El Curandero: Shamans of Mesoamerica and the Amazon

Disease is thought to be caused by intrusion or soul loss, evil spirits, sorcerers, or broken taboos. By Dr. Robert M. TorranceProfessor Emeritus of Comparative LiteratureUniversity of California, Davis Introduction In much of Middle America, from the northern borders of Mexico to the Isthmus of Panama, and especially in Mesoamerica—the large regions once dominated by[…]

The ‘Doe Shaman’ of Pre-Columbian Costa Rica and Nicaragua

This would have been placed in a grave to embody the shaman’s power that would help the deceased make their safe passage from life to death. From the Physical to Spiritual World (the Shaman) An important visual theme in many ancient American art styles is that of transformation: one thing changing into another. Often the[…]

Curandero: Peruvian Shamans and Nature’s Medicine Cabinet

In Peru, the challenge of providing health care to the country’s citizens has spurred interest in alternative medicines that draw on cultural traditions. By Jane Palmer Under the clear, moonlit sky of Friday, July 13, 2018, Elide Sanchez Rivera steps into her own star—a large, white symbol chalked into the dusty ground. With the sound[…]

Shamanic Trance Journeys: Prehistoric Attempts to Understand the Natural World

Early spiritual and religious concepts developed to deal with an occasionally but worldwide seen natural phenomenon which suggested an inverted otherworld. Abstract Since palaeolithic times, shamans involved animal depictions in cave ceremonies and adopted animals as helping spirits during their trance journeys. This study aims at explaining the rituals with new evidence: the shamans were[…]

Supernatural Sound: Science and Shamanism in the Arctic

The Arctic became a place beyond empirical grasp: the real/fantasy land of orality about which those living within the textual horizon of rational empiricism dreamed with fear and longing. Toolemak’s Voice Scanning the horizon off the coast of Greenland in 1822, William Scoresby witnessed the impossible: floating in the sky was an upside down ship.[…]