ANTH 222 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Ann Lee, Zoomorphism, Gautama Buddha

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23 Feb 2017
School
Department
Course
Lecture 4.1
Religious Specialists
Intermediaries between individual or community and the divine
All religions have specialists’ but
They are more important in some religions than in others
The more complex a society; the more likely it is to have religions specialists.
Religious Specialists vs. Magicians
Some attributes that define religious specialists to one category or another
Part-time vs. Full-time specialization
Regular rituals vs specific rituals as needed
Method of communication with the supernatural
Use of personal vs. impersonal supernatural
Magicians vs. Priests/Shamans
SUPERNATURAL
Impersonal: forces or
energies
Personal: spirits, gods, or
ghosts
WE CALL THIS
magic
Religion
PRACTITIONER
magician
Priest or Shaman
Shaman:
- Part-time religious figure who mediates between people and supernatural beings and
forces and whose position is based on direct relationship with the supernatural.
- Evenk
- Medicine man
- Mediates between human world and spirit world
Defining feature of shaman:
Communicates with the spirit world through “soul journey” or “spirit flight”
In a trance state, experiences visions in which they believe communicates
directly with the spirit world
Shaman gets power directly from the spirits
Requires a certain amount of charisma, forcefulness or personality, becuase their
power is personal
- Shamanism and Gender
- Shamans may be male or female, depending on the culture
- As mediators, shamans can more easily shift from one gender role to the other,
or embody elements of both
- Shamans are sometimes said to be able to embody multiple souls
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The Life-Pattern of the Shaman: Birth and Childhood
Birth - sometimes characterized by special signs:
Breech presentation
Caul (amniotic sac)
Birth marks or other distinguishing signs
Childhood - may be marked by difference:
Frequent illnesses
Child seems dreamy, reports contact with spirits
Can also be ordinary and unremarkable
CRISIS
CURE
RESISTANCE
Usually in adolescence or
young adulthood
Cured by another shaman
Shaman-to-be often resists
the call from the spirits
Health crisis or incurable
illness
This shaman tells the
patient that recovery will
require him/her to become
a shaman
Acceptance
Nearly dies
How Do Shamans Heal?
Illness usually seen as caused by spirits or spiritual factors:
Soul loss or damage
Intrusion of foreign spirit matter into body
Loss of guardian spirits
Little distraction made between physical and psychological illness
Illness viewed holistically
Shamans heal through ritual
Divination
Symbolic action
Drumming, music, chantine, dance
Trance
Spirit possession
Herbs
The Shaman’s Apprenticeship
New shaman enter period of study and apprenticeship with more experienced healer
Must learn cultural healing conventions, including
Spirit names and characteristics
Use of shamanic tools
Divination
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