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Book Chat > Q: cross-sexed or third-sex shamans - material?

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message 1: by Bryn (new)

Bryn Hammond (brynhammond) | 252 comments May I ask for suggestions on this historical aspect of shamanism - wherever in the world? Or any material on sexuality and spirits that might contribute to my understanding?

This is in aid of my fiction. My research area is Mongol/Turk/Siberian peoples; but specific material is scanty and old witnesses are hostile. Juvaini, a 13thC historian [that's the century I'm set in], Muslim, who isn't without the scientific spirit, talks about the qam of the Turks and Mongols, and on the sexual aspect says: We have questioned certain people and they say... it is possible that evil spirits are intimate with some of them and have intercourse with them. Their powers are at their strongest just after they have satisfied their natural lust in an unnatural way.

For Siberia I have two Stephen O. Murray books - Pacific Homosexualities,Homosexualities, with what early accounts there are of 'transformed' or transvestite shamans, from Russian observers, mainly Bogoraz on the Chukchi, 1904. These are hostile witnesses too, and Bogoraz rudely scientific ('Can I inspect your genitalia? I'll pay for the inconvenience.')

The obvious similarities are to Native American third-sex shaman figures, and I've read a bit there: Will Roscoe Changing Ones: Third and Fourth Genders in Native North America, Walter L. Williams The Spirit and the Flesh: Sexual Diversity in American Indian Culture. Even very far away in the world, I have found accounts can throw light, and there isn't much close study on the time and space I need.

In fact the most inspirational book has been:
Biological Exuberance : Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity - its section on Indigenous Knowledge, with a piece on Siberia/Arctic peoples: Aboriginal Siberian shamans often harness the power of cross-gender animal spirit guides or assume characteristics of the opposite sex under the direction of spirit animals.

Quite apart from the needs of my novel I'm fascinated by the whole subject, and I'd be grateful for any suggestions whatsoever, history, anthropology, fiction, practice. I cast a wide net.


message 2: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 591 comments Don't remember anything specific re-gender, but fairly sure the "foot in both worlds" thing can be applied to sexuality as much as spirit/material world when it comes to shamanic behaviour.
Recently been thinking about a book I read back in the early '80s Way of the Shaman then noted your post...co-incky-dink?
Also worth a read Shamanism, bit heavy at times. Also heard Ronald Hutton has a book on the subject but haven't read it myself.
On a lighter note: Terry LaBan did a "hardboiled shaman" comic a while back...http://hardboiledshaman.com/
Can't find a link to the comic though.


message 3: by Bryn (new)

Bryn Hammond (brynhammond) | 252 comments Thanks for the graphic novel - Muktuk Wolfsbreath, consulting Siberian shaman. Here's the Amazon link anyhow -
http://www.amazon.com/Muktuk-Wolfsbre...

I did wade through Eliade.
And this afternoon I found on the web a great article just to my purposes, 'Ergi: The Way of the Third', excerpt from a book by Raven Kaldera -
http://www.northernshamanism.org/sham...


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Bryn, have you tried looking at the bookshelves of the people who have read the books you've mentioned? I've found some great books that way.

"We have questioned certain people and they say... it is possible that evil spirits are intimate with some of them and have intercourse with them. Their powers are at their strongest just after they have satisfied their natural lust in an unnatural way."

Sounds like classic incubi and succubi in Christian terms. Yes the thirteenth century historian sounds hostile if he is calling them evil spirits. I doubt the shamans themselves would define it that way. I would call them Daemons.

This sounds like fascinating research!


message 5: by Bryn (new)

Bryn Hammond (brynhammond) | 252 comments Georgina wrote: "Bryn, have you tried looking at the bookshelves of the people who have read the books you've mentioned? I've found some great books that way..."

Great idea. I've started right away. (Uh oh, off on tangents galore).
-He's obliged to call spirit-spouses devils. At least he talks about indigenous religion.


message 6: by Old-Barbarossa (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 591 comments http://www.amazon.com/Muktuk-Wolfsbre...
That's the one I remember...like Sam Spade on fly agaric...with a stoat for a fetch.


message 7: by Old-Barbarossa (last edited Jun 16, 2012 03:27AM) (new)

Old-Barbarossa | 591 comments Reading The Histories at the minute and Herodotus notes that amongst the Scythians there are "women-men" (hermaphrodites? transvestites?)called Enarees who seem to be soothsayers and cultists of a local Aphrodite. He claims they used lime tree bark for divination.
So at least as far back as 6th cent. bce we have a ref for the gender bending magician amongst horse nomads.


message 8: by Bryn (new)

Bryn Hammond (brynhammond) | 252 comments Thanks, Old Barb. I have heard that Herodotus makes the first mention of religious figures, with a sexual ambiguity, on the steppe.

In the meantime I've bought a book by Raven Kaldera, Hermaphrodeities: The Transgender Spirituality Workbook, because I found his online article such an insight.


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