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Den mystiske indianen: Schamanism i skärningspunkten mellan populärkultur, forskning och nyandlighet
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Ethnology, Comparative Religion and Gender Studies.
2005 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
The Mystical Indian : Shamanism in popular culture, research, and contemporary spirituality (English)
Abstract [en]

Neo-shamanism, or just shamanism, have entered religious life in the West mostly as a result of the inspiration of Michael Harner and Carlos Castaneda. Placing neo-shamanism in a historical context, shows its intimate connection with popular culture and the distinct association with academic research on shamanism. To elucidate these connections, I have chosen to examine material from popular culture, research and the neo-shamanic movement. The conception of the noble savage arises in the wake of the discovery of the American continent, and it has become a cultural stereotype of tremendous importance. In this thesis, I try to specify typical characteristics and limit this conception to three symbolic figures; the eloquent Indian, the dying Indian and the White man that becomes an Indian. These typifications are often connected to criticism against the modern, Western society, and the entire complex of symbolic characters and the alternative values they represent I call the ideology of native peoples. Research in history of religions and anthropology has brought attention to the religious functionaries among the indigenous peoples around the world, and the concept shaman, originally from Siberia, have often been used for these religious functionaries, both in academic literature and in popular culture. The uses of the term shaman in connection with the North American Indians constitute the bridge between shamanism research and the broad, popular ideology of the native peoples. The Indians has also been connected to religious mysticism, a theme that has been treated both in research and popular culture. No one has given voice and face to this mystical Indian in a more expressive and interesting way than Carlos Castaneda, in the shape of the Yaqui sorcerer don Juan Matus. In the literary shaman fiction by Castaneda and his follow authors, the perceptions of the noble savage and the three symbolic Indian figures, is amalgamated with the image of the mystical Indian. Michael Harner follows Castaneda closely in the emphasis on the sharp distinction between ordinary and shamanic consciousness. This type of consciousness is believed to give access to the supernatural world. The best way to reach this desirable state, the shamanic consciousness, is with the aid of the so called drum journey, where the person sets himself in an ecstatic condition through the use of drum rhythms, or other methods like the Vision Quest, the medicine circle ad sweat-lodge. Also hallucinogenic drugs have been used in this way. What happens with the formation of a modern, Western shamanism is that the ideology of native peoples is outfitted with religious practice and dogmatics. Those who exercise shamanism take on the roles of the eloquent Indian or of the White man that becomes an Indian Neo-shamanism is a direct offspring of the native peoples ideology.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för etnologi, religionshistoria och genusstudier , 2005. , 294 p.
Skrifter utgivna av Religionshistoriska avdelningen vid Stockholms Universitet, ISSN 0348-7415 ; 10
Keyword [en]
shamanism, neo-shamanism, new age, new religious movements, Michael Harner, Carlos Castaneda, mystical experiences, nature mysticism, drum journey, vision quest, noble savage, Indians
National Category
History of Religions
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-517ISBN: 91-7155-081-XOAI: diva2:194917
Public defence
2005-05-30, hörsal 4, hus B, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 10:00
Available from: 2005-05-09 Created: 2005-05-09Bibliographically approved

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