Handbook of Contemporary Animism, 15-16



Embodied Morality and Performed Relationships

Douglas Ezzy


p. 183 corrobbori

"Durkheim's ([1915]...:217) account of an Australian Aboriginal corrobbori (a ceremonial gathering) emphasizes

the emotional intensity of the experience : dancing, singing, sex and ritual excitement."

{The emotional intensity is intent on connecting with the deities involved; and the "dancing, singing, sex" are intended for the entertainment of those deities, who are invited to attend as audience and as observers.}

Durkheim 1915 = E'mile Durkheim (transl. from the French by Joseph Ward Swain) : The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. London : G. Allen & Unwin, 1915. http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=pst.000028335900;view=1up;seq=233

p. 184 totemism

"Harvey ([2005a]:167) quotes Deborah Bird Rose (1998:8) who, on the basis of ... Australian Aboriginals, argues that :

"Totemism posits connectedness, mutual interdependence, and the non-negotiable significance of the lives of non-human species."

{N.B. The "connectedness, mutual interdependence," is not, howbeit, with the animal-species, but with the supernatural spirit-warden (totem-deity) of that species; and the "the non-negotiable significance of the lives" is whatever that spirit-warden of the species may deem it to be : so that humans must comply with the supernatural only (and never with the mere animals themselves). This is crucial and fundamental.}

Harvey 2005a = Graham Harvey : Animism : Respecting the Living World. London : Hurst.

Rose 1998 = Deborah Bird Rose : "Totemism, Regions, and Co-management in Aboriginal Australia". http://dlc.dlib.indiana.edu/dlc/bitstream/handle/10535/1187/rose.pdf

{Totemism must posit the animals themselves as as fit only to to be killed; but the deities who betray them to be killed (and who exult in so doing) as most venerated.}

p. 185 etiquette of human-animal relations

"Among the American Indians of the Great Plains, the etiquette of human-animal relations was established through the recounting of myths and the performance of rituals that were {and as yet are} often ecstatic and emotionally intense (Harrod 2000). ...

A similar sense of respect and mutual interdependence is described in Nelson's (1983) ethnography of the Koyukon, ...

that the animals are wise and aware of the actions of the humans.

{Wrong! The actual belief is that it is divine spirit-warden [or spirit-warden couple], of each animal-species, who is "wise and aware of the actions of the humans"; whereas there is no belief that the mere mortal animals themselves are in any way so aware.}

If humans are disrespectful,

{disrespectful, that is, to the deities who betray the animals to be killed -- the animals themselves (who are often tortured to death by hunters) bedamned!}

then they have bad luck ..., and go without food."

Harrod 2000 = Howard L. Harrod : The Animals Came Dancing : Native American Sacred ... Animal Kinship. Tucson : Univ of AZ Pr.

Nelson 1983 = Richard K. Nelson : Make Prayers to the Raven. Univ of Chicago Pr.

pp. 185-6 erotic intimacy

p. 185

"The embodied performance of the caress awakens us to intersubjectivity ... ([2000]:25). Irigaray's primary focus is on relationships of erotic intimacy."

p. 186

"Erotic union is the experience that Benjamin focuses on as a key moment of mutual recognition :

"In erotic union we can experience that form of mutual recognition in which both partners lose themselves in each other without loss of self; they lose self-consciousness without loss of awareness" ([1988]:29)."

{More actually, "self-consciousness" can be lost only to the extent that the primacy deities be accepted as furnishing both functioning and content of both one's own mind and the the minds of all other persons : and in the case of erotic union this may be enhanced with a consideration of the participation of the deities of one's own gendre within one one's own body, in their erotic union with deities of the opposite sexual gendre within the body of one's erotic partner of opposite gendre. [written Nov 26 2014]}

Irigaray's 2000 = Luce Irigaray (transl. by Monique M. Rhodes) : To Be Two. London : The Athlone Pr; NY : Routledge. (reprinted 2001)

Benjamin 1988 = Jessica Benjamin : The Bonds of Love. NY : Pantheon Bks. (reprinted 1990 London : Virago)

p. 188 mythology

"Armstrong (2005:3) argues that mythology provides a way of enabling people to "live more intensely" within the world.

