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Shamanism, Gynocentrism and Biological Misandry

"Woman is by nature a Shaman" – Chukchee Proverb

The Migration of Early Hominids and Australopithecus from African Savanah up to the Ancient Indian Culture of the Brahmins and The Vedas!

The above statement as we will immediately outline encapsulates in one phrase the entire red pill wisdom namely that our human nature as well as our society as a whole revolve around the concept of female biological as well as social and cultural gynocentrism! The roots of both the female shamanism as well as the gynocentric nature of society as the source of female shamanisms and its derivative of cultural as well as religious shamanic spirituality may go back more than 5 million years and be linked with our ancestors’ upright posture. This is the link where gynocentric culture of non-human primates shifts into the human one! According to Ian Tattersal (1999), one of the leaders in the study of human evolution and curator at the Museum of Natural History in New York City, once our hominid ancestors stood upright there would be a need for midwives! This female need for midwives encapsulated the dynamic that gave rise to the evolutionary need of society not only to assist females by birth but also alleviate their suffering in a way that by definition would in a later dynamic lead to the accumulation of traditional alternative, spiritual as well as medical knowledge in the hands of women via the root of Shamanism, spirituality and religion. Here we should bear in mind that it is rare for women to give birth alone and most cultures typically had midwives. Moreover, almost entirely most births in human history occur close enough to the village so that others can hear the baby’s first cries. This signals the woman’s female relatives and friends that the child has been born and that the mother may welcome assistance in delivering the afterbirth, cutting the umbilical cord, and wiping the baby clean. Perhaps carrying the baby for her, other women will accompany her back to the village. Only the most experienced and determined woman insist on being alone during these last stages.

In fact, humans are almost unique in our use of midwives. Most animals give birth alone, though midwives have been observed among elephants, dolphins, and bats. The human need for midwives undoubtedly increased, as the size of newborns heads increased. In our evolution humans have struck a delicate balance with our large heads: Our big brains make for difficult births. The trend in the human line (hominids) has been for our babies to be born less mature so a great deal of the brain growth happens after a baby is born. As a result of this evolutionary strategy, human babies are born immature and need care for a longer period time compared to other animals. This puts a range of demands on social structure and nursing mothers in particular. It also must have increased the demands on and for midwives. Midwives have the experience of catching babies and usually at some points in their lives have also been pregnant and given birth. This double experience, over millions of years, gave midwives a vast body of knowledge about pregnancy, birth, and child rearing. This body of knowledge also would have included what to do if something were to go wrong or if someone became sick or hurt. The importance of midwifery as a response to human evolution seems to me to be the logical root of female shamanism while the above description gives us the frame of biological evolutionary gynocetrism (I).

In that sense, gynocentrism can be characterized by three main features:

A) On the biological-evolutionary level the female need for midwives as our ancestors stood upright which led to accumulation of knowledge and thus high societal status of women via the root of shamanism, spirituality and the alternative

B) On the evolutionary level it is the fact that having the uterus the female embodies and incorporates sexual and natural selection

C) Rooted in the above dynamics it is the evolutionary survival context that both female and especially males are indoctrinated especially in the first and most crucial time of their life's mainly by women adopting thus the female gynocentric point of view.

Caution: all of the three dynamic are the basis of female informal powers and thus also the privileges resulting from them.

Whereas studies claim that "shamanism is understood by some people to be a primitive form of religion or religio-magic practised by the aborigines of northern Asia as well as by all other aborigines in other parts of the world, an opinion held by Mikhailowski, Kharuzin, and some other Russian scientists, others state that shamanism was only one form of expression of the religious cult of northern Asia, practised in order to avert the evil spirits". However, although this is undeniably one of the goals of shamanism based on the above discussion we can assume with all certainty that this is a later development and an added layer to the original goal of midwifery probably also originally thought as to averting the danger for the mother and the new born baby - a dynamic that can be found and traced back in all magic path as well the mystical traditions of established religions. The former "opinion", as expressed in those studies, "is found in the writings of Jochelson and Bogoras" according to the research. It goes on to state that "there is still another view put forward, which it is well for us to consider. Many shamanic belief systems are of a great age and have gained in complexity over the centuries. They are found throughout the vast regions of Central Asia and Siberia, and to a lesser extent in Europe and other countries especially North and South America. Many beliefs appear to have originated among the Palaeolithic nomad hunter-gatherers. Though the roots of shamanism as we have seen are in general probably much older, Siberian shamanism can be considered as the actual proto – religion of all modern spiritual path" projecting in my opinion not only spirituality itself but also all the gynocentric dynamics associated with shamanism. "Among the many tribes found across Siberia, the word used to indicate a male shaman varied, whereas the term for female shaman was the same. Archeologist Jeannine Davis-Kimball (2002) concludes: “In fact, if we are to believe the linguists, women were also the first shamans. The roots of shamanism are to be found in Paleolithic Siberia, where a single term. always referred to the female shaman”

Moreover, it is plausible to trace back and to say that "shamanic practices may originate as early as the Paleolithic, predating all organized religions and certainly as early as the Neolithic period. The earliest known undisputed burial of a shaman (and by extension the earliest undisputed evidence of shamans and shamanic practices) dates back to the early Upper Paleolithic era (c. 30,000 BP) in what is now the Czech Republic in Dolni Věstonice. Dolni Věstonice is as we said an Upper Paleolithic archaeological site in the Czech Republic about 100 miles north of Vienna, Austria. First discovered in the early twentieth century, the site was radiocarbon dated to approximately 28,000 years ago. While this place is now arguably near the geographic center of Europe, during the Upper Paleolithic period the area was on the edge of the glacial ice. A skeleton unearthed there was of a woman in her forties—old enough to have been a grandparent. In other words, during the Stone Age, females were a vital repository of all the collected knowledge, history, and wisdom of their people. Not simply set apart by her gender and advanced years, the skull of the woman of Dolni Věstonice revealed that she also had a marked facial asymmetry. Her high-status burial and facial deformity suggests that she was a shaman. According to Brian Hayden, an archaeologist at Simon Fraser University, people with disabilities were often thought to have unusual or supernatural power. This special woman was buried under two engraved mammoth shoulder blades. She and the contents of her grave had been painted with red ochre after her death. Over her head was a flint spearhead, and in one hand she held the body of a fox".

In addition, "Sanskrit scholar and comparative mythologist Michael Witzel proposes that all of the world's mythologies, and also the concepts and practices of shamans, can be traced to the migrations of two prehistoric populations which are in accordance with the evolution of human species: the "Gondwana" type (of circa 65,000 years ago) and the "Laurasian" type (of circa 40,000 years ago). He states and correctly points out that "the more recent Laurasian types of myths and forms of shamanism are found in Eurasian and North and South America and are later cultural elaborations based upon the earlier Gondwana types of myths and shamanism", both of which probably derived from an earlier human source population. Witzel argues "that survivals of the older, original forms of shamanism are therefore to be found in the southern hemisphere among peoples such as the San Bushmen of Botswana, the Andamanese of the Andaman Islands off the coast of Burma, and the Aborigines of Australia. The so-called "classical" shamanism of Siberia and the Americas reflect a further cultural evolutionary development at the local levels. This is a logical assertion as in metaphysical religious thinking especially magic, shamanism but also established religion are expressions and adaptations to the natural surroundings in which they evolve and develop. Early anthropological studies theorize that in a later development, evolved from assisting women as midwives in birth and afterwards, it morphed afterwards into a form of shamanism which was aimed at being a magic practice to ensure a successful hunt or gathering of food which as to the latter one was a typical female activity. "Evidence in caves and drawings on walls", he states", support indications that shamanism started during the Paleolithic era. One such a significant evidence, "featured a picture of a half-animal, with the face and legs of a man, with antlers and a tail of a stag", Archaeological evidence exists for Mesolithic shamanism. As we read, "The oldest known shaman grave in the world is located in the Czech Republic at Dolni Vestonice (National Geographic No 174 October 1988). This grave site was evidence of a female shaman. Additionally, in November 2008, researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem announced the discovery of a 12,000-year-old site in Israel that is perceived as one of the earliest known shaman burials. The elderly woman had been arranged on her side, with her legs apart and folded inward at the knee. Ten large stones were placed on the head, pelvis and arms. Among her unusual grave goods were 50 complete tortoise shells, a human foot, and certain body parts from animals such as a cow tail and eagle wings. Other animal remains came from a boar, leopard, and two martens. "It seems that the woman … was perceived as being in a close relationship with these animal spirits", researchers noted. The grave was one of at least 28 graves at the site, located in a cave in lower Galilee and belonging to the Natufian culture, but is said to be unlike any other among the Epipaleolithic Natufians or in the Paleolithic period".

