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Inspiration for shamanism in Glorantha


Qizilbashwoman

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So in case anyone doesn't know... shamanism is actually really popular in a lot of modern places, and not New Age stuff. Mongol peoples, Korea, Japan, and Chinese communities, especially in the Chinese diaspora, have living traditions of shamanism, and it's got amazing art and imagery.

There's a neat article about Korean shamanism here; it's a pretty famous collection of practices that stretches back a long way in Korea and is still popular now. This came up in a thread about the scholar deities so I thought I'd post it here. The largest concentration of shamans in Korea is in ... Seoul! I personally have been to Korean shamans as a client, it's fascinating. Many shamans have day jobs: the woman I saw was a respected professor as well as a professional dancer.

https://fellowsblog.ted.com/in-21st-century-korea-shamanism-is-not-only-thriving-but-evolving-f1a8862a7bc8

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Cool! I'll get right on reading it, interesting stuff. :D A friend of mine who did her Master's fieldwork in Tuva (Russia, bordering Mongolia and China, iirc) had a few sessions with a local shaman in their apartment.

Shamanism does survive in Scandinavia as well, with the indigenous Saami traditions, incuding the rune-drum and other activities.

To give people an example: a couple of years ago a local politician in Norway's northernmost county claimed in social media that he had been ganna (cursed, bewitched) by Saami detractors. It became a bit of a joke on a national level, sure, but locally there was more of a complicated view on the whole issue. 

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My wife was taken to a shaman when she was young, for a blessing, even though they are Muslims, so Shamanism is alive and well in Russia.

As to the linked article, thank, it is very interesting. I particularly liked the idea of calling down of Deities, allowing for possession of the Shaman, I can see that happening in Glorantha, where the Shaman links to a Deity and does a heroforming to gain some benefit from it. Interesting that Korea has two forms of shamanism, one that invokes deities and one that doesn't, one that uses an initiation sickness/trial and one that has hereditary shamans. It is another example of using a term to refer to a variety of slightly different things.

I can see Gloranthan Shamans having an Invocation to summon some divinity to possess the Shaman, in the same way that the article describes. That would fit in well with Glorantha Shamans.

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Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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5 minutes ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

To give people an example: a couple of years ago a local politician in Norway's northernmost county claimed in social media that he had been ganna (cursed, bewitched) by Saami detractors. It became a bit of a joke on a national level, sure, but locally there was more of a complicated view on the whole issue. 

There's a recent murder mystery set in Svalbard, Fortitude (available on Amazon or Netflix in the US, I forget which) and a shaman is involved.

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During his stint in Mexico, Greg (initially reluctantly) reconnected with the Catholic church as the local forms of shamanism in Oaxaca were firmly joined with Catholic rites according to his web diary of that time. Shamans don't appear to have a problem with monotheistic religions and their entities as a subset of their spiritual contacts.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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1 hour ago, Joerg said:

During his stint in Mexico, Greg (initially reluctantly) reconnected with the Catholic church as the local forms of shamanism in Oaxaca were firmly joined with Catholic rites according to his web diary of that time. Shamans don't appear to have a problem with monotheistic religions and their entities as a subset of their spiritual contacts.

Indeed, the topic of Latin-American syncretism is a huuuuuuge field within Latin-American anthropology, at least.

On a different note - and it's perhaps dubious to call it shamanism (then again, these are often externally imposed categories anyway) - when I was doing my fieldwork in India, many people in the town I lived in visited the local Pentecostal pastor to have evil spirits driven from them. These people were overwhelmingly Hindu, and would arguably have gone to whoever was seen as efficacious. Very pragmatic.

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5 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Indeed, the topic of Latin-American syncretism is a huuuuuuge field within Latin-American anthropology, at least.

On a different note - and it's perhaps dubious to call it shamanism (then again, these are often externally imposed categories anyway) - when I was doing my fieldwork in India, many people in the town I lived in visited the local Pentecostal pastor to have evil spirits driven from them. These people were overwhelmingly Hindu, and would arguably have gone to whoever was seen as efficacious. Very pragmatic.

I spent some time with a proud and tribal people amongst whom their qualified doctor would send the sick to a local Methodist minister for exorcism. 

The proud and tribal people?

Highly educated and high earning suburban English. These relationships and linked practices are far more common and widespread than we might at first think 

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12 hours ago, Joerg said:

Shamans don't appear to have a problem with monotheistic religions and their entities as a subset of their spiritual contacts.

It's more the other way around.

Shamans don't mind adapting other religions, but other religions don't normally like Shamans reinterpreting their Saints/Demigods/Whatever.

