Handbook of Contemporary Animism



Dealing with Spirits





Auctor, -trix



Animist High God

Rane Willerslev



Shamanism ... of the Siberian Forest

Roberte Hayamon



Animism ... in an Amazonian Society

Isabella Lepri



"Shamans" and Rock Art

Robert J. Wallis



Whence "Spirit Possession"?

Paul Christopher Johnson



Psychedelics, Animism, and Spirituality

Andy Letcher



Spiritual Beings

Stewart Guthrie


Cap. 21



"The All-One" : the Animist High God

Rane Willerslev


p. 275 recent rejection by anthropologists (now that they have been freed from the constraints of dogmatic materialism thitherto forcibly imposed on them by capitalist-materialist-controlled universities) of materialist artificially-contrived disposals, by means of metaphors and hypocritical materialist allegations of "delusion", of indigenous experiential knowledge of the supernatural (i.e., beyond the limits of mere materialism) nature of reality

"Central to ... the "new animism" is a rejection of previous ... attempts {by ploutokrat-hireling materialism-coached university-professors} to identify it as either metaphoric, a projection of human society ... as in the tradition of Emile Durkheim ..., or as some sort of ... delusion,

exposing primitive man's inability to distinguish dreams from reality {"reality"! -- but, according to the Upa-nis.ad-s, the material universe is a mere illusion, maya} as in the tradition of E. B. Tylor ... .

{Because the facility of so-called "primitive" (read : non-class-ruled) folk to distinguish the reality of the dream-world from the irreality of the waking-state hath always been well-known to anthropologists, this allegation by Tylor and by his congeners was, and is, of course, the sheerest of hypocrisies.}

Instead, the scholars concerned -- including Philippe Descola ..., Eduardo Viveiros de Castro ..., Tim Ingold (2000:111-31 ...), Morten Pedersen ..., Graham Harvey ..., Aparedica Vilac,a ... and Carlos Fausto ... -- each in their own way seek to take animism seriously ... and follow the lead of the animists themselves in what they are saying about spirits, souls and the like.

In my own book, Soul Hunters (2007), ... arguing along phenomenological lines that animist cosmology is essentially practical, ... animism ... is mostly pragmatic ..., restricted to particular relational contexts of involved activity ... . This take on animism certainly has its advantages ... by holding that everyday practical life is the crucial foundation upon which which the so-called "higher" activities of ... cosmological abstraction are firmly premised. In addition, it allows us ... animistic beliefs in a way that is compatible with the indigenous peoples' own accounts, which tend to be based on hands-on experiences ... rather than on abstract theoretical contemplation."

Ingold 2000 = Timothy Ingold : The Perception of the Environment. London : Routledge.

p. 276 "impersonal ... power" -- but of whom? (cannibals who torture their victims?) and for what? (torture and cannibalism?)

"Marett (1909) ... found evidence for ... an impersonal sacred power ... : orenda among the Iroquois and mana among the Maori."

{These two nationalities, Iroquois and Maori, however, are infamous : the Iroquois as the most vicious torturers, and the Maori as the most notorious cannibals, in North America and in the Pacific islands, respectively. They, above all other peoples, are not be cited as exemplars (especially not together) of anything except the malignant.}

Marett 1909 = Robert Ranulph Marett : The Threshold of Religion. London : John Murray.

p. 276 alleged terms for "impersonal sacred power" : are the only locatable instances, among non-torturer non-cannibals, sheer abstractions lacking any specific meaning? ('something'! -- as though this ever have any definite meaning!)

"The Yukaghir named it Pon (Jochelson 1926:140, 235), meaning "something", whereas the Chukchi (Bogoras 1904-9:314) called it Va>irgin, which means "Something Existing"."

{Though /Pon/ may repraesent /pun/ 'perplexed' (Strong's 6323) -- indicating the mental state of the informant when asked the absurd quaestion --, yet /Va>irgin/ may be a PUN on /VIRGIN/ in sarcastic response to Virgin-Mary-worshipping Orthodox-Catholic Christian missionaries.}

"Tyler (1892) ... arguing that the "high gods" were ...

the result of direct or indirect influence from missionary activities --

{Though the missionary involved would have been Russian Orthodox, instead of the Old Bulgarian or the Koine Hellenic word (/parthenos/), the Latin (/virgin/) [the very name /Yukaghir/ being an Italian spelling, with /-ghi-/ instead of Latinate-and-Hellenic /-gi-/ or French-and-Spanish /-gui-/] was transmitted, indicating an Oikomenical praedilection which might well be also inclusive of Siberian shamanry.}

a view which has recently been revitalized by Jonathan Z. Smith (1982)."

