Nature
   One aspect of the common Western perception that indigenous peoples, especially hunter-gatherers, are “close to nature” is that shamans and shamanism provide helpful leads in restoring human respect for the world. The fact that this close-to-nature view was once valued negatively (“primitive savagery”) should encourage careful reflection on the culturally determined and shifting idealism of such views. The environmentalism of indigenous people and shamans may or may not be evidenced in particular contexts. However, as Bruno Latour concludes from reading diverse relevant ethnographies, it is more likely that most indigenous peoples do not know of any place that could be called “nature.” Eduardo Viveiros de Castro demonstrates that in Amazonia there is a common perception that all living beings (and in these animist communities that probably means all existences) have one common culture: they eat cooked food, live in constructed dwellings, abide by or break kinship rules, are hospitable or predatory, and may require shamans or shamanic powers or abilities. However, he further notes, in contrast with the Western notion of multiculturalism and a single “nature” (or “mono-naturalism”), indigenous Amazonians understand that the single culture shared by all life is masked by “multinaturalism.” In this context, shamans are those trained and experienced in perceiving the cultural person hidden by the mask of apparently different natures. This is especially important when a “natural” appearance masks a predatory activity. So, a jaguar may be an animal passing by, but it may instead be intent on predation against humans, who require shamanic defense.
   While this specifically Amazonian perspectivism may not be applicable elsewhere, it does exemplify the pervasive absence of a dualistic contrast between “nature” and “culture” among most indigenous peoples. In animistic communities, for example, what appears to Westerners to be nature is understood to be “the community of life” or, in Latour’s terms, “the collective.” However, among neoshamans the perception that shamanism encourages respectful environmentalism is important. It encourages practices that take place in rural or wilderness environments, participation in ecological protection or enhancement projects, and lifestyles respectful of the wider, other-than-human living world. Gordon MacLellan’s work as an environmental educator illustrates the outworking of shamanic practice and environmentalism. The pervasive perception of indigenous intimacy with nature and spirituality sometimes (as in the biography of Richard Erdoes) combines with a sense of the numinous power and beauty of “natural” places to establish an initial interest in indigenous peoples in general and shamans in particular.

Historical dictionary of shamanism. . 2007.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • nature — [ natyr ] n. f. • 1119; lat. natura I ♦ 1 ♦ (Qualifié) La nature de... Ensemble des caractères, des propriétés qui définissent un être, une chose concrète ou abstraite, généralement considérés comme constituant un genre. ⇒ essence; entité. « on… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Nature — еженедельный научный журнал Обложка журнала от 15 февраля 2001 года Специализация …   Википедия

  • Nature — • Has reference to the production of things, and hence generally includes in its connotation the ideas of energy and activity. Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Nature     Nature    …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • nature — Nature. s. f. Tout l Univers, toutes les choses creées. Dieu est l autheur & le maistre de la nature. l ordre qui regne dans toute la nature. il n y a rien de si beau dans toute la nature, dans toute l estenduë de la nature que le soleil. toute… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • nature — Nature, Natura. La nature et maniere de faire, qu un chacun a de nature, Ingenium. Bonne nature, Bonitas ingenij, Bonum ingenium. Nature pleine de vices, Mendosa natura. La nature et vertu des arbres et des herbes, Arborum atque herbarum natura.… …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • Nature — Beschreibung Fachzeitschrift Fachgebiet Naturwissenschaften Sprache Englisch …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Nature — Na ture (?; 135), n. [F., fr. L. natura, fr. natus born, produced, p. p. of nasci to be born. See {Nation}.] 1. The existing system of things; the universe of matter, energy, time and space; the physical world; all of creation. Contrasted with… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • nature — (n.) late 13c., restorative powers of the body, bodily processes; powers of growth; from O.Fr. nature nature, being, principle of life; character, essence, from L. natura course of things; natural character, constitution, quality; the universe,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • nature — The phrase of a…nature, with an adjective before nature, should be used sparingly and only when the adjective by itself will not serve for some reason. For example, a theologian of an enigmatic nature could easily be rephrased as an enigmatic… …   Modern English usage

  • nature — [nā′chər] n. [OFr < L natura < natus, born, produced: see GENUS] 1. the essential character of a thing; quality or qualities that make something what it is; essence 2. inborn character; innate disposition; inherent tendencies of a person 3 …   English World dictionary

  • nature — ► NOUN 1) the physical world, including plants, animals, the landscape, and natural phenomena, as opposed to humans or human creations. 2) the inherent qualities or characteristics of a person or thing. 3) a kind, sort, or class: topics of a… …   English terms dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”