Prehistoric Roots of Shamanism (2)

1693x 29. 11. 2019 1 Reader

Shamans' graves are not only on the old continent. From South America comes a very interesting finding suggesting that the production and consumption of the mystical hallucinogenic Ayahuasca drink is much older than originally thought. Researchers believed Ayahuasca was only a few centuries old, but finding a leather bag hiding remnants of plants containing harmin from the yage creeper, DMT from chacruna, cocaine from coca, and psilocin from psilocin shifts the use of hallucinogenic beverages and other psychoactive substances flight. The bag was stored in a cave in southwestern Bolivia, which most likely served as a burial ground and an iconic place for the surrounding communities. Although the remains were not found, the cave issued a rich collection of findings including beads, braids of human hair and an article of fur, which the researchers first thought was a shoe. It turned out, however, that they found a real treasure - a bag made of fox fur. This was accompanied by an ornate headband, small spatula blades and a carved tube along with small wooden plates used to inhale medicinal and intoxicating substances.

The radiocarbon dating of the fur bag determined that it was worn sometime between 900 and 1170 AD. According to its content, there is no doubt that it belonged to a respected shaman who either traveled a lot or had contacts to give him access to hallucinogenic plants do not occur. Ayahuasca is a beverage primarily made from yage (Banisteriopsis c.) And chacruna (Psychotria v.), Containing DMT, used by South American shamans and for transitional and mystical rituals and in medicine. From the middle of 20. However, it is gaining popularity among the inhabitants of developed European and North American countries, who for various reasons seek its entheogenic and healing effects. However, her drinking cannot be described as a pleasant experience.

A thousand years old bag hiding hallucinogenic plants

Ayahuasca's experience is often accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea, and the taste of the drink itself is, according to the participants of the rituals, particularly repulsive. The visions, which then come, are worth the inconvenience. Many participants testified that during the Ayahuasca ceremony they had a spiritual experience that completely changed their lives and cured them of traumas, addictions, mental and health problems that Western medicine could not cope with. The discovery of a shamanic bag from Bolivia shows that these admirable qualities were used by people thousands of years ago.

Marijuana rituals from ancient China

For narcotics we will remain, but we will move to the other end of the world, to ancient China. Here, in the Turfan depression area in northwestern China, the grave of an 35-year-old man of European appearance was placed on a wooden bed with a reed pillow under his head. Thirteen approximately 90 cm long cannabis plants were laid across his chest, the roots of which pointed to the man's pelvis and the upper part to his chin and left side of his face. Radiocarbon dating of the tomb showed that this man was saved for his last rest approximately 2400 to 2800 years ago. Filling the deceased with cannabis flower sticks was not uncommon in the ancient Far East. Many burials containing these psychoactive plants are known from the Eurasian steppes, and hemp use seems to have been widespread in these regions. Although it is not possible to say with certainty that it was a shaman, there is no doubt that altered states of consciousness, possibly accompanied by rituals, were an important part of the lives of the people of the Far and Middle East.

Golden scythian cup with murder motif. Source: National Geographic

Marijuana was a traditional healing herb of the Skyths, indulging in ceremonies in tents full of smoke from this psychoactive plant. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote about them: “The Skyths take the hemp seed, crawl it under felted blankets, and then throw it on the fire-lit stones. The seed starts to smoke and develop so much vapor that no Greek steam bath could do it. The Scythians like such a bath, and they rejoice in joy.

The seed probably meant flowers containing psychoactive THC and other cannabinoids. He adds that the Scythians do not bathe in water, but they use these steam baths for their purification. The description of the Skythian way of using cannabis is very reminiscent of the tradition of sweat huts known for example in North American Indians. It is a natural cleansing “sauna” built from wicker and blankets, or fur, using heat and steam from hot stones, watered. Accompanied by an experienced shaman or medic, the participants sit in the dark, humid and hot, listening to the chanting and rhythmic sounds of the rattle. This purification is not only a purification of the body, but above all a spirit, because the extreme conditions that exist during it can help to loosen or break down old blocks and bring participants to a deeper self-knowledge. Also, the intimate atmosphere in the hut, where the participants traditionally sit naked and close together, helps to dissolve personal boundaries and awaken deeper empathy and harmony with others. It is possible that the ancient inhabitants of the Eurasian steppes have also enhanced the positive effects of this sauna with cannabis smoke, which causes euphoric states.