{Wrong! To "live more intensely" in the mythological context, would be intended as primarily during one's experiencing dreams and/or trances, and only indirectly if at all pertaining to "this world" of materialist delusion.}

Mythology "in the ancient world" was

{Actually, the so-called "ancient world" ("civilized" society of the Levant and of China) was an oppressive class-ruled society, wherein mythology (which had been originally derived from dream-experiences) was drained of all meaningfulness by having been rendred incapable to describing how to employ deities to overthrow (when opportune) mortal ruling classes in the material world by means of dreaming and trancing. [written Nov 26 2014]}

primarily about human experience in this world, and not about a separate metaphysical world."

{Drastically wrong! Mythology is not primarily about the material waking-world, but is a schematic systematization of description of dream-worlds and of trance-worlds -- each which which surely could be described as "a separate metaphysical world".}

Armstrong 2005 = Karen Armstrong : A Short History of Myth. Edinburgh : Cannongate.

p. 190 cheap thrills

"A trembling thrill in embodied ... relationships derives from Tantra (Odier 2001). This is often expressed through the erotics of sexual tension, but

{If the "thrill" be taken (e.g.) as analogous to the effect of a musical instrument's being skillfully played, then the "sexual tension" could be analogous to the tension on the strings of a strung fiddle being played.}

also in ... joining in the music of the song of life, or the stars."

{Here is another analogue with music and with star-characters of the musical world.}

Odier 2001 = Daniel Odier : Desire : the Tantric Path of Awakening. Rochester (VT) : Inner Traditions.



The Animal vs. the Social

Priscilla Stuckey


p. 192 dualism? [or monism?]

"epistemologists had long argued that even seemingly objective forms of knowledge are inherently subjective (Lugones & Spelman 1983; Haraway 1988; Sandra Harding 1993) and

{Of course, in order that there be consciousness, there must be (at least in the grammatology of it) a subject (viz., an experiencer) of it. Therefore, all experience (including the experience of knowing) must be basically (inhaerently) subjective.}

had critiqued the scientific revolution for its reduction ... to mechanical, dead matter (Merchant 1980; Shiva 1989).

{This materialist reductionism is especially severe in its denial, and attempted elimination, of public ethics (and even of consciousness altogether!).}

They had argued that ... dualisms form the bedrock form of interlocking systems of privilege and oppression ... (Ruether 1975; S. Griffin 1978; MacCormack 1980; Lloyd 1984; E. F. Keller 1985; Starhawk 1990; Y. King 1990; Plumwood 1993, 2002, 2009)."

{Actually quite in the reverse (for true dualism is really a balanced aequality of dyads), this ruling-class-invented reductionism is intent (by deleting the authority of one membre of each dyad) on effectively deleting one-half of each dyad, thus resulting in controller + controlled dyads, which function effectively as virtual monads.}

{Probably by "privilege and oppression", a distinction (as yet praevalent in Britain, but since 1776 not so in the U.S. of A.) is intendedly implied as between landed gentry (who hold inhaerited titles of nobility) on the one hand, and landless serfs on the other hand. Such a distinction, when emphasized strongly by a ruling-class, would in most parts of the world become the basis of insurgency by the working-class : whereas in an exceedingly docile population (such as the British) it (the same social-class distinction) can be used in the reverse manner, to quell any possible insurrectionary sentiments -- where workers can be, and are, willingly hypnotized into agreeing to their own supposed "natural inferiority" to vaunted "aristocrats".}

Lugones & Spelman 1983 = M. Lugones & E. Spelman : "Have We Got a Theory For You! : .... Cultural Imperialism". WOMEN'S STUDIES INTERNAT FORUM 6:573-81.

Haraway 1988 = D. Haraway : "Situated Knowledges : ... the Privilege of Partial Perspective". FEMINIST STUDIES 14.3:475-99.

Harding 1993 = Sandra Harding : "Rethinking Standpoint Epistemology : What is Strong Objectivity?" In :- Linda Alcoff & Elizabeth Potter (edd.) : Feminist Epistemologies. NY : Routledge. pp. 49-82.

