Welcome, guest. You are not logged in.
Log in or join for free!
Stay logged in
Forgot login details?

Stay logged in

For free!
Get started!

Multimedia gallery


{Prehistoric Shamans}

The discovery of prehistoric cave paintings around the world has led to many speculations that the earliest people to practice magick were shamans. The cave paintings may represent the shaman linking the spirit world to the real world - for example, by painting scenes of certain wounded or dead animals, he was communicating his wish for a successful hunt. Some cave paintins are 30,000 years old, others may be older, while some are much more recent. Rock art has been found throughout the world -
in Africa, Australia, Europe and South Africa. Made with flint blades and colored with iron ochre or black manganese dioxide, the paintings are detailed and delicate portrayals of prey animals such as wild cattle, mammoths, deer, horses and bison, and more rarely, predator species such as lion, wolf and bear. Some of these paintings show hunting scenes with animals carrying spear-inflicted wounds or dead carcasses. Representations of human beings are much less common. The visual images of the
animals may have involved a form of sympathetic magic whereby a hunter, or a group of hunters, in a state of altered consciousness or trance, would dance the animal that they wanted to capture, creating a powerful link between themselves and their prey.

{The Shaman's Role}

A shaman is defined as a man or woman who journeys in an ecstatic trance, usually induced by rhythmic drumming or, in some cases, by the use of psychoactive drugs. In its widest sense a shaman is someone who has specialist techniques for communicating with spirits through entering a trance or alternative state of consciousness. It is the shaman's task to make sure that relationships between the human world and the spirit world are kept harmonious. A shaman is often called by the spirits. He or
she is one who is set apart from others by a special sign such as being born with a caul, a deformity or a tendency to be dreamy, or through some life crisis such as serious disease or mental breakdown. A shaman's initiation usually takes the form of a psycho-spiritual disentegration, which leads to a death of the former self and a rebirth into a shamanic life with the spirits. Shamanic initiation involves visiting the underworld, a place where the initiate shaman has to undergo dismemberment.
The initiate has to "die" in everyday reality and enter a special relationship with spirit beings, a process whereby knowledge and teachings about the spirit world are communicated. Each Yakut Siberian shaman has a Bird-of-Prey Mother with an iron beak, hooked claws and a long tail. This mythical bird, which shows itself only at the shaman's spiritual birth and death, takes his soul and carries it to the underworld, where it is left to ripen on a branch of pitch pine. When the soul has reached
maturity the bird carries back to earth, cuts the candidate's body into bits and distributes them among the evil spirits of disease and death. Each spirit devours the part of the body that is his share, and this is seen to give the future shaman power to cure corresponding diseases. After devouring the whole body, the evil spirits depart, the Bird Mother restores the bones to their places, and the candidate wakes as from a deep sleep.

Shamanic cosmologies are frequently formed from three regions: a middle world corresponding to the everyday world on earth, an upper world related to the sky and celestial realms, and a lower or underworld, which reaches deep down into the earth. These regions are often connected by a central axis - an opening through which the shaman travels on his journey, which may be represented as a tree. The tree connects the three regions - the branches touch the sky, while the roots go into the
underworld. The axis may also be likened to a pillar or a mountain, but all the variations of shamanic cosmologies function like spiritual road maps. When a shaman journeys to spiritual realms, he seeks to understand the relationships between different realities and to mediate any breakdown in communications that affect the social group. Knud Rasmussen, an authority on Inuit shamans, describes how the shaman makes a journey to the bottom of the sea to find out why the sea spirit is withholding
animals for the Inuit people to hunt. As the shaman journeys, the household sits waiting and singing songs to help the shaman as he descends on his perilous journey. After overcoming many obstacles, he enters the house of the sea spirit. She sits with her back to the seals, walrus and whales, who are puffing and blowing. The sea spirit is angry with humans because they have broken taboos. Her hair hangs down in a tangled, untidy mess hiding her eyes so she cannot see. Human misdeeds and offenses
gather as dirt and impurity over her body. The shaman must turn the sea spirit's face to the animals and comb her hair to appease her anger so that she will clear the way for the animals and the rich hunting will return. When the shaman returns to the community the breaches of taboo must be confessed so that harmony between the human and spirit worlds can return. In this way the shaman heals discord within the social group.

This page:

Help/FAQ | Terms | Imprint
Home People Pictures Videos Sites Blogs Chat