I got this for one paper: Magdalena Tatar, 'Tragic and Stranger Onggons among the Altaic Peoples'. The title explains -- how strangers/aliens and thosI got this for one paper: Magdalena Tatar, 'Tragic and Stranger Onggons among the Altaic Peoples'. The title explains -- how strangers/aliens and those who met a tragic end or suffered great injustices can be adopted by shamans. 18 other papers on Altaic topics. ...more
A bit pop. I can't honestly recommend. He fails to see how a 28,000-year-old dildo might be a shamanic implement along with its neighbour artefacts, bA bit pop. I can't honestly recommend. He fails to see how a 28,000-year-old dildo might be a shamanic implement along with its neighbour artefacts, but makes a joke. The truth is I'm at page 100, have learnt nothing much and that's the only tidbit I've got for you. ...more
Worth getting hold of. It’s from 1914: a survey of ethnography from before that date. My fear with old ethnography on shamanism is the attitude taken;Worth getting hold of. It’s from 1914: a survey of ethnography from before that date. My fear with old ethnography on shamanism is the attitude taken; possibly – though I’m not qualified to make statements – this being pre-Soviet is an advantage. Soviet study on shamanism had to take the hardest of scientific lines, whereby shamans are assumed to be insane and/or cheats and exploiters of the people. The studies Czaplicka draws on are by ethnographer-explorers – a few of them political exiles to Siberia, such as Bogoras and Jochelson, who used their time there to research.
Still to an extent hostile witnesses, yet one can write: “The duties undertaken by the shamans are not easy; the struggle which he has to carry on is dangerous... The wizard who decides to carry on this struggle has not only material gain in view, but also the alleviation of the griefs of his fellow men; the wizard who has the vocation, the faith, and the conviction, who undertakes his duty with ecstasy and negligence of personal danger, inspired by the high ideal of sacrifice, such a wizard always exerts an enormous influence upon his audience.”
I have this book as a paperback from Theophania Publishing, 180 pages. The title page says:
Shamanism in Siberia Excerpts from Aboriginal Siberia: a Study in Social Anthropology
I also have a reproduction of the full work, ‘Aboriginal Siberia’, from Nabu Public Doman Reprints, at 374 pages. Here the reproduced print is faint, poor, hard to read; when I’ve agonised through it I’ll report.
I got this old book, copyrighted 1927, because I saw it heavily quoted by much later authors.
I came for the Siberian section, and have only read halfI got this old book, copyrighted 1927, because I saw it heavily quoted by much later authors.
I came for the Siberian section, and have only read half the Finno-Ugric: that was description of religious practice -- bear festivals, memorial feasts. The Siberian isn't. The Siberian is almost exclusively on mythology: on cosmography and myths. In this area, it's a wonderful old book. Cogent, although he ranges widely and doesn't try too much to theme the similarities between peoples but looks at the differences. He reaches down into Central and Inner Asia, too. What struck me was his attempt to distinguish input from Indian, Iranian and other religions; I thought he did this sensibly and for the most part I was convinced he had the right of it. It's hard to dig back 'before the time of influence' -- there was no such time. Yet we want to see antiquity, don't we, if we can, and the indigenous? For an example, he is clear that God was not conceived as a Creator, until influence: We cannot, then, consider any of the above mentioned creation tales to be the invention of the Altaic race. Without doubt the idea of the Yakuts, "The world has always been," probably represents the original belief of the whole Altaic race. I've read more recent books and articles that are not so clear or not so concerned about what was native and what wasn't. He studies ideas of fate: how far are these Iranian, how far Altaic? And watches the in-creep of the very foreign ideas of dualism -- a God and a devil -- and of judgement/punishment: To true shamanism these ideas of restitution are completely alien.
This old transmission of ideas, on the other hand, throws up a cross-breed of stories that are simply fascinating in themselves, and no doubt more unexpected than if there were a 'pure' tradition.
On shamans, the book is poor. He complains of a lack of ethnographic material, for the subject; we've scraped up much more since his day. ...more
Illustrations are poor (and crucial to interpretations) but you can search for what you need on the internet. Archaeology has often been reluctant toIllustrations are poor (and crucial to interpretations) but you can search for what you need on the internet. Archaeology has often been reluctant to see shamanist experiences in art and iconography. These papers are from archaeologists with knowledge of early religions. Neil Price places the book within an 'archaeology of the mind' that searches for cognitive experience, 'these elusive mentalities' from the archaeological record.
It's an open-minded book and includes a piece on the troubled relations between archaeologists, indigenous peoples and neo-pagans or neo-shamans.
I'll follow Neil Price into other work -- I think I liked his introduction the most.