So, having been developed and evolved over millions of years, as we can see, "some of the major forms of current non- ‘Siberian’ shamanism can be also specifically described as having followed the trail of the Out of Africa (‘Gondwana’) migration of ‘anatomically modern humans’ (Homo Sapiens sap.), from west to east, some 65,000 years ago. By comparing all major forms extant on different continents, we may be able to learn not only more about their mutual relationship and history" but specifically the spread of gynocentrism via the medium and root of ancient African primitive and pre-historic shamanism over to the influence on the Indian Vedic and Brahmin religion through the later migration into the Indian sub-continent after being previously established in Siberia as the classic form of Shamanism and over a long and complex influence from in and outer cultural dynamic and heritage". Here it is worth to mention that while historical records from different times and parts of Asia clearly show as we have mentioned above that shamanism is "an archaic belief system of Asian people and although shamanic beliefs and practices have been documented in different parts of Asia, studies still consider Siberia to be the land of their most classic forms. Regardless of the discussion about whether the term ‘most classic’ is appropriate to characterize Siberianshamanism (e.g., Rozwadowski 2008a), there is no question that shamanism in Siberia is an ancient tradition. Let's see the following classification and how the gynocentric Hindu Vedic and Brahmin roots can be traced back to both Siberia but specifically to African form of primeval Shamanism.

1. San (Bushmen)

"The San (Khoi-San, Bushmen) have dances producing trance, during which they travel, like all shamans, over the earth or to the spirit world' in a way that even remind us of the Darwish dance in Islam as well as some of the Chassidic practices in Judaism. "This is like the Siberian shamans’ descent and ascent to the sky" elements that one again can be found in almost all established religious paths. "Trance is often expressed as death, flying, floating or even as drowning. Initiation is of a rather prolonged nature. But the San do not (yet) have the ‘classical’ dissection and transubstantiation of the shaman’s body --- perhaps except for the fact that they change into a flying eland antelope when in trance; apparently they do so also after death. The Sans’ communal dance is accompanied by music made by men and women, using various local instruments and singing”. The practice of liturgy, reciting mantras and singing is practiced in almost all the path including Buddhism. "However, this kind of dance is not (yet) the typical solitary dance of the lone (Siberian) shaman, accompanied by a circular drum. Dancing results in a trance collapse (!aia, !kia). The interaction of music, singers and dancers also produces ‘heat’: the dancers transmit heat (‘boiling’) to each other, and the women’s singing and music, too, activates it; from it, the shaman healers may draw energy. San shamans44 know of the difficult mastering of their internal heat (n/um ‘medicine’), which moves upward from the base of the spine. They use that power for healing. It is controlled by medicine inside their body. The older experienced medicine men control n/um, and call the ‘traveling’ adept back into his body. This description immediately reminds one of the descriptions of some forms of Indian yoga, where the kuṇḍalinī power is awakened at the bottom of the spine (guhya) and likewise moves upwards, in several stages via a number of centers (cakra), up to the head, and beyond: through the skull it emerges above it. Early evidence for shamanism is found in South African rock art, at 27,000 before the present era. We return now to other remnants of the Out of Africa exodus, the Andamanese, who barely survive on their chain of islands off the coast of Burma".

2. Andamanese

"Andamanese shamans were called Oko-jumu, dreamers. The term means ‘one who speaks from dreams’, from jumu ‘dream.’ Like the San, they were in contact with the dangerous primordial power inherent in all objects (ot-kimil, gumul), which means ‘hot’. This power is dangerous. People in contact with it are the Oko-jumu. The Shamans dream, meet the spirits in the jungle, ‘die’ and return to life. However, they do not (yet) have the Siberian-style trance, nor is the community involved, for example by dancing, as with the San.50 According to Radcliffe-Brown’s detailed account of 1922, ‘initiation’ could happen in three ways: by ‘dying’, by going into the jungle, by meeting spirits in dreams. Certain men or boys could even communicate with the spirits in extraordinary dreams, such as of the spirit of a dead person, or of spirits of the forest or sea. Initially, a person was contacted by the spirits, for example when having been unconscious (‘dead’) for up to 12 hours. The Oko-jumu met the spirits in the jungle, and there got their powers. They continued to go to the jungle to meet spirits as their friends. Only men could be oko-paiad, but in North Andaman rarely women too could possess these powers. After initiation, one continued to communicate with the spirits in one’s sleep (dreaming); using their power one could cause and cure illness. Shamanic heat was called kimil , ‘hot’. The word carries many meanings, but it is always connected with extra-ordinary states that were regarded as dangerous, such as: that of young man/woman when passing through or having recently passed through the initiation ceremony; the condition after eating certain types of ‘powerful’ foods. These conditions produced or had inherent ‘heat.’ Surprisingly, this idea persists in modern India --- whether Hindu or Muslim - -- where many objects or persons (like the Guru) are believed to be ‘hot’ and therefore have to be ‘cooled’ down by a variety of methods --- such as pouring milk over a Śivaliṅgam.51 The concept is old: there are a number of interesting stories from late Vedic texts onward that tell how to deal with ‘hot’ items or persons, such as the magically powerful ‘hot’ Ṛṣis --- one sends a divine courtesan (Apsaras) to ‘cool them down’. If we combine this information with the Indian idea of a power rising up one’s spine in Yoga, we detect very old pathway dependencies in Indian thought. For, the ancestors of the Andamanese are some of the earliest settlers in the subcontinent, soon after the Out of Africa movement of some 65,000 years ago. The similarity with African (San) concepts notable: that of how to manage – with difficulty and after a long period of training by other shamans -- the heat rising up one’s spine. It is remarkable that the San and Sandawe still live(d) close to the area of origin of the Out of Africa emigrants, in Central Tanzania. It seems that these populations all have retained early forms of shamanism.

Moreover, as we continue to read, "there are also lots of evidence about the fact, including in the archaeological findings in Czech Republic that we mentioned above, indicating that the earliest Upper palaeolithic shamans were in fact all women and not men. Descriptions of female shamans describe these women as invokers of spirits of the gods, earth and ancestors, as well as being healers, herbalists, oracles, ecstatic dancers, diviners, shape-shifters, priestesses and shamanic journeyers. Female shamans or shamankas, are located among the Tungus people, the Buriats, Yakuts, Ostyaks, and among the Kamchadals". As the study suggest it was a woman that was the first human being to receive shamanic powers not men and it is also believed that only in later development she transmitted it to her son who became the first male shaman. It is also believed that a woman is by nature a shaman and therefore does not need any preparation for her calling. "The female spirit appears to be the most important and consists of a round frame on a pole. In former days, only female shamans existed while the male shaman is of a later development". We also find in the past as well as in the present that the woman can be the priestess of the family cult and a professional shamaness. In the old days, as at the present time, the women-shamans were considered at least as powerful as the men, sometimes, indeed, an individual female shaman is even cleverer than a man". In practice based on the following quotation which shows that there were certain qualifications necessary for the shaman it means that not only female shamans were considered more powerful than man but that misandry based in biology and evolution was already existent in the religious pre-history of shamanic era. It states: ’The female sex is nicer and probably cleverer, therefore there are more women among the shamans than there are men. The position of the female shaman in modern days is sometimes even more important than that occupied by the male. For instance, in the steppers and central regions of Siberia, the female shaman(s) possess greater power than the male shamans, or so it is believed". It is interesting to note that traditionally "the healing power of female shamans was occasionally stated to have been so far-reaching that they were described as being able to restore life to the dead". In a way it shows the dynamic which we will later encounter in Indian religions as well as later at its at most extreme expression under the classic medieval gynocentric as elevating women to the level of Goddesses and in former shamanic attribution of the divine concept of resurrection has also it root in female shamanism.

