What is Ubulawu? : One traditional diviner (sangoma) calls ubulawu, `The medicine which belongs to the ancestors. It opens your brain, it opens your brain to work. It is used to induce or clarify dreams of ancestral spirits and opens minds to receive the messages of the ancestors.' In all traditional Xhosa rituals, isilawu or ubulawu is used. This is a medicinal preparation made from certain medicinal plants. This is mixed with cold water in a container, and using a prong-like stick, the mixture is twirled vigorously to form a white froth. This is then drunk by the diviners and sangomas performing that ritual. The isilawu plays an important role in all Xhosa rituals and ceremonies. All rituals are believed by the Xhosas to be therapeutic. The foam generated from certain plants, the sacred ubulawu, is used by the Zulu and Xhosa in order to purify and connect an individual to the ancestors through dreams. Many of these species come from trees, bushes, and vines that grow near water sources. Ubulawu is often administered to healers during rituals conducted in river pools. Significant cave sites, often with San paintings, are often found in close proximity to sacred pools, and many rituals for healing are performed at these sites. The term `ubulawu' refers to a specific type of plant that is used in traditional healing practices in Southern Africa. Its uses include - a) a tool to aid with divination and prophecy, b) to facilitate communication with the ancestors and ancestral spirits, c) to access conscious dream states. The ingestion of ubulawu plays a fundamental role in the relationship between the diviner and the ancestors and is made by twirling a mixture of ground roots of particular plants with water. Some types are psychoactive and their use, together with the ritual complex (song and dance), often results in altered states of consciousness with accompanying visionary phenomena such as visions or lucid dreams relating to the ancestors. research clearly indicates at least 17 different species of plants which are used either singularly in an ubulawu mix, or mixtures of these and other plants are made into ubulawu mixes. In South African traditional healing, river and forest rituals constitute essential components for the training process of individual diviner-healers (igqirha -sing/amagqirha- pl ). There is a variety of rituals performed during the training process which are usually prompted through dream messages that the novice receives. Ubulawu, a concoction of plants soaked in cold water that is beaten into a foam, is consumed by the initiate during these rituals. These rituals provide a neutral space whereby moral and social commentaries can be made. Inherent in this cognitive framework is an awareness of the integral balance between the social, natural and spiritual worlds. It is said that, "The most sophisticated processed herbal products are special mixtures, known as 'ubulawu', consisting of mixtures of chopped bark and bulbs and other plant parts." The different kinds of ubulawus may also be "used in cleansing the body of 'pollutants' encountered in the crowded, stressful and highly competitive urban environment ." (Cunningham 1994; 1993) Dream inducing herbs (oneirogenic) : Impendulo - Rubia petiolaris Isidala - Dianthus crenatus A cold water root infusion is used by diviners to ensure visions and sharpen their divining faculties. Also of interest is the fact that this plant is in the same family as the Silene that is an oneirogenic (dream-inducing) plant. Lesoko - Alepidea amatymbica Maranga - Albizia adianthifolia The Chwabo tribe know it as `maranga'. They use the roots to induce dreams and to enhance memory. The bark is also snuffed. Ubhubhubhu - Helinus integrifolius Diviners use saponin rich species like Helinus integrifolius in an ubulawu mix which enables them to interpret dreams clearly. (Saponins are a highly bioactive group of molecules.) It is prepared by stirring with cold water until a froth appears. Umagupu - Maesa lanceolata The tree yields 3% embelin. A host defence stimulant, dioxybenzoquinone, has been isolated (Kubo et al. 1983, 1987). Maesaanin, isolated from fruit, has antifungal activity against Candida utilis (Yano et al. 1989). Uqume - Hippobromus pauciflorus Uvuma-omhlope - Synaptolepis kirkii The tuberous root is cut into chunks. These chunks are remarkably pure white in colour (`omhlope’ = white), and easy to identify. They have brown fibres embedded in them, and appear like pieces of plaster of Paris. Uvuma-omhlope is used to produce clear vision when entering into a trance. Root infusions are also used in rituals and assist diviners to `see’ in a metaphysical sense. An unusual diterpenoid ester known as Synaptolepis factor K, has been reported from a Synaptolepis species (see Zayed 1977). For sources see the sources forum.