Here's the contents:
Part One -- The archaeology of shamanism: Cognition, cosmology and world-view
1. An archaeology of altered states: Shamanism and material culture studies Neil S. Price
2. Southern African shamanistic rock art in its social and cognitive contexts J.D. Lewis-Williams
Part Two -- Siberia and Central Asia: The 'cradle of shamanism'
3. Rock art and the material culture of Siberian and Central Asian shamanism Ekaterina Devlet
4. Shamans, heroes and ancestors in the bronze castings of western Siberia Natalia Fedorova
5. Sun Gods or shamans? Interpreting the 'solar-headed' petroglyphs of Central Asia Andrzej Rozwadowski
6. The materiality of shamanism as a 'world-view': Praxis, artefacts and landscape Peter Jordan
7. The medium of the message: Shamanism as localised practice in the Nepal Himalayas Damian Walter
Part Three -- North America and North Atlantic
8. The gendered peopling of North America: Addressing the antiquity of systems of multiple gender Sandra E. Hollimon
9. Shamanism and the iconography of Palaeo-Eskimo art Patricia D. Sutherland
10. Social bonding and shamanism among late Dorset groups in High Arctic Greenland Hans Christian Gullov and Martin Appelt
Part Four -- Northern Europe
11. Special objects -- special creatures: Shamanistic imagery and the Aurignacian art of south-west Germany Thomas A. Dowson and Martin Porr
12. The sounds of transformation: Accoustics, monuments and ritual in the British Neolithic Aaron Watson
13. An ideology of transformation: Cremation rites and animal sacrifice in early Anglo-Saxon England Howard Williams
14. Waking ancestor spirits: Neo-shamanic engagements with archaeology Robert J. Wallis ...more
This was desolate at the end… except for the fact that the author has written this book. Native cultures of Siberia were declared worthless in the 20tThis was desolate at the end… except for the fact that the author has written this book. Native cultures of Siberia were declared worthless in the 20thC, and the main character sees his children schooled to be Bolshevik – and not Chukchi. Then I found out that Rytkheu - the main’s grandchild – toed this line for much of his life, and comes late here to celebrate Chukchi culture. Quote from A History of the Peoples of Siberia: Russia's North Asian Colony 1581-1990: Rytkheu even came to regret the Communist Party’s indiscriminate campaign against the primal religion of his people and to feel a new sympathy not only with its inherent respect for nature, but even with the shaman, whom he no longer saw, in the stereotype of anti-religious propaganda, as merely an ignorant, predatory charlatan, but in many cases as a highly gifted person with a skill in healing, wisdom above the average, and the spiritual elevation of a poet. [p.408]
The author's grandfather, whose story is two-thirds of the book, was ‘the last shaman of Uelen’. He has failures and difficulties with his calling, but is steadfast in sticking to his beliefs, even though, as arguably the wisest of his tribe – at least the most-travelled - he has learnt Russian and American and has brought home surgical instruments from San Francisco, to help a shaman’s practice. It began with Bogoraz, a political exile who devoted his time in north-east Siberia to anthropology; after aiding him in his study, Mletkin – our last shaman – decides he wants to do anthropology of his own and signs up on a whaling ship. He didn’t mean to sign up (no-one told him what the fingerprint was for) and he sees, from the perpetrators’ side this time, the exploitation that goes on, along with the disastrous effect on sea-animal numbers.
His people descend from a whale – not from apes, like the foreigners, or made as in the Bible. The epigraphs at the start of this book are:
And God created man in his own image. (Genesis)
Men make gods in their own likeness. (Mletkin, the last shaman of Uelen)
It’s what he learns. His people’s name for themselves, Luoravetlan, translates as the True People. This is so of most tribes, who simply have ‘humans, people’ in their own language for a name. Horizons are widened, for better or worse, through this book, that starts with the Raven’s creation of the earth, goes on through first discoveries – of reindeer-herding (on the face of it a wonderful idea: ‘food on four legs’ in handy vicinity of the tent) and onwards to first contact with the Cossacks.
The book is titled as it is for more than one reason. A Bible features: Mletkin’s grandfather trades for a Bible at a fair, out of curiosity about these Russian shamans and their abilities. It remains in the family – no-one reads, and no-one’s Christian – until Mletkin, known also for his curiosity, pulls it out to startle a Russian trader - ‘What’s a Bible doing here?’
There’s a hot trade in vodka or any alcohol, and its ravages are pitiful. The Russian government attempts to ban the trade. They also leave the Chukchi to their ways, in a pact with them: don’t attack your neighbours, we won’t force-convert you. It’s not always abuse. Mletkin finds a friend in Nelson, a black sailor; he thinks of the anthropologist Bogoraz as a friend, with different attitudes than most of his kind – yet their acquaintance ends on a note of the alienness between them, as Mletkin settles down to family life in Uelen. With a girl he fixed on in his youth… who failed, twice over, to wait for him (he did take years, and no-one comes back from San Francisco) but that does not deter Mletkin, though he has to resort to an old cultural practice to get her.
