Shamans/Neo-Shamans: Contested Ecstasies, Alternative Archaeologies, and Contemporary Pagans

By Robert J. Wallis | Go to book overview

3

TALIESIN’S TRIP, WYRD WODEN

Druid and Heathen neo-Shamans

Celtic Shamanism derives from the native traditions of North-West Europe. The shamanic contribution of the Celts and their predecessors has been overlooked until now, and is one of the last shamanic traditions to be explored.

(Matthews 1991a: rear cover)

The central world-image of the Germanic religion is the World Tree … Odin, the god of shamans, hangs himself from the tree Yggdrasil and by doing so, obtains the secret knowledge of the runes.

(Metzner 1994:49)

While anthropologists at least make occasional discussion of neo-Shamanisms - albeit most often with derogatory remarks - archaeology has yet to recognise many of the implications neo-Shamanisms have with regard to its ideas and objects of study. There has been comment on ‘New Age archaeology’, as Meskell negatively calls it, particularly in terms of Goddess worshippers whose beliefs are influenced by the work of Marija Gimbutas (e.g. Gimbutas 1974) and her Goddess-orientated interpretations of the famous site of Çatalhüyük in Turkey (e.g. Jencson 1989; Meskell 1995, 1998b). A number of authors also consider the contemporary Druids (e.g. Piggott 1968), especially in light of incidents surrounding Stonehenge in the 1980s (e.g. Chippindale et al. 1990; Bender 1998). But following the same line of thought as many anthropologists, archaeologists tend to regard the New Age, Paganism and neo-Shamanisms - as with all alternative archaeology - negatively (but see Finn 1997; Denning 1999a, 1999b), if, that is, they recognise it at all. To be fair, archaeologists are less likely to be sympathetic to the eccentricities of neo-Shamans than anthropologists who often meet entheogen-taking and spirit-travelling indigenous shamans on a regular basis. Even so, there is as yet no serious examination of neo-Shamanisms or related Pagan practices and their impact on archaeology, despite some of the distant ancestors of both archaeologists and neo-Shamans being the antiquarians, with Dee, Aubrey and Stukeley among them. This neglect of research is unprecedented and does not reflect an insignificant

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Shamans/Neo-Shamans: Contested Ecstasies, Alternative Archaeologies, and Contemporary Pagans
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgements xvii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - ‘White Shamans’ 24
  • 2 - Plastic Medicine Men? 49
  • 3 - Taliesin’s Trip, Wyrd Woden 79
  • 4 - ‘Celtic’ and ‘Northern’ Shamanisms? 107
  • 5 - ‘sacred’ Sites? 142
  • 6 - Waking Neolithic Ancestors 168
  • 7 - Invading Anthros, Thieving Archos, Wannabe Indians 195
  • 8 - Conclusion 227
  • Appendix 235
  • Notes 239
  • Bibliography 253
  • Index 295
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