"So it was told of Pa Sini Jobu, great Tungutu of the Bosso people in the middle Niger region. Her method of dancing to ecstasy and shifting into the form of a great bird echoes the story told of Isis. Both the goddess and the Tungutu are described as beating their wings over the dead (a ram, in Pa Sini Jobu’s case) and bringing them to life. (The Colchian sorceress Medea is also pictured bringing a ram to life, using a cauldron, herbs, and incantations.) In western Africa, the sorceress Kulutugubaga has the power to heal all and bring the dead to life. She is the last of the legendary Nine Sorceresses of Mande. Reviving the dead was one of the marvels performed by Yeshe Tsogyel, a foundational figure of Tibetan Buddhism. In Lady of the Lotus Born, she says, "... In Nepal I brought a dead man back to life... My body journeyed like a rainbow in celestial fields..." (5) This 8th-century poem is loaded with shamanistic content, recast in a Buddhist mold. The shamanic Bönpo religion is known to have contributed many elements to Tibetan Buddhism. A Manchurian epic, Nishan Shaman, turns around the story of a woman who is the most powerful shaman in the country. She is called upon to revive the son of a rich man after countless others had failed. She beats her drum, chants, and sinks as if lifeless herself while journeying to the Otherworld, where she meets up with Omosi-mama, the "divine grandmother" who "causes leaves to unfurl and the roots to spread properly," who is the giver of souls and protectress of children. It was she who ordained that Nishan would become a great shaman". In a later development, spiritual evolution and adaptation, we can say that "the feminine element also plays a very important and prominent role in terms of magic, sorcery, at least it is so among the Yakuts. Female shamans are dominant whereas they ate to the forefront of the cult practice. Whether in ancient China or Japan, or Korea, South Africa, Okinawa, the Philippines, from northern California to southern Chile, female shamanism is a widespread tradition. In the steppers and central regions of Siberia, the female shaman(s) possess greater power than the male shamans, or so it is believed. In general, the feminine element plays a very important and prominent role in terms of magic, sorcery, at least it is so among the Yakuts. The recent historical and cultural researches of the ancient Central Asian polytheistic religion (known by the name of Tengerism, representing the cult of the ‘sky’ (Buryatian: tengeri) and ‘earth’ (Buryatian: gazar), widely spread across the south regions of Siberia and Mongolia) consider it as a form of ‘white shamanism’. It can be compared with ancient Vedic religion, though it shares many similar characteristics, especially concering the worship of the ‘sky-earth’ cult (Sanskrit dyāvāpŗţhivī) (Macdonell, 2002, p. 9). Such evidence points to the conclusion that Tengerism does not bear its origin from the aboriginal proto-Turkic-Mongolian people and that it arrived in Central Asia from the outside (Dugarov, 2009)".

Moreover, if we consider Yoga that has been "called a living fossil" and that has encapsulated the spiritual in-between link representing the shift from shamanism as proto-religion into the era of institutionalized and organized religions of the Vedas and Brahmanism, it can be considered as another important medium through which gynocentrism has migrated from Shamanism to Hinduism and later the established monotheistic religions of the west. As various studies suggest "Conventional wisdom generally holds that yoga evolved ca1000-2500 BCE in association with the Vedic culture of ancient India. But we can locate a source of this living practice deep into pre-history. Scholars Mircea Eliade and Georg Feuerstein agree that proto yoga, to use the latter’s term, existed in the form of shamanism, the original system of spiritual and physical healing within ancient human tribal societies throughout the globe' including Siberian Shamanism that more directly influenced the early Indian Vedic and Brahmanic thought system. According to Michael Harner, author and practicing shaman, “Archeological and ethnological evidence suggests that shamanic methods are at least twenty to thirty thousand years old.” To the extent that the practice of shamanism continues today, it could also be called a living fossil. Understanding some of the salient aspects of shamanism will shed light on yoga as we attempt to understand and define the practice from its inception to its application in modern times'. He continues and also correctly points out that 'Shamanism evolved prior to the written word, prior to mythology, prior to science, religion and philosophy" from which also the scientific mindset has emanated. According to those scholars "the shaman plied his or her craft in the service of individual health and well-being. Currying the favor of deities through ritual observances let alone solving the problem of human existence were far in the future".

Here we should add that "Scholars have found a remarkable consistency in shamanic techniques and principals that evolved within tribes occupying regions characterized by vastly different climates and survival challenges. Moreover, some of these tribes were out of contact for as much as ten-thousand years so could not possibly have exchanged ideas about the practice. This suggests that the principle of shamanic journeying into unseen realms of existence is simply indigenous to the human psyche". As aforesaid it shows also that that the exchange of those thoughts as well as the evolution and the spread of gynocentric ideas shows intrinsically sophisticated cultural adaptations as well as a complex in and intercultural exchange of those ideas between different societies and civilization in the ancient way and in the same way as gynocentrism evolves today. According to those same studies "the ancient guardians of tribal psychic and ecological equilibrium apparently evolved their methods of power and information retrieval in parallel. Whatever fascination we may have for the trance state Eliade called ecstasy, and for underworld contact with power animals and guardian sprits, shamanism is a purely practical and empirical method. The shaman was a regular working member of the tribe, may have been an excellent hunter, and would have employed conventional herbal treatments like any practitioner of natural medicine. The humility, heroism and freedom from doctrinal biases on the part of the practicing shaman give us a significant clue into the character and practice of the future yogi". The above described dynamics enable us to look and have a glimpse of reality into some more or other dimensions through which gynocentrism has spread itself via the root of Shamanism in what we can describe as the golden age of ancient philosophy and "scientific" alike spirituality like Buddhism. In fact, at least at the beginning, even the Buddha could be considered a Yogi who has learned with most prominent Yogic teachers of his time. "Philosophy", as it is suggested, is a Greek concept for “love of knowledge”; Phila means love and Sophia means wisdom. "We have fast forwarded to the golden age of philosophy, ca 1000 BCE to the time of Christ. We typically think of this period as being ancient. However, from the perspective of human evolution it is anything but. Indeed, the thinkers and adepts of this time have not been surpassed. The Greek and Sanskrit-perfectly formed-languages were ideally suited for analytical discourse and scientific precision".

