Varieties of Magical Experience, 2



Magic, Anthropology, & the Senses


p. 23 Batek spirit-animal

"In a funeral rite, the spirit of the dead person is often viewed as rising up with the smaoke from a fire.

The Batek people of the Malay peninsula say that blowing incense on a spirit animal can change its form to human and communicate knowledge about magical practices." (Classen; Howes; Synnot 1994, p. 140)

Classen; Howes; Synnot 1994 = Constance Classen; David Howes; Anthony Synnott : Aroma : the Cultural History of Smells. London : Routledge.

pp. 23-4 Malinowski's diary (1967)

p. 23

"Malinowski's diary ... created a wave of shock and interest when it was first published posthumously in 1967, more than 40 years after he had written it. Born of of aristocratic parents in Poland in 1884, ... through his diary we learn about the man himself ... . ... Through

p. 24

the anonymity of a diary he reveals ... his frequent self-administered injections of

a mixture of arsenic and iron in an attempt to feel better."

{He was evidently quite ignorant of the fact that the sweet spices (such as, nutmeg and cinnamon) when ingested are able to banish mental depression.}

Malinowski 1967 = B. Malinowski : A Diary in the Strict Sense of the Term. London : Routledge & Kegan Paul.

p. 25 Searles

"Many contemporary writers would agree with Edmund Searles' comment, that the world cannot be explained by cognitive and material forces alone. About his fieldwork in Guinea-Bissau, he writes [2007, p, 165] :

[quoted] I began to feel there was more to the world than natural forces and human agency. ... I began to feel re-enchanted and reanimated by a world of mystical presence and spiritual agency. I began to experience the world as saturated with unseen forces, a world suffused with ... invisible beings."

Searles 2007 = Edmund Searles : "Prophecy, Sorcery, and Reincarnation : Inuit Spirituality ... ." In :- Jean-Guy Goulet & Bruce Granville Miller (edd.) : Extraordinary Anthropology : Transformations in the Field. Lincoln : Univ of NE Pr.

p. 25 anthropologist's potential magical experience through the senses into trance -- vs. tyrannically enforced (by a university's policies) constraints of career-dictates

"The magical experience engages all the senses : the smells of ... incense that ... dispell unwanted {hostile spirit-}presences, and invite {beneficial} communication with the Otherworld; the visual esoteric ..., the sound of music and chanting all help take the participant into trance ... and the awareness of something {praeternatural} more than all this. Like the numinous experience, the magical experience

transcends and eludes comprehension in rational terms. ...

{Not quite! Though transcending and eluding explanation in intransigeantly materialist terms, it is always within the bounds of rationality in occult-mystical terms.}

Also, the anthropologist is [Prattis 1997, p. 60] "constrained by his or her career dictates to suppress

a great deal of the phenomena of experience,

{most especially, any experiences of phainomena of the supernatural}

and interpret and communicate

in preprogrammed ways

{in dogmatically materialist ways}

that can leave the culture and self devoid of meaning."

{especially when their essential meaning is actually in the realms of the praeternatural and of the supernatural}

Prattis 1997 = I. J. Prattis : Anthropology at the Edge : Essays on Culture, Symbol, and Consciousness. NY : Univ Pr of America.

p. 26 the Mekeo soul

"For the Mekeo, in New Guinea, there is a "hidden aspect" to each person that is separable from consciousness and can operate in another mode {plane} of existence. This hidden aspect of the self is said to partly exist in "the shadowy and perilous disembodied realm" that exists in the world of dreams." (Stephen 1995, p. 99)

Stephen 1995 = Michele Stephen : A'aisa's Gifts : a Study of Magic and the Self. Berkeley : Univ of CA Pr.

pp. 26-7 how a reputable anthropologist abandoned materialism

p. 26

[quoted from Stoller & Olkes 1987] "Having crossed the threshold into the Songhay world of magic, ... Given my intense experience -- ... trance, sorcery ... -- I will need in future works to seek a different mode

p. 27

of expression, a mode in which the event becomes the author of the text ... ."

[apropos Paul Stoller, cited in Turner 2006 :] ""... analysis" could not make sense of the feelings of an "electric" handshake ..., and all his assumptions about the world were "uprooted from their foundation.""

Turner 2006 = Edith Turner : "Advances in the Study of Spirit Experience". ANTHROPOLOGY OF CONSCIOUSNESS 17.2:33-61.

p. 27 praeternatural vision (witnessed from a praeternatural viewpoint, by an anthropologist) of a human corpse's becoming temporarily redanimated

[quoted from Grindall 1983, p. 68] "it began with moments of anticipation and terror, as though I knew that something unthinkable was about to happen. The anticipation left me breathless, gasping for air. In the pit of my stomach I felt a jolting and tightening sensation, which corresponded to moments of heightened visual awareness. ...

