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In memory of Razafindrabe: a General Ethnography of the Astrologer's Skill in West Bezanozano, Central East Madagascar
Astrologers in Madagascar, in West Bezanozano in particular, play a very important role in building the fundaments of the land of extended families (they give the destiny of the family). They are also invited by individuals or families to lay the foundations of village, house, tomb, or memory stones for the dead, and last but not least to lead the famadihana, a ritual for the dead making them ancestors. This chapter follows the practices of astrologers in making the fundaments of villages, houses and tombs. Making fundaments is making as it were a living horoscope, giving places a suitable destiny in relation to the surroundings and the people concerned. I also followed an astrologer/mason who was in charge of crafting a particular memory stone. The memory stone had to deviate from a direct line between village and tomb caused by a mistake in the tomb building having killed two astrologers in their work. Finally, I presented the central importance of the astrologer during the ritual of the famadihana where the destinies of the dead and the living have to be mediated to protect the living from the dead. General speaking, a good astrologer will never become rich, since he has to hold not only good destinies but also bad ones. The work of an astrologer can be extremely dangerous since he deals with real forces. During difficult assignments, people offer him a cock that accompanies him during work since people believe that the cock will die before any human, also an astrologer.