For instance, in China if to give a few examples "we had Confucius, 551-479 BCE; and Lao Tzu wrote the Tao Te Ching during this period. Taoism", to mention another example, "would later become blended with Buddhism resulting in Chan or Zen. Qi Gong, ancient Chinese medicine, was evolving parallel to the Indian marma system. These would later comingle to create the meridian science we take for granted today and that is the basis of acupuncture and other healing systems. The yoga phenomenon was born from the mix of ideas and practices which were boiling over during this period. Religious history is characterized by a tension between the orthodoxy of established doctrinal authority and the individual impulse to have a direct encounter with cosmic truth. This period of time epitomized that tension and the result was a great gift to the human race, a vehicle not only for health and happiness but for Self-Realization itself" although the side effect was the spread of pre-historic gynocentrism and misandry. The victims, the ones who as always historically paid the price for human progress and breakthrough, were men. "Much of the technology we associate with yoga can be found in the practices of the rishis-seers whose religion was based upon the writings known as Vedas, meaning, revealed knowledge. Sacrificial rites (see agni hotra) were infused with contemplative techniques and prayerful meditations. The rishis employed mantra or exploration of sound, visualization of deities--Rudra, Vayu, Agni, Sarasvati and Indra are a few representatives of the Vedic Pantheon--and absorption into psychic and cosmic mysteries during their highest stages of meditation" that were also derivative not only of Siberian but also the older African shamanism. "Despite the metaphysical and spiritual richness of the practice", as we read, "it would not have been inclusive; only the religious elite would have been qualified to participate. Moreover, to the extent that Brahmanism was a religion, it was inevitably bound to doctrine, specific deities and prescribed rituals. The spiritual protagonists, the munis, as standing opposed to the Rishis, took their leave from society to seek the unreligion, a direct experience of truth, unencumbered by prescribed rituals and theological science. Practicality and experimentation were their mantras of choice. For better or worse, they practiced extreme forms of asceticism to burn away accumulated karma* that causes avidya, spiritual ignorance that blocks the inner eye from direct apprehension of divine knowledge terms", that in later development alongside with concepts like Anicca (Impermanence), Sankhara (Dependent arising) and especially the unique and sole concept of Anatta (No-Self) have all become the basics of the Buddhist Dharma, as the exalted one, the Buddha, reached enlightenment by actually picking the true and correct elements of spirituality from the gynocentric heritage. Hence, buy leaving and detaching from the gynocentric matrix of society, taking the red pill in the context of modern narrative, achieving a victory over the forces of suffering, putting it behind and attaining the lasting happiness of enlightenment.

However, "Let us not be misled by a hard line of distinction between the Vedic mainstream and the emerging yoga phenomenon. After all, the early yogis would have spoken Vedic Sanskrit and would have been aware of Vedic doctrine even as they attempted to turn it on its head. The Sanskrit speaking Aryan invaders, who came to supplant the pre Aryan Indus civilization ca 2000BCE, would have had their own shamanic tradition", coming from what is considered today modern Russia where shamanism played a prominent role in Siberia. "The Vedic sacrifice involved fire. But while the yogis were known to sit in the middle of raging fires under the hot sun in a fire sacrifice of their own the Buddha in one of his sermons refuted for example this practice. "Thus tapas, heat or glow, became strongly identified with yogic practice; the practitioners would come to be known as tapasvins. Most readers have probably heard of the tapas mat; and the pranayamas we take for granted evolved to serve this process of inner combustion in the interest of karmic purification…a living fossil indeed! So the influence went both ways. The Brahman priests began to incorporate more purifactory practices into preparation for the sacrifice as the yogis contemplated the metaphysics of the Vedas. Eventually yoga would emerge triumphant and come to dominate Indian mainstream religion and culture. But before we get to that, we need to return to our present topic which is philosophy. Like the Greeks, the yogis and Upanishadic philosophers sought to solve the thorny ontological problem of existence. Simply put: who are we, where did we come from, why are we here and where are we going? Curious humans first invented mythology as a way to explain our place within the great chain of being. But there came a time when thinkers sought to truly understand the underlying mechanisms of reality. The proximate causality effectuated by a fabricated world of the gods would not provide a scientific solution. And the doctrines of the elements and their interactions found in Greece and China alike, although a major step toward natural science, were still bound within the phenomenal world and could not offer a final solution". I believe as those studies suggest that "the evolution of yoga coincides historically with the evolution of science and philosophy and was conceived as a tool to help solve the universal conundrum of existence" as well as human suffering and as a later evolution of the original shamanic purpose of midwifery as helping the woman and the newborn to alleviate suffering. "The philosophers of this period stumbled upon a profound paradox". As I have mentioned above with the concept of impermanence (Anicca) in the Buddhist context, we live in such a world of change and impermanence. As the Buddha would have said, "the phenomenal world in which we find ourselves is non-substantial' or as I said above it has no self (Anatta) and "is characterized by relational interdependence" (Sankhara). And yet, something, however ephemeral, cannot issue from nothing. So there must be an underlying reality, prior to phenomenal reality, which is the progenitor of that reality and yet is nothing like the phenomenal world because it is permanent and unchanging" although selfless, empty (Shunyata in Buddhism) and not substantial thus it is not God but our primordial Buddha nature and enlightenment ( Nrvana or Nibanna).

On the other side, according to Aristotle, it was Greek pre-Socratic philosopher Anaximander, 612-547/6 BCE, who first named the ultimate reality, the infinite. Here is what he says in his Metaphysics to elaborate on Anaximander’s proposition: Everything either is a beginning or has a beginning. But there is no beginning of the infinite; for if there was one, it would limit it. Moreover, since it is a beginning, it is begotten and indestructible. For there must be a point at which what has come into being reaches completion, and a point at which all perishing ceases. Hence, as we say, there is no source of this but this appears to be the source of all the rest, and "encompasses all things" and "steers all things..." 2. Indian thought made a similar advance". Brahman had been a critical concept of the traditional Vedic sacrifice, the central practice in Brahmanism. Brahman was the phenomenon which gave power to the sacrifice by integrating speech, mantra, holy “utterance”, ritual action and the gods into a unity that was understood to maintain creation in a very real sense. But as the age of philosophy came upon them, the Brahman priests began to question whether the sacrifice held a permanent solution to the problem of life and death. The question was already echoed in the late Rig Veda: “Who truly knows? Who shall proclaim it here-whence they (the gods) were produced, whence this creation?” “The older gods could no longer be considered creators of the physical world; they were only part of it and also must have been created. But by whom, out of what, and by what process?”.

In that sense "Brahman took on an entirely new meaning. Like the infinite of the Greeks, Brahman came to represent unconditioned absolute existence, the reality unknowable from the phenomenal perspective and yet that which is the very substance of phenomenal reality. Maya, has two important shades of meaning with respect to Brahman. It is the illusory condition that precludes apprehension of Brahman, but also the generative principle, the “measurer”, that which gives form to the formless. So how to rationalize the sense of self/ego as a distinct reality, defined by characteristics or attributes always in flux, given the inescapable logic of Brahman as undifferentiated, unmodified, unchanging? The famous Vedanta formula, Atman=Brahman, attempted to reconcile the paradoxical relationship between the temporal self, atman, whose existence is maintained by name and form, nama/rupa, with Brahman, in whom atman ultimately resides. The ever rebellious yogis understood that the sense of self was not only inherently illusory, but that it constituted a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to realization of Brahman. They would have rejected the formula and the Buddha did so explicitly. From the yoga perspective, the most elegant verbal constructs designed to resolve the cosmic duality, known by many names: Being vs. Becoming, Real vs. Unreal, Substance vs. Attribute, or J.P. Sartre’s En Sois vs. Pour Sois, although not inherently illegitimate, are necessarily insufficient, and ultimately a trap. As long as we employ language as our guidepost, we are inevitably and hopelessly consigned to worldly understanding. Moreover, to the extent that our very existence as discreet individuals is bound up with language, name and form, we end up in an endless loop of self definition.