Merchant 1980 = Carolyn Merchant : The Death of Nature ... and the Scientific Revolution. San Francisco : Harper & Row.

Shiva 1989 = Vandana Shiva : Staying Alive. London : Zed Bks.

Ruether 1975 = Rosemary Radford Ruether : New Woman / New Earth. Minneapolis : Seabury Pr.

Griffin 1978 = Susan Griffin : Woman and Nature. NY : Harper & Row.

MacCormack 1980 = Carol P. MacCormack : "A Critique". In :- Carol P. MacCormack & Marilyn Strathern (edd.) : Nature, Culture, and Gender. Cambridge Univ Pr. pp. 1-24.

Lloyd 1984 = Genevieve Lloyd : The Man of Reason : "Male" and "Female" in Western Philosophy. Minneapolis : Univ of MN Pr; London : Routledge.

Keller 1985 = Evelyn Fox Keller : Reflections on Gender and Science. New Haven (CT) : Yale Univ Pr.

Starhawk 1990 = Starhawk : "Power, Authority, and Mystery". In :- Irene Diamond & Gloria Feman Orenstein (edd.) : Reweaving the World. San Francisco : Sierra Club Bks. pp. 73-86.

King 1990 = Ynestra King : "Feminism, Ecology, and Nature/Culture Dualism". In :- Irene Diamond & Gloria Feman Orenstein (edd.) : Reweaving the World. San Francisco : Sierra Club Bks. pp. 106-21.

Plumwood 1993 = Val Plumwood : Feminism and the Mastery of Nature. NY : Routledge.

Plumwood 2002 = Val Plumwood : Environmental Culture : ... Crisis of Reason. NY : Routledge.

Plumwood 2009 = Val Plumwood : "Nature in the Active Voice". AUSTRALIAN HUMANITIES REVIEW 46 (May).

pp. 193-4 praegnancy ritual of the Dagara of Burkina Faso

p. 193

"When a woman becomes pregnant in their village ..., everyone ... wonders, Who is this person coming to join us?

Villagers assume that the child is being sent from the ancestors ... .

{More praecisely, they assume that the child is sent by deities who visited, co-operated and collaborated with their ancestors.}

Before the baby is born, elders of the

p. 194

village meet with the praegnant woman, place her in a trance, and ask : Why is this person coming to join the community?

Through her, the village learns which gifts {abilities, aptitudes} the person will bring to the community. ...

{This can be learned by the praegnant woman's undertaking mediumship, and a divinity's speaking through her mouth. The mediumship may invoke a tutelary or guardian-spirit. [Or, alternatively (if she not be adept at mediumship), the process may be putative, viz., simulated.]}

I [P.S.] could not have been more astonished. This was a view of community alien to my experience, unimaginable."

{In the official major religions of class-ruled "civilized" countries there is assumed to be no real contact nor communication between this world of mortals and other worlds, so that no such spirit-mediumship can occur. It is, however, conventional in some (heterodox, i.e., Taoist) communities in China to hold a spirit-mediumship se'ance after a baby's birth, in order to communicate with the suriving (in their world) kin of the baby's praevious lifetime.}

p. 194 African traditional view of community

"in the indigenous African view, ... the dichotomy is not between the individual and community but

between the competitive individual isolated from his or her community

{Such competition is characteristic of the selfish greed promoted by capitalism.}

and the cooperative individual enriched by community (Dei 1994:12 ...)."

{Such co-operation is characteristic of the altruism promoted by communism.}

Dei 1994 = G. J. S. Dei : "Afrocentricity : a Cornerstone of Pedagogy". ANTHROPOLOGY & EDUCATION QUARTERLY 25.1:3-27.

pp. 196-8 Calvinism? or Episcopalianism/Catholicism?

p. 196

"And here is the irony ... : that though he despised the Puritans ... and fled their revolution to live in exile with the royal family, Hobbes would promulgate the most basic tenet of the Puritan Calvinist faith, ... that human nature is fallen. ... His vision never deviated from the pessimistic view of the human soul ... as ... "utterly devoid of all good" (quoted in Martinich 1992:4).

