Introduction to ShamanismWhat is a shaman? Shamanism is a complex phenomenon. It presents a set of articulated modes of action whose understanding is difficult. Its origin is detectable in human groups even before the write was developed and there are cities.
Shamanic practices are more than a prehistoric contribution to the cure of diseases. They provide a vision of the world that we could describe as 'not ordinary'. From a philosophical perspective, it allows a formal understanding of so-called analogical thought. This way of thinking is so nuclear to shamanism as logical thinking is to the scientific world.
The human being can be probably understood from a wider perspective unveiled their first responses to pain, disease and death. This knowledge can contribute to the well-being and health, in so far as it provides a practical and natural understanding of the connection of the person with all of itself, including its environment, its reference ecosystem. The shaman is a survivor, has passed in one way or another by pain, disease and death.
One of the issues that the shamanistic phenomenon makes an admirable fact is its widespread presence among all groups who our ancestors were. Their practices, although they are developed at the present time, work with elements, basic references and archaic symbols and emotions already present since the origin of humanity. To the study of the geographic distribution of shamanic practice is the presence of similar activities in the five continents.
The map of the world that operates or works the Shaman can be understood from what psychologically are called "modified States of consciousness". Such States, which is usually accessed through a transition period, are sometimes identified as you trance or trip. A modified state of consciousness is obviously a period of transition between two normal States of consciousness. But also modified States are ordinarily developed into three periods:
1) transition to the State.
2) modified State itself.
3) transition to the normal state
Them other participants enter not only the healer but also the person served and frequently.
To modify the State of consciousness there are very different strategies, most of which do not include the use of psychoactive substances. As experience is acquired is more easy to make entering them. The same thing takes place to the practice of relaxation techniques.
Throughout the day itself, natural changes in consciousness. During the sleep period modifications with different characteristics are given in the level of awareness and the contents of the same. One hypothesis to explain them is that they are able to spend from the usual consciousness to the world of dreams without going through the relaxing of the beginning of the sleep stages.
It includes in its activity that would be typical of a psychiatrist or psychotherapist prehistoric. Especially when one considers that "psychotherapy is a way for the expansion of consciousness. It is an activity in the development of our life with which we help ourselves and others, to wake up from the stupor of unconsciousness and ignorance to knowing who we really are "(Shainberg 1993) there are numerous definitions: -" between the Siberian and other groups around the world with similar beliefs, is the person to whom are attributed powers to heal the sick and communicate with the world of the most there "(The New Encyclopedia Británica, 1989) -" Indigenous healer that deliberately alters your consciousness in order to gain knowledge and power coming from the spirit world to help and heal members of your tribe"(Krippner; 1988)
-Among the Ojibway in Canada "is the person, man or woman who experiences, absorbs and communicate a special form of support, healing power" (Grim; 1983)
-"He who knows the archaic techniques of ecstasy" (Eliade)
-"A person who attributed special powers to communicate with the spirits and influence them separating his soul from his body. The spirits will help him perform their tasks that include discovering the cause of disease, hunger and any misfortune, and prescribe a proper cure. Found between the Siberian and other Asian peoples; its activity also among other many religions and by other names (The Cambridge Encyclopedia, 1990).
-"A person ready to confront the larger fears and shadows of life". And depending on the results: "a healer who has experienced the world of darkness and that has confronted without fear their own shadow so much as the evil of others, and that can successfully work with the forces of darkness and light" (Sams; 1990)
-"A guide, a healer, a source of social connection, a maintainer of the myths of the Group and his conception of the world" (Walsh; 1990). Is also used to refer to someone who is "hyper, excited or movement", or is "capable of warming himself and practicing austerities" (Walsh; 1990)
-"The sacred archetypal technician. His profession develops in space that joins Mítica imagination and ordinary consciousness"(Larsen).
-"Person of either sex who has a special contact with the spirits (understood as not easily evidenciables forces) and able to use his ability to act upon those who are affected by those same spirits" (Harner).
-"Great Mage and priest of certain primitive peoples, especially of North Asia. Among the most famous are the shamans of Siberia"(dictionary of the O.C.); The modern Handbook (1985).
-Shamanism: "Eternal live in harmony with creation art" (Matthews in "The celtic shaman". 1991). There are three key elements to define as shamans who:
-They can voluntarily enter into altered States of consciousness. -In those States experienced themselves "traveling".
