Varieties of Magical Experience


Indigenous Magic












p. 41 the 2 sorts of shaman among the Desana

"the ... Desana of the Upper Ri[`]o Negro Region ... do distinguish [Buchillet 2004] healers according to the source and nature of their power and knowledge :

the jaguar-shaman is called yee and ...

the blower of spells, kumu.

The former attains his power through trance and ... hallucinogenic snuff, and is ... able to ... see illnesses inside a patient's body; whereas

the latter cures by blowing tobacco smoke, massaging, and sucking out objects from an afflicted person."

Buchillet 2004 = Dominique Buchillet : "Sorcery Beliefs, Transmission of Shamanic Knowledge, and Therapeutic Practice among the Desana of the Upper Rio Negro Region, Brazil". In :- Neil L. Whitehead & Robin Wright (edd.) : In Darkness and Secrecy. Durham (NC) : Duke Univ Pr.

{The power to " see illnesses inside a patient's body" is acquired from deities during dreaming.}

p. 42 kune`

"Kune` ... in the upper Xingu River region ... is both ... the pot in which charms are boiled, and "a raw spiritual force." Spirit-like, it needs to be fed and cared for and handled with great care. A kune` ritual is conducted by a shaman going into trance ... and performing ritual into order to contact spirits who advise him" (Heckenberger 2004).

Heckenberger 2004 = Michael Heckenberger : "Xinguano Witchcraft". In :- Neil L. Whitehead & Robin Wright (edd.) : In Darkness and Secrecy. Durham (NC) : Duke Univ Pr.

p. 42 in France and in Romania

"in the rural area of the Bocage, in western France, ... were {and are} ... practitioners of magic ... like those recorded in the Middle Ages." (Favret-Saada 1980)

"magical practices are still common in Romania ... ." (Andreesco-Miereanu 1989)

Favret-Saada 1980 = J. Favret-Saada (transl. by Catherine Cullen) : Deadly Words : Witchcraft in the Bocage. Cambridge Univ Pr.

Andreesco-Miereanu 1989 = I. Andreesco-Miereanu : "Magic in Eastern Europe". In :- Lawrence Eugene Sullivan (ed.) : Hidden Truths. NY : Macmillan. pp. 116-21.

p. 43 diagnosis by praeternatural seeing into patient's body

"The San Bushmen of the Kalahari region of Africa talk about n/um energy and healing, and of being able to look, with steady gaze, at and through an ill person to see the illness inside that person's body. "Seeing" in this special way is also reported in Aboriginal Australia and in the Arctic Circle among the Inuit."

p. 44 causation by the "spirit world" {known as the "causal plane"} : linked worlds

"the spirit world holds the true causes of things that happen in the ordinary world, and ... these two realms appear ... to someone such as a shaman ... linked -- indeed, they merge into each other. The shaman's ability to move freely between these different but linked worlds and to perceive things and events in both enables him or her to see the "real essence" of things."

p. 44 for curation of ailments, etc.

San shamanry : "how his giraffe "{spirit-}helper" enabled him to leave his body so that he could learn how to cure people" :-

(quoted from Vitebsky 2001, p. 51) "The giraffe came and took me off again. We came to a river and I swam down it ... . Then my protector {the giraffe-spirit} told me that I would be able to cure people by going into trance. We entered the earth and when we emerged we began to climb up a thread to the sky. Up there in the sky the {animal-}spirits and the dead people sing for me so that I can dance. If a person dies {praesumably on Earth}, I carry him on my back, I dance so that God will give his spirit to me and then I put his spirit back into his body. When you approach God {in the sky-world}, all sorts of mambas, pythons, bees and locusts {all of which various species of animal-spirits are guarding the house of God in the sky-world} bite you {an ordeal in order to be permitted to visit God in God's house}.

And when you return into your body you go "He-e-e-e!" {cf. Great-Plains AmerIndian caerimonial call of "Heya!" or the like} This is the sound of you[r] getting back into you body. {It the the utterance inviting deities to assist one to re-entre one's material body.}"

"In another part of Africa, the Songhay, in the Republic of Niger, talk about "men of power," people who have knowledge {"men of knowledge" being a term also used with the same meaning by AmerIndians in Southeast United States of America} that enables them to move between the world of spirit and the material world."