Yoga was designed as a technique to literally smash through the illusion of self to realize a nonverbal/nonsensual grasp of reality. Yet, although it was not able to accomplish this goal, it was the Buddha that brought those thoughts to fruition and managed to smash the illusory self. It is only that in our modern days of today a German scientist, Thomas Metzinger, has scientifically approved the Buddha's truth of the illusory nature of self and had formalized those ideas of his Kantian alike research that was summarized in his book "The Ego tunnel". It also important to remember that originally "Yoga was a form of meditation, nothing more and nothing less. The ancient yogis redirected the psycho-spiritual technology employed by the shaman to attain divine knowledge and liberation from conditioned existence. What they encountered were myriad psychic realms and supraconsciousness itself. The pioneers of Mind exploration gave us a roadmap for our own experimentation including descriptions of various stages of Samadhi. According to Eliade, “The means of attaining to Being, the effectual techniques for gaining liberation. This corpus of means constitutes Yoga properly speaking.”4. I hope it is not lost on the reader that there is no mention here of attracting abundance, getting a trim butt, or learning to relax. We conclude this section in around 450BCE. Shortly after the life of the Buddha, Lord of the yogis, the term yoga made its way into the mainline of Indian thought in the Katha Upanishad. The work is in the form of a dialogue between the god, Yama, and the young Nachiketas, who is searching for the meaning of life and death, having proven that he is not concerned with worldly pleasure and ready to receive the highest teaching. Here are two stanzas":

There are two paths, Nachiketas.

One path leads outward and the other inward.

You can walk the way outward that leads to pleasure

Or the way inward that leads to grace,

Though concealed, that leads to the Self.

That Self which you wish to know,

Which is subtle and difficult to see,

Is there~deep within the deepest part of you.

Fix all your thinking and all your enquiry

On that ancient radiant Self.

This practice is called Adhyatma Yoga.*

Through it you will rise above both joy and sorrow.

To sum it up: "The visions of primal Siberian shamans have transformed into later improved forms of yoga where concepts such as the idea about the afterlife as well as actual practices of self-control had been adopted as the origins of the most primal and primordial forms of yoga (Smart, 1989, p. 41). The design of the Indus Valley seals points out, therefore, that the visions of primal shamans have transformed into later improved forms of yoga. Yogis and masters, who serve out of the Brahmanical society, in Vedic times, were known under the name of Shramana (Sanskrit Śramaņa, from the root ŚRAM—effort, work, austerity’, Pali Sāmana— ‘practicing austerities, ascetic’, representing a name for a Buddhist monk) (Sir Monier Williams, 1997, p. 1096). The Sanskrit word sramana reminds us etymologically and linguistically of the word Shaman. Scholars explain the meaning of the Tungus word ‘shaman’ as having the meaning of the priest, shaman. Although according to that topic there have been many discussions, which led to a conclusion that the connection between those terms is etymologically as well as linguistically evident, it is possible that they represent a similar meaning. This parallel of course was found attractive to some theories which argued that this term had passed to eastern Asia from India through Central Asia and China (the Chinese shamen is a transcription of the Pali samana) with the spread of Buddhism (Shirokogoroff 1935.276–287) although this theory cannot stand to strict scrutiny of migration timeline from south to east as well as the chronological development of religions where shamanism predict all of them including the Hindu Vedic and Brahmanic tradition which is supported by huge amount of scientific researches. The antiquity of the shaman’s function should not under-estimated. Historical sources related to Central Asia allow us to claim that the history of shamanism in this region stretches back not only to two thousand years embracing the ‘Indian path’ on its spread and migration but it is in fact a derivative from the ancient African tradition and the migration from Homo Sapiens from the African Savanah to east and from there all over the world. Against this background, ‘classical’ Siberian shamanism is a later, a Late Paleolithic or rather a Mesolithic, development. In terms of the comparative mythology now proposed,68 ‘Siberian’ shamanism belongs to one of the northern (Laurasian) groups of people found in Eurasia and the Americas, while the older, southern groups (of Gondwana Land) have preserved the older, more original forms of shamanism to this day. Their study is of high urgency as they represent the common heritage of humankind".

Moreover, "Shramans and yogis went to live far away in the forest, gathering around them a group of few disciples (Worthington, 1989, p. 13). In that way, they have developed the essence of metaphysics, abstract thought and practice of yoga. All female spirits embodying the Shakti (Brighenti, 2001, p. 214) are identified with shamanic priestess, who played an important role in religions of non-Aryan people. However, “Shakti” means “power” and “strength”. More importantly, according to belief system and Indian thought schools, male power comes from the feminine. The Trimurti (Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva) are all-powerless without their female counterparts". This brings us back and is both the adaptation as well as an evidence for the prevailing shamanic concepts that a woman is not only by nature a Shaman but is in fact superior to men. Additionally, the nature spirits, modified as Yoginis, represent the supernatural powers, which are connected with shamanic practices and magic of the aboriginal people of India, often present in rituals mostly practiced by women (ibid., pp. 294–296). Some traditions of Tantric Siddhas show clear elements of shamanism, where yogis heal themselves from illness with the help of mantras (Sanskrit mantra). Ascetic yogins are addressed as Siddha or Siddhayogin (Sanskrit Siddha, siddhayogin—"the prefect one”, one that has attained perfection’) in Hinduism and Buddhism. There were also cases in which shamans got initiation in Siddha traditions. Orientalists mostly translate the term mantra as a ‘prayer, hymn’ or ‘mystical spell’. But, mantra does not have to mean prayer in a strictly religious sense. It represents the power (Sanskrit mantraśakti), which comes out for any purpose; a person can harm or even kill with the help of a mantra. Among the aboriginal tribes of India, the Sanskrit word ‘Bhagat’ (Sanskrit bhagat) has the meaning of the shaman, sorcerer, magician and medium, and such a term in the first place belongs to the adepts of the goddess (White, 1996, p. 298)"

Additionally, "all female spirits embodying the Shakti (Brighenti, 2001, p. 214) are identified with shamanic priestess, who played an important role in religions of non-Aryan people. The nature spirits, modified as Yoginis, represent the supernatural powers, which are connected with shamanic practices and magic of the aboriginal people of India, often present in rituals mostly practiced by women (ibid., pp. 294–296). Some traditions of Tantric Siddhas show clear elements of shamanism, where yogis heal themselves from illness with the help of mantras (Sanskrit mantra). Ascetic yogins are addressed as Siddha or Siddhayogin (Sanskrit Siddha, siddhayogin—‘the prefect one, one that has attained perfection’) in Hinduism and Buddhism. There were also cases in which shamans got initiation in Siddha traditions. Orientalists mostly translate the term mantra as a ‘prayer, hymn’ or ‘mystical spell’. But, mantra does not have to mean prayer in a strictly religious sense. It represents the power (Sanskrit mantraśakti), which comes out for any purpose; a person can harm or even kill with the help of a mantra. Among the aboriginal tribes of India, the Sanskrit word ‘Bhagat’ (Sanskrit bhagat) has the meaning of the shaman, sorcerer, magician and medium, and such a term in the first place belongs to the adepts of the goddess (White, 1996, p. 298). We can conclude that the practice of mediation and ecstatic techniques bears its origin not from Indo-Aryans but from the people living during the period of Indus Valley civilization, and that the cult of ‘horned deities’ in India and Central Asia points out to the complexity of the origin of the white shamanism. These are the reasons this topic needs further scientific exploration".

This goes completely hand in hand with the Kaballistic concepts of God were most of the names and especially the most important one were manifestations of female energy and powers including the androgynous nature of the impersonal and transcendental Ein Sof that Agrippa has accepted and blended with Christian theology in the 16th century. Therefore, even the religious and mystical basis of feminism can be traced back to Hindu religious. Moreover, according to the history, the specific link through which the above dynamic was established, can be also found in the connection between this most ancient cult of the sky, Tangier, that specifically was known to the civilization of Sumer in Mesopotamia. This is a crucial fact. Archaeological excavations in the city of Ur in lower Mesopotamia (3rd millennium BC) show that during the period sixteenth to thirteenth century BC, there was a huge powerful kingdom of Hurrian state called Mittani, which in the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC came in contact with the Indo-Iranian tribes, who were coming from the north of the Black and the Caspian seas. They brought with them the cult of Vedic gods, such as, Indra, Varuna, Mitra, Nasatya and others (Dugarov, 2009). This became evident and was approved by the fact that in the year 1906, in Asia Minor, at a place called Boghas Kuy (Turkic Boğaz Köy) near the city of Ankara, modern Turkey, an archive of Hittites rulers, containing Akkadian text in the form of a contract between the Hittites and rulers of the Mittani kingdom was found. In that contract, the ruler of Mittani gives an oath in front of the ancient IndoIranian Vedic gods Mitra, Varuna, Indra, etc. Obviously, the citizens of the Mittani state were carriers of ancient Vedic cultural traditions (Katičić, 1973, p. 67). This is how Vedic and Brahmin religion has influenced Judaism as Ur is practically also the cultural origins of Judaism as in the time of the Fathers.