Cannabis has also penetrated the traditions and rituals of ancient polytheistic religions. According to the findings of the archaeologist Diana Stein of the University of London, it played an important role in the religious ceremonies of the Assyrians and Babylonians who called him qunnabu, and was also of sacred significance to the ancient Israelites who used it as an ingredient in the Kaneh bosm. sacred oil for the anointing of priests and as a fumigator. Today, after a period of strict prohibitions and restrictions, the beneficial properties of cannabis are of interest to doctors and drug researchers. Its healing potential can make life easier and more enjoyable for many patients, especially those suffering from incurable diseases such as Parkinson's disease or insomnia and eating problems.

A shaman from Brno and his puppet

Last but not least, it is necessary to point out that the funerals of shamans were found in the Czech Republic, more precisely in South Moravia, which was the seat of the advanced hunter-gatherer culture today known by the archaeologists today named Pavlovien after Pavlov in the Břeclav region. One of these funerals is perhaps the oldest grave shaman in the world. It is a grave from Brno, Francouzská Street, which was discovered in 30 during the reconstruction of the sewer system. At first the workers encountered a cluster of large animal bones accompanied by a few unusual objects. A professor of German technology A. Makowsky was summoned to the site, who carefully explored the excavation and at 20 m discovered a 1891 m long mammoth tusk under which the entire mammoth scapula lay and next to it a human skull. There were other human bones stained with red clay at the skull. The skull was surrounded by hundreds of tubular clusters of cones, which seemed to form a cap or other head ornament. Last but not least, the dead was equipped with his marvelous talismans - two stone circles and several stone and bone circular plates. However, the most fascinating finding was a small ivory puppet and a reindeer antler drumstick.

The list of charity is quite long and unusually rich for its time. It was, without a doubt, a man with a unique position in society, who was equipped with all the tools and ornaments he used during his lifetime, and his grave was guarded by the bones of the largest animals walking through the landscape at that time - mammoth and furry rhino. Although his own bones were not well preserved due to the carelessness of the workers, it was evident that he suffered from a severe illness called folk bone, which undoubtedly caused him considerable pain. Radiocarbon dating has determined the time the funeral was lying undisturbed in the country at 23 for a thousand years. However, the grave is exceptional not only for its equipment or age, but also for the place chosen by prehistoric people. For he was on the bank of the river in the alluvial plain; far from places inhabited by mammoth hunters. As if the ancient shaman wished to rest for the last time in the wilderness, a place on the banks of the river, from where he would have easy access to the lower world in which he joined the other ancestors of the tribe.

Undoubtedly, the most remarkable of all the charity that this Paleolithic shaman had with him was a man's puppet made of mammoth. But it was not an ordinary toy. Puppets, and in fact any representation of the human figure, have an incredible power in the world of natural nations and serve as an aid in magical rituals, especially in the ceremony of returning the soul. In the traditional concept of the world, diseases are caused by the loss of the soul. This is either kidnapped by the demons that are the cause of the disease, or it breaks off itself and is lost in the trauma that has been experienced. In order for the soul to return to the body, it is necessary to find it, trap it and bring it back. With his ability to mentally travel, the shaman, accompanied by his animal guides, sets out on a journey into the underworld, where the soul is dragged by demons, and when he finds it he will use such puppets to capture her. Using spells, it will return it to the patient's body and heal it from the illness that plagues him.

