Ecstasy, Ritual, & Alternate Reality, 5-7

p. 72 Tiwi apa-songs

"the apa songs ... treat of power objects. ... Three themes are touched on in the accompanying songs :

penetration Ė as in the sex act;

the pitapitui, that is, the souls of unborn children; and

the soul of the individual that walks about at night. ... . ... the soul of the father must be "in dreaming" to walk about and find its {pitapitui} soul."

pp. 73, 85-6 emotional afflictions due to ritual violations during trance

p. 73 Tiwi "tarni is a sickness, ... that ... is much feared ... "magic." It is said to be under the control of Mosquito, a spirit being, and ... a high, trilling mosquitolike call is produced to ward off danger threatening from this being. Tarni ... can be caught because of some mistake made in the ritual. If people are in trance, this can indeed produce a severe shock reaction. In this respect, tarni parallels

the Bushman "star sickness,"

the "ghost sickness" of the Navajos".

p. 85 "the Tiwi ... tarni ... could be caused by carelessness during a ritual. Turnbull ... reports something similar for the Pygmies. They call the condition "forest sickness.""

p. 86 "For the Bushmen, the corresponding syndrome is termed "star sickness," ... without tangible sickness ... . After treatment by the entranced medicine men, it enters their {treatersí} bodies, and they shriek it into the air, back to the spirits who brought it (Marshall Thomas, 1959:129)."

pp. 74-5 !Kun spirit-journey




"Participants tend to experience the energy beginning to collect in their abdomens, pass upward into their chests, and then seek an exit, usually through their heads. Some experience this exiting as giving birth to themselves. {as in the Taoist method of oneís giving birth to the immortal foetus} Once emerged, either they feel that they are flying, they see spirit birds, or they turn into birds themselves. Descriptions of what they see during such flights are quite elaborate, of mountain ranges, the ocean, a river, the sun, the moon, and the stars."


(quoted from Thomas 1959:133-4) "When the medicine in a medicine man becomes stimulated by a dance, warmed in the fire and by the heat of the manís body, the manís spirit may leave him ... and fly into the veld, where it seeks out the evil that is troubling people. Some medicine men in this way have seen the spirits of the dead, some have seen the great god. At another dance that we once attended, one manís spirit rushed out into the veld, where it came upon a pride of lions that had been troubling the people by their ... roaring at night. The manís spirit spoke with the lions, ... and ordered them to go away, and the lions did go".

pp. 75-6 northwestern Australian spirit-journeys




[Tiwi, on islands off northwestern Australia] "the spirits of the dead may abduct the soul and take it to their camping site. [A person whose soul hath been abducted cannot recognize familiar persons.] To treat a person so afflicted, hot paper bark is place on his ears, face and throat ..., and he remembers people and friends."


[Forest River region of northwestern Australia] (quoted from Elkin 1938:304) "the medicine-man takes the postulant up to the sky in the following manner : he assumes the form of a skeleton and fastens onto himself a pouch into which he places the postulant who has been reduced to the size of a very small child; then sitting


astride the rainbow, he pulls himself up with an arm over arm action. When near the top he throws the young man out onto the sky".

Elkin 1938 = A. P. Elkin : The Australian Aborigines. London : Angus & Robertson.

pp. 77, 95, 103 "controlled dreaming"; song received in dream




"Marshall (1962:238) tells that a !Kung medicine woman described vividly how in a dream the god taught her a medicine song, standing beside her and insisting that she repeat it over and over, until she could sing it perfectly."


[S^avante] "a person so longs to see a particular spirit that he concentrates intensely on it. Eventually it will then appear in a dream. ... A cylinder is hung either over the grave of a dead kinsman, or over the sleeping mat of its owner. The owner either then visits his dead kin or receives a visitation from him."


[Senoi Semai in Malaya] "During a valid dream, a person may be given a melody, and this makes him halaa> [Ďcurerí]. ... The entity giving the melody becomes a gunig to the recipient of the gift ... . The possession of a gunig makes the owner into a healer. The more gunig a person has, the more halaa> he/she is, and thus the more effective as a curer. During a "sing," the halaa> might sing a song received in a dream. This will attract the ruai or the ke.loog, whom the curer then can quiz as to which nyani> is causing the affliction".

Marshall 1962 = Lorna Marshall : "!Kung Bushman Religious Beliefs". AFRICA 32:221-51.

p. 82 souls needing to incarnate

"society of the unborn in the alternate reality" : "According to the Tiwi, the pitapitui live the way ordinary children do. In their "dreams," men see them as small humans."

pp. 96, 101 journey of the soul of the dead to the world of souls of the dead




[S^avante -- reference :- Maybury-Lewis 1974:290] "The soul leaves the personís body at the moment of his death and starts out on its journey to the village "at the root of the sky," as far east as one could possibly travel. ... The spirits of the dead spend their time singing and dancing. But to get their, the soul needs to escape the aggressive spirits of affines [in-laws] who lurk along the path, trying to kidnap it. These spirits live at the westernmost end of the sky ... . Once in the home village of the dead, the soul is safe from them."


[Yanomami] The journeying soul of the dead must come "to a fork in the road. There it is stopped by Wadawariwa:, the Son of Thunder, and is asked whether in life it was generous or not. "Most of the Ya,nomamo: I questioned on this asserted that they planned to lie to Wadawariwa:," Chagnon tells us (ibid., p. 48). Since this was appropriate under the circumstances, they were all convinced that they would make it safely to the desired destination."

