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Author Topic: Shamanism and the term "shamanism" in Heathenry  (Read 4122 times)

BoneKeeper

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Re: Shamanism and the term "shamanism" in Heathenry
« Reply #15 on: December 19, 2012, 11:36:41 pm »
Quote from: SunflowerP;73840
Current practice (so I understand from Catja) is to use the word(s) used in the culture in question - there's much more emphasis on understanding cultural practices by understanding how they fit into that culture, and far less emphasis on using comparisons with other cultures.  Trying to understand the practices of Culture A by saying, "Hey, Culture B does something a bit like that!" really isn't very efffective; it's superficial at best and can be very misleading.


I understand where everyone's coming from, but I'd like to throw something out there. Maybe I'm looking at it the wrong way, but it seems to make sense in my head...

Academics use the term "shamanism" to categorize a group of similar practices that have been found in many cultures from Siberia to America, South America to Australia. In their respective cultures and languages, they have their own terms for these practices/practitioners, as well as their own culturally-distinct additions to the base, "core", principles. So, it makes sense to me that someone who does not want to culturally appropriate anything, who does not want to claim being a part of/taught in/or raised in a specific culture (if they have in fact, not been) and their specific "type" of "shamanism", and just utilizes the basic shamanic practices (like psychic surgery, trancework, Otherworld journeying, spirit work and shamanic healing among others I'm sure without the specific cultural undertones), to be able to call themselves "shaman". However, IF they were trained in a SPECIFIC culture's ways, then they should use that culture's title, etc. Does that make sense?

[I'll note that I think undergoing the Little Death and having a calling from the Spirits to do this work is also across-the-board specific to "shamanism", you can't just know how to journey and thus call yourself a "shaman", but, you could say you do "shamanic journeying".]

And perhaps there is another term that could be used in place of 'shaman' to categorize what I mentioned above without being culturally sensitive/connected, etc.

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Re: Shamanism and the term "shamanism" in Heathenry
« Reply #16 on: December 21, 2012, 04:47:18 am »
Quote from: BoneKeeper;85777
I understand where everyone's coming from, but I'd like to throw something out there. Maybe I'm looking at it the wrong way, but it seems to make sense in my head...

Academics use the term "shamanism" to categorize a group of similar practices that have been found in many cultures from Siberia to America, South America to Australia.

 
I'm not sure you do understand where people are coming from on this, since you seem to be missing the point that anthropologists USED TO USE the term "shamanism" that way, and CEASED DOING SO because the apparent similarities of practice were superficial similarities.

On the "cultural sensitivity" front, you seem to be going along with the idea that, if someone wasn't trained in the ways of a particular culture, they shouldn't use that culture's term... unless, apparently, that term is "shaman", in which case it's just fine even if one has never so much as met a Tungus tribe member, much less been trained as a Tungus shaman.  Yes, the anthropology of an earlier day appropriated it; I fail to see why that constitutes justification for making an exception.

You may find this thread more enlightening on the issues involved, and on possible alternate terminology.

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Faemon

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Re: Shamanism and the term "shamanism" in Heathenry
« Reply #17 on: December 21, 2012, 07:21:18 am »
Quote from: SunflowerP;85924
you seem to be going along with the idea that, if someone wasn't trained in the ways of a particular culture, they shouldn't use that culture's term... unless, apparently, that term is "shaman", in which case it's just fine


The stance seems to be (correct me if I'm wrong, BK) that "shaman" has been appropriated often enough and for long enough that it's become "public property" and no living people could really be harmed or offended by its continued use by any other people. Perhaps it's similar to how only a radical feminist would consider "hysterical" sexist language, when to most other people it means "very very amusing" or "disproportionately emotive" and can unironically apply to men, like, a comedian being just hysterical or... I dunno, Colin from The Secret Garden.

(In case I'm not arguing with my self: I disagree with the above.)
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SunflowerP

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Re: Shamanism and the term "shamanism" in Heathenry
« Reply #18 on: December 21, 2012, 08:04:23 am »
Quote from: triple_entendre;85944
The stance seems to be (correct me if I'm wrong, BK) that "shaman" has been appropriated often enough and for long enough that it's become "public property" and no living people could really be harmed or offended by its continued use by any other people. Perhaps it's similar to how only a radical feminist would consider "hysterical" sexist language, when to most other people it means "very very amusing" or "disproportionately emotive" and can unironically apply to men, like, a comedian being just hysterical or... I dunno, Colin from The Secret Garden.

(In case I'm not arguing with my self: I disagree with the above.)

 
I'm not sure what your point is, if the arguments aren't something you agree with.  

(I hope that, in disagreeing with "the above", you're including disagreement with the demonstrably-counterfactual strawman argument that only radical feminists take exception to the word "hysterical".)

Also, a general reminder to everyone reading/posting in this thread:  it's in the Asatru and Heathenry SIG, and is specifically about usage of the word in Heathen contexts.  Discussion of the broader issues of appropriation is better done in one of the (many) existing threads on the subject elsewhere on TC than in the SIG areas.

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Grimnir

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Re: Shamanism and the term "shamanism" in Heathenry
« Reply #19 on: December 21, 2012, 08:08:10 am »
Quote from: SunflowerP;85924
I'm not sure you do understand where people are coming from on this, since you seem to be missing the point that anthropologists USED TO USE the term "shamanism" that way, and CEASED DOING SO because the apparent similarities of practice were superficial similarities.

 
You know, it's not the end of the world is someone uses an easily identifiable term which has for quite a few years now been seen as an umbrella term instead of the exact historical definition. I even say pagan sometimes instead of heathen, and I don't always explain I'm oathed to Odin! The horror!

To be honest, the term shamanism is just the same as paganism - a word which originally was applied to a specific group and now used as an umbrella term to cover many superficially similar paths. "Technician of the sacred"? Oh, my giddy aunt, how up yourself do you really want to sound?

Seriously, if this is your biggest trouble, you ain't got any.
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Re: Shamanism and the term "shamanism" in Heathenry
« Reply #20 on: December 21, 2012, 08:23:50 am »
Quote from: Grimnir;85958
To be honest, the term shamanism is just the same as paganism - a word which originally was applied to a specific group and now used as an umbrella term to cover many superficially similar paths.

 
Not really.
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Re: Shamanism and the term "shamanism" in Heathenry
« Reply #21 on: December 21, 2012, 08:38:43 am »
Quote from: Grimnir;85958
To be honest, the term shamanism is just the same as paganism - a word which originally was applied to a specific group and now used as an umbrella term to cover many superficially similar paths.

 
That one works as a comparative only if you consider the "original" use of "shaman" to be its use by people who were not of the Tungus peoples.

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Nyktipolos

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Re: Shamanism and the term "shamanism" in Heathenry
« Reply #22 on: December 21, 2012, 10:04:42 am »
Quote from: Grimnir;85958
"Technician of the sacred"? Oh, my giddy aunt, how up yourself do you really want to sound?


Well, it's a term I use for myself because I have no claim to "shaman" any more than I do "medicine woman", even though culturally-speaking the latter I can claim. However I have not been trained or initiated into any society to claim such a term, and to do so would be a great insult.

So, what's the problem with my terminology? I don't view it as a way to "up" myself at all. I just despise cultural appropriation and seek to find a better term to define my practices.

Quote
Seriously, if this is your biggest trouble, you ain't got any.

 
Got quite a few, actually. One of the parts of my Work is to actively inform people who use culturally appropriated terms of the history behind the term (the most common being "totem"). However, I've come to terms with the fact that "totem" will never mean what doodem meant. Sometimes I think I want it this way, so that people will stop trying to appropriate our culture. ... One can hope, anyways.