{Actually, promotion of this tenet was no irony whatsoever; for, though advocated by the Calvinists and by the Presbyterians, it is also advocated by the Episcopalians (whereof which said "royal family" were adhaerents), as well as by all other major denominations of Christians.}

p. 197

Calvin (and Luther too) had learned his pessimism from Augustine, who had insisted on the total depravity of humans after the fall.

{Actually, the writings which Protestant reformers cited for advocacy of the depravity of human nature were St Augustine's source-materials, namely the "Pauline Epistles" of the New Testament.}

The irony of the Reformers is that they could separate themselves from the late medieval Church (in their emphasis on grace for all {actually, the Church's main emphasis is on Purgatory for all -- though by some accounts Purgatory is more pleasant than the condition of the living, so that (Dante : Purgatory 11:31 -- D&H, pp. 110-1) "the prayers of those in Purgatory ascend continually on behalf of their friends on earth"}) only by reviving that pillar of the early medieval Church, Augustine."

{This statement is misleading, for it is implying that the Catholic Church had abandoned doctrine of inhaerent depravity of human nature, and had adopted in place of that the Pelagian doctrine of inhaerent righteousness of human nature. But, actually, it had not done so up until time, nor did it so then, nor hath it done so since then, either.}

p. 198

""The Hobbesian ... man ... is the origin myth of Western capitalism" (Sahlins 1976b:100)."

Martinich 1992 = A. P. Martinich 1992 : The Two Gods of Leviathan : Thomas Hobbes on Religion ... . Cambridge Univ Pr.

D&H = Alfonso de Salvio : Dante and Heresy. Dumas BkS, Boston (MA), 1936. http://www.strobertbellarmine.net/books/De_Salvio--Dante_and_Heresy.pdf

Sahlins 1976b = M. D. Sahlins : "Folk Dialectics of Nature and Culture". In his The Use and Abuse of Biology. Ann Arbor : Univ of MI Pr. pp. 92-107.

{The only Christian denominations maintaining "emphasis on grace for all" were, and are, uniformly accounted (by Catholics and by mainline Protestants alike) as hairetics : Adamites, Familists, Quakers, etc.}

pp. 196 & 198 from Hobbes to Darwin

p. 198

"historians concur that when Darwin read Malthus the last piece of the evolutionary puzzle fell into place, namely ... a struggle for existence (Bowler 1976; R. M. Young 1985:80-88; Worster 1994:149)."

p. 196

[epistle from C. Marx to F. Engels -- quoted in Sahlins 1976b:101-2 :] "It is remarkable how Darwin recognizes among beasts and plants his English society with its ... competition ... and the Malthusian "struggle for existence." It is Hobbes's "bellum omnium contra omnes" ['war of all against all']".

Bowler 1976 = P. J. Bowler : "Malthus, Darwin, and the Concept of Struggle". J OF THE HISTORY OF IDEAS 37.4:631-50.

Young 1985 = Robert Maxwell Young : Darwin's Metaphor. Cambridge Univ Pr.

Worster 1994 = Donald Worster : Nature's Economy. 2nd edn. Cambridge Univ Pr.

p. 199 recognizing collectives of animals

According to the authoress (P.S.), Durkheim

"made it harder to consider, or even to see, the sociality of animals, for ... they lack the capacity for mental reasoning that makes possible the collective."

{What would ability for abstract logical reasoning have to do with sociality in animals? Bees collect in hives, emmets in hills, birds in flocks, ungulates in herds, all being caused to do so by innate instinct, without "mental reasoning" being much required.}

p. 199 brute beasts are likened to humans under capitalism

"a theory of the natural world ... identified animals with "brutishness", and especially with the brutishness peculiar to capitalism :

{Capitalists, indeed, tend to behave utterly brutishly and brutally -- tricking, cheating, and exploiting the forcibly-oppressed working-class.}

that of individuals competing to survive -- which rested on a theological notion of a fallen, self-serving human nature."