{Kemetic ("BDA & "BD") "the heart of the deceased declares before a tribunal of forty-two gods that he or she has not committed a long list of specific sins. This is known as the 'Negative Confession'. The heart was prevented from [truthfully] informing against the deceased by a spell on the back of the heart scarab placed over the heart on the mummy."}

Maybury-Lewis 1974 = David Maybury-Lewis : Akwe~-Shavante Society. Oxford U Pr.

"PBDA" =

"EBD" =

pp. 99-100 Yanomami religion

p. 99

[prae-existence] "So-called first beings are thought individually to have brought forth some particular plant or object, and even in that case the impression arises that the object preexisted."

p. 100

[myth] "Alligator knew about fire and kept some of it hidden in his mouth. A Ya,nomamo: made him laugh, and a bird snatched the fire out of his mouth and took it up into a tree. From that day on, everybody had fire."


[cosmology] "The cosmos ... has a top layer, the place of the origin of some things. This layer, however, is empty and has no function today. Three other layers eventually broke off of this top layer. The topmost of these is called hedu. It ... houses the society of the spirits of the dead. ... The spirits of the dead live on hedu is the same way as they did on earth. ... The bottom layer of hedu is the visible portion of the sky. ... A piece of hedu broke off and formed the surface of the earth where people live today ... . Finally, finally, there is a piece of hedu underneath the world of people. It is almost barren and was formed afterwards, when another piece of hedu broke off and crashed through the earth. It took with it a single village of spirit people, called the Amahiri-teri. Unfortunately, only their shabono [communal house] and their gardens were carried along; they have no neighborhood in which to hunt, so they send their spirits up to earth to capture the souls of children and eat them (from Chagnon, 1977:44-45)."

Chagnon 1977 = Napoleon A. Chagnon : Ya,nomamo:. NY : Holt, Rinehart, Winston. 1968. (2nd ed.n 1977)

pp. 102, 110-2 ritual performance by spirit-medium, possessed by spirits




[Senoi Semai] "The halaa> goes into trance and welcomes the helping beings into himself. ... They speak through his mouth in a high and squeaky voice ... . The final part of the ritual is then ... carried out with the aid of the gunig ... (after Dentan 1968:88-89)."


Haiti [reference :- Bourguignon 1976:18-21] "One woman was possessed by Mai^tí Grand Bois, the master of the forest and of the leaves. The possessing spirit made her climb on top of the mortar, so that the men were obliged to stamp the leaves between her legs. ... They were followed by the drums and another group of women ..., their jaws tied as done with corpses. They had wads of cotton in their mouths and nostrils {such wads are cotton are placed into corpses in Muslim praeparation of corpses for burial} and uttered unearthly groans, indicating possession by Mai^tí Cimtie`, the master of the cemetery."


[Chinese secondary burial of human skeleton in urn] "a priest-medium becomes possessed by the Jade Emperor of the Western Heaven. ... He has a sword in his hand, and with ... this sword, he marks the spot where the bowl of rice and the spirit money are to be placed on the grave. The urn is covered with a red cloth, and the priest, still possessed, addresses it. ...


The priest inks a formula on the urn to pacify the ghost and to confine it to the urn. In a renewed deep trance, he gives instructions about the burial".

Dentan 1968 = Robert K. Dentan : The Semai. NY : Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Bourguignon 1976 = Erika Bourguignon : Possession. San Francisco : Chandler & Sharp.

p. 116 Chinese automatic writing

""A temple in West Town ... possesses a "recorder," which consists of a tray filled with fine sand, a stylus of willow wood, and a smoother."

[quoted from Hsu 1967:170] "The stylus is held by two officers sitting opposite each other, with its point touching the surface of the sand. After the proper rituals of invocation nave been performed by the priests, the stylus moves as if "automatically." The spirit or god invoked uses it to convey a message. The stylus writes one word at a time. The reporter pronounces it and the recording officers write it down in a book."

"a compilation entitled A Precious Bell for Awakening the Ignorant, recorded in the above manner in West Town in 1927 and used for decades as a devotional text ... contains messages from the gods, particularly from the judges of the "lower world of spirits," which give advice about the right way to live."

Hsu 1967 =

pp. 129, 131 Mapuc^e (in central Chile) female spirit-medium;

p. 129

"the women are the mediums (machi)."

p. 131

"Mapuche mediums, the machi, are possessed by spirits, which are often inherited matrilineally. During such possession, they can handle hot coals and pass their arms through fire. They speak in a secret language, which needs to be interpreted in ceremonies"

pp. 130, 132 soul of the dead

p. 130

"The spirit of the deceased ... will arrive successfully at nomelafken, from away from Mapucheland, to live contentedly with his kinsmen."

p. 132

"The spirits live in a shadow world; ... they do not have to work very hard, and everything they undertake is successful. ... A personís soul usually proceeds directly to this realm after death. Should there be signs that the spirit is tarrying, there is a ceremony to tell it to be on its way. Once arrived, the soul becomes an ancestor, ... a butterfly, or a "hawk of the sun," an ancestor forever obligated to watch over, guide, and protect its kin."

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