As I say, the end is sad. The only consolation is the book.
There's lovely description of the tundra and the sea, as - I had to feel - only an eye native here can see them. I also felt (though this is not a tract) that the questions put by Uelen's inhabitants are a fundamental sort that is hard for us, who aren't Chukchi, to even think to ask. Not because we're pigs. But the questions are so simple and direct, and asked from a sense of the absolute worth of Chukchi knowledge and ways. ...more
Of Darwin he says: "Here was a shaman among scientists." I like that. But mostly the book (only 150 pages before notes) is him digging up intelligenceOf Darwin he says: "Here was a shaman among scientists." I like that. But mostly the book (only 150 pages before notes) is him digging up intelligence research in journals and visiting the scientists concerned. Bee cognition: "Though bees have brains the size of pinheads, they can master abstract rules... small brains do not hinder thought." It is "difficult to avoid the conclusion of intention and intelligent choice in the case of ground ivy... Plants learn, remember and decide, without brains." When he goes to Japan he finds scientists much more comfortable with use of the word 'intelligence', even when a slime mold solves a maze - as niftily as a rat, and every time. The slime investigator suggests that Christianity has put too big a divide between humans and other organisms, and the Western mind is very very reluctant to cross. Narby starts to use a Japanese term instead of intelligence; since, as the Japanese scientist says to him, "I feel that behind this term, there is Western Christian culture, in which intelligence is a gift from the God to humans only." And when Narby drops the word, things do start to make more sense. That is, it's easier to think about the behaviour of ground ivy; and then of our gut, because "the brain is not limited to the skull. My gut alone contains about one hundred million neurons capable of learning, remembering, and responding to emotions, just like the larger brain in my head." How does 'the capacity to know' work without a brain? We can't even guess, but we haven't got much of a clue on the brain. Bacteria communicate - and shamanship has always recognised that everything communicates.
He's an anthropologist and his inspiration comes from shamans who see our kinship with other organisms, not our differences. Because, though the scientific data has come in lately, "What may still be lacking among Westerners is a willingness to accept the consequences of this kinship. And Western languages may lack the appropriate concepts to think it through."
I wish there was more at the 'indigenous knowledge' end, and more altogether. The book's too short and easy for the subject. ...more
Tricky subject, but I truly like this one. Written by a psychiatrist/psychologist, yet one open to shamanic experiences. His attitude is to pooh-poohTricky subject, but I truly like this one. Written by a psychiatrist/psychologist, yet one open to shamanic experiences. His attitude is to pooh-pooh nothing. And given that attitude, I find his psychiatric knowledge enlightens the subject. ...more
Unless you can trawl through academic journals, or read French, there's so little in the way of historical work on indigenous steppe religion. It's grUnless you can trawl through academic journals, or read French, there's so little in the way of historical work on indigenous steppe religion. It's great to have this: a survey that pulls together the information, and tries to draw together the common threads, find the steppe-wide religious concepts... animals are his theme, humans-animals, shamans-animals. True, it's largely an excursion through the materials we have for study: from steppe epic to anthropology, but gives you thumbnails of what's written in French and Russian and Hungarian, and is quite exhaustive, even if each stop on the trip is far too brief. As an introductory on steppe religion - before, underneath Buddhism and Islam - what else is out there? Four stars for usefulness.
Now, who's going to translate from French Roux's Religion of the Turks and Mongols? Who can I beg? ...more
Here's a fuller description from the flap: ## Piers Vitebsky's study of religion and psychology in tribal India focuses upon a unique form of dialogue bHere's a fuller description from the flap: ## Piers Vitebsky's study of religion and psychology in tribal India focuses upon a unique form of dialogue between the living and the dead, conducted through the medium of a shaman in trance. The dead sometimes nurture their living descendants, yet at other times they inflict upon them the very illnesses from which they died. Through intimate dialogue, the Sora use the occasion of death to explore their closest emotional attachments in all their ambivalence. Dr Vitebsky analyses the actors' words and relationships over several years and develops a typology of moods among the dead and of kinds of memory among the living. In comparing Sora shamanism with the treatment of bereavement in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, he highlights a contrast in their assumptions which has far-reaching consequences for the social and professional scope of the two kinds of practice. '...no other study of a tribe in India in recent decades can compare with Vitebsky's in its grasp in its grasp of linguistic and cultural detail and nuance... students of comparative religion and of bereavement or loss in psychology will find his book of extreme interest.' - Professor Ronald Inden, Unviersity of Chicago ##