>From: Claudio Crow <[log in to unmask]>
>My point thus is: if the Germans - another indo-european people - have a
>form of Shamanism recognized by Mircea Eliade as such, why wouldn't the
>Celts - any Celts?
The article by Alice Kehoe that I cited specifically criticizes Eliade's
definition of shamanism. I would say that his definition is too broad to be
useful--it brushes over the cultural specifics that make shamanism what it
is in the original cultures. Kehoe's criticisms are more specific and
cutting. For example, she quotes David Holmberg (Holmberg, David H. 1989
Order in Paradox: Myth, Ritual and Exchange among Nepal's Tamang. Ithaca:
Cornell University Press.:144-145) as saying that:
"Although a rich ethnographic literature is subsumed under the term
shamanism, shamanism remains intractable as an object of general study, in
part because disparate practices have been disassociated from larger
cultural contexts and linked to universal motivations .... [The]
reconstruction of shamanism as an isolate appears as an anthropological
illusion ... historically comparable to totemism, the reality of which
lies as much in anthropological conceptualizing as in ethnographic
I'd also suggest that Germanic/Norse practices show a good bit of adoption
from the practices of neighboring Saami or Finno-Ugric peoples so to
describe *those elements* as "shamanic" would be consistent with the use of
the term "shamanic" in the restricted sense advocated by Kehoe. To the best
of my knowledge, one does not find *proof* of similar adoption/adaptation
among Celtic-speaking groups.
>The Indo-european thread is a very interesting one to follow, for some
>writers tend to agree that the basic tenets of Siberain Shamanism came from
>North-Western India - the very same area where we have the intriguing
>figure of Pashupati (literally, the Lord of the Beasts), a proto-Çivaic
>male detiy in many aspects similar to the European figure better known as
>Cernunnos, so identified with the Celts. Apparently, due to the same
>Indo-european roots, both branches (in Mohenjo-daro and in Europe)
>developed very similar deities and concepts. Why shouldn't "shamanic"
>principles be shared likewise?
The way I see it, either you acknowledge the differences that make cultures
distinct at the point they become identifiable as specific cultures or you
smoosh them all together because *ultimately* they come from the same roots.
There may have been practices in the origins of I-E culture (about which one
might speculate that they were once comparable to the practices of Siberian
shamans in the historical period. However, we are not comparing proto-IEs
with modern Siberians. What we know about Celtic-speaking people in the
historical period suggests distinctly different cultures from the Siberian,
etc. peoples. So, while the ancestors of the Celts--and other IEs--might
have been shamanic, the Celts, as we know them, were not.
I would disagree that the presence of such a figure *makes* a culture
shamanic. One could also suggest that the "lord of the beasts" figure which
is so frequently cited as idispensable to the definition of shamanism is (1)
not so vital or omnipresent and/or (2) is found so early on that it is
common to many European cultures without being part of the shamanic complex
Get your FREE download of MSN Explorer at http://explorer.msn.com/intl.asp.