Moreover, the Bhagavad Gita's “Song of the Lord”, ca 350BCE, can actually tell us you that this work epitomized the grand synthesis of ideas that had exploded within and without Vedic society.* Brahmanism was under siege. The heretical sects of Buddhism and Jainism were on the rise-Buddhism would actually come to dominate Indian society for two-hundred years prior to and after the turn of the millennium-and yoga itself was a major draw to aspirants who sought illumination outside the confines of society. The Brahmanic Synthesis achieved two herculean but necessary tasks…first, to reconcile the disparate philosophies of yoga, Vedanta and Samkhaya-which the Gita explicitly set out to do, and, second, to create a new social order that would bring male seekers back into the social mainstream. After all, it is hard to run a society without able bodied men to maintain industry, artha, and raise children, kama. The ashrama system allowed young men to be introduced to Vedic study and to fulfill their hermetic aspirations once having satisfied their social duty, dharma.%. Do not doubt the political subtext of the Gita, given Krishna’s insistence that Arjuna fulfill his dharma to fight a great battle despite terrible moral reservations. The Gita gives us an understanding of yoga which totally penetrates the human condition and yet is profoundly simple, and perfectly lends itself to a thoroughly modern application. Bearing in mind that we as phenomenal beings do not substantially exist, the classical definition of yoga recognizes that three primary relationships define us: our relationship to each other, Karma-yoga; our relationship to ourselves, Jnana-yoga; and our relationship to God or Nature, Bhakti-yoga. To practice Karma-yoga is to serve others in a spirit of selflessness. We should learn to appreciate the Karma-yogis among us and aspire to be more like them. Indeed, we can also offer “citizenship” as a definition of Karma-yoga for a secular democracy. When you seek personal wisdom, you practice Jnana-yoga, svadhaya. So study up on some philosophy, psychology and anthropology. Question your actions and motivations in an effort to improve your character. Seek professional counsel to learn to see through the blind spots that keep you from the happiness which is your birthright. Doing these things will make you a better Jnana-yogi. Bhakti-yoga is the devotional practice to which humans are inevitably drawn. No matter what religion you practice, Bhakti-yoga says to practice with your total heart and soul. Even if you do not believe in God or a particular religion, Bhakti-yoga says to live your life with humility and gratitude for the blessings that come with each day. Two more branches of yoga, the practical Hatha-yoga and Dhyana-yogas, complete the system. I promise the reader that these five yogas, three relational and two practical, are all you need as a framework. All other systems, be they traditional, e.g. Laya-yoga or what I call proprietary, e.g. Iyengar-yoga, can be understood in terms of some mix of the five. We have discussed meditation science, Dhyana-yoga, as the essence of yoga. Now we finally come to the most important yoga for contemporary out-of-shape society. The yogis did not set out to create a fitness regimen. But in their search for a super refined nervous system, they developed not only the mystical physiology (see kundalini) we associate with the adepts, but a superlative form of exercise science, Hatha-yoga, which came into its own as a distinct branch during the Tantra period. I believe that Hatha-yoga holds great potential for our society today. But it must be taken back from its association with New Age commercialism and the anti-professionalism that is a vestige of the counter-culture of the nineteen-sixties and early seventies, and restored to a practice grounded in science, tradition and service to individual and collective health.

Additionally, D.N. Dugarov suggests that the ancient religion of the sky, the Tengeric Shamanism, which has a strong connection with the Vedic religion had been adopted 3,000 years ago by the aborigines of Turkic-Mongolian tribes of Buryatia, Yakutia and other people of the Sayan–Altay region (Dugarov, 2009) and those were the Shamanic tribes who were related on their part to the Indo-Iranians, precisely those Indo-Aryans that have migrated to India. Vedic mythology contains a very important position in the research of religious culture. It belongs to the early period in the evolution of religion, and its philosophy is based on the personification and worship of the nature, while the Vedas are considered as the most important literary monument in the whole world. The philosophy, on which their mythology is based, is that every object in nature, everything that surrounds the humans, has to be endowed with a soul and is considered as sacred. Everything that impressed the soul, or was considered as capable of having a good or bad effect on humans, in Vedic times became an object of religious rituals. The most important origin of Vedic gods is the ancient literary record of the Rigveda (Sanskrit ŗgveda), which includes a variety of gods, personifying the spirits of the earth and sky. Apart from the cult of divinities, the worshipping of the ancestor spirits and some inanimate objects was in common, which points out to the elements of animism, totemism and shamanism in Vedic religion. The material of Atharvaveda basically consists of domestic and magic rituals, which are related to the world of spirits and demons. Atharvaveda (Sanskrit atharvaveda) is much more older than Rigveda (Macdonell, 2002, pp. 2–4). According to the Indologist M. Witzel, the elements of shamanism can be seen in some of the hymns of the Rigveda, particularly in those, devoted to the god Soma (Sanskrit Soma, Iranian Haoma— ‘nectar, ambrosia, drink, which gives clairvoyance, immortality’), pointing out to the characteristic of Central Asian shamanism. The herb of Soma/Haoma is related to the elements of magic and healing in connection with the Vedic god Indra. In the whole Vedic and post-Vedic mythology, there is an element showing the essential feature of god Indra, and his ability to ‘shift’ into human form, so that he might help or counsel the people in the role of the shaman.

So who were the people who created the Indus Valley culture which morphed into what can be called as the era of proto-religion and proto gynocentrism as we have discussed it above and specifically in the last paragraphs? The simple, clear and evident answer is that whether they were male or female they were all shamans spreading gynocentrism (and misandry alongside with it) over the medium of shamanic spirituality into the Indus valley and its Vedic and Brahmin religion. In particular, "some Hindu historians believe that it could be the Indo-Aryans, who were the authors of the Rigveda, but that is a subject of debate (Basham, 1954, p. 24). According to many archaeological findings, it is obvious that during that period, the northwest part of India was a meeting place of many races, including Mongoloid, Proto-Australoid and Caucasoid types. It is possible that Dravidian tribes who were the aboriginal settlers of India, until the arrival of Indo-Aryans, came from Central Asia to the region of the river Indus (Smart, 1989, p. 52). The language of the Indus script seems to be an early version of Dravidian language and many sculptures and seals symbolize the later Dravidian conceptions of fertility, which were based on animism (Worthington, 1989, p. 14). Also, the religious culture of Harappa has much in common with modern Hinduism, nowadays very popular in Dravidian parts of South India (Basham, 1954, p. 25). Many Dravidian gods have been included in the later Hinduism, and changed under the influence of Brahmanism. Dravidian shamanic gods are of local origin and, basically, they represent village deities, spirits and souls of the deceased, mostly representing female divinities (Elmore, 1995, p. 10), which are connected to the Tantric cult of Shakti (Sanskrit śakti) and Yogini (Sanskrit yoginī). Yoginis were probably the priestess who can be possessed by goddess in the form of Kali, Durga (Sanskrit Kālī, Durgā), and attain the status of divinities. It is possible that they represent the traces of archaico-magical–esoteric cultural traditions of Munda and Dravidian tribes of the Central India, whose religious forms are dominated by shamanic worldview and strong worship of ancestor cult.

