No doubt, these facts about termites and termitaria contribute to the respect, even reverence and awe, with which Bushmen related to termites. Termites were a source of food for Bushmen too, but they were much more than that. In some rock art traditions, notably North of the Limpopo River, Bushman painted depictions of the interior of termitaria. These are also the only Bushman rock art traditions that sometimes depict plants (specifically trees) rather than just animals. However, the trees in these paintings are clearly indices of termitaria. Siyakha Mnguni persuasively argues in his book Termites of the Gods: San Cosmology in Southern African Rock Art (2015), that the mysterious clusters of geometric shapes that archaeologists call "formlings" actually represent the cells in a termite nest. The most impressive rock painting panel involving formlings is in the Matopo Hills South of Bulawayo. Numerous animals appear to emerge from the formlings at the centre of the panel.
It is arguable that shamanistic belief can help to explain what the termitaria meant to the Bushmen. The termitaria may well have represented portals to the spirit worlds, both the one below the ground and the one in the sky. The termites' nuptial flight resembled the shamans' ability to "fly," that is to go on transcosmological journeys while in altered states of consciousness. The mass of the termite nest, deep underground, may have represented not only a portal to the netherworld, usually associated with death or the spirits of the dead, but also a spiritual womb, the source of spirit animals and of life itself.