Anél Hamersma is an award-winning performer and speaker with a background in television presenting and educational theatre interventions.
In 2001 she was initiated as a sangoma into the Ngonyama Lodge based in Botswana. One of the roles of the sangoma is to connect people to the soul. Through the use of her training as a performer Anél translates this knowledge into encounters with the Self that are both accessible and practical.
These encounters draw on a variety of different modalities including principles from the Slow Movement, nature, music, art, performance, wabi sabi, improvisation, educational theatre and indigenous practices.
Combined they deliver an exhilarating experience - out of the cupboard and into the full "Tadaa!" of your life.
For the first part of my life I felt a profound sense of not being seen.
I felt stifled and invisible and unable to express who and what I really was.
The only place I felt a sense of freedom was on a stage.
Acting is powerful. By wearing the mask of another character I
could go beyond the boundaries of who I was allowed to be.
It was very liberating.
Still: there are specific lines to say.
Directors tell you where to go and how to stand;
what to think and how to interact. Acting was an outlet, but not a truthful one.
Then in 2001…
After a strange and inexplicable illness I was initiated as a sangoma in Botswana. Sangomas are a type of traditional African doctor and as an Afrikaner boer growing up in Apartheid it was a huge cultural leap that immersed me in a very different way of accessing and relating to myself, others and the environment.
Sangomas are possessed by ‘themselves’: their own lineage. An older part of who they are. Within the container of the dance they are free to be whatever emerges.
By practicing this new kind of expression I noticed a marked sense of increased wellbeing and a deeper connection to who and what I am. It offered me the opportunity to give voice to my innate ‘spirit’ and to be seen and honored in a way that acting/performing had never offered me.
My upper class, northern suburbs upbringing could not make head or tail of it. I met people who operated in a completely different way! They wanted different things, they valued different things. Their idea of success was nowhere near mine. I became really fascinated by what it was that made them so different to me, and I’ve spent the past 20 years trying to figure that out.
Botswana showed me how to connect to the world in an older way, in a more real way. But it was hard to bring it back to the city; to keep the connection and depth alive.
I've spent many years bridging the gap between these two ways of Being in the world: living in one while operating on the principles of the other.
I believe that we all have an indigenous spirit that resides within us.
It wants to be seen, heard, acknowledged. Self-Expression is your birthright.
My offering is not traditional knowledge. You do not need to be initiated as a sangoma to do this. You don’t need to sing and dance (although both of those are excellent practices).
It is simply a shift from ego to soul-stuff, and finding ways to connect and express that which longs to find expression through you.
This is the work that inspires me.
"Most effective paths to soul are nature-based. Nature - the outer nature we call the wild - has always been the essential element and the primary setting of the journey to soul. The soul after all is our inner wilderness - the intrapsychic terrain we know the least and that holds our individual mysteries. When we truly enter the outer wild, the soul responds with its own cries and cravings…"
Bill Plotkin, Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche