Why it is Important to ‘Check in with Source’

By Ann Brode   |   July 8, 2021
David Cumes will host a Zoom event on July 10

Standing on the threshold of a post-COVID world feels like an opportunity to evaluate the past and make choices for the future. In such transition times, our small-self is asked to align with a big-self perspective. This is when it makes sense to listen to a resource that comes from way beyond and resonates deep within. I call this “checking in with source.”

For some people, checking in with source happens in a religious context; for others it is more about spiritual connection. But, for all, it implies looking past the upsets and distractions of everyday life to partake of something more eternal.

There are many ways to check in with source. Contemplative prayer or meditation create an opening to hear your deepest knowing. Astrology, tarot, or aura readings can impart more information. Tossing the I Ching or Rune Stones are doorways to the wisdom of olden times. Rather than a literal transmission, these methods often rely on symbol, image, or metaphor to convey the message. Then, it’s up to us to determine what it means and how it can help. Most recently, wanting some post-pandemic guidance, I asked Dr. David Cumes to “Read the Bones” for me.

A highly respected urologist and gifted spiritual healer, Cumes has travelled back and forth from the cutting edge of Western medicine to the mystical roots of indigenous healing. As he tells the story, after specializing in urology, teaching at Stanford, and setting up a private practice in Santa Barbara, he still felt something was missing. Every time he visited his South African homeland, a traditional healer would tell him that the ancestors were calling him to study the ancient medicinal ways.

As part of his destiny, this was how he could bridge the gap between science and spirit. Eventually, he began an arduous training process leading to initiation as an African shaman or Sangoma. Since then, he has helped many people in our community find a way to heal the spirit as well as the body. To do this, Cumes uses a divination process called “Reading the Bones.”

“Reading the Bones”

Any time you stand at a place of not knowing or decision-making and desire more input, you might want to have Cumes “Read the Bones.” As he explains it, you bring the question and the ancestors answer. Here’s how it works:

Once you schedule your reading, the Ancestors have been notified. You arrive at the appointed time, take off your shoes, and sit with Cumes in his backyard “ndumba” yurt filled with baskets of specific plant medicines and various sacred objects. Cumes sits at the head of this sanctified space, burns “mpepho” incense and shakes a rattle to call forth your ancestors and guides.

Afterward, he’ll ask you to pick up a collection of bones/trinkets/charms — holding them as you think of the issue or question at hand. Infused with your energy, these are placed in a ceremonial skin bag along with an offering of tobacco. You shake the bag, blow into the opening and state your name. Once the bag is emptied onto a woven mat, Cumes interprets the configured message sent from the spirit world.

The reading often invokes further introspection and perhaps a second throw. After the message has been delivered and clarified, you might be asked to do a process or ritual at home to clear the way using candles, water, and herbs.  

How Does this Work? 

Cumes explains that when the Bones land in a certain configuration, they provide a scaffold for diagnostic insight coming from the spirit world. This allows ancestral spirits to have a conversation with the client through the healer. “Reading the Bones” is like unraveling the metaphor of a dream in order to access deeper meaning and invite insight. Once the picture is clear, the Ancestors suggest certain actions, plant medicines, and healing rituals to unlock the past and remedy imbalance. 

With his specific sangoma training and cultivated intuition, Cumes is a master at translating information from the source. Every time I’ve sat in his yurt, the result has been both profound and uncanny. After a seemingly random throw, the very placement of the Bones appears to speak directly to the issue. As Cumes points out the significance of each piece and placement, a theme emerges.

For instance: Look over here, that charm landed dead center; this bone flew right out of the circle; that shell is pointing to your home-creativity-health; this ancestor is showing up to guide you. Each reading helped me listen to my inner knowing, resolve an issue from the past, and set a course for the future. 

In addition to David Cumes, Santa Barbara has an impressive collection of gifted professionals who can hold the space between this world and spirit world. Whether you seek their help or simply sit quietly and listen, this is a good time to check in with source. Tuning in to the divine, the universe, or inner knowing now will help you see through the haze and make wise choices as you go forward.

“Spirit guides are not subject to time or space as are we. 
They are always around but not always to be known,
always within call but not always to be heard,
always present but not always to be sensed,
always holding us but not always to be felt.”
— The Ancestors

Visit www.davidcumes.com to learn more about his books, music, videos, and blog. Visit www.sbcc.edu/extendedlearning to access his online video, The Architecture of the Soul, and register for the special Zoom event, The Anatomy of the Soul, on July 10 from 10 am to 12 pm.

Appointments can be scheduled to “Read the Bones” through Adrienne at 805-964-6771.


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