Vitebsky 2001 = Piers Vitebsky : The Shaman. London : Duncan Baird. (published simultaneously under the title Shamanism, Norman : Univ of OK Pr.)

pp. 45-6 sorcery by Mekeo of New Guinea

p. 45

"The magical act is performed on another level of reality,

the world ... experienced in dream consciousness where it is possible to encounter the souls of both living persons

{To assume that a dream-person purporting to be a person known in the waking world, must be that person's "soul", is to trust too much in mere purport. Such dream-persons are more of the nature of theatrical-like actors (and actresses) merely acting out in the dream-world such waking-world person's appearance and ro^le.}

and the dead. ...

{Likewise, any dream-person purporting to be a person known to have died in the waking-world, is quite unlikely to be anything more than a skillful actor (or actress) assigned to perform such a theatrical-like function in the dream-world.}

Through dreams or other ASCs [altered states of consciousness], the Mekeo magical worker enters

other realms {i.e., semi-trance states, while awake} where he {or she} might encounter shadowy presences, whispered communications, and strange scents." (Stephan 1987, p. 67)

{All these may be encountred during waking life [when I have often experienced them] : the whispered (or even louder) communications almost incessantly, the praeternatural shadows out-of-doors when seeking an omen, and the strange scents (sometimes spice-like, sometimes perfume-like) within one's residence under mysterious circumstances.}

"One technique employed is called amale, whereby ... after breathing the deity Yeyaguliba's secret names, he becomes invisible and ties the koli leaf around the head of his arrow, which he then fits into his bow.

He draws the bow but does not let the arrow fly ... .

{Likewise, in Zen archery "the student archer learns *not* to release the arrow as he holds the drawn bow." ("KRA")}

p. 46

Rather, he waits for the god to send a whistling sound, up from his stomach

{With Mekeo "stomach", cf. Japanese "lower abdomen" : "in the act of drawing a bow and drew a line connecting the lower abdomen ... field of cinnabar (tanden ...) ..., enter the realm of no-self (muga ...), and become one (ittai ...) with the universe." ("MZAA", p. 20)}

and out of his mouth. This sound travels along ... because of the koli leaf.

For curing and healing, the practitioner is taught to make a funnel of kemi leaves and bespell it with Yeyaguliba's secret names. He places the funnel over the painful part of the victim's body, breathes into it once again the appropriate spells, and then extracts the {invisible, supposed} arrowhead."

"Ikifa, roughly translated as "clever" ... is the general Mekeo term for magical knowledge. The term lalau(ga) refers to the entity that is activated in dreaming that can leave the body; it is this part of a human that enters the unseen{-except-in-dreams-and-in-trances} world of spirits ... . [Stephen 1987, p. 46] ...

A man steeped in esoteric knowledge, a "man of knowledge," lives constantly in a state of continuous awareness of other realities and has a wide range of experiences brought about waking visions, hallucinations, dreams, premonitions, and rituals." (Stephen 1987, pp. 51-2)

Stephen 1987 = Michele Joy Stephen : " Master of Souls : the Mekeo Sorcerer". In :- Michele Joy Stephen (ed.) : Sorcerer and Witch in Melanesia. Carlton (Victoria) : Melbourne Univ Pr. pp. 41-80.

"KRA" = "Kyudo; Releasing the Arrow".

"MZAA" = Yamada Shoji : "Myth of Zen in the Art of Archery". JAPANESE J OF RELIGIOUS STUDIES 28(2001).1-2:1-30.

pp. 46-7 shamanry among the Sora

p. 46

"In the state of Orissa ... live the Sora ..., whose shamans travel to the underworld during trances. The Sora say that there are two kinds of shamans : the "great" shamans and the "lesser" shamans. The former conduct funerals and are mostly women; the latter perform divinations and cures and are mostly

p. 47

men. Each kind has helper spirits ... . Sora shamans acquire their shamanic powers by marrying Hindu spirits in the underworld." (Vitebsky 2001, p. 40)

p. 47 humans' colorful auras and aureoles are seen by Nepalese shamans

"a shamanic rite called Moshi Tiba, in Nepal, ... was designed to call on the souls of deceased people. ... a photo during the rite ... revealed ... colored energy shapes that were superimposed over the bodies and heads of the shamans and other people in attendance. ... the shaman commented ... :

[quoted from Vitebsky 2001, p. 21 :] These ... ["... photos"] are the exact colours I see, in exactly the right positions."

p. 47 yac^ay, in Peru

"A Peruvian shaman also referred to this "power," ... called yachay, ... that is retained inside his body in the upper part of his stomach. Yachay contains spirit helpers, which he calls upon for healing purposes ... . Derived from a verb meaning "to know," yachay also represents power as knowledge. ... He can also pass some ... along to a pupil" (Vitebsky 2001, p. 24).

