Re: [Shamanic Ways] Digest Number 1776
- Dear Nick
I know this is an old thread by I have been out of touch in the woods for a while and am just catching up.
Specifically in the thread regarding spirit possession to cure illness, there are references in the work of Charles Hudson, who is one of the proponents in anthropology of the significance of shamanic-type practices among Southeastern Native American groups as playing a pivotal role in the transition from Mississippian to post Mississippian culture.
His idea is as Mississippian culture failed people began to rebel against the priest caste. There are a number of oral traditions among the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, etc, of the "corruption" of the priest class and the restoration of order through the "people of medicine" working together. During this period of time there was an apparent proliferation of certain sects of ecstatic practices, (e.g. the eastern Thunderbird culture) which appear to involve medicine people leading "non-initiates" through spirit contacts intended to heal illnesses.
There are also some references in the work of Kilpatricks to the use of this technique in extraordinary circumstances. In some cases the belief is the person is suffering the illness as a way for the spirits to get their attention and call them to the "work." In some aspects this seems similar to the belief in "spirit illness" among the mudang of Korea and some other Pacific rim traditions.
Again, though, some of this gets into how the practices are being perceived and labeled by the participants versus an outside observer. For an example, if there is a belief illness or misfortune is being caused by a potentially unhappy ancestor spirit, most of the southeastern traditions would say ultimately the problem can only be solved by finding a descendant and having them be lead through the otherworld journey by a practiced medicine person to deal with the ancestor.
Probably more than you wanted to know.
Bless the beesSusan Stoddard
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