ESL Eco Blog

The pale fox

Mr. Daniel Robert tells us the tale of an ancestral custom in Mali. As always, it’s exciting, interesting and original:

On the edge of practically all of the Dogon villages in Mali, one finds one or several divination table(s) (photo 2176). Each person who has a problem comes to find the

“soothsayer” and informs him of his/her question. This may be, for example :

– Should we bring my sick son to the surgeon or to the healer ?

–   Should we plant the onions now or in a month time ?…


At the end of the afternoon and away from the village, the soothsayer traces a large rectangle which he divides into several squares. Each square corresponds to a question which is expressed with small cones of sand on which he plants one to five sticks or small stones or rectangles traces on the soil.



Then, he throws a handful of groundnuts on the table and leaves until early the following morning. During the night, the fox, or jackal, comes to eat the groundnuts and he tramples on the table. In the morning, the soothsayer interprets the traces left by the pale fox and the overturned sticks. He can then respond to the concerned person.


As our old Dogon guide confirmed, the response is always correct.



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