- Among many Native American, Northern European, and Siberian communities, many rituals form part of a complex of “bear ceremonialism.” Marjorie Balzer, for example, draws out the diversities and social tensions involved in what she describes as the complex’s most elaborate form, as practiced among the Ob-Ugrian peoples of Western Siberia and the groups living along the Amur River, which forms the border between Siberia and China. She writes, “In both regions, the skin and head of a ritually killed bear are placed on a sacred bier and fêted for multiple days.” Carnivalesque celebrations, including satirical plays, cross-dressing, uncharacteristic female license, and general bawdiness provide a context in which social tensions are played out, if not resolved. Although shamans are forbidden to shamanize during the festival as celebrated on the Amur, probably because their role as mediators between humans and otherworld persons is diffused throughout the community, they indicate auspicious timing for the event. Leadership in ritual and communal events, including engaging with other-thanhuman persons, is taken by elders, while the events illustrate the broader animist ritual and social context in which shamans work. Juha Pentikäinen presents important discussions of bear cults and folklore in both Finnish and Saami cultures. He notes, for example, that there are more than 200 synonyms for bear in Finnish, but the actual word was rarely spoken since to do so might provoke an assault by bears. As elsewhere, such taboo restrictions are part of the broad animist context in which shamans are employed.Similar bear ceremonial and discursive complexes could be illustrated with reference to many Native American cultures. Bears play significant roles in Ojibwe initiatory and healing rituals such as the Midewiwin, for instance. This involves bear impersonation by both the shaman presiding over the ritual and initiates, and also participation by otherworld bears as initiators and tempters. In their tricksterlike ambiguity, bears reveal their kinship with shamans and creative beings. Gerald Vizenor extends traditional storytelling into urban contexts in a number of his stories about shamans, bears, and “postindian” mixed-blood people. Ojibwe bear narratives and ceremonials (like those that include other animals) arise from a wider totemism. “Bear shamans” among California indigenous communities may be either shamans who impersonate bears by wearing a costume including a bearskin or shamans who gain the ability to transform into bears. Sandra Holliman is particularly interested in these shamans’ roles as agents of social control, due to the fear inspired by their reputations and uncertainty about their identities or whereabouts. However, she also alludes to other, more positive, abilities, including the fact that they are considered doctors.
Historical dictionary of shamanism. Graham Harvey and Robert J. Wallis. 2007.
Look at other dictionaries:
prehistoric religion — Religious practices and beliefs of prehistoric peoples, as inferred from archaeological findings. The oldest burials that attest to a belief in life after death date from 50,000–30,000 BC. Corpses were buried with goods such as stone tools and… … Universalium
Ours dans la culture — Sous article d un taxon biologique … Wikipédia en Français
arctic — arctically, adv. /ahrk tik/ or, esp. for 7, /ahr tik/, adj. 1. (often cap.) of, pertaining to, or located at or near the North Pole: the arctic region. 2. coming from the North Pole or the arctic region: an arctic wind. 3. characteristic of the… … Universalium
Prehistoric religion — History of religions founding figures Anthropology Comparative religion Development Neurotheology / God gene Origins Psychology Prehistoric Ancien … Wikipedia
Paleolithic — The Paleolithic This box: view · talk · edit ↑ before Homo (Plioc … Wikipedia
Paleolithic religion — The origin and early development of religion falls into the Paleolithic. Religious behaviour had certainly emerged by the Upper Paleolithic, before 30,000 years ago at the latest, [ Andre Leroi Gourhan and Annette Michelson, The Religion of the… … Wikipedia
Siberia, Western — The territory that lies to the east of the Ural Mountains is a vast lowland covered in taiga forest which extends toward the Arctic Ocean in the north and, to the east, to the network of rivers in the basin of the Ob, the largest Siberian… … Historical dictionary of shamanism
Elders — Shamans are rarely the only social and ritual leaders in their communities. Caroline Humphrey, Urgunge Onon, and Marjorie Balzer clarify the role of shamans by discussing the differences between them and elders. There are ceremonies that… … Historical dictionary of shamanism
Alfred Irving Hallowell — Alfred Irving ( Pete ) Hallowell pronounced [hăl uwel ] (1892 ndash; 1974) was an American anthropologist, archaeologist and businessman. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and attended the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania … Wikipedia
Alfred Hallowell — Alfred Irving Hallowell Alfred Irving Hallowell (1892 1974) est l un des pères fondateurs de l anthropologie américaine et un précurseur en matière d histoire de cette discipline alors émergente. Ses recherches sur le terrain ont surtout porté… … Wikipédia en Français