I watched Dr Strange some time last week and was captivated by the articulation of healing, death of the ego and connecting with the universe in an intense way. It’s a work of fiction, but carries a very powerful metaphor that I related to ukuthwasa. Let’s walk through his journey of healing.
Strange is a neurosurgeon, a brilliant one at that, with a photographic memory and not so handsome to be honest. In fact, I remember thinking, “Strange o mobenyana jwang.” He is also arrogant. Yhu, his arrogance put me off, maybe that’s why I thought he was mobenyana. Strange has spent many years consuming and practicing neurosurgery, but above that neurosurgery is him. He has crafted his identity around this. He IS Dr Stephen Strange. The ugly moment of reckoning and redefining himself comes when he crashes his car and has to undergo surgery to reattach his fingers. Amadlozi wakhe have probably been communicating with him and he’s been ignoring them, sheba jwale.
His pursuit of healing is inspired, at first, by his desire to continue being Dr Stephen Strange, the brilliant neurosurgeon. Never mind the calamity and disorder that existed in his previous life: ego as big as Mt Kilimanjaro; arrogance that humiliates those around him; a blatant disregard for the feelings of others; the failure to recognise love and friendship. [Perhaps you’re also stuck in this phase]. Change is upon him, but he doesn’t really want to embrace it. Through his unwavering determination, he finds Kamar-Taj, where his gobela, The Ancient One, resides.
Strange meets The Ancient One and tells her he doesn’t believe in spirit blah blah blah. I was so bored by his arrogance, I rejoiced when they threw him out like a sack of rotten potatoes. Just plonk! on the dusty streets of Khathmandu. I stan TAO. He is determined to heal though, because this is his last shot at saving his hands and identity. There’s a strength and resilience about him that prompted me to continue watching. I admire this strength and resilience because they came in handy during his time ephehlweni.
When The Ancient One bliksemd Strange’s astral body out of his physical body, I almost keeled over and died from awe and wonder. They depicted it pretty well (astral projection), I must say, although there were a few elements missing. When TAO asks, “What is reality?” I wanted to scream, “YASSSSSSS!” because truly, what is reality? The reality of a person who is open to experiencing the spirit realm, is unlike that of a person who is adamant that there’s no such. “It’s all in your head.” Mkay.
As the story develops, I see Strange in a different light. He’s got that phehlo glow. Maybe it’s the robes, the haircut and the beard. Let’s be honest, clean-shaven does NOT suit him. He grows emotionally, as his connection with the ancient teachings deepens and learning takes on a different tone. He still uses the skills he acquired in his practice of neurosurgery to deepen and further his knowledge and practice(s) in the ancient ways. There’s a particular scene that speaks to my heart. The Ancient One opens up a portal to Mt Kilimanjaro and leaves Strange by himself, his inexperienced hands and his big ego and tells him to surrender. Iyho, amen. You see his demeanour changing when he realises he’s going to die if he doesn’t surrender. His chest -that is usually puffed up in that arrogant man stance- caves in and he takes a deep breath, surrendering to the task before him. His older brother ephehlweni, Mordo, wants to save him because he’s afraid he will die (that helicopter siblinging) to which their gobela responds, “Leave him.” Ah! Lona?! He eventually makes it shame, frozen stiff and you see The Ancient One breathing a sigh of relief. Perhaps she realises her student’s potential and hopes his arrogance will not warp his healing capabilities.
I would say his ntwaso (the graduation ceremony) is when Kaecilius and his cronies attack the London Sanctum. He defeats Kaecilius with the help of the cloak of levitation. Think back to an earlier scene, where Mordo talks about ancient relics and how they find you when the time is ripe. This is Strange’s relic. With the aid of the relic, he manages to hold off the enemy of progress, until his gobela (The Ancient One) and Mordo arrive. Here, he is still under the guidance of his gobela, but he pretty much has ubunyanga bakhe.
In the end, the gobela dies and leaves strange in his own ndumba, with the bones, medicine and a deep connection namadlozi.This we see in the post credit snippet where Strange summons Thor to the NY Sanctum. Before she departs, she tells him that he will have to draw on some of the dark dimensions’ energy to defeat Dormammu. This is when we see him bringing the knowledge gained ephehlweni into practice and healing the nations. He literally saves earth, with the aid of Mordo, Wong and the Eye, from the dark clutches of Dormammu. He takes up residence in the New York Sanctum (endumbeni) to continue learning. Amen
PS: I recently got into the Marvel Cinematic Universe because of the Gogogyals and I’m enjoying myself.