I do not have the same feelings about "shaman", however. It has been stated before and discontinued by the more reputable academic circles as cultural appropriation and a half-assed attempt to lump all spirit/magic workers under one umbrella, undermining indigenous religious/cultural systems. Especially as in the past it was done under the guise of Educated White People Know Better.
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Re: Shamanism and the term "shamanism" in Heathenry
« Reply #23 on: December 21, 2012, 10:44:10 am »
Quote from: hlewagastir;73801


Trancework? Souljourneys? Call it Volvaism?


I like the idea of using Volva. Volvaism doesn't quite do it for me though. Maybe drop the 'a'? "The art of Volvism"? "Volvanic practices"?

Silly details, I guess.
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Re: Shamanism and the term "shamanism" in Heathenry
« Reply #24 on: December 21, 2012, 10:53:36 am »
Quote from: Grimnir;85958
To be honest, the term shamanism is just the same as paganism - a word which originally was applied to a specific group

 
"Paganism" ever applied to a specific group?  Pray tell, what group might that be?

(I don't consider "not the religion of Rome" a specific group, any more than I consider "not Bob" to be a specific person.)
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Juniperberry

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Re: Shamanism and the term "shamanism" in Heathenry
« Reply #25 on: December 21, 2012, 10:59:01 am »
Quote from: Juniperberry;85986
I like the idea of using Volva. Volvaism doesn't quite do it for me though. Maybe drop the 'a'? "The art of Volvism"? "Volvanic practices"?

Silly details, I guess.



Though, here's an interesting essay (pdf)* about reclaiming euro-centered shamanism and Volva, vardlokkur, kailo, and heil as indigenous shamanic practices and terminology.

*Link isn't working. Search: Shamanic Initiations and Their Loss --Decolonization as Initiation and Healing
« Last Edit: December 21, 2012, 11:06:08 am by Juniperberry »
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

hlewagastir

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Re: Shamanism and the term "shamanism" in Heathenry
« Reply #26 on: December 23, 2012, 12:53:59 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;85986
I like the idea of using Volva. Volvaism doesn't quite do it for me though. Maybe drop the 'a'? "The art of Volvism"? "Volvanic practices"?

Silly details, I guess.

The point I was trying to make is that there are indigenous and english words which more adequately describe what they did.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2012, 12:55:18 pm by hlewagastir »

Juniperberry

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Re: Shamanism and the term "shamanism" in Heathenry
« Reply #27 on: December 23, 2012, 01:32:44 pm »
Quote from: hlewagastir;86429
The point I was trying to make is that there are indigenous and english words which more adequately describe what they did.

 
I don't think I disagreed with that point. In fact, I linked to a piece that discusses more adequate terms, including seidmenn. (Which has my vote.)

The silliness was in my complaining of the "a".
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

hlewagastir

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Re: Shamanism and the term "shamanism" in Heathenry
« Reply #28 on: December 23, 2012, 02:04:15 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;86430
I don't think I disagreed with that point. In fact, I linked to a piece that discusses more adequate terms, including seidmenn. (Which has my vote.)

The silliness was in my complaining of the "a".

 
No, you did not disagree with my point :) I just wanted to stress it further.

I just skimmed the article. IMO, it is a brilliant example why it is problematic to use shaman/shamanic/shamanism as an umbrella term for anything about trancework, soothsaying and souljourneys; people start seeing similarities which may not be there and harmonize source material based on that.

hlewagastir

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Re: Shamanism and the term "shamanism" in Heathenry
« Reply #29 on: December 23, 2012, 06:07:12 pm »
Quote from: hlewagastir;86432
No, you did not disagree with my point :) I just wanted to stress it further.

I just skimmed the article. IMO, it is a brilliant example why it is problematic to use shaman/shamanic/shamanism as an umbrella term for anything about trancework, soothsaying and souljourneys; people start seeing similarities which may not be there and harmonize source material based on that.

 
Just to add a bit to my post:
If anyone wants to discuss the paper in more dept I´m willing to do that as well. I think this subject could potentially need a more detailed discussion - but maybe I´m wrong.

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