Mutwa, Vusamazulu Credo - And the underworld
Type of Spiritual Experience
The Zulus have a belief in the underworld, which they too have 'seen' via visions, but they tend to combine hell and the underworld in their myths. Zulu myth has a story not dissimilar to that of the Greek Persephone and Demeter, which serves to show the contrast between the systems of the Underworld or Hell and those of Heaven. Whereas Persephone is taken to Hades, the 'Great Earth Mother 'is taken to her sister – the Goddess of darkness Nomhoyi. The story demonstrates well the overall impressions created by a person dreaming of this journey.
In this myth recounted by Credo, the shaman does the dive!
How did the myth emerge? Imagine you are asleep and in a cave in prehistoric times. You know the cave extends a long way back and has been used by bears and lions. You are not wholly at ease, you are frightened and have the added complication that you are lusting after your brother's partner who also happens to be in the same cave. You dream and the dream take you further into the cave where you come across another world and your fear is personified as a massive demon with fangs and claws that attacks you – you fight it off in the dream and win! As you enter further into the cave in your dream you come across a beautiful women, who you then attack - your lust for your brother's partner personified. She turns into a snake and attacks you with her fangs. So lesson number one conquer your fears, lesson number two, conquer your lust for your brother's partner because in the end it will all end in misery.
As you happen to be a caveman unaware of the mechanism of dream and its symbolism – you tell your dream to your fellow cavemen. It becomes a myth, a story, a ripping yarn to be told on a dark night round a warm fire. How Ugg beat the monster and the demon woman trying to seduce him [it has to be her fault of course – he's a man]. And this is how myths emerge and symbolism becomes universal.
A description of the experience
Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa – Zulu Shaman [Dreams, Prophecies and Mysteries]
She who was beautiful, who loved the Earth and the sunlight and the air and the trees and the sweet song of the birds, was taken and bound and blindfolded and brought down, down, down, through dark and damp corridors that seemed endless, twisting and turning until it seemed that the whole mass of the Earth lay above her head, into the most forbidding realm of the Nomhoyi her dark sister.
Oh, Nomhoyi was pleased indeed to receive her new guest, for she had long languished in hatred and envy of her bright sister, who had brought into being a world far more beautiful than her own and who was her opposite in every way – oh yes, she would make her sister welcome, all right!
Where the Great Earth Mother was generous, Nomhoyi was stingy; where she was loving, Nomhoyi hated; where the Earth Mother created boundlessly, and all her children loved her, the Underworld Goddess had a population of dark minions who served her in hatred and fear.