The bwiti culture is a complex society based on ancestral tradition.
Having a relationship with the dead ~ being guided by spirits
~ having relationships with past generations of family and tribal members conforms to their belief system
and enhances social-economic status within the community.
"Then the visions stabilize, the faces become clear, and often people see or speak with parents or loved ones, living or dead.
They say they then meet more mysterious beings among whom many people recognize ancestors whom they never knew
but whom they have seen in photos or whom they've been told about.
Some see their birth and even other things that would have happened well before they came into the world;
they say that they are reliving the history of their ancestors.
They tell about travel through scenes and countryside illuminated by a blinding light, with rainbows and scepters" *
~ Agnes Paicheler
Whether ritual use of the iboga root guided the bwiti people to the spirit world of their forefathers,
or the souls of their ancestors invoked the iboga in order to retain their position among the living
is like asking the farmer, "Which came first? The chicken or the egg?"
"It is not a plant that came into being yesterday, it has existed for thousands of years,
and people have always taken Iboga in a ritual and spiritual setting accompanied by a master."*
* IBOGA ~ The Visionary Root of African Shamanism
Ravalec, Mallendi, and Paicheler, c. 2004; Au diable vauvert, Vauvert, France
translated by Jack Cain, c. 2007; Park Street Press, Rochester, Vermont USA