Jochelson 1926 = Waldemar (Vladimir Ilyich) Jochelson (ed. by Franz Boas) : The Yukaghir and the Yukaghirized Tungus. MEMOIRS OF THE AMER MUS OF NATURAL HIST, Vol. 13. NY : Amer Mus of Natural Hist. 1910-1926. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Jochelson & http://archives.nypl.org/mss/1565

Bogoras 1904-9 = Waldemar (Vladimir Germanovich) Bogoras (ed. by Franz Boas) : The Chukchee, Vol. VII. JESUP NORTH PACIFIC EXPEDITION, Vol. 11 : MEMOIRS OF THE AMER MUS OF NATURAL HIST. NY. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Bogoraz & https://www.uaf.edu/anla/collections/search/result.xml?contributor=191

Smith 1982 = Jonathan Z. Smith : "The Unknown God". In his :- Imagining Religion : from Babylon ... . Univ of Chicago Pr. pp. 66-89.

{The quaestion asked of the informants must have been, "What is the word for 'the spiritual power peculiar to the deities'?" Not having any other word than usual words for 'power', 'efficacy', 'ability', 'function', etc. (all of which could be aequally well applied to ordinary human activities), the informants could only respond that the deities have "something or another" particular to them -- though not very metaphysical, this response is at least honest and not evasive. It is evident that deities, able to perform miracles, have some power different from the ordinary abilities of mortals, but there may not be any specific word for this in non-technical languages employed by ordinary mortals. A metaphysical answer would be 'godhood' ('god-hood'), 'divinitude' ('divin-itude'), 'theosis' ('theo-osis'), 'theoticality' ('theotic-ality'), 'theoticity' ('theotic-ity'), or the like -- terms which are seldom used (even by theologians). [These terms are only occasionally used in litterature, e.g., /divinitude/ in TD, app. T, p. 76.]}

TD = David Birnbaum : Summa Metaphysica, Vol. 3 = The Transcendent Dynamic. New Paradigm Matrix (Ktav Publ), 2014. https://books.google.com/books?id=pHKbaR8V5TAC&pg=PA76&lpg=PA76&dq=

{Although the actual word as transmitted was evidently the ordinary Latin, yet nevertheless in the divine plan there may be a connection with the name of the state /VIRGINia/, perhaps for the sake of the Oronoco tribe in that state : cf. not only /Orono/ (site of the the Univ of ME) but also the river /Orinoco/ [the latter indicated in /Orin/ WY and in */orin/ (> Az. /ollin/) 'earthquake']. The name, amongst Amur river-basin tribes, most similar to /OROnOKo (Oronoco)/ is /Oroc^/ ("OchP"); while yet more similar is /OROK/ ("OkP") in Sah^alin -- both ethonyms meaning 'reindeer'. Although oROC^-reindeer cannot [except a Rude-wolf (Rudolph] = the flying wolf of Siberian mythology) fly, yet the larger cock- (cf. the fighting "jungle-fowl" of Indo-China) ROACH endemic to eastern Asia can, and a-plenty (so that such species are sold as pets among Nipponese). [When born, I was named James after Jamestown, former capital of this Oronoco-state -- the capital after being transferred to RICHmond, which name was the cause for my father family (RICCi) immigrating the state, namely to the city Alexandria on account the city-name in Hellenistic Aiguptos as centre for Hermetism and for Gnosticism (my kin being Freemasons).]}

"OchP" = "Oroch people". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oroch_people

"OkP" = "Orok people". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orok_people

p. 277 C^ukc^i veneration of the relic of the saint

"Qoil ... used to be the name of the

dead clan shaman's skull -- the most sacred of the ancient Yukaghir idols (Jochelson 1926:65)".

