The statements of researchers on the topic of basket divination and the statements of basket diviners in northwest Zambia, Africa, do not fully agree. While researchers rightly stress the importance of observation, analysis and interpretation in basket divination, going so far as to describe diviners as scientists, they fail to recognize that divination is not an abstract, disembodied undertaking. Truthful knowledge is not flushed out of the diviner’s mind as a set of theoretical propositions; it is instead delivered by an ancestral spirit that becomes objectified in three symbiotic forms: physical pain, configurations of material objects laid out inside a basket, and the diviner’s translation of those meaningful configurations into words. In basket divination, human bodies, artifacts, words, and spirits work together in symbiosis. Knowing is a spiritual, intellectual, and embodied undertaking. The challenge then is to conceptualize basket divination as an integrative way of knowing in such a way that one does not fail to recognize either the neurobiological substrate that we all share as humans or those others facets—such as the numen—without which basket divination as a cultural practice would cease to exist.
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