The shamanic paradigm: Evidence from ethnology, neuropsychology and ethology
School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University, Anthropology of Consciousness section of the American Anthropological Association, United States
AbstractCross-cultural findings establish the empirical evidence for a common form of worldwide hunter-gatherer shamanism, as well as differentiating these shamans from other types of shamanistic healers. These diverse practitioners have contributed to a confusion regarding the nature of shamanism because they share similarities in their common biogenetic foundations. These involve a cultural universal involving community ritual in which the induction of altered states of consciousness (ASC) is seen as a tool for engaging in interaction with spirits for the purposes of divination and healing. The relationship of various types of shamanistic healers to subsistence, social, and political characteristics provides evidence of the evolutionary transformation of a hunter-gatherer shamanism into other types of religious practitioners. The deep evolutionary origins of shamanism are illustrated through biogenetic approaches that identify the biological bases of shamanic universals and their deeper phylogenetic origins. The homologies of shamanic rituals with the displays of the great apes provide a basis for identifying the ancient foundations of hominin ritual. These ritual commonalities are described by reference to the maximal displays of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). The homologies implicate hominin ritual activities as involving similar individual and group activities involving vigorous bipedal displays by alpha males which included drumming with hands, feet, and sticks and emotional vocalizations. Their adaptive foundations are illustrated by the many functions of these threat displays in chimpanzee society: greetings, hierarchy maintenance, group integration, intergroup boundary maintenance, and release of tension and frustration. Biogenetic approaches to the origins of human ritual provide an additional empirical and theoretical foundation for understanding the nature and origins of shamanism in the human and hominid past.
Continuity and change in the evolution of religion and political organization on pre-Columbian Puerto Rico
Department of Anthropology, Montclair State University, 1 Normal Avenue, Montclair, NJ 07043, United States
AbstractTrajectories of cultural evolution are diverse, depending on unique blends of social, economic, and ideological factors. Assessing case-specific historical circumstances is crucial when identifying underlying processes of change. In this paper, I detail a model of cultural evolution based on the historical circumstances of the island cultures in the pre-Columbian Caribbean. We see continuity in key elements of cosmology and structural organization within a framework of evolving social complexity, leadership roles, and inequality. In the case of Puerto Rico, cosmology and ideology were intertwined over approximately 2000. years, spanning tribal to chiefdom sociopolitical formations.
Healing and exorcism: Christian encounters with shamanism in early modern Korea
University of California, Los Angeles, United States
Many scholars have argued that Anglo-American missionaries destroyed shamanism in the name of Protestant monotheism, Western rationalism, and modern civilization in early modern Korea. However, in the process of confrontational power struggles-between the Christian Holy Spirit and shamanistic "evil spirits," and between Western germ theory and "superstitious" views of diseases-Anglo-Saxon missionaries accepted a premodern view of demon possession, and many female missionaries practiced Christian exorcist healing rituals in contradiction to their rationalism and the ofcial doctrine of the church on miracle and faith healing. On the other hand, the missionaries' appreciation of the Koreans' premodern world view revealed their Christian Orientalism, which regarded Korean religions and spirituality as primitive and obsolete for modern civilization. As a result, paradoxically and liturgically, shamanic spirits were able to exist in the burning of fetishes and exorcism rituals, and shamanism and its spiritism, at the turn of the twentieth century, survived by being included in Protestant missionary discourse on demonology. © Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture.
Contemporary shamanisms in Mongolia
Department of Inner-Asian Studies, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary
AbstractThe aim of this paper is to outline the current situation of shamanism in Mongolia. It examines the relationship between shamanism and ethnicity, the phenomenon of urban shamanism and the emergence of shaman associations and shamanic enterprises in Ulaanbaatar. The study is based on a year-long field- work in Mongolia 2004-05, during which the author came into contact with the two most influential shamanic associations, the 'Golomt Center' and the 'Heaven's Dagger' association and had interviews with the members, and attended a number of shamanic rituals that they conducted. The field study was conducted at a time when these associations and enterprises had already 'grown up', i.e. they had recruited a vast number of members and attracted enough clients to operate, but still had not reached the stage of economic prosperity. This was also the time when the partly conscious attempt of forging a standardized Mongolian shamanism mainly from Darkhat and Buryat sources and the recreation of Khalkha shamanism began to take place.
