Shamans/Neo-Shamans: Ecstasies, Alternative Archaeologies and Contemporary Pagans

Shamans/Neo-Shamans: Ecstasies, Alternative Archaeologies and Contemporary Pagans

Robert J. Wallis

Language: English

Pages: 320

ISBN: 041530203X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In popular culture, such diverse characters as occultist Aleister Crowley, Doors musician Jim Morrison, and performance artist Joseph Beuys have been called shamans. In anthropology, on the other hand, shamanism has associations with sorcery, witchcraft and healing, and archaeologists have suggested the meaning of prehistoric cave art lies with shamans and altered consciousness. Robert J. Wallis explores the interface between 'new' and prehistoric shamans. The book draws on interviews with a variety of practitioners, particularly contemporary pagans in Britain and north America. Wallis looks at historical and archaeological sources to explore contemporary pagan engagements with prehistoric sacred sites such as Stonehenge and Avebury, and discusses the controversial use by neo-Shamans of indigenous (particularly native American) shamanism.

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homosexuality, gender or sex. It begins by disrupting all forms of normativity, thereby not only ‘reordering the relations among sexual behaviours, erotic identities, constructions of gender’ but at the same time, ‘forms of knowledge, regimes of enunciation, logics of representation, modes of self-constitution, and practices of community’ (Halperin 1995: 62). In this way, it ‘acquires its meaning from its oppositional relation to the norm. Queer is by definition whatever is at odds with the

Hallucinogens and Shamanism [1973a]) and the neo-Shamanic bible Way of the Shaman (1990 [1980]), Johnson believes Harner shifts ‘from the particular to the universal, from the locative to the utopian’ (Johnson 1995: 171). Given that the 1973 volume is markedly more eclectic than that of the previous year, this shift seems only to have taken one year, but nonetheless Harner has indeed decontextualised aspects of shamanisms from original ‘owners’ in the 1980 book. As Harvey comments for

examined. Potential areas of dispute, such as a British reburial issue, are discussed as case examples. I examine the physical and intellectual ‘exclusion zone’ imposed on neoShamanic site visitors to demonstrate that where there has been tension between alternative groups and the authorities, unofficial strategies which attempt to harmonise the groups have been implemented. Examination of neo-Shamanisms in Britain is contrasted with the situation in USA, my second case study, in Chapter 5.

reconstructions may be said to ‘fit’ the evidence (whether acceptable to academics or not) to the extent that they are not entirely speculative; if they were, such inauthenticity might well undermine the contemporary practice. Important differences are clearly recognised between what Hrafnar is doing, what the ancient Northern peoples did, and what native shamans do. In the final analysis and with some disquiet about appropriation of the past and indigenous sources, I think Greywolf’s Druidry and

Gingell 1996; see also comments outside Antiquity by Pitts 1996). A string of events – including the graffiti – contributing to damage of the archaeology, prompted this discussion. Archaeologists cite incidents of damage to West Kennet long barrow during ‘sleep-overs’ when people celebrate the Pagan festivals, including concerns over the amount of litter (beer cans, cigarette butts, even – according to some reports, e.g. Prout 1998 – condoms and tampons) left after a night’s celebration; this is

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