From both the corpse and the goka came flashes of light ... . The hand of the goka would beat down the iron hoe ..., and suddenly the flashes of light flew ... . Then I felt my body become rigid. My jaws tightened and at the base of my skull I felt a jolt ... . A terrible and beautiful sight burst upon me. Stretching from the ... fingers and mouth of the goka, strands of fibrous light played upon the head, fingers, and toes of the dead man. The corpse, shaken by spasms, then rosen to its feet, spinning and dancing in a frenzy. ... . ... the very floor and walls of the compound had come to life, radiating light and power ... . ... The talking drums on the roof of the dead man's house began to glow with a light so strong that it drew the dancers to the rooftop. The corpse picked up the drumsticks and began to play."

Grindall 1983 : B. T. Grindall : "Into the Heart of Sisala Experience : Witnessing Death Divination". J OF ANTHROPOLOGICAL RESEARCH 39, no. 1.

pp. 28-9 trend established by Stoller, for anthropologists to have their own praeternatural experiences (in the course of ethnological fieldwork) published

p. 28

"Anthropologists, writes Paul Stoller, are always between things -- between ... apprehensions of reality; we are "sojourners of the between." ...

By writing about his own experiences of this whole process, Stoller was to open up a Pandora's box that allowed others to ponder, explore, and publish their own

previously hushed accounts."

p. 29

"Anthropologists researching consciousness and religion ... and spirituality, ... experience ... magical practices ..., entering trance, along with the people they are observing. ...

Edith Turner writes that she had not encountered Stoller's 1984 article until she was writing ... her own ... . Stoller later told Edith Turner that his article

"had stirred up the jeers and shaming remarks of his colleagues in the corridors of Westchester University"

{Those "colleagues" were apparently instructors in departments of physical science at said university. The devotees of materialism are typically quite obtuse in spiritual concerns.}

where he taught, and for which, later, he received prizes for his work."

p. 30 instance of near-death experience

"A clinical professor ..., Reader [1995] ... felt a sense of bliss and understanding, along with "holographic flashes of everthing" that occurred in his life. Then he was projected down a long tunnel with a bright light at the end that began to surround and suffuse through him, and saw the faces of everyone he had known, both alive and dead."

Reader 1995 = August L. Reader III : "Internal Mystery Plays ... in Contemplative Practices". ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES 1.4:54-63. reprinted from REVISION 17 (summer 1994).

pp. 30-1 magical experiences

p. 30

"Magical experiences are ... evocative, wondrous ... events, and ... they are felt through the feeling, sensing body. A magical experience ... might range from a brief but notable feeling of strangeness to a completely life-changing dramatic experience that brings about deep inner change or an intuitive knowing".

p. 31

"for conscious introspection ... a significant spiritual experience ... can stay fixed in someone's memory. ... Taking part in a ritual that is established in a sacred place ..., participants can very easily move into a place and space that can engender a magical experience."

pp. 32-3 Papuan instances of effects of dream-consciousness

p. 32

"The Umeda (Papua New Guinea) word for dream (yinugwi) is very similar to the word for smell (nugwi), and the smell {odor} of ginger is said to stimulate dreams. Ginger is considered to be a magical herb that acts upon the imagination of the dreamer to produce prophetic and favorable dreams. [Classen; Howes; Synnot 1994, p. 155]

The Mekeo of New Guinea say that

the dream-body, inadequately translated as "soul,"

{The term /soul/ is so much vaguer and less definite than the term /dream-body/ that it ought never to be used in any such context.} {Perhaps the term /soul/ ought to be confined to describing the jewellike object visible to praeternatural sight at the solar plexus of one's body.}

is the "entity" that is activated in dreaming, the dream-self or dream-consciousness. It can also leave the body when it is not asleep, which suggested to ... a level of consciousness coterminous with waking consciousness ... ." (Stephen 1987, p. 76, n. 8).

{There are 2 modes, well-known to occultists, of the consciousness's leaving the material body while awake : namely, "remote viewing" and "projection of the astral body".} {"So rather than designating OBEs as dreams, it is far more accurate to refer to dreams as a form of OBE." ("MAOBE" -- EC, p. 27)}

"When she became apprentice to Aisaga, a Mekeo man of knowledge, Michele Stephen found that ... persistent dreams often followed Aisaga's instruction on spells. ...

p. 33

Stephen suggested that "the spell provides a means of relaying messages to the dream consciousness" that is "in accord with what the man of knowledge asserts is its function, to send out his dream-body, or activate the entity that dreams." (Stephen 1987, p. 73)

{Because the spells were acquired from deities in dreamings, therefore those spells are recognized in the dream-world as originating here, and can be used as passcode-words (passwords) to signal to the deities in the dreamworlds to assist in activating "remote viewing" and/or "astral projection" while one is in the waking-world.}

Stephen 1987 = Michele Stephen : "Master of Souls : the Mekeo Sorcerer". In :- Michele Stephen (ed.) : Sorcerer and Witch in Melanesia. Carlton, Victoria, Australia : Melbourne Univ Pr.

