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Shamanism and Research

So, in the past weeks I've been trying to do research on European shamanism - both celtic and norse. I've read web pages by supposed scholars, and excerpts and reviews of books available on Amazon. I'm still trying to weed out the crapiest ones before I start buying books.

There is little that hasn't been tainted by either Christianized interpretation, or pseudofeminist neopagan wishful thinking and cultural syncretism. I swear, I get more valid and valuable information out of my own UPG and practical experience. No frills, no cultural appropriation, just what works.

I realize I'm fortunate - I don't have to go through a huge song and dance to reach "elsewhere". For me, it's like flipping the mirror on your car at night - flip, and there it is, there I am.

I don't have to go around to the barrows of the dead to look at the future that may be, in all of it's twisty probabilities and permutations. I look at it directly, as a matrix of events, lives, choices, natural phenomena, and energies. I can even try to show sections of it to others. I've been able to do it for at least 20 years, with my ability to interpret getting better all the while.

So, it has occured to me to try and write up the concepts and methods that I use, used to learn this stuff, and why and where it came from. I already have a list of terms that need defining, that once defined and understood, encompass 90% of what I do in a shamanic context.

My challenge is to "map" these terms against European shamanic/religious terminology, and maybe a bit of "modern" psychology of religion. Should I even bother? Probably, lest some twit think I'm some sort of IRAB Plastic Shaman. But man, the bibliography is going to be a bitch.

Do you think anyone would want to publish my drivel?


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 22nd, 2006 06:36 pm (UTC)
Yes, definitely. It's not like, say, the market for Christian books but there is a thriving spiritual community in America and since we as white people are tribal people who've lost our tribe, I think there's a strong urge to find those communal roots.

And it's true - Christian monks did a lot of the recording of traditions so they are in some cases the only filters we have. I learned a fair bit of the Irish tradition of the Tuatha De Danaan and once the oral tradition was killed, the only sources were those monks.
Jul. 22nd, 2006 07:33 pm (UTC)
It never hurts to codify what works for you.

I always liken it to quantum physics.
Jul. 22nd, 2006 08:46 pm (UTC)
Of course your "drivel" would be purchased! You write well and people will buy your stuff for the pure joy of the way you string words together. That your sentences could lead them to true spiritual renewal would be a nice bonus for even the christians among your fans. (Some of us don't see the two as necessarily separate. Please pardon that we are open to both experiences.)

Now, for your research, I have a possible source for you that you may not have considered. John Reyna did a lot of research on shamanism way back when. I know he was studying it "religiously" in 1976-77. I don't know where he is now, but last I heard it was C'oer D'lene(sp) in Idaho. Your dad might know as I think he is still in contact with Michelle and John's sister. He will likely be working in counseling somewhere, a CETA place if one is there. If I find out more before you do I will either email or comment it to you.

I'm still struggling to pay the bills on both places (what else is new eh?). I had a nibble on purchasing this one, but the guy cannot make an offer for another 30 to 60 days. :-( I would really like to be out of it by then so that I can be all set up at 108 before I have to go in for knee stuff. I've lost 33 pounds since you saw me last, cut my hair back to its usual and still haven't got through any much of the stuff in either place. The knee is more limiting than I thought it would be. i guess I, too, will have to start using my writing skills to make some money. My physical limitations make much else cost and time ineffective. Love you! Call when you can. BTW, do you like cameos? Can you recommend a good book or cheap source for wire sculpted jewelry beads, silver wire, tools and destructions? That is another thing I can do sitting down and during knee recovery. Miss you and the cat still kisses your picture at Gmas. Peace ~~~Tandala
Jul. 22nd, 2006 09:32 pm (UTC)
I know this wasn't addressed to me but ..... try Fire Mountain Gems. They've an awesome online catalogue. I've been able to find stuff there that I havn't elsewhere, and their prices are pretty fair. My friend has purchased quite a bit from them and their service seems to be quite good.
Jul. 23rd, 2006 03:55 am (UTC)
I have to second Fire Mountain. When I was doing beaded wire work I bought from them.
Jul. 23rd, 2006 06:18 am (UTC)
Thank you! I only addressed it to Ravan because I know she has done some nice wire sculptured jewelry in the past. That you know a place is great! I will check it out.
Jul. 22nd, 2006 09:30 pm (UTC)
Please, write away. I'd be interested, and I know others that would as well. I'm not above twisting arms to get people to read something they could learn from, and I know it'd be well written.
Jul. 22nd, 2006 10:12 pm (UTC)
I'd certainly be interested in reading it, and the gods know we could use more intelligent, articulate, and useful material to balance out the genuine drivel and well-intentioned whack-a-loons.
Jul. 24th, 2006 12:49 am (UTC)
If you don't have it already, "The Viking Way:Religion and War in the Later Iron Age of Scandinavia" is a very good look at the practice of Seidr and the possiblity of the overlap with Saami shamanism.