In the thirteenth century BC, a significant part of the Hurrian–Mittani army headed by the Indo-Iranians left the Near East and headed towards Central Asia, north-west China and south Siberia, where during the period from twelfth to ninth century BC they created a Karasuk culture. The archaeological excavations of that period, that is, from eighth to third century BC, are connected with the cult of deer, which is very familiar to the ethnic culture of the people dwelling in Mongolia and Baykal region (Ermakov, 2007, p. 382). The deer cult is widely spread in Siberia, including Buryatia and Mongolian shamanism, and also in Tibetan religion of Bön, whose shamans and priests wear a horned headdress, made from the deer antlers, which symbolizes their ability of ‘soul-flight’. During that period, a great number of rock art paintings appeared in the forests—steppe lands of south Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China and Baykal region. Many of such rock art paintings depict war chariots, similar to those in the Near East (Dugarov, 1991, p. 69). The worship of the horse, particularly famous among the Turkic-Mongolian people, is considered as very ancient and, maybe, it has Indo-Iranian and Indo-European origin. Such chariots found in western Mongolia date back to the middle of 1st millennium BC, together with the so-called fantastic anthropomorphic ‘horned’ beings, carved or painted on the rocks. According to D.N. Dugarov, Tengerism arrived in those regions during the Late Bronze Age, precisely in the period of Early Iron Age, from the nomadic people, that is, Indo-Iranians. He suggests that the ancient religion of the sky, Tengeri, had been adopted 3,000 years ago by the aborigines of Turkic-Mongolian tribes of Buryatia, Yakutia and other people of the Sayan–Altay region (Dugarov, 2009). Keeping this statement in mind, let us have a look at the connection between Tengerism and Vedic religion, and how they can be connected with the destiny of Indo-Iranians, precisely Indo-Aryans who have migrated to India.


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Edited by

Mariko Namba Walter

and Eva Jane Neumann Fridman


Shamanism in Siberia

Aboriginal Siberia, A study in Social Anthropolgy

By A. M. Czaplicka


Shamanism in the Rigveda and Its Central Asian Antecedents

George Thompson


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Viking Studio, ©2001, stanzas 1+12


Shamanism in Northern and Southern Eurasia: Their Distinctive

Methods of Change of Consciousness

This includes:

11. Eliade, definition (1964: 3--7); Hamayon (1990). See now the

encyclopedic volumes by Walter and Neumann Fridman (2004). --- For Eurasian

shamanism (and Greek myths) see (below): Burkert (1982 [1979]: 88 sqq.); Ōbayashi

(1991); Oppitz (1991) with a detailed study of Magar shamanism; Vitebski (1995);

and Maskarinec (1995) for the neighboring area of Central Nepal. --- A history of the

study of Shamanism (by R. Hamayon 2004) .

1 2. See Walter and Fridman 2004; XIX.


1 3. Kehoe (2000) criticizes Mircea Eliade's work. --- Hoppál (2007); (cf.

Hoppál (2006: 9–-25); instead, he recommends the term 'shamanhood' or

'shamanship' so as to stress the diversity of shamanism: it is not a religion, nor a set of

dogmas, but linked to the everyday life in a practical way. --- Piers Vitebsky holds

that despite astonishing similarities, there is no unity in shamanism. Pure shamanistic

societies do not exist now (although they may have in the past).

1 4. Eliade (1946: 5--52); Eliade (1954); Eliade (1989 [1951]; Walter and

Neumann Fridman (2004), include the article by M. Winkelman. Cross-cultural

perspectives on shamans, pp. 61--70, follows the common pattern of an altered state

of consciousness, initiation, healing, etc.; it includes a scheme of transformation from

hunter-gatherer shamans to sorcerers/witches, mediums and priests in agricultural and

state societies (Winkelman, 2004: 67--68; Winkelman 1990), cf. the discussion,

below. For Eurasian shamanism (and Greek myths) see Burkert (1982 [1979]: 88

sqq.); Ōbayashi (1991); Oppitz (1991) with a detailed study of Magar shamanism;

Vitebski (1995); Maskarinec (1995) for the neighboring area of Central Nepal. --- A

history of the study of Shamanism (by R. Hamayon) is given in Walter and Fridman

(2004: 142--7).

1 5. Eliade (1989 [1951]); Hamayon (1990). Recent updates are found in

Walter and Fridman (2004), Campbell (1988, I 73 sqq., 90 sqq., 2: 156 sqq.; 1988, II ,

1, 2; 1989 [1983] 3; Mastromattei and Rigopulos (1999); and notably in the

encyclopedic collection edited by Walter and Fridman (2004). Early Chinese forms

have been studied by Chang (1983); early Indian ones in the Ṛgveda by Oguibenine

(1968: 149--50; Meisig (1995); Filippi (1999); Torcinovich (1999); Thompson


1 6. However, shamans can also gather in associations.

1 7. Walter and Fridman 2004: XVII sqq., especially XXI sq.

1 8. Note the neurobiological critique by Winkelman (1990) and in Walter and

Fridman (2004: 187 sqq.).


1 9. In late May 2009, I had the chance to talk to two well known Okinawa

shamans on Miyako island, Sadoyama Anko and Nema Tsuruko. The interviews

reconfirmed many “Siberian” concepts (such as initiatory crisis, flight with wings,

contact with the spirits (kami) in heaven, etc.) shared by these modern practitioners.

1 10. See Walter and Fridman (2004: XIX).

1 11. See for example the typical traits of Yamana (Tierra del Fuego) initiation

of shamans (Eliade 1954: 63, following Gusinde 1931-).

1 12. Eliade 1954: 60 sq. He excludes a discussion of African shamanism

(Eliade 1954: 357), awaiting better materials.

1 13. Eliade (1954: 61). See also Oppitz (1991: 174 sqq).

1 14. Eliade (1954: 62).

1 15. Eliade (1954: 62). In the light of recent work by Y. Berezkin (2002),

South America may preserve some archaic data that otherwise are found only in New

Guinea and Australia, while North America has subsequently been heavily influenced

from Siberia. If so, the trait of inserted crystals would have been brought in already

around 20 kya.

1 16. Eliade (1954: 60). However, Joseph Campbell’s characterization of the

shamanism of the Australian Aborigines is misleading. He distinguishes, erroneously,

between primitive (Eskimo), deteriorated (Australian), San (Bushmen), and post-

Paleolithic Siberian shamanism. Such distinctions are based on the Siberian model

and need to be redefined. Campbell regards the Australian form of Shamanism as

‘degraded’. I cannot detect such a thing. In contrast, the elements of learning from

older shamans and of gradually managing the powers released/contacted are present

in all these ‘Southern’ forms.

1 17. A typical shamanic frame drum is attested in Sumerian finds of c. 2000

BCE, with the Hittites and Egyptians (c. 950--730 BCE), see Walter and Fridman

(2004: 101 sqq.), and note Witzel (2003), on the Central Asian and Indus versions:

these are depicted on seals of the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex c. 2000

BCE; a similar scene is found in the contemporary Indus Civilization.


1 18. This may be connected with the climbing of the (world) tree during the

initiation of a shaman; for illustrations see Oppitz (1991: 375); Campbell (1988, I,2:

159) (Mapuche in C. Chile). The concept is retained in the solemn Vedic Vājapeya

ritual, where husband and wife have to climb a tall pole and sit on a wheel mounted

there (which is a symbol of the turning of the sun and nighttime sky cf. Witzel, 1984),

while they are pelted with salt bags.

1 19. Cf. Eliade (1954: 356).

1 20. Eliade (1954: 438 sqq.); cf. Campbell (1988, I, 2: 165).

1 21. Basilov 1999: 39.

1 22. Cf. Walter and Fridman 2004: Introduction, XXI.

