By Robert J. Wallis
In pop culture, such diversified characters as occultist Aleister Crowley, doorways musician Jim Morrison, and function artist Joseph Beuys were referred to as shamans. In anthropology, nevertheless, shamanism has institutions with sorcery, witchcraft and therapeutic, and archaeologists have recommended the that means of prehistoric cave artwork lies with shamans and changed cognizance. Robert J. Wallis explores the interface among 'new' and prehistoric shamans. The booklet attracts on interviews with a number of practitioners, really modern pagans in Britain and north the US. Wallis appears to be like at historic and archaeological assets to discover modern pagan engagements with prehistoric sacred websites similar to Stonehenge and Avebury, and discusses the debatable use through neo-Shamans of indigenous (particularly local American) shamanism.
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Extra resources for Shamans/Neo-Shamans: Ecstasies, Alternative Archaeologies and Contemporary Pagans
There is certainly a snobbish and derisive tone in much literature on neo-Shamanisms: real shamans are perceived to be culturally distant and Other, and therefore ‘authentic’; neo-Shamans are invented, deluded and specious. In one sense this shamanism vs neoShamanism dichotomy might arguably reify a primitivist or noble savage stereotype of indigenous peoples. At the very least it is shamanophobic and reveals a hypocritical attitude taken by those anthropologists who suggest there is no such thing as ‘static’ tradition or culture, but who discriminate against neo-Shamans because they are not apparently part of a ‘tradition’ and appear, at least on the face of it, to be piecemeal spiritual consumers in the global village.
Not only does the post-colonial culture of the West regard neo-Shamanisms as eccentric and harmless, so also do many neo-Shamans themselves. Indeed they often believe their utilisations of indigenous culture are sympathetic to the aims of indigenous people (although sometimes this may not be so in practice). Some neo-Shamans go even further, to erase native cultures from history by fantasising about a ‘noble savage’, or by suggesting they are incapable custodians of their shamanic inheritance which should be surrendered into more capable Western hands (as discussed by Root 1996: 93–94).
B). With often highly pluralised beliefs and practices, neo-Shamans are influenced ‘arguably’ by a syncretism of reactionary thought and postmodernism, although describing neo-Shamanisms in terms of ‘modern’, ‘post-modern’, etc. is rather academic and artificial: most neo-Shamans and others in society are unfamiliar with, or at least not interested in, these terms; they are simply living their lives. This does not negate their use however, since such terms allow academics to appreciate the socio-political locations of neo-Shamanisms within their own intellectual framework, and such labels also need not deny social agency and individual sensibilities.
Shamans/Neo-Shamans: Ecstasies, Alternative Archaeologies and Contemporary Pagans by Robert J. Wallis