The object, which inherently belongs to every shaman, whether prehistoric or modern, is a drum. It is usually not found in graves, because it is made of wood and leather and decomposes by ages. In the grave from Brno, however, was found a mallet of reindeer antler, indicating that this shaman had a drum. Rhythmic drumming is the primary means of achieving ecstatic trance in which one can embark on spiritual paths and communicate with spirits and deities. The drum shaman shifts to the axis of the world, allowing him to fly through the air and summon and imprison various ghosts. The skin of the drum also connects the shaman with the world of animal guides, and its surface is richly decorated with various motifs such as the tree of the world, the sun, the moon and the rainbow. For Siberian shamans, the drum is their "horse" on which they embark on their ecstatic journey or an arrow to drive away evil spirits. The drum is the most powerful tool ever available to the shaman and represents a powerful partner and ally that provides the power to heal and protect against all evil.

Lady from Lower Vestonice

Another exceptional grave from our territory was uncovered in 1949 in Dolní Věstonice. It belonged to a woman who died at the age of 40-45 years and was placed in the grave with fox-tooth beads, which were the usual funeral charity for this period. The survivors said goodbye to the woman by sprinkling it with a red ocher dye and covering it with mammoth blades. At first glance, it would seem that this is a normal funeral, although, according to experts, funerals to the country were reserved for the most important persons. But apparently one of them was a woman from Dolní Věstonice, because she was already a shaman according to the first interpretations. The reason for this interpretation was mainly the serious injury of the jaw, which the woman suffered in her 10 to 12 years, which caused in addition to considerable pain and distortion of the woman's face. This has led a number of archaeologists, including Bohuslav Klíma, the discoverer of the grave, and Martin Oliva, a leading expert on pavlovien, to consider that such an injury can predispose an individual to the sole role of a shaman.

Illustration life in a mammoth hunter's camp in Dolní Věstonice. By: Giovanni Caselli

Indeed, the serious pains caused by this injury could have led to its initiation into the spirit world, which is not an uncommon phenomenon in natural nations. It is also noteworthy that a mammoth head was discovered on the same site, whose crooked mouth may indicate that it is a portrait of a buried woman. The chronic pain that the wounded lady in Lower Veston had caused had undoubtedly contributed to her perception of the world and helped her approach, albeit inadvertently, the spirit world. Similarly, there could have been a woman from the Hilazon Tachtit cave, who suffered from a pelvic deformation and most likely limped, or a shaman from Brno suffering from a painful skeleton. However, pain plays an irreplaceable role in shamanism, helping to overcome the boundaries of normal perception and enter a changed state of consciousness. This is evidenced by the ritual performances of Siberian shamans who punctured the body or the vision-seeking ceremony during which the adept was in the wild for several days without food and water. Often an ordinary person becomes a shaman after a serious illness, from which he will not recover until he first makes his way into the ghost world.

During this process, initiated by Siberian shamans, the initiate is usually incited by demons and reassembled, returning to normal reality in this way, but transformed forever. If no one else in Lower Vestonice has gone through a similar initiation today, there is no doubt that her tribe members had due respect and helped her in her painful, heavy fate until she rested in the grave that archaeologists had labeled as DV 3.

A truly ancient tradition

It is clear from all these examples that shamanism is indeed the oldest and most original spiritual tradition in the world. Elements known to shamanic practice from natural nations can be recognized even by people living thousands of years ago. Connections with natural spirits, drumming, soul searching, entheogen use or initiation through pain or serious illness are common to both ancient shamans and contemporary or even modern neo-shamans seeking shamanism to return to the original order of a world crushed by Western material society, industrialization and urban life. The line of ancestors who can pass on their experiences and blessings is really long and thanks to them they may not fall into oblivion.

Tip for a book from the Sueneé Universe

Pavlína Brzáková: Grandfather Oge - Teaching a Siberian Shaman

The story of Oge's grandfather's life from the Podkamenná Tunguzka River is a window into the world of the natural nation, which hardly resists the current influences of globalization. The author is a well-known ethnologist and editor-in-chief of Regenerace magazine.

Pavlína Brzáková: Grandfather Oge - Teaching a Siberian Shaman

Prehistoric roots of shamanism

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