{It is utterly ridiculous to designated the holy relic of such a venerable saint as an "idol"! The true idol-worshippers are Protestants, whose mistranslated bibles are their ungodly idols.}

p. 277 apophatic nature of divine spiritual power

"Pon and Va>irgin do not count as "gods", but are rather like

"Creative Spirit" of the Nuer,

{viz., the praeternatural power of Nuer divinities}

whom {read : "which power", not "whom"} Evans-Pritchard (1956:4-7) described as beyond contact and comprehension, yet

the giver and sustainer of life."

{because it is the power of deities to impart life}

Evans-Pritchard 1956 = Edward Evan Evans-Pritchard : Nuer Religion. Oxford Univ Pr.

p. 278 perspectives of animal-spirits

"In the Americas, many indigenous peoples of both the Northern Boreal forest ... and the Amazon ... give emphasis to the theme of animals and spirits {scil., of animals} seeing themselves as humans see themselves. The same {understandings} ... are found among indigenous groups of Southeast Asia (... Valeri 2000:305), Mongolia (Pedersen et al. 2007:144) and northern Siberia ... ."

Valeri 2000 = Valerio Valeri : The Forest of Taboos ... among the Huaulu of the Moluccas. Madison : Univ of WI Pr.

Pedersen et al. 2007 = Mortenaxel Pedersen; R. Empson; & Caroline Humphrey : "Editorial Introduction : Inner Asian Perspectivisms". INNER ASIA 9.2:141-52.

p. 278 perspective of seal-spirits

[quoted from Bogoras 1904-9, pp. 294-5] "the old men sit at home and ... read the future by the aid of divining-stones. The object of their hunts is exclusively man, whom they usually call "a little sea". Their divining stone is a human skull ... . ...

After catching a [human] soul, they chop it into pieces, cook it in a kettle, and feed their children with it."

{The human soul who (by way of this act of gCod) is caught by beasts and is devoured by them -- in dreams -- is, or must become, in the waking-world, a shaman.}

p. 279 how a human soul can be disguised from the perspectivism of seal-spirits

"Chukchee souls are ... best illustrated by ... a small wooden amulet in the shape of a human figure

that is regularly "fed" with ... bone marrow.

{Could this explain why the bone-marrow of the h.uri-goddesses in Paradise must remain opaque while all the residue of their bodies is transparent? I.e., is it because they voluntarily offer their own bone-marrow, in dreamings, as per gCod according to the Bodish Bon rite?}

This amulet is called ka>mak-lu>u, meaning "wooden face" {i.e., face of the tree-deity : the divinely-chosen same very tree -- shewn in dreamings to the shaman -- whence are carven shamanic musical instruments for playing to accompany songs learned from deities in dreams}, and is fastened in the armpit of a person's outer clothing or to his belt (Willerslev 2009:697).

It is said to to provide its owner with the body of a ke>lE, whereby his own body becomes protected against predation from these "cannibal" spirits, who will see him as a fellow human being as opposed to animal prey and leave him alone.

{Perhaps the tree-spirit is through its dream-world music able to invert the connection between the worlds, so that the animal-spirit visiting the waking-world from its dream-world will perceive an appropriately inverted perspective of the human host's waking-state material body. [written Apr 30 2015]}

The principal idea is that the person attaching the amulet to his body turns himself "inside out", so ... that his own body becomes the soul of the ka>mak-lu>u. ... Body and soul are ... "reversibles" (Corsi`n Jime`nez & Willerslev 2007:538)."

Willerslev 2009 = Rane Willerslev : "A Study of Voluntary Death among the Siberian Chukchee". AMER ETHNOLOGIST 36.4:693-704.

Corsi`n-Jime`nez & Willerslev 2007 = A. Corsi`n-Jime`nez & R. Willerslev : "Reversibility among the Siberian Yukaghirs". J OF THE ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INST (n.s.) 13:527-43.

{Music-timbres are highly involved in transformations of one's localizations among the divine worlds, according to the Radha-Swami. As expounded in Eckankar, these worlds are the differential loci of dream-states. The inversion might be accomplished in, e.g., the Crooked Tunnel (Vank Nal), perhaps by shrilling tone-shifting via elongated-reed-vibration within the wind-instrument.}

p. 279 double metaphysics

"On the one hand, the soul is seen as ... distinct from the body, which is ... as a form of "clothing" [for the soul] ... .