Certainly available here.


Not cheap but well worth it.

Jul. 24th, 2006 12:51 am (UTC)
Also forgot to mention, I would be interested in reading your work, the more people who speak up/out the more chance the very nearly headblind like me have a chance of understanding.
Jul. 24th, 2006 05:20 am (UTC)
Oh, my! That publisher is a siren to history junkies.... *drool*

Thanks for the link!!
Jul. 24th, 2006 03:07 am (UTC)
Yes, you should definitely write about it :-)

I've been researching Norse magic off and on for years, as you may know. In academia, there was a black hole on the shamanism aspect because Lapp shamanism was (a) extinct and (b) not generally agreed to fit the definition; and the Norse practices were excluded because the role of the practitioner was different. Germanic would be the only society with both priests and shamans . . . plus it has at least one other strain of magic. So most academics counted seið as by definition not really shamanism, and/or viewed the similarities as signs of borrowing from Finnish/Lapp.

Strangely enough, this means the best grounding in the academic terminology and the terms in which the debate has been framed is still an ancient monograph in decidedly quaint English, to whit: Louise Bäckman and Åke Hultkrantz, Studies in Lapp Shamanism, Acta Universitatis Stockholmensis/Stockholm Studies in Comparative Religion 16, Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1978. Example of the quaint English: "nuclear" for "crucial" or "core," throughout. This unprepossessing looking thing starts with a super-fantastic survey of the definitions, approaches to, and terminology of shamanism in differing academic fields (such as the use of "ecstasy" or "trance"), proceeds to define shamanism with reference to multiple cultures and not just Siberia, and then sets the Lapp record--including the Historia Norvegiæ account of a séance--in this definitional context. Frankly, I'm suspicious that any later academic works add much, although there is one very recent one on seiðr that I need to hunt down in case it does.

I have a xerox. There is a copy shop near your place. Wanna copy?

Jul. 24th, 2006 03:10 am (UTC)
Oh, and I've got Michael Harner's The Way of the Shaman in xerox, too--you may recall my referring to specific passages in my essay on trance and possession for clergyramblings? But I assume you have read and/or have that, and its successors.

Jul. 24th, 2006 04:31 am (UTC)
Actually, I haven't. I have also heard some rather derogatory reviews of it.
Jul. 24th, 2006 04:58 am (UTC)
One of those would be my citations in that essay. Don't give my take too much emphasis just because it's me. He's been extremely influential and he articulates the S. American POV, whereas the academics overwhelmingly use the Siberian as their touchstone. You should look at his stuff for yourself.

If only to add to your knowledge of the effects of datura/jimsonweed . . .

Jul. 24th, 2006 05:22 am (UTC)
Some of the criticism of it is the massive amount of cultural appropriation he does. Still, I would like to read it, if only to know what people are complaining about.
Jul. 29th, 2006 11:17 am (UTC)
Well, Arlie has a vast trove of shamanism books, and yes, it includes that dreaded paperback. So ask her :-)

Jul. 24th, 2006 04:30 am (UTC)
Jul. 24th, 2006 05:41 am (UTC)
My challenge is to "map" these terms against European shamanic/religious terminology, and maybe a bit of "modern" psychology of religion. Should I even bother? Probably, lest some twit think I'm some sort of IRAB Plastic Shaman. But man, the bibliography is going to be a bitch.

What's the audience, though? An awful lot of people in this field think that other people in the same field are ignorant crackpots. It's also one where belief and expectations have real effects; one is very likely to see what one expects, consciously or otherwise. (Steep yourself in norse material, and get a Snorri cosmology....)

It may be that whatever terminology you adopt or reference, that will just tell some people what type of kook they'll thereupon consider you to be. I get nervous when people treate Eliade with excessive respect, but half or more of those involved - even the acadmics - treat him as fundamental. I think that if you want to be respected by the academic disputant crowd, or those practitioners who think that way, you need more than just the language. But I'm having trouble figuring out how to explain what I mean. Good luck with it anyway.
Jul. 24th, 2006 02:14 pm (UTC)
There are alot of places that would want to publish it, and I bet alot of people aaround LJ would want to read it. There are lots of internet publishers that publish on demand, which makes it much cheaper.
I personally am going on a journey of exploration and resarch myself into spiritualism. I dont know if I would call it shamanism or not, but it is most likely very similar to yours. I have gotten alot of flack from the NA livejournal group, but that is alright, because depsite thier issues, I know what is right in my heart, and they cant change that.
Jul. 24th, 2006 04:29 pm (UTC)
I don't konw, but I would surely loe to see it.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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