Testing for "Shamanic Trance" in Rock Art: A Comment on Greer and Greer

By Kehoe, Alice B. | Plains Anthropologist, February 2004 | Go to article overview

Testing for "Shamanic Trance" in Rock Art: A Comment on Greer and Greer


Kehoe, Alice B., Plains Anthropologist


ABSTRACT

Greer and Greer uncritically apply Lewis-Williams' interpretation of rock art to pictographs in Dillinger Cave, Montana, apparently unaware of the model's serious flaws.

Keywords: rock art, shamanism, Montana, northern Plains

Although Greer and Greer (2003) cite two books published in 2001 (by Whitley and by Keyser and Klassen) and one published in 2002 (by Francis and Loendorf), they nearly ignore the serious critiques of their model, citing only one paper by Bahn (1997) and omitting the major volume published in 2001 (Francfort and Hamayon, eds.) and my readily accessible inexpensive critique (Kehoe 2000). Polly Schaafsma's (2002) unfavorable review of Whitley's "Handbook" may have been too late for the Greers to consider, as probably was Helvenston and Bahn's (2002) important monograph, which was scheduled to appear in summary in the October 2003 Cambridge Archaeological Journal.

Robert Bednarik summed up the crux of the problem: "The proposition that all rock art is the work of shamans is easily refuted.... There is not a single instance on record, anywhere in the world, of a rock art motif having been made by a shaman" (Bednarik 2003:77). Bednarik is using the label "shaman" loosely, as do Lewis-Williams, Whitley, and the Greers. Way back in 1970, Margot Liberty argued in Plains Anthropologist against labeling Plains religious practitioners "shamans" (Liberty 1970). Vision quests are quite different from the practices of circumboreal religious adepts; questers seek to be pitied by a manifestation of the Almighty, while adepts control one or more other-than-human beings. Imagery reported by Latin Americans taking hallucinogens is not replicated by First Nations persons seeking a manifestation, nor by indigenous adepts.

Neither neuropsychology nor ethnography sustains the Lewis-Williams/Dowson model. Greer and Greer-and Keyser, Klassen, Francis, and Loendorf-will be wise to abandon it. Helvenston is an experienced clinical neuropsychologist who happened to hear a lecture by David Whitley and was dismayed when Whitley rejected her comment that his premises are not supported by contemporary neuropsychological research (Helvenston and Bahn 2002:3). The Lewis-Williams model ignores the rich ethnography on Siberian and other circumboreal shamans, material that clearly differentiates them from religious practitioners in more southern latitudes. I wonder that Greer and Greer, living in a state with vigorous Arapaho, Assiniboine, Blackfoot, Crow, Cheyenne, Gros Ventres, Kutenai, Salish, and Shoshone communities, did not test their interpretations by consulting these First Nations-time-consuming, but potentially valuable (c.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Testing for "Shamanic Trance" in Rock Art: A Comment on Greer and Greer
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.