Ecstasy, Ritual, & Alternate Reality, 3-4






Interaction with the Habitat



Religious Trance



Alternate Reality



Rituals of Divination



Ethics in Relation to Religious Behaviour



Semantics of ‘Religion’












Nomadic Pastoralists


p. 20 the Apapocuva-Warani` apocalypse (translated from Nimuendaju` 1914:400) {compared with reversed sequence of prison-houses in Xibalba, according to the Popol VuhPVLT, pp. 131-142}



"When N~anderuvuc,u [First Man] decides ... to put an end to the suffering of the earth, he will awaken the bat demons that hang from the rafters of his house and will send them out to devour the sun and the moon.

5. house of Bats

Then he will order the blue tiger lying under his hammock ... . Singing, the blue tiger will descend from the heavens ... .

4. house of Leopards

Finally, N~anderuvuc,u will pull away to the east the eternal wooden cross that supports the earth.

3. house of old Logs of Wood

Simultaneously, starting at the western edge of the earth, the world will burn below the surface. Farther ahead, the flames will break through the surface, and

2. house of Emmets [fire-emmets?];

the piece behind them will crash into the precipice with a thunderous noise. {opening chasm}

opening of Owls’ mouths

Slowly at first, then ever faster, ... the earth sinks down into the eternal night."

1. house of Gloom}

Nimuendaju` 1914 = Curt Nimuendaju` : "Die Sagen von der Erschlaffung und Vernichtung der Welt". ZEITSCHRIFT FU:R ETHNOLOGIE 46:284-403.

PVLT = Allen J. Christenson : Popol Vuh: Literal Translation. [pdf]

pp. 42, 46 "religious trance" : "spirit journey" into "alternate reality"

p. 42

"Akwe~-Shavante encounter a departed spirit who invites them along."


Apapocuva-Warani` "ability "to make their bodies light enough," and so they can ... visit First Woman in magic corn garden."

p. 46

Oglala Sioux (quoted from Neihardt 1961:85) "dreamed and went into the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. That is the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that world." {cf. Platon’s "myth of the cave"}

Neihardt 1961 = John G. Neihardt : Black Elk Speaks. Lincoln : U of NE Pr.

pp. 46, 59-60 aequivalents to Aztec "tonal" (spirit-animal whose life is aequal in duration to a particular human’s life); stinginess is supernaturally punishable

p. 46 Yanomami "people have a certain inherited soul portion, called noreshi. In the jungle, there lives an animal that belongs to it, and which duplicates the behavior of the person to which it corresponds. The noreshi animal and the person never appear at the same spot, for it they should see each other, they would both die. One lives only as long as the other".

["YLDE"] "all Yanomamö individuals have an animal counterpart, an alter ego known as the noreshi. It is a dual concept, for the noreshi is both an animal that lives in the forest and an aspect or component of the person’s body or psyche. It is possible for people to lose their noreshis.

A male inherits his noreshi from his father, while

a female inherits hers from her mother.

Male noreshis are said to "go above" and

female noreshis are said to "go below." ...

Noreshi animals duplicate the lives of their human counterparts. When [any man] goes hunting, so does his noreshi animal. When they sleep, so do their noreshis. If they get sick, the noreshis do, too. ... While humans and their noreshis theoretically live far apart and never come into contact, it is said that misfortunes occasionally occur, as when a hunter accidentally shoots and kills his own noreshi – and thus dies himself."

p. 59 [Was^o of Oregon (Ramsey 1977, pp. 64-5)] "there was a young hunter who had a spirit elk for a friend. ... . the young hunter came to a lake and saw what he thought was a dead elk. But it was really his guardian spirit, and as soon as he tired to draw it out, they both sank. After touching bottom, the young man awoke as if from a long sleep ... . ... The Elk Spirit came to him and told him that ... he could no longer be his guardian spirit . So the young man was cast out of the lake. ... "The spirit has left me," he concluded, "and I die.""

p. 60 [Oregon Territory myth (Grinnell 1901)] "the men who hunt only for themselves and do not give a share of the meat to the women" : "The women turn into killer whales, and the children into birds with red bills."

"YLDE" =

Ramsey 1977 = Jarold Ramsey (ed.) : Coyote Was Going there. Seattle : U of WA Pr.