"- And use those trips as a method to acquire knowledge or power and to help the people of his community". (Walsh, 1990).
To find groups that currently individuals who practice shamanism it is necessary to go to the margins of what we call the civilized world. By the fact of being linked to groups that show a close relationship with nature, to the extent that any threat about this impoverishes our understanding possible of its manifestations specific.
The areas of the planet that have passed on greater number of civilizations and have a social structure centralized from major urban centres are that preserve fewer traces of shamanic activities. These, still can be held between the "inuit" (name given to themselves the Eskimos of the north) or the "Tierra del Fuego" (first inhabitants of the southern parts of America), among the inhabitants of the African, Asian and American jungles or inaccessible places, such as deserts and mountains.
Borders of shamanism: ? What are the shamans of other "helpers" as priests, doctors, healers, magicians, sorcerers and wizards?The helping relationship is a phenomenon of great interest, because it reveals fundamental features of the vision of the world which helps both he who is helped.
Thus, according to the characteristics of which is helped, which helps and topic to try to (either problem or disease), he stresses, prying or highlight a part of the "map of the world". The working area is defined by areas where partially is
they overlap the respective "maps".
It is a scientifically accepted fact in psychotherapy that one of the good prognostic factors in terms of the treatment is the fact that its basic reference world, their values are shared. (In surgical treatments is not so relevant, however the possibilities for patients to choose the hospital of intervention also meet criteria that the patient or his family consider themselves or more appropriate depending on the values attributed to the surgeon and their environment).
Relationship of help in any way that you want to be understood will be more operational to the extent that beliefs, both in theory and in practice, they are co-participadas.
A) priest and shaman. The shaman is present in the preagricolas of hunter-gatherer societies, their knowledge is especially based on their individual experience of firsthand. Tradition and ritual are underweight in the role of the priest. This operates from SEDENTARY agricultural groups.
In shamanic activities, modified state of consciousness is an essential medium for the development of its activity. The priest does not need to alter your state of consciousness to act.
The priest is framed in social groups more complex. It is part of a religious structure more hierarchical, more centralized. The environment of cities facilitates and calls for more indirect forms of communication among citizens because of their growth. The distribution of the population and its organization is performed according to pyramidal forms. On the contrary, the nomadic groups in whose bosom flourishes shamanism are less hierarchical and interpersonal relations are more direct, more "horizontal". The shamanic context is less authoritarian in terms of individual behaviour, at that level there are fewer formal regulations of the particular moral.
Without that they should take in a rigid manner, but rather as preferences or characteristics more common some basic criteria can be guiding.
We can consider in any way, the existence of figures that perform both functions. For example, the "marakame" (huichol shaman) is both one thing and another, predominating the shamanic function or the priesthood according to the circumstances (Harner).
Shaman and mediumBoth claim to be related, in some way, "spirits". In both there was a change in consciousness, a modification that can be sought by both voluntarily. In the case of the shaman of relationship with the spirits control is, in general, more forceful; While the medium acts in a manner less combative and adapted to what is developing in those moments. The Shaman can discuss with the spirits and appears to have more power than the medium. He is the "spirits" which is about the same.
For Krippner (1980), between curators, it is possible to establish a typology with five distinct groups:
-Religious or ritual healers
The shamanic activities could be described partially as a particular form of the mediumismo. You can also say that the medium is present in the urban world and your trance is passive, while the shaman uses the nature, the rural world, as reference and your trance or consciousness shamanic is usually an active phenomenon with maintenance control.
Harner sees as essential to shamanism the trance-like State, which is described as a "journey" (State of consciousness shaman). Finished it, it is able to remember it. The medium does not necessarily remember what you did or happened during the trance.
According to these criteria, by studying the work of E. Cayce way would be not only as a medium and but also, on occasions, such as a shaman.
In her trance States were distinguished by the use of the technique called "channeling". So it takes place, is seeking a State of trance without possession. Cayce as enentendia as a power, as an influence that one could wake up on itself. He insisted on achieving a trance without possession:
"Do not allow that it is directed by an identity that proclaims your guide.? Why?, because invoking the infinite is much larger, much more satisfying, more true to the experience of the soul to be directed or guided by an entity external to the self, that - like me - is a State of transition or development"(Reed and Cayce, 1993.
