Par Anne Fournier
The Seme of Burkina Faso attribute all the problems they encounter to interventions from the invisible world. Divination allows them to identify the cause of the problem and a suitable remedy (which blood sacrifice to make at which altar). The diviner, always male, has been summoned by the invisible. An initiation follows intimately linking him to a bush spirit who becomes his divination assistant. The divination rite uses many props and plunges participants into an intense sensory environment. This first article of a two-part study is a detailed formal analysis of nine filmed divination sessions. It explains how each accessory is used and the finality of each gesture. Although the canvas remains the same, the divinatory rite allows for many variations, as illustrated by video montages. The diviner uses a learned technique as well as the inspiration provided by his auxiliary bush spirit to decode the signs emitted from the invisible world. His body is as much part of the divination equipment as the accessories he employs.