Sunday, February 23, 2020

Why Did Shamanism Evolve Around the World?

Shamanism is universal and not bound by social or cultural conditions. It is the most ancient and most enduring spiritual tradition known to humanity. Shamanism predates and constitutes the foundation of all known religions, psychologies and philosophies. It originated among nomadic hunting and gathering societies. These ancient shamanic ways have withstood the tests of time, varying little from culture to culture. Over thousands of years of trial and error, primal peoples the world over developed the same basic principles and techniques of shamanic power and healing. Shamanic practice is so widespread that it can be deemed a human universal.

So why did shamanism evolve in cultures all around the world? A recent study by one of the foremost scholars on shamanism today reveals that shamanism evolved all around the globe because the shamanic narrative is hard-wired in us all. In his book, Shamanism: A Biopsychosocial Paradigm of Consciousness and Healing, Michael Winkelman presents the shamanic paradigm within a biopsychosocial framework for explaining successful human evolution through group rituals. According to Winkelman, shamanism is rooted in innate functions of the brain, mind, and consciousness. As Winkelman puts it, "The cross-cultural manifestations of basic experiences related to shamanism (e.g., soul flight, death-and-rebirth, animal identities) illustrates that these practices are not strictly cultural but are structured by underlying, biologically inherent structures. These are neurobiological structures of knowing that provide the universal aspects of the human brain/mind"

Winkelman's groundbreaking book extends our understanding of the evolutionary origins of humanity's first spiritual, healing and consciousness tradition. Though shamanism has been conventionally considered a spiritual practice, it has ancient biological, social and psychological roots. Shamanism has its bases in innate aspects of human cognition, engaging the use of altered states of consciousness to integrate information across several levels of the brain to produce visual symbolism exemplified in visionary experiences. This explains why shamanism evolved cross-culturally and is still relevant to the modern world.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

"Shaman's Drum"

Shaman's Drum

Oh! My many-colored drum
Ye who standeth in the forward corner!
Oh! My merry and painted drum,
Ye who standeth here!
Let thy shoulder and neck be strong.

Hark, oh hark my horse--ye female maral deer!
Hark, oh hark my horse--ye bear!
Hark, oh hark ye!

Oh, painted drum who standeth in the forward corner!
My mounts--male and female maral deer.
Be silent sonorous drum,
Skin-covered drum,
Fulfill my wishes.

Like flitting clouds, carry me
Through the lands of dusk
And below the leaden sky,
Sweep along like wind
Over the mountain peaks!

--Tuvans of Siberia (1)

1. Vilmos Dioszegi, "Tuva Shamanism: Intraethic Differences and Interethic Analogies,"Acta Etnographica, 11: 162-163, 1962.