The State of trance without possession is for example, practiced among the Gnawas (see part III). Movement is achieved by what they described as kinetic trance. Kinetic trance is a technique of ancestral roots, which influences virtually all levels of the person, dotandola by its practice of new forms and perspectives on self-experience. Through disinhibition, it is possible to reach States of fusion with the setting that is shown as replica of ourselves.
The State of trance with possession is present in all cultures, in Africa, in America, in Europe, Asia and Australia. While it occurs, the person is no longer properly herself. Alienated, become someone outside is. In such States there is a decreased ability of self-control by the subject. At the same time, their ability to be aware of the external is decreased. As an example, in the Caribbean Voodoo trance States (see part III).
C) medicine man and shaman the cuarandero is presented as a person capable of treating diseases that are particularly feared by the people and for which medicine has still more efficient therapeutic methods (Brazilian encyclopedia of cultures, 1977).
The healer activity can be very varied and unusual. Your connection with customers is not so forthcoming as that usually has the shaman. Occur more in rural areas which in the urban.
The Shaman could be considered a type of healer, but all the healers would not be shamans.
The magician and the shamanProduce the feeling of the extra-ordinary, break with routines of life, speak on the space and time are powers that share.
The world of magic has been sometimes characterised by an intensification of the activity or specific knowledge obtained through extraordinary means. Can be classified as objective, when their final results may in some way be quantified. And subjective when the results are imaginary or not verifiable (Ouspensky, 1944). Nevill Drury, shamans are physical and spiritual healers in Aboriginal cultures from around the world. The wizards are your image in the mirror of the cultural traditions of the world today. It highlights the existing parallels between shamanism and the occult.
The wizard today we know through the media (TV, film, circus, etc.) may give rise to the same amazement that the shaman, and perhaps it can be traced back to its origins. However, it lacks the healing projection that is essential to shamanism.
E) the mystical and shaman Mystics can be seen as an "informal group" but psychologists set. They repeatedly experience on themselves and observe the resulting mental changes. They use the singing, music, meditation and other systems to move to particular regions of his mind. And, what is most notable, there seems to be a world reference in which the common points of these traditions, far exceed the differences. "Here, on the other hand, are more shallow than deep or fundamental" (Clark, 1983). Shamanism is understood by many researchers, especially by anthropologists as an archaic religious phenomenon in which the central figure is characterized as master in the art of ecstasy. (Edwards 1994).
Ecstasy is defined as a psychological state characterized by an absorbing feeling of admiration, joy of arrobamiento and sometimes alienation.
From a theological perspective, it refers to a State of union with God or the divine through contemplation and love intimately lived outside for the suspension more or less of the sensory activity in relation to the external world.
This disconnect can be achieved in different ways. For example in the so-called nectar of Tibetan Buddhism meditation. During the meditator moves your attention to a very specific part of the body, the tip of the tongue. According to attention is concentrating on it more practitioner just feel immersed in a deep state of sweetness. Intuitively through their own practice experienced shamans 'bon' of tibet had discovered this method of focusing attention and alter the level of consciousness. Today we know from objective data supplied by the microscope that precisely in the previous part of this body concentrate sensory endings can pick up sweet while the salty, the spicy or bitter distributed preferentially by other parts of the language.
The experience of Ecstasy does not gain or loss of control. Other States described by the mystics as the intuitive knowledge if that involve increased control. For Edwards (1994) Ecstasy occurs at various levels in the person: 1) is based on a physiological, physical experience.
(2) it is an emotional state. (3) provides a special type of perception sometimes described as intuitive.
(4) it is a non-ordinary State of consciousness that gives a special dimension to the foregoing.
Ecstasy can be classified according to four non-mutually-exclusive categories.-Prophetic and mystical ecstasy.
-Ecstasy produced by substances
The Mystic speaks of the overflowing current presence of the divine. This greatness has been described in poetic mode as in San Juan de la Cruz or Ibn Arabi. Mystics from those experiences of immersion in the divine can sometimes anticipate visionary experiences that lie ahead. Prophetic activity expands this presence from the future so the present is modified and people prepare. Sexual ecstasy is part of the Orgasmic response. A modified state of consciousness sometimes fleeting and other difficult to estimate duration occurs during it. Tantrism practiced since the framework of yoga or Buddhism seeks to expand consciousness by using the alert and focus that produces sexual activity through techniques specific. During the orgasm induced temporarily, a period with the characteristics of a modified state of consciousness, with changes in the bodily perception, in the estimation of the time, and other psychological variables...
