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Archive for the ‘Altered States’ Category

My Friend The Witch Doctor
Animal skulls at the Lome fetish market

Animal skulls at the Lome fetish market

Animist Practice In Yorubaland

In many societies there exists an ever widening chasm between the ideals of their mythological heritage and the activities of ordinary life.  It often seems with every new nugget of information and technological innovation the relevance of cultural myths and legends as templates of practical action in daily existence recedes.  Their pragmatic authority marginalized, traditional mythology tenuously survives as an existential metaphor of the higher, more abstract ideals of existence as yet not fully explained by contemporary knowledge.  Societies continuing to live in accord with these “archaic,” metaphysical notions are widely considered to be uneducated, superstitious throwbacks destined to eventual doom by their lack of modern awareness.   Possibly the most conspicuous examples of such retrograde behavior lies with cultures who believe in the active, unseen role of spirits; those referred to as “animists.”  However, closer examination of the nature of animism suggests modern judgments may be in need of modification.  Could animist belief and ritual reflect a deeper more accurate ontological understanding than many realize?   Is it possible in many ways the advancements of science are leading us back to the essential truths of our distant mythological past?  The traditional Yoruban cosmology of western Africa may be a relevant case in point.

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Last Updated on Sunday, 5 January 2014 09:39
The Fingerprint Of God

In one way or another all of us are searching for evidence of God.  Granted, few words in the language are more loaded than “God.”  Those more linguistically tempered wisely sidestep the inevitable religious associations by using a bevy of other, more neutral appellations.  For them such terms as Pure Being, Supreme Consciousness, Ultimate Intelligence, The One or Divine Awareness are closer to the ideal they have in mind.  Oh, you can dance around it all you want.  Regardless of label we all know what we’re really talking about.  We’re searching for the source; something that deliberately designed and infused the grand pattern in which we exist with purpose and meaning.  In a world gone crackers with absurdity, endless relativity and intellectual complexity this desire is understandable.  But take heart, as the tubercular munchkin Alexander Pope noted for us all, “hope springs eternal.”  Occasionally, previously hidden patterns of experience or structure emerge so sublime, calculated and profound as to seemingly defy the possibility of random process.  

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 June 2012 02:23
Supernatural – A Review

The chain of reason can be a perilous and unsettling process. Those brash enough to follow any given strand to its logical conclusion may find themselves in incredible if not seemingly preposterous territory. Such is the case of Graham Hancock in his book Supernatural, (2007, Disinformation, New York.) Hancock contends the wide spread use of hallucinogenic drugs throughout history not only provided the impetus for the development of human spirituality but has also revealed a supernatural dimension populated with existentially real beings capable of interacting with our physical world. These beings are known by a myriad of culturally based identities. From the guardian and animal spirits found within tribal cultures to the fairies and elves referenced in early European history to the extraterrestrial beings many claim haunt our modern era. All are different names for the same supernatural entities whose presence and causal abilities are just as substantive as our own. On the surface it seems an appalling anti-intellectual claim. However, scrupulous consideration of the facts, source review and careful assembling of the evidence suggests there is much to consider within Hancock’s theory.

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Last Updated on Friday, 29 October 2010 10:19
Seven Minute Shaman

The Mazatec peoples have always lived just out of reach of the great empires of Mexican history.  Deeply ensconced in the highlands of the Sierra Madre Oriental in the northeast corner of the state of Oaxaca, their lifestyle has long withstood the brunt of such formidable forces as the Toltecs, Aztecs, Spanish Conquistadors  and the Mexican Federal government.  Though a tribe of Popoluca-Zapotecan linguistic stock, Mazatec is a Nahuatl name given them by the Aztec  meaning “Lord of the Deer.”  The Mazatec prefer to refer to themselves as the “Humble People.”   While the relentless pressures of Catholicism and modernity have gradually seeped into their daily lives they remain predominantly a community of weavers and farmers. 

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Last Updated on Friday, 30 July 2010 11:51