The Beauty of the Primitive

Author: Andrei A. Znamenski
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780198038498
Format: PDF, Docs
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For the past forty years shamanism has drawn increasing attention among the general public and academics. There is an enormous literature on shamanism, but no one has tried to understand why and how Western intellectual and popular culture became so fascinated with the topic. Behind fictional and non-fictional works on shamanism, Andrei A. Znamenski uncovers an exciting story that mirrors changing Western attitudes toward the primitive. The Beauty of the Primitive explores how shamanism, an obscure word introduced by the eighteenth-century German explorers of Siberia, entered Western humanities and social sciences, and has now become a powerful idiom used by nature and pagan communities to situate their spiritual quests and anti-modernity sentiments. The major characters of The Beauty of the Primitive are past and present Western scholars, writers, explorers, and spiritual seekers with a variety of views on shamanism. Moving from Enlightenment and Romantic writers and Russian exile ethnographers to the anthropology of Franz Boas to Mircea Eliade and Carlos Castaneda, Znamenski details how the shamanism idiom was gradually transplanted from Siberia to the Native American scene and beyond. He also looks into the circumstances that prompted scholars and writers at first to marginalize shamanism as a mental disorder and then to recast it as high spiritual wisdom in the 1960s and the 1970s. Linking the growing interest in shamanism to the rise of anti-modernism in Western culture and intellectual life, Znamenski examines the role that anthropology, psychology, environmentalism, and Native Americana have played in the emergence of neo-shamanism. He discusses the sources that inspire Western neo-shamans and seeks to explain why lately many of these spiritual seekers have increasingly moved away from non-Western tradition to European folklore. A work of intellectual discovery, The Beauty of the Primitive shows how scholars, writers, and spiritual seekers shape their writings and experiences to suit contemporary cultural, ideological, and spiritual needs. With its interdisciplinary approach and engaging style, it promises to be the definitive account of this neglected strand of intellectual history.

Red Shambhala

Author: Andrei Znamenski
Publisher: Quest Books
ISBN: 0835630285
Format: PDF
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Many know of Shambhala, the Tibetan Buddhist legendary land of spiritual bliss popularized by the film, Shangri-La. But few may know of the role Shambhala played in Russian geopolitics in the early twentieth century. Perhaps the only one on the subject, Andrei Znamenski’s book presents a wholly different glimpse of early Soviet history both erudite and fascinating. Using archival sources and memoirs, he explores how spiritual adventurers, revolutionaries, and nationalists West and East exploited Shambhala to promote their fanatical schemes, focusing on the Bolshevik attempt to use Mongol-Tibetan prophecies to railroad Communism into inner Asia. We meet such characters as Gleb Bokii, the Bolshevik secret police commissar who tried to use Buddhist techniques to conjure the ideal human; and Nicholas Roerich, the Russian painter who, driven by his otherworldly Master and blackmailed by the Bolshevik secret police, posed as a reincarnation of the Dalai Lama to unleash religious war in Tibet. We also learn of clandestine activities of the Bolsheviks from the Mongol-Tibetan Section of the Communist International who took over Mongolia and then, dressed as lama pilgrims, tried to set Tibet ablaze; and of their opponent, Ja-Lama, an “avenging lama” fond of spilling blood during his tantra rituals.

Stealing Fire from Heaven

Author: Nevill Drury
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199792511
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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The Western magical traditions are currently undergoing an international resurgence. In Stealing Fire from Heaven, Nevill Drury offers an overview of the modern occult revival and seeks to explain this growing interest in ancient magical belief systems. Gnosticism and the Hermetica, the medieval Kabbalah, Tarot and Alchemy, and more recently, Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry, collectively laid the basis for the modern magical revival, which first began to gather momentum in Europe at the end of the nineteenth century. Western magic has since become increasingly eclectic, drawing on such diverse sources as classical Greco-Roman mythology, Celtic cosmology, Kundalini yoga and Tantra, shamanism, chaos theory, and the various spiritual traditions associated in many different cultures with the Universal Goddess. Drury traces the rise of various forms of magical belief and practice, from the influential Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn to the emergence of Wicca and Goddess worship as expressions of contemporary feminine spirituality. He also explores Chaos Magick and the occult practices of the so-called Left-Hand Path, as well as twenty-first-century magical forays into cyberspace. He believes that the rise of modern Western magic stems essentially from the quest for personal spiritual transformation and direct experience of the sacred--a quest which the trance occultist and visionary artist Austin Osman Spare once referred to as "stealing fire from heaven." Considered in this light, Drury argues, modern Western magic can be regarded as a form of alternative spirituality in which the practitioners seek direct engagement with the mythic realm.

Religion Politics and Nation Building in Post Communist Countries

Author: Greg Simons
Publisher: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
ISBN: 1472449711
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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The increasing significance and visibility of relationships between religion and public arenas and institutions following the fall of communism in Europe provide the core focus of this fascinating book. Leading international scholars consider the religious and political role of Christian Orthodoxy in the Russian Federation, Romania, Georgia and Ukraine alongside the revival of old, indigenous religions, often referred to as 'shamanistic' and look at how, despite Islam’s long history and many adherents in the south, Islamophobic attitudes have increasingly been added to traditional anti-Semitic, anti-Western or anti-liberal elements of Russian nationalism. Contrasts between the church’s position in the post-communist nation building process of secular Estonia with its role in predominantly Catholic Poland are also explored. Religion, Politics and Nation-Building in Post-Communist Countries gives a broad overview of the political importance of religion in the Post-Soviet space but its interest and relevance extends far beyond the geographical focus, providing examples of the challenges in the spheres of public, religious and social policy for all transitional countries.