pp. 47-8 [quoted from Berndt & Berndt 1993, p. 261] sorcery-technique using nilj^eri, in aboriginal SouthAustralia

p. 47

"to remove his ngildjeri ... and warm it by the fire;

p. 48

then, with a ... bunch of emu feathers (saturated with a dead man's fat), he would draw {stroke} along the stem ... to its point ... . ... The sorcerer would then hold it in the middle ..., pointing it ... . Again, he sould run his fingers down the ngildjeri, releasing the power of spirit (pangari). The sorcerer would feel the shock in his forearm and upper-arm as he held the ngildjeri : the spirit would go directly ... and enter ... . If the pangari missed ..., a swish of air would be felt as it went by with a stream of sparks issuing from behind it. ... all the people would see its sparks."

Berndt & Berndt 1993 = Ronald Murray Berndt & Catherine Helen Berndt : A World That Was : the Yaraldi of the Murray River and the Lakes South Australia. Carlton South (Victoria) : Melbourne Univ Pr.

pp. 48-50 sorcery-technique in aboriginal Queensland

p. 48

"in northwest Queensland ..., ... a pointing bone, once "loaded," ... was "like a

spear of thought." [Roth 1897] ...

The power itself was said to come from the [human] bone pointer himself and his songs, rather from the bone, which merely acted as a channel for the power."

{More fully stated : the deities who empower and effectuate this activity (as a matter of course, as in any ritual activity) are more interested in the sorcerer personally, and in the praise-songs sung to them by him, than in details about the physical implement employed by him.}

"a medicine man in the Boulia district of [west-central] Queensland made a death-bone from ... an emu-bone ..., with a string of ... possum twine attached to it. The string connected the pointer part of the apparatus to a container, ...

p. 49

made out of ... a kangaroo ... leg bone ... . ...

The pointing bone absorbs its maker's power and becomes "loaded" with power in a special ceremony during which sacred and secret songs are sung over it. ... The"pointing" is said to establish a psychical counterpart that enters ... . The pointing bone was ..., to all purposes, most effective."

"The Kungganji medicine men of Cape Grafton, Queensland, used ... their victims ...

during sleep, ... with a bone splinter

{apparently so as to influence deities in their dream}

plunged just above

each nostril ...;

{perhaps so as to influence deities of pran.a-yama ('breath-

restraint'), apparently through the same dream}

p. 50

this ..., when imbibed by a medicine man, gave him the power

{If extracted from the dream-world, is it somehow further processed (viz., transsubstantiated) in the dream-world before being quaffed (as eucharist)?}

to "fly over immense stretches of country."" (Elkin 1945, p. 95)

{by projection of the astral body, followed by flight by means of transvection}

Roth 1897 = Walter E. Roth : Ethnological Studies among the North-West-Central Queensland Aborigines. Brisbane (Queensl).

p. 50 "heavy with power"

[Among Australian aborigines, certain] "people, such as medicine men, are considered to be [Berndt & Berndt 1977, p. 258] "heavy with power."

Such a person was able to [Berndt & Berndt 1993, p. 251] ... enhance the power of dream revelations, see spirits, transform themselves (shape-shift), and "fly" {transvection via astral projection} ... with great rapidity over vast distances."

Berndt & Berndt 1977 = Ronald Murray Berndt & Catherine Helen Berndt : The World of the First Australians. Sydney : Ure Smith.

pp. 51-2 shamanry among the Inupiat

p. 51

"The Inupiat, who live in the Arctic Circle, ... say [Turner 1996, p. xxviii] that with the assistance of spirits it is possible to ... find lost objects and people, and communicate with the dead, and that spirits "extend themselves through humans" during healing work. ...

Edith Turner's ... living with the Inupiat, during her quest to learn and practice their healing methods, resulted in her experiencing ... spirit manifestation and premonition. ... Her Inupiat healing mentor, Claire Sivuq, taught her how to heal through touch by placing her hands over an afflicted area on the body. ...

p. 52

The healer merely allows an opening. Turner also talks about being able to sense the sound that sick flesh in a human body emits. ...

She compares it to the African healer in Zambia, where at the climax of the heaing ceremony, the healer extracted an afflicting spirit out of a sick woman's body. It took several attempts, ... and Turner saw for herself what was being extracted ... "a large gray ball, something between solid and smoke, a kind of globular ghost." [Turner 1996, pp. xxii] ...

