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

By Robert J. Wallis | Go to book overview

NOTES

INTRODUCTION: A NATIVE AT HOME - PRODUCING ETHNOGRAPHIC FRAGMENTS OF NEO-SHAMANISMS
1
In producing an ethnographic analysis of neo-Shamanisms it is unnecessary to reproduce the exhaustive argument over defining ‘shamanism’ (e.g. Bourguignon 1967, 1974, 1976; Dowson 1999a, in press; Eliade 1989 [1964]; Gilberg 1984; Hamayon 1993; Holmberg 1989; Hultkrantz 1973, 1978; Lewis 1984, 1989, 1993; Porterfield 1987; Shirokogoroff 1935; Voigt 1984; Walsh 1989, 1990; Winkelman 1989; Wright 1989; Hoppál 1992a; Hoppál and Howard 1993; Bowie 2000; Price 2001a). Suffice to say, for the moment, ‘shamanism’ is an anthropologically constructed concept (e.g. Taussig 1987, 1989:57; Noel 1997:37; Harvey 1998:23) used to approach and interpret certain practices in ‘indigenous’ societies which negotiate community healing/sickness and other day-to-day social relations via engagements with ‘spirits’ or ‘other than human persons’. For the specific approach taken to shamanisms in this book, see discussion of ‘elements of shamanisms’, below. And on the orthography and reasoning behind my use of the term ‘neo-Shamanisms’, in comparison and contrast with ‘shamanisms’, see Chapter 1.
2
In contrast to Sherratt, who argues the term ‘psychoactive’ is ‘neutral’ (Sherratt 1995a: 9), I suggest that the term along with ‘hallucinogen’ and ‘psychedelic’ is value-laden. They denote or have connotations of mental aberration (illness) in the prefix ‘psycho’, and/or a perceived hedonistic ‘drug’ use among a disaffected Western youth. This not only marginalises the indigenous religious use of consciousness-altering plants, fungi and animals but also negatively stereotypes Westerners who use such substances (from alcohol and tobacco to ayahuasca) in rituals. ‘Entheogens’ (e.g. Forte 1997. See also the Council on Spiritual Practices, online document: http://www.csp.or) less pejoratively describes substances with consciousness-altering properties. Etymologically, entheogen derives from Greek entheos, ‘possessed by a god’ (and is related to the modern English ‘giddy’, Old English gidig, ‘possessed by a god/spirit’), and genous, ‘produced’. Hence ‘entheogen’ is literally ‘generate god or spirit within’. While this may be unacceptable to some, I think it more sensitive and accurate, particularly in indigenous contexts. Entheogens such as the Ayahuasca vine and Peyote cactus are utilised by shamans and other specialists as sacraments. Many neo-Shamans may also use entheogens, or entheogenic substances, in rituals for spiritual empowerment, that is in a sacramental rather than recreational arena.
3
Orthography aside, it is worth stating that pronunciation of the term ‘shaman’ is variant as both anthropological construct and indigenous Siberian reality, despite wide neo-Shamanic claims - disseminated most visibly via Harner (e.g.

-239-

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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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