rience into moral (and political?) insight, shaping the body politic in community interaction.
We can hope to go beyond partial understanding of shamanism by accepting its terms and permises for meaning and to be at least conscious of
our own. Note the words with which we describe our modalities of knowing:
"cognition" derives from the Latin cogito, which means "I shake together"; intellego means "I select among," scio (from which we get our word "science") means "I separate." As we shake, select, and separate, we seek aggregates that please our aesthetics, that is, our cultivated and "cultured"
sense of form, beauty, and elegance. Shamanic societies have a cultural aesthetic, perhaps more relational than discriminatory, and perhaps more inclusive than boundary-seeking, that has shaped another modality of knowing
and living in this world -- their own structuring for science and morality as
well as art forms.
Recent research suggests a physiological basis for shamanic ecstasy. We refer
to "endogenous morphine-like substances" (a description which collapses verbally
into "endorphins") in the body, enkephalin and functional aspects of the neuroendocrine opioid system as these relate to perception and to kinesis. Such assumptions
need not detain us here as our concern is with the external pathways (rhythmicity,
dance, song, communality), and presumably these would affect all human beings in
a similar fashion ( Jilek 1982).
Kampo, of the Admiralty Islands of New Guinea, told me of how he received
the gift of healing from a bush spirit (marsalai). First he had traveled in dreams
(under a large tree). In these dreams he again met this same marsalai named Pewaseu, who gave him five pieces of ginger root, with which, and by pronouncing the
name Pewaseu, he could cure anything. But for five days he could eat only fire ("It's
just like eating yams!"); after this, he was told, he would have power ( Romanucci-
Richard de Mille's interpretation of "validity" and "authenticity" are pertinent
here. "A report is judged valid when it agrees with what we think we know". . .
"authenticity refers to the provenance of the report. Did it arise from the persons,
places, and procedures it describes?" ( De Mille 1980:44).
See Else ( 1938), the major proponent of the transformation (in Western literature) from aesthetics to morality. To add a few sources from divergent ideologies:
St. Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, Corinthians XV:22, Marx, Freud, and Durkheim,
Augustinus St. 1962. The City of God(De Civitate Deo), trans.
John Healey. New York: E. P. Dutton.
Biasin G. 1975. Literary Diseases: Theme and Metaphor in the Italian Novel. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: The Anthropology of Medicine:From Culture to Method.
Contributors: Lola Romanucci-Ross - Editor, Daniel E. Moerman - Editor, Laurence R. Tancredi - Editor.
Publisher: Bergin & Garvey.
Place of publication: Westport, CT.
Publication year: 1997.
Page number: 221.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may
not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.