Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Shaman

Shamans heal the sick by journeying to the spirit world, and yet they were not above slieght-of-hand trickery to to impress their "clients". The European explorers who first encountered shamans in Siberia and other places sometimes described how they would observe the shaman palm a smalll stone before going into the tent of healing. After chanting and other magical actions, the shaman would pretend to reach into the sick persons body and pull out the illness- the stone hidden in his hand. To the European, this branded the shaman as a con artist. Only much later did they come to a more subtle understanding. The true healing occurs in trance, in the spirit world, but the sick person needs to see some tangible result. And so the shaman holds up the black stone to show the person the healing has taken place.


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