The experience of altered states of consciousness in shamanic ritual: The role of pre-existing beliefs and affective factors
a Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia
b Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia
AbstractMuch attention has been paid recently to the role of anomalous experiences in the aetiology of certain types of psychopathology, e.g. in the formation of delusions. We examine, instead, the top-down influence of pre-existing beliefs and affective factors in shaping an individual's characterisation of anomalous sensory experiences. Specifically we investigated the effects of paranormal beliefs and alexithymia in determining the intensity and quality of an altered state of consciousness (ASC). Fifty five participants took part in a sweat lodge ceremony, a traditional shamanic ritual which was unfamiliar to them. Participants reported significant alterations in their state of consciousness, quantified using the 'APZ' questionnaire, a standardized measure of ASC experience. Participants endorsing paranormal beliefs compatible with shamanic mythology, and those showing difficulty identifying feelings scored higher on positive dimensions of ASC experience. Our findings demonstrate that variation in an individual's characterisation of anomalous experiences is nuanced by pre-existing beliefs and affective factors.
A note on oceanic shamanism
Australian National University, Australia
AbstractThis note shows how Mircea Eliade's classic study of shamanism as "a technique of ecstasy" has been effectively marginalised by developments in shamanistic studies since the 1980s, allowing for wider definitions. It traces the evolution of my ideas on Oceanic shamanism particularly in relation to shamanic survivals in Tongan religion, the origin of the Tu'i Tonga, and the shamanistic underlay in Polynesian religions which surfaced in times of crisis.
Buildings as persons: Relationality and the life of buildings in a northern periphery of early modern Sweden
Department of Archaeology, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 1000, FI-90014, Finland
The author shows how houses in the northern Baltic were constructed using two realities: the reality of timber and the equally potent reality of spirits supporting and controlling the fate of structures. Excavations in seventeenthcentury Tornio (now in modem-day Finland) showed that houseswere furnished with special offerings when founded and refurbished, while evidence from living folklore suggested that the houses themselves were originally given spiritual personalities and were treated as members of the family. As more modern thinking took hold, this spirituality was transferred to the more mobile and skittish household sprites.
Midwinter dramatic plays and singing customs in Magyarfalu
Department of Ethnology - Cultural Anthropology, University of Pécs, Rókus u. 2, H-7624 Pécs, Hungary
AbstractIn the ethnography of the Moldavian Csangos [csángó] there are very few monographs on specific themes or settlements, a fact that slows down the process of comparative research. This article examines the midwinter dramatic customs and their supplementary musical elements in the Moldavian Csango settlement of Magyarfalu, taking into account the function of the customs in the local culture. In addition to analysing the customs of local origin, I also offer recent data on a few, still unclarified, ethnographic problems (such as "hey-ho" chanting [hejgetés] and wassailing [regölés], and the question of the connection between mumming in bear masks and shamanism).
A conversation with Susan Aaron-Taylor, August 2009
| Hide abstract
McNichols, M. 2010 Jung Journal: Culture and Psyche 4 (2), pp. 110-122 0 At the center of Susan Aaron-Taylor's art is a union of Jungian psychology, dream work, and alchemy. Human forms metamorphose into animal and plant forms; the materials of naturefound wood, minerals, bones, gemstones-defly combine with handmade felt, kozo fber, metal, and felt in an art evocative of the universal as well as the personal. In this interview, Aaron-Taylor discusses the various themes-Jungian psychology, shamanism, ancient cultures, the goddess-central to her body of work, which has spanned more than three decades. Te artist shares both the rituals and the creative process through which she seeks to achieve a sense of wholeness. Of her recent work, Aaron-Taylor has stated that it, ". . . chronicles the retrieval of these broken pieces of the Soul.". © 2010 Virginia Allan Detlof Library, C.G. Jung Institute of San Francisco. All rights reserved.
On the antiquity of shamanism and its role in human religiosity
Department of Anthropology, Miami University, United States
Drawing upon ethnographic data on the thriving and dynamic shamanistic tradition in Nepal (gathered between 1999 and 2008), this paper addresses the problematic nature of many of the central assumptions concerning shamanism and its place in the development of human religiosity. These include beliefs that shamanism was the universal religion of Paleolithic hunter-gatherers and that it represents a neurotheology, the expressions of which have been preserved in ancient cave art and in the magico-religious beliefs and practices of extant or recently extant hunting-gathering cultures on the peripheries of the "civilized world." The paucity of any concrete testable and falsifiable evidence for any of these assumptions raises the compelling question of why so many anthropologists, archaeologists, and scholars in other fields subscribe to these views. The answer does not lead to some ancient grotto or an undisputable assemblage of Paleolithic shamanic paraphernalia, but to the imagination of Mircea Eliade, whose vision of shamanism is rooted in the musings of nineteenth century anthropologists. © Koninklijke Brill N V, Leiden, 2010.
Rock art or Rorschach: Is there more to entoptics than meets the eye?
