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Masters of reality
03-11-2018, 06:10 PM (This post was last modified: 03-11-2018 06:10 PM by mecheeta.)
Post: #1
Masters of reality
Thomas T Hills
is professor of psychology at the University of Warwick in Coventry, UK.

Shamanism is as varied as those who practise it. Its practitioners range from indigenous lineages who have passed down their craft over thousands of years to the modern ‘plastic shamans’, who represent no specific culture but have adapted shamanism to meet the demands of metropolitan markets. However, there is a common theme to shamanism wherever it is practised: the use of spiritual (or shamanic) trance to facilitate journeys to a non-ordinary reality. Here, in this non-ordinary reality, the shamans do their work. According to the historian of religion Mircea Eliade writing in 1951, shamanism is the ‘technique of ecstasy’, involving the purposeful invocation and use of dreams and visions to solve problems.

By this definition, shamanism is the landscape of the spirit-journey, populated by good and evil spirits and the souls of the deceased and yet-to-be-born. It is the place where mountains speak and Grandmother Skeleton points out which plants to eat when the dry season lasts too long. In this form, shamanism is everywhere in the old ways of humans. Every tribal culture – alive or dead – has some broker of spiritual capital. The Indonesian Mentawai have their sikerei. The Inuit have their angakok. The Columbian Desana have their paye. The Mongolian Buryat have their böö. The American Sioux have their heyoka.

The sheer magnitude of our shamanic ancestry means one of two things: either shamanism originated once prior to the human diaspora some 70,000 years ago and has been preserved since, or it has arisen independently countless times in premodern human cultures. If we consider that preagricultural human societies are each experiments in how to run a village, with each competing in the evolutionary market of survival and reproduction, then we must ask: what good is shamanism?
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