National Geographic : 2004 Jan
Women roar in the dust like lions during a dance that portrays a new type of healing that is growing in popularity (below). Himba women believe that spirits of dangerous animals or the dead can enter their bodies and afflict them with physical illnesses-leading them to call on female healers, who perform exorcisms helped by other women. Hold ing a healer's calabash, one woman grapples with a "possessed" dancer (opposite, top). Eyes rolled back (opposite, bottom), another woman falls into a trance. Healers enter this state to draw spirits out of the afflicted. Anthropologist Jacobsohn sees such group trancing as a means for women to deal with unprecedented change-an influx of tour ists, alcohol, children going to school, men working in towns for wages-that has robbed them of authority and left them uncertain about their role in society. "It's a way of han dling conflict and stress. And conflict and stress have increased in the past 20 years."