A Psychodynamic Phenomenology of nankani interpretive divination and the formation of meaning

Aaron R. Denham*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


Divination probes the inchoate, concealed, or mysterious in an effort to acquire knowledge, validate understandings, or imbue decisions with authority. Among the Nankani people in Northern Ghana, men communicate with ancestors through an interpretive form of divination to make decisions, uncover the hidden, and seek explanations for misfortune. Many scholarly accounts of divination emphasize social processes and divination's role in maintaining social cohesion and systems of jural authority, often focusing on visible and objective measures. In this article, I direct attention to the subjective experience and the sociocultural psychodynamics of Nankani divination, demonstrating how divination shapes interpretations of experience and works as a mediator within and between intraself and self-other dynamics. By focusing on the client's experiences and object relations, I establish how Nankani divination generates meaning, addresses uncertainty, and brings forms of unformulated experience into awareness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-134
Number of pages26
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015


Cite this