As well as being able to heal in a similar manner to the Ndembu healer, Claire told [Turner 1996, p. 135] ... that she was able to "see inside" a body, "like an X-ray," and that this enabled Inupiat healers to diagnose an illness."

Turner 1996 = Edith Turner : The Hands Feel It. DeKalb : Northern IL Univ Pr.

p. 53 shamanry in Western Arnhemland (Northern Australia) : praeternatural diagnosis by seeing into body, followed by miraculous healing

"Reports of being able to "see" ... by a penetrating gaze that resulted in "X-ray vision," relay that parts of the body such as the liver and intestines appear to be "shining" and, according to their color or brightness, it is possible to ascertain whether an organ is diseased. The organ might vary from a healthy transparency to an unhealthy gray or black. In order to extract the offending {disease from the unhealthy} organ, the healer would rub his hands and grab the object to draw it out, trying not to let it break up into fragments." (Hume 2002, p. 138)

Hume 2002 = Lynne Hume : Ancestral Power : ... Consciousness and Aboriginal Australians. Carlton South (Victoria) : Melbourne Univ Pr.

pp. 53-5 Barbara Ann Brennan

p. 53

"In her two books, Hands of Light : A Guide to Healing through the Human Energy Field and Light Emerging : The Journey of Personal Healing, she describes her experiences of {praeternaturally} perceiving {immaterial aspects of} the human body ... during the healing process. ... She calls her abilities high sense perception {commonly, albeit inaccurately, called "extra-sensory perception"} the ability to perceive {immaterial} things beyond the normal range of senses ... . She is able to "scan" the human energy field and "see" abnormalities in the body ... . Tapping into these fields of energy, she works with the energy that flows throughout the body so that healing can occur. ...

p. 54

As a child ..., she would enter an expanded state of consciousness and be able to perceive things beyond the normal range of experience. She began seeing the energy fields {aurae} around trees and small animals ... . She also noticed that everything was connected by these energy fields. She began to pay attention to the energy fields and colors surrounding human bodies, and found that they are intimately associated with a person's health and well-being. Bright colors ... indicate good health, whereas an energy field that had dark colors ... is indicative of poor health. ... She ... often saw a dark spot or area in the energy field where the illness was situated. Sometimes she would also hear someone {a divine voice} telling her what was wrong with the patient. ...

As Brennan's life progressed she first began sensing spiritual beings and then seeing them, "as if in a vision." Then she began hearing them talk to her and feeling them touch her, guiding her during healing

p. 55


We are all guided, she suggests, by spiritual teachers who speak to us in dreams

{All persons who appear to us in dreams are actually some type of supernatural capable of furnishing divine guidance to us, if merely we acknowledge them then as such.}

and through our intuition, and

if we listen,

{while praying to them for guidance by them}

they speak to us directly."

p. 55 authors about entheogenic drugs

"Rick Strassman speaks specifically of DMT (dimethyltryptamine);

Andy Letcher focuses on mushrooms (psilocybin);

Benny Shanon [2002],

Nicholas Saunders et al. [2000],

Alexander and Ann Shulgin [1995], and

Des Tramacchi [2006],

... have all written about different types of entheogens".

Shanon 2002 = Benny Shanon : The Antipodes of the Mind. Oxford Univ Pr.

Saunders et al. 2000 = N. Saunders; A. Saunders; and M. Pauli : In Search of the Ultimate High : Spiritual Experience through Psychoactives. London : Rider.

Shulgin 1995 = Alexander & Ann Shulgin : Pihkal. Berkeley : Transform Pr.

Tramacchi 2006 = Des Tramacchi : "Entheogens, Elves and Other Entities : Encountering the Spirits of Shamanic Plants and Substances". In :-  Lynne Hume & Kathleen McPhillips (edd.) : Popular Spiritualities. Aldershot : Ashgate. pp. 91-104.

pp. 55-6 affecting the world; a journal

p. 55

"In many cultures where there is a strong belief in spirits and spirit worlds, there is an integrated belief that these things affect the mundane world on a daily, lived basis, and that spirit communication, animal spirits, reincarnation, shamanic-style healing, prophetic dreams, and ... transcendence ... are merely facts of their everyday world."

p. 56

"There is ... now that ventures into the ... world of "spirits," ... a new journal, Paranthropology : Journal of Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal".


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