Divination Using Spiders

Spider divination, known as Ngam du in the Mambila language, has been practiced by the Mambila people in Cameroon for centries. It holds such weight that its outcomes can even be presented as evidence within the country's judicial system. The enduring presence of the word "ngam" throughout history is a testament to the enduring tradition of this divination practice, which can be found across southern Cameroon.

Ngam du involves posing binary questions (yes/no or one/the other) to large spiders inhabiting holes in the ground. A stick and a stone, a set of leaf cards adorned with symbols is utilized to allow the spider to manifest its choice.

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Once the stick, stone, and leaf cards are carefully arranged or concealed, the spider emerges from its hidden dwelling. With delicate movements, the spider begins to manipulate the cards, shifting their positions. These subtle shifts hold profound significance for the diviner, who skillfully interprets the intricate pattern formed by the spider's interactions with the cards in relation to the stick and stone. If the cards align with the stick, it signifies the selection of the associated option, while alignment with the stone signifies the choice of the alternative option.

Mambila diviners hold a profound belief in the wisdom bestowed by spiders, attributing their unique insights to their dwelling in the ground, which is considered the sacred "village of the dead." This spiritual connection underscores the significance of the spider as a source of profound knowledge and guidance, strengthening the cultural reverence for this ancient practice within the larger tapestry of Cameroon's diverse divinatory traditions.

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