Ecstasy by substances may have differences according to the characteristics of the same. The cultural framework, expectations and consumption mode can deeply condition the experience and what you can learn through it.
Harner thinks that the term trance is preferably used between physicians, while the term Ecstasy is more theological and humanist, but they both have the same meaning. The times of entry and exit in the same would have the characteristics of a crisis. In the colloquial language also it becomes to identify the fact of be going a trance with being in a crisis. In the context, traditional Chinese crisis means "danger and opportunity".
The profound changes in the experience of physicality can occur spontaneously when lives a near-death situation. On occasions, it is a route, used by shamans and magicians deliberately. They can also occur through music, relaxation, the use of substances (i.e. ayahuasca, certain fungi, see Ott, paragraph 1.5.2. to) and many other procedures. In the great international literature number of these States are described as s OBE (out of body experiences the = experiences outside the body, or "travel"). (See maps of the modified States of consciousness)
They characterized the Mystic intensification of emotions and global thinking. It is more appropriate to the shaman intensify actions and use concrete thinking (Ouspensky).
The production of a direct, personal and transformative experience that occurs in mysticism, is present also, according to Walsh, in shamanism. Both experiences may not be well transmitted and, with the passage of time, losing strength, becoming empty and routine rituals. In its best sense, ritual, like art, is the active culmination of a symbolic transformation of experience.
Many trance techniques used in rituals by way of "Gates" at the beginning and at the end of the work. In this area, the rituals can go losing presence as the subject learn and become familiar with trance States.
Rituals may serve to decrease the distress faced by the unknown or which goes beyond an individual. In the cognitive area can increase the concentration of participants by modifying the attention, in the physical area to facilitate relaxation and in the emotional area modulate anxiety, the sense of lack of control or the expression of rage.
From the clinical point of view in the so-called neurosis says that the obsessive activity (repetitive thoughts) and compulsive (action which one is impelled by itself to make repeated) are part of psychological mechanisms that reduce distress and prevent the possibility of a deeper disorder. The rituals associated with the order and cleanliness are especially present in the perfectionist people are systems or mechanisms of defence against anxiety. The non-realization of the same causes discomfort, while its realization seeks relief.
The transformative power of crises in general and the death is particularly highlighted by mystics and shamans.
Is that goal? Its activity is aimed to cure, to heal. Search for Act being itself a remedy. It develops a helping relationship. When you start any work always has a purpose. The situation tends to be lived as a challenge with a powerful motivator, and at the same time a source of inspiration. From a general point of view their tasks may consist of: 1) restore health. (2) clean. (3) purify. (4) repair. (5) improve the relations of the individual with his group and environment. (6) give meaning to what is happening, explaining it or reencuadrando it in a meaningful way. This type of activity can be developed on bodily, emotional, cognitive, or social problems. However, what specifically differentiates the shaman of other helpers is that it uses modified States of consciousness. I.e. deliberately modify your attention with a specific purpose for their work. While the task its delivery to the same is virtually absolute ability to show selective attention can become absolute. The shaman, intervening on a body or healing interpersonal relations, will make continuous references to the world of the "spirit" or shamanic State of consciousness, in which his fundamental work develops. Their interventions can be understood from the perspective of various levels, analogically. Thus, for example, takes place in the so-called "sweat hut" ("swet-lodge" in English), also known as "sweat lodge" ceremony. She intends to purification in a comprehensive manner: physical, emotional, and social. In some places in Canada such as Thunder Bay (Ontario), following the traditions of the local ojiwey people this technique is used in the treatment of problems with alcohol and heroin. Both substances can act globally psiquica-somatica - social person and therefore stands to reason that integral treatments are more efficient. For accuracy we must distinguish between shaman and shamanism. All acts of the shaman are not necessarily shamanic acts.
And subjects not shamans can use or develop tasks based on such techniques. Nuclear to shamanism is the ability to enter at will in a modified state of consciousness (State of consciousness shamanic: E.C.Ch.) a therapeutic, for seeking knowledge, and finished this trance be able to remember what happened during the same purposes. 1.2.? How it does so? The disease itself is the way to therapeutic knowledge in shamanism. Any disease and its cure may be understood according to four moments. The previous situation in which the background were given. The emergence and development of the problem. The time of the crisis. And finally, recovery.