{This distinction would be typical of the status of the waking-state. Clothings of soul may also be subtle bodies.}

On the other hand, so clear distinction exists between body and soul".

{This aequivalence would be typical of the status of the dreaming-state.}

p. 280 that which animal-spirits see humans as

"{praeternatural} beings that are said to hunt for [human] "souls", such as the ke>let among the Chukchi (Bogoras 1904-9:294-5), the bas among the Chewong (Howell [1984]:104) and the abasylar among the Yukaghirs (Willerslev 2007:82) ...

see [humans as] ... "reindeer", "seal" and "elk" -- so what they see is ... bodies {yea -- astral (pran.a-maya-kos`a) bodies, for only subtle bodies (suks.ma kaya) can subsist in the dream (svapna)-world}."

{This seeing by such animal-spirits is in the dream-world (that world being visited by the humans), for such animal-spirits abide there in the dream-world, which is their customary locus of residence.}

Howell 1984 =  Signe Howell : Society and Cosmos : Chewong of Peninsular Malaysia. Oxford Univ Pr. reprinted 1989.

Willerslev 2007 = Rane Willerslev : Soul Hunters : ... Animism ... among the Siberian Yukaghirs. Berkeley : Univ of CA Pr.

pp. 281-2 the viewpoint of the Absolute [i.e., as Archetype] : implying sentience as a Universal [sort of Platonic-eidolon counterpart to the so-called "Laws" of materialist (nonsentience-based) science]

p. 281

"I can ... see an object

in[-]so[-]far as objects form a system or world, and

{i.e., from a Universalist-sentiential standpoint}

in[-]so[-]far as each one treats the others round it as spectators of its hidden aspects and a guarantee

{This is part of an explanation of the nature of Universals : for, [Deleuze & Guattari 1994, p. 7] "The first principle of philosophy is that Universals ... must themselves be explained."}

of the permanence of those aspects (Merleau-Ponty [1962] ...:59)"

{i.e., of the Universality (extended indefinitely in aeternal time-as-principle-of-the-Universal)} {Continuity of Universality (principle of Universals) across space can be derived (for application to metaphysics) from its continuity across indefinite (i.e., potentially, at least, aeternal) time.}

"It is ... "because vision is 'everywhere' that we as perspectival beings are able to see things from 'somewhere' -- that is, from one particular viewpoint or another" (Willerslev & Ulturgashev 2007:92). In other words, we do not simply see by our own power or force, but are dependent on an anonymous or general vision, which is already in place, waiting to assign us a place within it. ...

Now, this anonymous primordial totality of vision, which is situated here, there and everywhere at once, ... finds its creative equivalent in the

p. 282

Yukaghir and Chukchi ... Pon and Va>irgin ... under such unidentified names as "Something" and "Something Existing", because they are ...

the unlimited "One-All" (Deleuze & Guattari 1994:35, 38) : the virtual primordial totality that sees without limits and distances in a single movement of spirit."

{In order that this rather indefinite description be definitely meaningful, it must allude to something of the nature of a universal divine communist-commune of layered hierarchies of committees of immortal deities.}

Deleuze & Guattari 1994 = Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari (transl by Hugh Tomlinson & Graham Burchell) : What Is Philosophy? NY : Columbia Univ Pr. http://www.worldcat.org/title/what-is-philosophy/oclc/29255796/viewport

Merleau-Ponty 1962 = Maurice Merleau-Ponty : Phenomenology of Perception. NY : Humanities Pr, 1962. (reprinted London 2002 : Routledge & Kegan Paul.) [also see :- Monika M. Langer : Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception : a Guide and Commentary. Tallahassee : FL State Univ Pr; Gainesville (FL) : University Presses of Florida, 1989.] [also see :- Komarine Romdenh-Romluc : Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Merleau-Ponty and Phenomenology of Perception. Milton Park (Abingdon, Oxon) : Routledge, 2011.]

Willerslev & Ulturgasheva 2007 = R. Willerslev & O. Ulturgasheva : "The Sable Frontier : the Siberian Fur Trade as Montage". In :- (edd.) : Amazonia and Siberia : Extractive Economies ... : special edition of Cambridge Anthropology 26.2. pp. 79-101.


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