University of Greenwich, United Kingdom
The recourse to entopic phenomena as an explanation of certain geometric rock-art imagery has generated considerable debate among archaeologists and anthropologists of consciousness, and even among neuropsychologists, to a lesser degree. Surprisingly little has been discussed concerning the philosophical location of this debate in relation to the mind-body problem of consciousness, however, and a new perspective presented here on the experience of form constants challenges current thinking. Considering the neuropsychological-shamanistic theory of Paleolithic rock art in light of visionary experiences among both the blind and the sighted, and under different states of altered consciousness, an argument is presented that form constants are not actually entopic as they are currently defined, that is, made within the eye and the visual cortex. It is suggested that the entoptic rock-art model is swayed by philosophical biases that force theorists to see what they want to see, somewhat like a Rorschach ink blot test, when, rather, it actually appears that there may be more to entoptics than meets the eye. © Berg 2010.
The life, death, and rebirth of a mapuche shaman: Remembering, disremembering, and the willful transformation of memory
Department of Anthropology, University at Buffalo, Ellicott Complex, Buffalo NY 14261-0005, United States
I draw on ethnographic and archival material collected between 1991 and 2008 to explore the story of a Mapuche shaman in her community in southern Chile and illuminate the ways in which particular marginalized groups see themselves in time. Francisca Colipi's unique position as both an anomalous, liminal outsider and a powerful mediator between internal community factions and ethnicities makes her biography a productive place from which to view Millali's conflicted history. Through Francisco's experiences in her community I explore how Mapuche shamanic historical consciousness is produced and mobilized, how shamanic narratives of the past construct the present and rewrite local history, and how change and its agents are conceived of in shamanic practice. An analysis of Mapuche shamanic historical consciousness through Francisca's life, death, and rebirth offers a new understanding of the relationship between indigenous agency and national history, remembering and disremembering, and individual and collective memory. Copyright © by The University of New Mexico.
Strong medicine Healing from the inside out
Cardiac Center at Luther Midelfort, Mayo Health System, Eau Claire, WI, United States
[No abstract available]
Language of original document
EMTREE medical terms: aged; alternative medicine; American Indian; article; coronary artery bypass graft; human; male; mental stress; nurse patient relationship; nursing; psychological aspect; United StatesMeSH: Aged; Coronary Artery Bypass; Humans; Indians, North American; Male; Nurse-Patient Relations; Shamanism; Stress, Psychological; Wisconsin
Making law for the spirits: Angakkuit, revelation and rulemaking in the canadian arctic
Department of Anthropology, SUNY Potsdam, 11 Gilson Road, West Lebanon, NH 03784, United States
AbstractProcesses of revelation and rulemaking are examined in the context of the indigenous religion of the Inuit of arctic Canada. Instances of misfortune, conventionally understood to be the manner in which spirit intentions concerning human conduct are revealed, instigate social mechanisms through which normative rules are created and maintained. The performances of Inuit religious specialists, the angakkuit, play a key role in this process. The Inuit case invites comparative assessments of means of rule construction and the discernment of intentions in the context of both other religious traditions and secular normative systems.
Utopian landscapes and ecstatic journeys: Friedrich nietzsche, hermann hesse, and mircea eliade on the terror of modernity
Department of Religious Studies, University of Groningen, Oude Boteringestraat 38, 9712 GK Groningen, Netherlands
AbstractAgainst the background of fascism and the disasters of two world wars, during the first decades of the twentieth century many European intellectuals were formulating negative responses to "modernity" and to what they regarded as the decline of human civilization. Often, these intellectuals sought for alternatives to the modern conditio humana and looked for solutions in religion, art, or philosophy. Friedrich Nietzsche's conceptualization of the Dionysian and the Orphic is of particular importance for such a discourse of modernity. After introducing Nietzsche's contribution as a referential framework, the article compares two representatives of this intellectual discourse: Hermann Hesse and Mircea Eliade. At first glance, Hesse, the writer and poet, does not seem to have much in common with Eliade, the scholar of religion and writer of novels. Upon closer examination, however, there are remarkable similarities in their work and their evaluation of the modern human condition. For Hesse, it was art, music, and literature that provided the antidote against the predicaments of modern culture. Eliade shared Hesse's search for an alternative to the modern condition and found it in the pure religion outside of time and space, in the illud tempus of the homo religiosus. For him, it was shamanism in particular that provided a model for a contact with the absolute world of truth untouched by the "terror of history." The article argues that these dialectical responses are part and parcel of the project of European "modernity" itself, rather than representing an "anti-modern" claim.
