• Yoav Levin

The Transition and Migration of Gynocentric Universal Heritage from the Shamans to Modern Society


Jack Kornfield recalls in his book such a fairytale about Baba Yaga: Throughout the world we find stories of this journey, images of the longing to awaken, the steps along the path that we all follow, the voices that call, the intensity of the initiation we may meet, the courage we need. At the heart of each is the original sincerity of the seeker, who must honestly admit how small is our knowledge of the universe, how great the unknown. The honesty the spiritual quest requires of us is addressed in the Russian initiation tales about Baba Yaga. Baba Yaga is an old woman with a wild, hoglike visage who stirs her pot and knows all things. She lives deep in the forest. When we seek her out, we are frightened, for she requires us to go into the dark, to ask dangerous questions, to step outside the world of logic and comfort. When the first young seeker comes quaking up to the door of her hut, Baba Yaga demands, "Are you on your own errand or are you sent by another?" The young man, encouraged in his quest by his family, answers, "I am sent by my father." Baba Yaga promptly throws him into the pot and cooks him. The next to attempt this quest, a young woman, sees the smoldering fire and hears the cackle of Baba Yaga. Baba Yaga again demands, "Are you on your own errand or are you sent by another?" This young woman has been pulled to the woods alone to seek what she can find there. "I am on my own errand," she replies. Baba Yaga throws her in the pot and cooks her too.


Later a third visitor, again a young woman, deeply confused by the world, comes to Baba Yaga's house far into the forest. She sees the smoke and knows it is dangerous. Baba Yaga confronts her, "Are you on your own errand, or are you sent by another?" This young woman answers truthfully. "In large part I'm on my own errand, but in large part I also come because of others. And in large part I have come because you are here, and because of the forest, and something I have forgotten, and in large part I know not why I come." Baba Yaga regards her for a moment and says, "You'll do," and shows her into the hut. This story illustrates the classics of gynocentrism, the concept of female wisdom incorporated in human through concepts of the black virgin and wisdom that in most paths, even all of them, especially the Gnostic and esoteric ones, is female. Logic and rational thinking might belong to men, but its female counterpart, that is wisdom, this is different kind of wisdom, belongs to women although might attain this too. In many paths, for instance, in Judaism women possess this naturally while men must work hard for it. The reason why women do not have to follow certain Judaic rules is not due to misogyny but misandry. Men must work hard to attain it; women have it inbuilt so to say.

And the next questions are why and? It's a threefold answer but basically is rooted in two sources, our origin and psyche, namely the root of religions that is Indian subcontinent and Tibet, the origin of humankind including the way of our ancestors spread around the globe and lately the psycho-cognitive anatomy that enables it to exist as an unchangeable phenomenon that keeps gynocentrism intact no matter the change. I will try to explain it not although not covering all aspects. Feminism very often understand various phenomenon but falsely misattributes them to men. For instance, toxic masculinity with toxic femininity, patriarchy with gynocentrism, heteronormativity with gynonormativity and many. Here, I'll practically explain it as regarding religion, society and even reality itself. The roots of both the female shamanism and the gynocentric nature of society as well as the source of female shamanisms in terms of being the 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, 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 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.

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. 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 about 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). Whereas studies claim that "shamanism is understood by some people to be a primitive form of religion or religio-magic practiced 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, practiced 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 Paleolithic 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”


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 Siberian shamanism, 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.

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 Brahmanical 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.”

He also writes that "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 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". To sum it up: "The visions of primal Siberian shamans that originated in the African Savana 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. 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).


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 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 Brahmanical 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"

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Moreover, "Shramans and yogis went to live far away in the forest, gathering around them a group of few disciples. In that way, they have developed the essence of metaphysics, abstract thought, and practice of yoga. All female spirits embodying the Shakti 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 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 relate to shamanic practices and magic of the aboriginal people of India, often present in rituals mostly practiced by women. 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 Siddha yogin (Sanskrit Siddha, siddha yogin—"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. Additionally, "all female spirits embodying the Shakti 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 relate to shamanic practices and magic of the aboriginal people of India, often present in rituals mostly practiced by women. 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 Siddha yogin (Sanskrit Siddha, siddha yogin — ‘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. 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". 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 Paleolithic 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, shapeshifters, 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.


All this historic human heritage evolved over millions of years and ingrained in our psyche in what can be called and described as storage consciousness. Very often existing at the sub or unconscious level as ancient memories on our stream of consciousness, sometimes presented as myths, sometimes a fairytale (like that of Baba Jaga) and many more. They had ontologically the aim at explaining our reality, existence, meaning, purpose in life and the place within it. When you ask yourself how it is possible in the given and place of the past, with no communication between civilization to have that universal trait, that's the answer. Feminists correctly, recognized the universality of this phenomenon but falsely attributed it to patriarchy instead of gynocentrism because epistemologically their view is perverted and colored by gynocentrism. They see and try to explain gynocentrism through gynocentric view and that's the bias. On the other hand, this stands opposed to the claim that ancient culture created patriarchy to oppress women. That's impossible, hence, it will require global cooperation. And that in a nutshell is the ontology of gynocentrism, fem

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