The San people of Namibia and Botswana were formerly referred to as the Bushmen. These people were believed to have come from one the oldest surviving lineages of mankind. Their way of life is tied to the ancient time. Conservation has eroded away the native lands of people and they have gone with their practices. However, the trance dance is still alive in some San Communities in the Kalahari region. The dance is a ritual-like practice that produces an altered consciousness through hyperventilation and rhythmic dance.
The dance is used for healing sick people and healing some of the negative habits of the people. Historians believe that this trance dance was recorded by southern African rock art. The dance is the most prominent cultural and religious practice that the San people still practice. The healing dance comes in many shapes and they still produce the same effect; healing the sick.
Many people including the women are healers in these communities. Some women may sit around a fire and do their rhythmical clapping and singing medicine songs while their healers dance around. The ritual is an night long affair that ends the healers in an altered state, often feeling great pain and screaming during this dance.
In the altered conscious state, the healers experience a healing energy that are carefully channeled to the sick people. The healers do this by touching the sick people on their torso or body parts affected by sickness. The dance also drives away disputes and anger in the community.
Sometimes, the healers when in trance cast themselves into the fire as their spirits leave their bodies on a frightening, painful, and dangerous mission to save their people. The people care for the healers or shamans who are on trance by rubbing them with sweat and there is a flicking of flywhisks to ward off encroaching arrows of illness.