Sneaking god (back) through the back door of science: A call for a comparative addictionology
Rice University, 6100 Main Street, Houston, TX 77005, United States
AbstractThis paper is designed to call attention to the paucity of current models of addiction and to sketch the promises of future ones. In surveying the terrain of available treatments in the United States that include the medical and crypto-Christian, it then proceeds to examine two off-shore treatment facilities for chemical dependency that utilize indigenous shamanic techniques in their syncretic-and highly successful-methodologies. An enjoinder to craft a comparative cartography of addiction and the manifold therapeutic options for its treatment, it attempts to bring to light the fact that such a comparative endeavor could greatly improve the abysmal prognoses associated with this debilitating condition.
Shamanism and ritual in South America: An inquiry into Amerindian shape-shifting
University of Oxford, St. Cross Road, Oxford OX1 3JA, United Kingdom
Using ethnographic material on the Chachi, an Amerindian group in Northwest Ecuador, this article attempts to develop a renewed understanding of shamanism and ritual among so-called 'indigenous peoples' in South America, in both lowland and highland areas. I show that the human domain and that of spirits are always equivalent. It is also suggested that shamanic curing and many other forms of ritual can fruitfully be understood as instances of metamorphosis. In order to explore this argument I develop the notion of 'shape-shifting'. © Royal Anthropological Institute 2009.
From drums to frying pans, from party membership card to "Magic Branch" withe: Three generations of Nanai shamans
Every radical change that Nanai experienced in the 20th century divided the young people of this indigenous minority in Russia in two groups -radicals and conservatives, sharing values of the older generation. This way, in the period of establishing the Soviet power, radicals were members of the Young Communist League (Komsomol) who repressed shamans, whereas conservatives were those young people who became shamans but were forced to give up using shamanic drums and begun using pot lids or frying pans. During the changes in the 1960s and 1970s, the activity of radicals became more passive and not only they but also the conservatives (practitioners of shamanism and their customers) became members of the Komsomol. In the post-perestroika period, the social roles changed. Young Nanai, adherents of the revived shamanism, became radicals who practiced new forms of shamanism that they had adopted from the mass media. They maintained certain traditional elements of shamanic practices like using withe as a tool for measuring a healed person's 'level of energy' Such transformations demonstrate the flexibility of shamanism and its ability to adapt to the changing ideological and cultural environment.
The trunk of hanged man, some comments about "drug"'s past in western Europe
[Le tronc au pendu, quelques remarques sur le passé de la drogue en Europe de l'ouest]
Department d'Histoire du Droit, Université de Paris Ouest-Nanterre, 200 avenue de la république, F-92001 Nanterre Cedex, France
This paper first discusses the terms "addiction" and "drug", before approaching a third concept which takes us far in Eastern Europe: shamanism. Two kind of shamanism are described: the Germanic and the Scythian. Then, the study focuses on possession and dismemberment. Finally some hypothesis are offered, notably around the concept of addiction as death debt and disenchantment of the world.
Alter ego representations in San Agustin Monolithic sculptures: Possible plant hallucinogenic influences
Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavor, University of California, Irvine, CA, United States
This article examines the evidence for plant hallucinogenic use (possibly Brugmansia, Brunfelsia chiricaspi, Desfontainia R., Anadenanthera peregrina, Banisteriopsis sps, Psychotropia viridis and Virola theidora) by the San Agustin culture, an extinct peoples who resided in the Magdelena River area of Colombia from the third century B.C. until the sixteenth century A.D. Based on thematic materials gathered from a cross-cultural survey of plant hallucinogens, the author examines themes in the monolithic sculptures of this culture in light of man-animal transformations and shamanic themes linked to plant hallucinogenic ingestion.
Evolutionary origins of human brain and spirituality
a Biological Anthropology and Comparative Anatomy Research Unit, University of Adelaide, Adelaide 5005, Australia
b Discipline of Public Health, University of Adelaide, Adelaide 5005, Australia
AbstractEvolving brains produce minds. Minds operate on imaginary entities. Thus they can create what does not exist in the physical world. Spirits can be deified. Perception of spiritual entities is emotional - organic. Spirituality is a part of culture while culture is an adaptive mechanism of human groups as it allows for technology and social organization to support survival and reproduction. Humans are not rational, they are emotional. Most of explanations of the world, offered by various cultures, involve an element of "fiat", a will of a higher spiritual being, or a reference to some ideal. From this the rules of behaviour are deduced. These rules are necessary to maintain social peace and allow a complex unit consisting of individuals of both sexes and all ages to function in a way ensuring their reproductive success and thus survival. There is thus a direct biological benefit of complex ideological superstructure of culture. This complex superstructure most often takes a form of religion in which logic is mixed with appeals to emotions based on images of spiritual beings. God is a consequence of natural evolution. Whether a deity is a cause of this evolution is difficult to discover, but existence of a deity cannot be questioned.