{The only persons who are actually struggling-to-survive under capitalism are the wage-slave workers : they, however, instead of competing, combine forces into labor-unions for the overthrow of capitalism.} {Those who do compete, namely the capitalists, thus display in themselves " a fallen, self-serving" inhuman nature, peculiar to the super-rich.}

pp. 200-1 & p. 208 Cheyenne & similar cosmogonies

p. 200

"Maheo the All-Spirit enlists help. ... (Marriott & Rachlin 1972:39, quoted in P. G. Allen 1992:57)"

p. 201

"The Cheyenne story ... emphasizes the theme of collaboration among various creatures found in the creation stories of many American Indian nations (Weaver 2006:84).

{Wrong! The collaboration described in the myths is among animal-deities (i.e., creators & creatrices), and NOT among mere "creatures".}

Its theme is partnership and its placing animals in the forefront of the cosmological creative activity ... ."

{Wrong! The anthropoid deities are described as assuming apparent animal-forms as disguises, in order to employ those disguises in order to kill the look-alike animal-species. They also teach mortal human hunters to disguise themselves similarly in order to sneak up on, and kill, membres of the same species of animals.}

p. 208, n. 12

"Examples are found among ... Muscogee Creeks (Fixico 2003:chapter 1); ... Iroquois (Mann 2000, 1-12); ... Sioux (Erdoes & Ortiz 1984:15-19); ... Hopi (Weaver 2006:86); ... Nuu-chah-nulth (formerly Nootka) (Atleo 2005:viii-ix)."

Marriott & Rachlin 1972 = Alice Marriott & Carol K. Rachlin : American Indian Mythology. NY : New American Libr.

Allen 1992 = Paula Gunn Allen : The Sacred Hoop. 2nd edn. Boston (MA) : Beacon Pr.

Weaver 2006 = L. A. Weaver : "Native American Creation Stories". In :- Rosemary Skinner Keller; Rosemary Radford Ruether; & Marie Cantlon (editrices) : Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America. 3 voll. Bloomington : IN Univ Pr. pp. 83-9.

Fixico 2003 = Donald Lee Fixico : The American Indian Mind in a Linear World. NY : Routledge.

Mann 2000 = Barbara Alice Mann : Iroquoian Women : the Gantowisas. NY : Peter Lang.

Erdoes & Ortiz 1984 = Richard Erdoes & Alfonso Ortiz (edd.) : American Indian Myths and Legends. NY : Pantheon.

Atleo 2005 = E. Richard Atleo : "Preface". In :- Douglas Deur & Nancy J. Turner (edd.) : Keep It Living : Traditions of Plant Use ... . Seattle : Univ of WA Pr. pp. vii-xi.

{Of course, in order for the authoress to maintain the deceitful tactic of feigning that world material-world waking-experienced animals are involved in the myths, instead of admitting to the reality that in every case transcendental-world dreaming-experienced (by humans) animal-disguised efficient slaughterers of those animals are being described, the authoress hath slyly omitted the more detailed forms of the myths which detail this fact. So very craftily deceitful -- surely contrived deliberately with intent to deceive, and not mere forgiveable ignorance on the authoress's part!}

p. 201 iwi` of the Rara`muri (Tarahumara)

"Central to their worldview is iwi`, the binding or creative force of the universe ...,

{cf. /iwi/ "bones of the dead" (HD) as sacred relics} {cf. also /<iwwah/ (Strong's 5755) 'overthrown' [old name of city later known as Io-polis], named for Iwa (name of supernatural Cloud-layer #9 according to the Puran.a-s). According to Taoist physiology, the brain is in 9 parts; and according to the Edda, as a relic the brain of Y`mir became the clouds of the sky.}

with the related word iwi`gara, "the total connectedness and integration of all life ..." ... (Salmo`n 2000:1328)."

{Of course, the brain is able to provide a "connectedness and integration" for the awareness of our life.}

HD = Pukui & Elbert : Hawaiian Dictionary.

Salmo`n 2000 = E. Salmo`n : "Kincentric Ecology". ECOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS 10.5:1327-32.


Graham Harvey (ed.) : Handbook of Contemporary Animism. Acumen Publ, Durham; ISD, Bristol, 2013.