Grinnell 1901 = George Grinnell : The Punishment of the Stingy and Other Indian Stories.

p. 49 Nupe praeternatural sensation of whirling

"the posture of a mallam (... see Goodman, 1986), a diviner of the sub-Saharan Nupe society [seated in padma-asana], and the trance was induced by a monotonous rattle sound. According to the reports ..., the trance in this posture frequently leads to the experience of the body, and thus perception, undergoing a V-shaped split ... . Subsequently, there may be a sensation of seeing or turning into a whirlwind".

Goodman 1986 = Felicitas D. Goodman : How about Demons? Bloomington : IN U Pr.

p. 56-7 Bwe divination in Micronesia




"Bwe ... is practiced in various parts of Micronesia ... . It t involves divining from ... knots ... . As in Ifa, the sixteen basic figures are tetragrams. They are personified and considered of divine provenience :


[quoted from Lessa 1959:190] Supunemen was a god, who understood the art of divination. On his body he bore the signs of destiny, the mesanepwe. Then he took them all and put them on the floor, and they grew to be ... human beings; there were sixteen of them. Supunemen said to them, "... make a canoe." They did so ... . On this boat, they came down to earth."


"There are also 256 derivative figures, ... as in Ifa ... . In the boat, these personages sat in a defined order, but when they reached harbor, the boat capsized, and the figure that had originally sat in the front now came to sit in the back."


"the only complete list of Bwe available, published in 1912 by the German ... Max Girschner" : here are the 1st 5 :-

1.1 "Under the urukoia tree"

1.2 "Behind the wall of the house"

1.3 "Eating the flower wreath"

1.4 "Nearby"

1.5 "Sleeping below"

"Some of the figures have stories attached to them, but all these stories do it to demonstrate the veracity of the oracle." {That is also often true of the stories attached to the figures of Ifa.}


"In Micronesia, Bwe is encountered from Ngulu to Namoluk in the Carolines, on Palau and Ponape, and in the east as far as the Marshall Islands".

Lessa 1959 = William A. Lessa : "Divining Knots in the Carolines". J OF THE POLYNESIAN SOC 68(3):188-204.

see also :- William A. Lessa : "The Chinese Trigrams in Micronesia". The JOURNAL OF AMERICAN FOLKLORE, Vol. 82, No. 326 (Oct. - Dec., 1969), pp. 353-362.

pp. 58-9 Lakota mythic race in a circle, by animal-species {the locale of this circular race is described in :- A. Mayor : "Place-names describing fossils", p. 258a. In :- Myth and Geology. London, 2007. pp. 245-61.}

p. 58

"it was decided to organize a great race ... to sort out the animals into orderly species by the smell of their bodies. ... animal laid out a vast racetrack on the prairie, ... where ... the sacred Black Hills are encountered today. ...

p. 59

After many days, a continuous ring of the strongest animals ... raced round and round the circle. Suddenly, the ... path of the racers began to sink. Within the circle, a bulge [which became the Black Hills] appeared; it rose higher and higher ... . The animals were killed in their tracks ... . their bones can still be found under the rocks of what is today the Black Hills."

pp. 63-4 n/um (substance of spiritual power) according to the !Kun (of the Kalahari)




[reference :- Marshall-Thomas 1959] "n/um" is the "real" term for ‘spiritual power’; /S^IBi/ {cf. [<ibri^] /S^IBBolet/ (which is likewise a substituted code-word)} is the term substituted in contexts were the real term may not be employed.

"Their great god =/Gao N!a created it and gave it its own power, so that it would work autonomously and automatically."


"n/um needed to be activated so that the medicine men could use it to cure. This was done ... by heating it. For that purpose, the medicine men rolled glowing coals {embers} between their hands, ... or they threw hot coals over themselves. N/um, they explained, would then boil up through their spinal cords into their heads ... . But people needed to avoid making loud popping noises when n/um was present, because that would cause it to disappear.


The god also possessed a n/um that he had not shared with {living} humans. He used it when cooking the souls as they came out of the people when they died and transforming them into immortal spirits of the dead.

He placed n/um into the sun, the falling stars, the rain, the bees, and many other animals and birds, and even into fire under special, ritual circumstances."

Marshall-Thomas 1959 = Elizabeth Marshall-Thomas [p. 174, n. 4:13 : daughter of Lorna Marshall] : The Harmless People. NY : Alfred A. Knopf.

p. 65 the 2 sorts of n/um

__ n/um


__ have it


"has rules (rituals)"



"can be dangerous"


Felicitas D. Goodman : Ecstasy, Ritual, and Alternate Reality. Indiana U Pr, Bloomington, 1988.