brother of Shaka, ruled from 1828 to 1840. He came to power after assassinating his half-brother Shaka with the help of another brother, Mhlangana, and Shaka’s advisor, Mbopa.

Mpande kaSenzangakhona (1798-1872), son of Senzangakhona and half-brother of Shaka and Dingane, ruled between 1840 and 1872, making him the longest reigning Zulu king.

PAGE of ASSEGAI (Swords) – Growth through Communication

iTongo Tarot CardCommunication – a word that is bandied about so much these days. We are told to speak our minds, we are encouraged to share our thoughts and ideas. There is so much social intercourse that at times we are overwhelmed by the messages and certainly the messengers.

We communicate our truth and expose what is hidden. Every now and then we connect, we have a meeting of the minds and we are able to develop our plans or ideas with the cooperation of others. When we communicate we are learning and also teaching. We have an opportunity to put forth what we know with logic and reason.

The most important element of communication is listening. If we don’t listen to our inner voice, to our spirit, we know the consequences – we veer off our path and have to work twice as hard to get back on track.

The universe works in mysterious ways. We ask, or ‘put it out there’ what we desire and then for some reason we expect it all to happen in an instant. We want the ‘burning bush’ experience. We want instant answers. Well the good news is that the Universe does answer immediately – but in subtle ways. If you live with focus and intent you will be rewarded. Listen to the lyrics of a song, read a headline. Take note of a phone call from someone. Every moment is filled with the possibility and the answer, we just have to be mindful of the question to recognize the answer and the help we receive.

Be warned not to get into the habit of ‘knowing it all’. Be humble in your approach and don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s always available. Share the load or the burden – talk to someone. Pray. Meditate. Listen to Spirit. Explore your spiritual beliefs and systems. Even if you don’t buy into some practices, we all need to believe that there is something greater than ourselves. Open your mind and look deeply into your faith system.

I am a great believer in lists – physically manifest what is on your mind. Write a pro’s and con’s list. Write down a scenario ‘in a perfect world’ who would you be and what would you be doing. Trying to get something off your chest regarding someone else? Then write them a letter. You don’t have to send it, but once its out you will feel so much better.

Tell someone you love them. Tell someone you are grateful for their presence in your life. Call a friend, sometimes just making that connection can change their whole world and perspective.

There are many ways we communicate – not just verbal, but eye contact, our body language and our actions. Are you sending the right message. Are you being heard and understood. Are your signals clear and focused. What is the message you send out about yourself and your state of being?

iTongo Legend

Traditional Zulu beadwork is used as a means of communication by unrelated unmarried males and females, and is colloquially referred to as “Zulu Love Letters”. Symbolism is encoded within a limited number of colours and geometric figures. Colour symbols have alternative values but the values of geometric symbols are constant.

The bead code is deceptively simple and follows one basic geometric symbol – The Triangle. The three corners of the triangle represent Father, Mother, and Child. A maximum of seven colours is used to portray a wealth of meaning and imagery.