One of the ways to understand the formation of the shaman is developing at the same time those four steps in the phase of history can be collected the appearance of unusual experiences or strange physical signs that are unique to an individual. There may also be periods of solitary reflection. The search for answers in the voluntary isolation, has been one of the ways in which human beings have been illuminated or reencuadrado their problems and have maintained a wisdom that goes beyond the ordinary. Among the Indians of North America it is known as "vision quest". The planning and development of the problem is understood as a call of "spirits", as a special vocation, which would constitute the second phase. These could be: to) the call of any disease. It is evident to learn it's best to put hands to work, practice it, live it intensely, or suffer it. In this sense, one of the primary ways of learning about a problem is having gone through it and having it passed. In the case of an illness, having surpassed successfully will be one of the primary forms of know it and know how to handle. The cured leave to become experts, sources of information about a process that has led them to unusual forms of living. Contact with pain and death is a powerful mode of exposure to knowledge or need to know about critical situations. The shaman has also been defined as "the wounded healer", in the sense that the scars are signs of his transformation in the way of knowledge to heal. The psychoanalyst who becomes his own psychoanalysis before starting work represents another manifestation of this way of learning. The person who is part of a self-help group, shares his experiences and is an example of that first-hand knowledge at the service of others. (b) the so-called family shamanic. Having close and accessible to those who imitate models facilitates any learning process. Family transmission is another of the basic forms of knowledge acquisition. The place where they usually work the shamans is usually the place where they live and where is your family or your group. It is a traditional system to transmit experience, especially in tasks that include craft specialization.
This family vocation may follow a female line (e.g. vogulos) or male (e.g. ostiacos samoyed and Siberian) (Tondrian, 1964).
(c) together with the previous ones, should also include other types of calls, attributed generically to "spirits". They are signs, with deep value for a particular individual. Many times this call is felt coming "from above". In the world of the shaman skies and mountains represent the upper world, more intellectual, and spiritual. What's under the water or land represents the world lower, more physical. The medium between the two world is not only the place where you live, but also feel and the ordinary States of consciousness are given. The call seeks to translate into concrete actions capable of modifying this world everyday. This call can be perceived via dreams, extraordinary events or in the midst of individual or group problems that require a radical solution. A call can be expected and do not occur. Thus for example, the victorious and popular in the United States, general Powell said not to present his candidature in November 1995: "the race for the Presidency requires a call that I have not yet heard". In many cultures, Brahmin, Balinese, Indo-us, etc., the mountain represents a special place. In it by analogy the higher in your state contact more original there can reach visions, connect with beneficial realities, know better yourself or find remedies for different problems. The creative power that the philosopher Antonio Escohotado have silence, observation, contemplation seems to be here present. Own generator power of nature is that the caller "", to produce a "stop time" or a "break in the routines of life" (Castañeda 1977). The withdrawal of the previous activity occurs after a person has taken their involvement in the aid process. It is considered that it may be "remedy" and "incubate" their future activity. The emergence of the formed shaman would represent the time that the person has become a "being of knowledge". Someone who has gone, has returned and is here as "remedy" after a profound transformation. The "spirit" that we discover in large pilgrimages: Mecca, Rome, Jerusalem, Santiago de Compostela, Guadalupe and so many other places, consistently in every culture expresses a deep and enriching personal transformation. To signify its importance, in some cases as in the Muslim world, the name is changed or added another (see in the third part of this work: change in the sense of identity and creation of modified States of consciousness according to the model proposed by TART in 1975).
Knowledge can be considered a goal, as a value in itself. You may also consider that its value acquires meaning when it is balanced with the feeling. For example the Buddhism practiced in Thaylandia or Ceylon emphasizes that developed person, who is back, which is wise is primarily considered. This consideration is certainly an intellectual value. A subtle distinction between consideration and compassion marks the difference between understanding and help. The idea of aid arises in the compassion that is grown in Lamaism Tibetan Buddhism. The subject made in the mystical sense, it gives the same live or not, opt for the first because of the compassion that inspire you beings. In other types of Buddhism, as practiced in Tahylandia, is given greater consideration on compassion. This implies to give more importance to intellectual values (understand, consider) to emotional values (pity). According to human groups, their evolution over time and reflection giving them about disease, process of becoming shaman may have differences. These are always more superficial than profound, and more quantitative than qualitative. So you can for example, distinguish a greater number of steps or significant moments in this learning process (see Matthews, apropos of Celtic shamanism). 1.3? Think of himself? Of Shaman systematic reflection on himself is a late phenomenon in the development of this type of practice.