jueves, 6 de octubre de 2011

The shamanic paradigm: Evidence from ethnology, neuropsychology and ethology

Cross-cultural findings establish the empirical evidence for a common form of worldwide hunter-gatherer shamanism, as well as differentiating these shamans from other types of shamanistic healers. These diverse practitioners have contributed to a confusion regarding the nature of shamanism because they share similarities in their common biogenetic foundations. These involve a cultural universal involving community ritual in which the induction of altered states of consciousness (ASC) is seen as a tool for engaging in interaction with spirits for the purposes of divination and healing. The relationship of various types of shamanistic healers to subsistence, social, and political characteristics provides evidence of the evolutionary transformation of a hunter-gatherer shamanism into other types of religious practitioners. The deep evolutionary origins of shamanism are illustrated through biogenetic approaches that identify the biological bases of shamanic universals and their deeper phylogenetic origins. The homologies of shamanic rituals with the displays of the great apes provide a basis for identifying the ancient foundations of hominin ritual. These ritual commonalities are described by reference to the maximal displays of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). The homologies implicate hominin ritual activities as involving similar individual and group activities involving vigorous bipedal displays by alpha males which included drumming with hands, feet, and sticks and emotional vocalizations. Their adaptive foundations are illustrated by the many functions of these threat displays in chimpanzee society: greetings, hierarchy maintenance, group integration, intergroup boundary maintenance, and release of tension and frustration. Biogenetic approaches to the origins of human ritual provide an additional empirical and theoretical foundation for understanding the nature and origins of shamanism in the human and hominid past.

Winkelman, M.2010Time and Mind 3 (2), pp. 159-182

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