Basilov defines a (Siberian) shaman as follows: ‘the peculiarities that

distinguish a shaman … are

(a) he can perform his functions with the assistance of his helping spirits only;

(b) he is chosen, brought up, ‘recreated’ and educated by the spirits

themselves; as a result, he possesses some supernatural qualities and knowledge;

(c) he is able to penetrate into the other worlds in order to communicate with

the gods and spirits;

(d) the shaman’s contact with the gods and spirits presupposes a state of

ecstasy as a form of ritual behavior;

(e) the main ritual object of a shaman is an incarnation of his guardian spirit

(or helping spirit) or his double (external) soul in animal form; this object is firmly

connected with a shaman's personal professional qualities and his life.

The classical definition by Shirokogoroff (1935) for Tungus shamans is

similar, if more concise:

(1) A shaman is a master of spirits, who has

(2) mastered a group of spirits;

(3) a shaman commands a recognized array of techniques and paraphernalia

that have been transmitted from elders;

(4) s/he possesses a theoretical justification for the shamanistic process;


(5) the shaman occupies a special position.

Note Maskarinec in Walter and Fridman (2004: 767); F. Smith in alter and

Fridman (2004: 78.

1 23. Linguistically attested at least since Nostratic times, see Illich-Switych

(1971) sqq., that means since well before 10,000 BCE or much earlier, which is

indeed required by the deep time depth of one of its members, Afrasian, see Ehret


1 24. Such as with the Andamanese and the Tapirape (S. America).

1 25. In North American Amerindians seek this through a "vision quest". The

South American Shuar become shamans to defend themselves.

1 26. Note that some scholars regard this worldview as ‘a body-based’

cosmology; some of its aspects, such as soul flight, then, is a symbolism based on the

experiences of dreams. Shamanism could then be a symbolic system that even

predates language; cf. Walter and Fridman (2004: 188).

1 27. For example with the Siberian Yakuts, Dolgans, Evenks (Hoppál 2006:


1 28. Even today, this ancient practice of healing is still seen in the caduceus

as the symbol of medicine.

1 29. Or that of an unborn child to heal infertility in women (Hoppál 2006:


1 30. Such practices are presumably very ancient; in about 368 BCE, Plato

wrote in the Phaedrus.

1 31. However, as per Joseph Campbell (1987 [1969]: 231).

1 32. To be distinguished from (involuntary) spirit possession, which is more

typical for Africa, and parts of India; see discussion in see Walter and Fridman (2004:

228--34); cf. Winkelman (2004: 61 sqq.), and passim on various African populations.

1 33. Often of prepubescent girls, as also seen in western societies.

1 34. Possession, occurring worldwide, therefore has thus nothing to do with

shamanism as commonly defined, though some of the outwardly visible aspects may


overlap, such as trembling. For example, in Nepal and North India, it is usually

women who are possessed (often as an involuntary sign of social protest). They are

then are called ‘witches’ (Nepali boksi) and are exorcised ... by shamans (jhankri).

1 35. Turner (1995).

1 36. There is a detailed case history of Chuonnasuan, the last master shaman

among the Tungus (Oroqen) of Northeast China, see Noll and Shi, (2004).

1 37. A ‘holy man’ wicasa wakan, ‘medicine man’ or ‘shaman’, is called

pejuta wacasa. A dream or vision of birds turns one into a medicine man, but the

vision of the wakinyan Thunderbird turns one into a heyoka. Both the Thunderbird

and the heyoka are feared and revered.

1 38. This is commonly found in Eastern Siberia and in North America, which

suggests an ancient (Eurasian) origin. Shamans incorporating two spirits are regarded

as especially powerful and respected: among the Chukchi, the S.E. Asian Sea Dayak

as well as among Arapaho, Cheyenne, Navajo, Pawnee, Lakota, Ute, Patagonians,

Araucanians, and many other Amerindian tribes. Cf. Campbell (1988--89, I, 2: 174),

map. See also the maps in Baumann (1986 [1955]). However, duality and bisexuality

are also found among the shamans of the Dogon people (Burkina Faso), see works of

the writer Malidoma Somé, who was born and initiated there..

1 39. Cf. Harvey (2003).

1 40. See Witzel (2010).

1 41. Walter and Fridman (2004: 24).

1 42. Walter and Fridman (2004: 893).

1 43. Walter and Fridman 2004: 893.

1 44. Walter and Fridman 2005: 219--20; 981--94; Connah (2004: 30 sq.);

Campbell (1988, I, 1: 94). Narby and Huxley (2001: 131--4), with a description of

!Kung shamanism and dancing by Lorna Marshall; virtually all men can act as


1 45. Walter and Fridman (2004: 24).


1 46. As mentioned this is a body-based cosmology, and soul flight, could be a

symbolism that presents the experiences of dreams; cf. Walter and Fridman (2004:


1 47. Lewis-Williams (1993, 2002), though archaeologists hold that the San

moved into South Africa from the north only after c. 6000 BCE, most probably from

Tanzania, where their distant linguistic relatives, the Hadza and Sandawe, have

shamanic curing rituals with trances, or the lion possession dance. The South African

San in the 19th century practiced shamanism: Eastern Free State and Lesotho local

folklore described them having lived in caves, where they drew pictures on cave walls

during a trance; they were also good rain makers. This rock and plastic art

nevertheless shows a continuous tradition since the Upper Paleolithic. See however,

the critique of David Lewis-Williams for projecting 'shamanism' onto Khoisan tales

and rites, by Anne Solomon (2008) (kindly pointed out to me by James Harrod, letter

of 17 Jan. 2010.

1 48. Campbell (1988, I, 1: 118 sqq.); Radcliffe-Brown (1964 [1906].

1 49. With the Aka-bea tribe: oko-paiad, or taraba ‘dream’; there is no clear

distinction between words.

1 50. Campbell (1988), however, does not discern trance, and hence no


1 51. Abbott (1984).

1 52. The term ‘shaman’ is not frequently used for them in the literature;

instead ‘medicine man’, ‘clever man’, ‘man of high degree’, etc. Some scholars do

not regard them as shamans since some aspects of Siberian Shamanism are missing;

some women also act as shamans. See Hume (2004); Eliade (1954 [1951]: 135).

1 53. A similar concept is found with the Mayas: the vision serpent (and the

double-headed serpent bat) are a path of communication between the two worlds

(earth and the Otherworld, see Walter and Fridman, 2004: 20)

1 54. Detailed discussion in Eliade (1954: 54 sqq.); cf. quotes in Lawlor

(1991: 374).


1 55. In Northern Kimberley area, the incipient shaman is swallowed by the

Rainbow Snake or scum from the snake’s pool is inserted (as snake egg) into his

navel and grows inside him.

1 56. Eliade (1954: 135).

1 57. Campbell (1988, I, 2: 169).

1 58. Lawlor (1991: 374).

1 59. Other, lower-level shamans, are taken underground by a spirit:

-- small crystals of other shamans are put into a spear thrower: they are

placed/pushed along from the front of the legs upwards to the breast bone, scouring

him three times; they are described as ‘pressed into his body’, then further into his

head, then into his arms;

-- a pointed stick is inserted under the nail of the middle right finger; this is

repeated; then the tongue pierced,

-- the body is painted;

-- finally, the adept returns.

1 60. Eliade (1954: 139-. It must be noted that the S.E. Australian mythology

differs considerably from that of the rest of the continent in having an All-Father

being, perhaps due to former occupation by Tasmanians; as for shamanism, the role

of a bird is stressed; cf. Witzel (2010).

1 61. Like the seam of the sky in the old Indian text Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad

3.9, and like the Ainu heaven.

1 62. Eliade (1954: 356) on shamanistic heat in general.

1 63. Dempwolff 1916).

1 64. Cf. the representations in European Paleolithic art, at El Castillo,<