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PSY230H1 (54)

Lecture3- Reading Heroic and Shamanic Initiations [Eliade]

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Jordan Peterson

Going Berserk ● Berserkers: Warriors in shirts of bear ○ Change into bears ● Volsunga Saga: Sigmud subjects his son Volsung to initiation ordeals ● Initiatory themes ○ 1) Test of courage ○ 2) Resistance to physical suffering ○ 3) Magical transformation ● "The Hero is the man in fury, possessed by his own tumultuous and burning energy" Cuchulainn's Initiation ● Indo-European initiation scenario: The fight with 3 adversaries or a 3 headed monster ● Wrath of warrior, manifested in extreme heat is magicoreligious experience ○ Nothing profane or natural in it, syndrome of gaining possession of a sacrality ■ Sacrality: Holy or sacred character Symbolism of Magical Heat ● 'Primitives' think of magicoreligious power as burning ○ Expressed in terms meaning heat, burn, hot etc. ○ Shamans drink salt or spiced water to 'increase inner heat' ● Access to sacrality is manifested by abnormal increase in heat ○ Inner heat = Burning = Power ● Initiatory death: Make the novice die to the human condition and resuscitate him to a new transhuman existence ○ e.g. In the process of a young warrior vanquishing adversary becomes he 'heated' ○ Symbolic return to precosmogonic chaos ■ Return to Chaos for the future shaman sign of profane man being 'dissolved' and new personality being prepared for birth Shamanic Initiations ● Ways to become a shaman: ○ Spontaneous vocation: the call or election ○ Hereditary transmission of profession ○ Personal quest/will of the clan ● Shaman: medicine man: specialist in sacred: succeeds n having mystical experiences ● Young shaman has strange behaviour (solitary, absent-minded, roams in woods, has visions, sings in sleep.) ○ Election preceded by a change in behaviour ● Often vocation is manifested as an illness such as seizures and the initiation is the cue ● May imply a crisis so deep it borders on madness ● Psychopathology of shamanic vocation no profane ○ Has an initiatory structure and signification ● Recognition as Shaman: ○ Receiving ecstatic instruction
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