Divination Systems In Africa And The Theory Of Deterministic Chaos
Taking into consideration the idea that reality is made up of information, divination systems in Africa can be recognized as methods of decoding this information. The operational attitude adopted by these systems repudiates any belief in coincidences, accidents and randomness, allowing the divining practitioner access to spiritual realms where the past, present and future are said to exist simultaneously. One of these methods includes inducing a state of trance through rhythm and dance, initiating communion relations with beings known to exist in what the rationally compelling author Joseph Campbell would call, the inner reaches of outer space.
Chaos theory is the study of random, unpredictable behaviour within systems ruled by deterministic laws.
According to the work of mathematician Edward Lorenz, certain deterministic systems have a formal limit of predictability, where minuscule differences result in huge effects that render systems unrecognizable. This is popularly referred to as the butterfly effect.
In the same way mathematicians seek to find equations for processes embedded in our natural world, the divining magician - also seen as a cognitive scientist, extracts coherent meaning out of what appears as chaos. Colonialism reduced African divination systems to primitive superstition, denouncing them as pillars of Satan's kingdom and thus negating their power in accessing and organizing information, breaking limiting thought patterns and generating new associations through non-discursive thinking. These practices were keenly developed over a long period of time to enable human consciousness access the full potential of its complex unconscious processes.
One of the more popular divination systems is Ifá, practiced by the Yoruba people of West Africa. Like other similar systems from the continent, Ifá is a living library of knowledge taught from one generation to the next through rituals built on binary numbers that fall in accord with the binary units of information forming our universe. Ifá teaches in poetic logic, where all solutions to life's problems are thought to be hidden in the network of relationships between various people, terrestrial elements and the unique dynamics that make up our individual and collective lives. One of a multitude of ways that chaos has been represented in many oral traditions in Africa, is as a malevolent trickster, whose role is to re-order perceptions and restructure the cognitive patterns inherent in our being.