"MAOBE" = "Materialistic Accounts of the OBE".

EC = Frederick Aardema : Explorations in Consciousness. Mount Royal, Que'bec, 2012.

p. 33 Dene-Tha dreamings

"Participation in Guajiro interpreations and discussions of dreams, he says [Young & Goulet 1994, p. 25], "jolted me into an awareness I did not have before.""

"early fieldwork with dreams among the Guajiro was to continue into meaningful interaction with the Dene Tha people in northwestern Alberta, Canada, when Goulet engaged ... there from 1980. ... According to the Dene Tha, it is not possible to understand their religion without directly experiencing the reality of dreams and visions. ... The Dene Tha also speak of the ability to travel long distances in spirit, with their animal spirit helpers."

Young & Goulet 1994 = David E. Young; Jean-Guy Goulet : Being Changed by Cross-Cultural Encounters. Univ of Toronto Pr.

pp. 33-4 transported by a golden eagle in a variety of "dream of false awakening"

p. 33

[quoted from Wilkes 2007, p. 69] "there, at the edge of my bed, to my astonishment (even in my sleep), stood a golden eagle.

{It is usual, in Akkadian and in As^s^urian accounts of dreams of false-awakening, for the mortal human to view a deity standing beside the bed.}

It spoke to me in English and simply said : "Come with me.""

p. 34

At this point the eagle told her to grab its feathers, and then it took her, she recounted, high over the prairies".

{This mode of being transported by bird [similar to that of Ed-anak (Etana) in the Sumerian myth] is parallel with accounts of being transported in a flying saucer.}

Wilkes 2007 = Barbara Wilkes : "Reveal or Conceal?" In :- Jean-Guy Goulet & Bruce Granville Miller (edd.) : Extraordinary Anthropology : Transformations in the Field. Lincoln : Univ of NE Pr.

p. 35 participation in rituals by researchers in modern paganisms

"Some contemporary researchers of new religious movements, modern paganism, and nature religions have employed radical participation in the field that called for their full and intense involvement in rituals and practiced that included magical activities."

[p. 244, n. 44 : Luhrmann 1989; Hume 1997; Greenwood 2000]

Luhrmann 1989 = Tanya M. Luhrmann : Persuasions of the Witch's Craft. Cambridge (MA) : Harvard Univ Pr; Oxford : Blackwell.

Hume 1997 = Lynne Hume : Witchcraft and Paganism in Australia. Carlton South (Victoria) : Melbourne Univ Pr.

Greenwood 2000 = Susan Greenwood : Magic, Witchcraft and the Otherworld. Oxford : Berg.

pp. 35-6 researchers' abandonment of materialistic assumptions about the nature of reality

p. 35

"Duncan Earle [2007] casts doubt on the whole notion objectivity, rationality, and reality itself."

p. 36

"A methodology put forward by Fiona Bowie is "cognitive, empathic engagement," which she suggests is particularly suited to the ethnographic study of paranormal phenomena. ... This ... is new in applying the concept to metaphysical phenomena ... . Bowie [2010, p. 5, col. 3] emphasizes that it is not essential to start with any prior assumptions about the "reality" of any situation."

Earle 2007 = Duncan Earle : "Dog Days : Participation as Transformation". In :- Jean-Guy Goulet & Bruce Granville Miller (edd.) : Extraordinary Anthropology : Transformations in the Field. Lincoln : Univ of NE Pr. pp. 310-20.

Bowie 2010 = Fiona Bowie : "Methods for Studying the Paranormal". PARANTHROPOLOGY vol. 1, no. 1.

p. 37 academicians becoming practitioners of mysticism

"scholars of mysticism also need to become practitioners ... in order to effectively understand what they study ..., the result of which is an "endless array of spiritual experiences," ... lead to ... the experienced spiritual reality. [Ferrer & Sherman 2005] ...

Some of us have been engaged in this manner for many years and can attest that the results will stretch the adventurous fieldworker's parameters beyond limits that others may not dare go."

Ferrer & Sherman 2005 = Jorge Noguera Ferrer & Jacob Holsinger Sherman (edd.) : The Participatory Turn : Spirituality, Mysticism, Religious Studies. Albany : State Univ of NY Pr.


Lynne Hume & Nevill Drury : The Varieties of Magical Experience : Indigenous, Medieval, and Modern Magic. Praeger (an imprint of ABC-CLIO), Santa Barbara (CA), 2013.