Animism and Shamanism in Twentieth Century Art

Author: Evan R. Firestone
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 9781472477347
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Wassily Kandinsky, Max Ernst, Jackson Pollock, and Joseph Beuys were the leading artists of their generations to recognize the rich possibilities that animism and shamanism offered. While each of these artists' connection with shamanism has been written about separately, Evan Firestone brings the four together in order to compare their individual approaches to anthropological materials and to define similarities and differences between them. The author's close readings of their works and examination of the relevant texts available to them reveal fresh insights and new perspectives.The importance of indigenous beliefs in animism for Kandinsky's philosophy of art and practice, especially the animism of inanimate objects, is analyzed for the first time in conjunction with his well-known enthusiasms for Symbolism and Theosophy. Ernst's collage novel, La femme 100 tetes (1929), previously found to have significant alchemical content, also is shown to extensively utilize shamanism, thereby merging different branches of the occult that prove to have remarkable similarities. The in-depth examination of Pollock's works, both known and overlooked for shamanic content, identifies textual sources that heretofore have escaped notice. Firestone also demonstrates how shamanism was employed by this artist to express his desire for healing and transformation. The author further argues that the German edition of Mircea Eliade's Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy (1957) helped to revitalize Beuys's life and art, and that his ecological campaigns reflected a new consciousness later termed ecoanimism.

Riding Windhorses

Author: Sarangerel
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 1594775389
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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The first book written about Mongolian and Siberian shamanism by a shaman trained in that tradition. • A thorough introduction to Mongolian and Siberian shamanic beliefs and practices, which, until the collapse of the Soviet Union, were banned from being practiced. • Includes rituals for healing and divination techniques. In traditional Mongolian-Buryat culture, shamans play an important role maintaining the tegsh, the "balance" of the community. They counsel a path of moderation in one's actions and reverence for the natural world, which they view as mother to humanity. Mongolians believe that if natural resources are taken without thanking the spirits for what they have given, those resources will not be replaced. Unlike many other cultures whose shamanic traditions were undermined by modern civilization, shamans in the remote areas of southern Siberia and Mongolia are still the guardians of the environment, the community, and the natural order. Riding Windhorses is the first book written on Mongolian and Siberian shamanism by a shaman trained in that tradition. A thorough introduction to Mongolian/Siberian shamanic beliefs and practices, it includes working knowledge of the basic rituals and various healing and divination techniques. Many of the rituals and beliefs described here have never been published and are the direct teachings of the author's own shaman mentors.

Wayward Shamans

Author: Silvia Tomášková
Publisher: Univ of California Press
ISBN: 0520955315
Format: PDF, ePub
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Wayward Shamans tells the story of an idea that humanity’s first expression of art, religion and creativity found form in the figure of a proto-priest known as a shaman. Tracing this classic category of the history of anthropology back to the emergence of the term in Siberia, the work follows the trajectory of European knowledge about the continent’s eastern frontier. The ethnographic record left by German natural historians engaged in the Russian colonial expansion project in the 18th century includes a range of shamanic practitioners, varied by gender and age. Later accounts by exiled Russian revolutionaries noted transgendered shamans. This variation vanished, however, in the translation of shamanism into archaeology theory, where a male sorcerer emerged as the key agent of prehistoric art. More recent efforts to provide a universal shamanic explanation for rock art via South Africa and neurobiology likewise gloss over historical evidence of diversity. By contrast this book argues for recognizing indeterminacy in the categories we use, and reopening them by recalling their complex history.

Dark Shamans

Author: Neil L. Whitehead
Publisher: Duke University Press
ISBN: 0822384302
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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On the little-known and darker side of shamanism there exists an ancient form of sorcery called kanaimà, a practice still observed among the Amerindians of the highlands of Guyana, Venezuela, and Brazil that involves the ritual stalking, mutilation, lingering death, and consumption of human victims. At once a memoir of cultural encounter and an ethnographic and historical investigation, this book offers a sustained, intimate look at kanaimà, its practitioners, their victims, and the reasons they give for their actions. Neil L. Whitehead tells of his own involvement with kanaimà—including an attempt to kill him with poison—and relates the personal testimonies of kanaimà shamans, their potential victims, and the victims’ families. He then goes on to discuss the historical emergence of kanaimà, describing how, in the face of successive modern colonizing forces—missionaries, rubber gatherers, miners, and development agencies—the practice has become an assertion of native autonomy. His analysis explores the ways in which kanaimà mediates both national and international impacts on native peoples in the region and considers the significance of kanaimà for current accounts of shamanism and religious belief and for theories of war and violence. Kanaimà appears here as part of the wider lexicon of rebellious terror and exotic horror—alongside the cannibal, vampire, and zombie—that haunts the western imagination. Dark Shamans broadens discussions of violence and of the representation of primitive savagery by recasting both in the light of current debates on modernity and globalization.