I'm looking at why Sufism was popular among the Turks in the 13th/14th century and it seems that some Sufi practices tie in to older Shamanic practices of the Turks, before they embraced Islam, so Sufism allowed them to have their old Shamanic Paths within Islam.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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2 hours ago, soltakss said:

I'm looking at why Sufism was popular among the Turks in the 13th/14th century and it seems that some Sufi practices tie in to older Shamanic practices of the Turks, before they embraced Islam, so Sufism allowed them to have their old Shamanic Paths within Islam.

Sufism remains the majority practice of Islam in Turkey, with an indigenous form of Islam, Alevism, being a kind of syncretic Islam. As a Muslim myself I want to be clear in saying it's definitely Islam, it's just really unique. They have their own special prayer halls. Bektashism is the largest form of Sufism in Turkey and former Ottoman territories in Europe.

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On 8/26/2019 at 1:03 AM, Sir_Godspeed said:

and it's perhaps dubious to call it shamanism

There are many definitions of shamanism, what it is, where it comes from, etc. I've taught shamanism for over 20 years now and have come across as many uses of the word just added to stuff as you can imagine(shamanic [insert word], so soap, chocolate, medicine, tepee, aura, etc, etc).

With newcomers it's often helpful to first identify what we're talking about and then label it for ease of use:

  • The belief that everything animate or inanimate has a spirit or just that spirits exist is animism. You don't have to be able or want to interact with these spirits, you just believe they exist. As this is about beliefs, it's not about whether you think they exist do or not.
  • Spirit also covers a lot of different things, but is mostly covered by what I mentioned in animism.
  • The ability to interact with spirits is the practice of shamanism. Generally speaking shamanism teaches the method of entering the spirit world (also known by a number of different terms - Non-ordinary reality, trance states, astral plane for example). There are techniques similarly used by different cultures to achieve this, separately or in combination with each other - drumming, rattling, singing, dancing, physical exertion (including exhaustion, extremes of temperature -Ice, -fire, pain), meditation and a variety of drugs. The people who do this generally on behalf of others, are doing it to bring help, healing, power, information, or deal with the dead and may do all of these or have one as a singular practice. These people are shamans, but are called by a variety of local names (wise woman/man, medicine woman/man, healer, diviner, oracle, exorcist, shaman is a local name is certain parts of siberia and is genderless, there is a russian corruption of the word that adds the russian female ending -ka on to the word making shamanka). Some may never call themselves shaman (or what ever name they use) but are recognised as such. Others may proclaim what they are themselves, and maybe recognised or not by their community. Some may be part of an organised religion, but recognised or unrecognised.

Labelling all of these variables, animism, shamanism, spirit world, spirits makes talking about the vast variety of practices easier along as you bear in ming there is a vast variety. Generally speaking it is only shamanism if you enter the spirit world and interact with spirits. Under this general definition many practices aren't shamanism (no spirits).

I've worked with a range of shamans from across the world. Many practitioners have been practicing members of mainstream religions (Christianity, islam and buddhism), although may haven't.

I was introduced to this by Greg Stafford who himself practiced a very syncretic mix of shamanism. His spirits of the directions were arthurian knights and his great spirit teacher was a spider the size of a truck. Glorantha is very much a reflection of his spirit world and practices.

Edited by David Scott
corrected autocorrect corrections
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Search the Glorantha Resource Site: https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com. Search the Glorantha mailing list archives: https://glorantha.steff.in/digests/

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Just now, scott-martin said:

I was unaware of this one! Who did he have in the north?

I can't remember. I saw him do it a number of times. I'm sure Percival was one of them. There must be other people out there who remember.

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Search the Glorantha Resource Site: https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com. Search the Glorantha mailing list archives: https://glorantha.steff.in/digests/

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1 minute ago, David Scott said:

I can't remember. I saw him do it a number of times. I'm sure Percival was one of them. There must be other people out there who remember.

Thanks all the same! Not important until it's necessary and then there's usually someone on site who has the cues on which direction is which.

Now I'm wanting a chivalric LBRP with all those whirling swords.

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15 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

Thanks all the same! Not important until it's necessary and then there's usually someone on site who has the cues on which direction is which.

I had a look in Greg's chapter in Voices from the Circle - The Medicine Circle of Turtle Island, there are references to the directions there you might enjoy. There's also a good outline of shamanism. Currently quite cheap on amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Voices-Circle-Heritage-Western-Paganism/dp/0850307856

image.png.eb8809af26e61a5c09a5e005d699c1cd.png

 

 

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Search the Glorantha Resource Site: https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com. Search the Glorantha mailing list archives: https://glorantha.steff.in/digests/

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39 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

and then there's usually someone on site who has the cues on which direction is which.

Are you saying that there is usually someone here who will tell one where to go?

Sorry abut the humour in a great topic, but y'all know me by now...

6 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

If so, he'd likely be at the Camp of Innocence, which would be the north.

 

Again, amazingly good call.

Cheers

Edited because of the damn &*$#* demonic spell checker!

 

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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... remember, with a TARDIS, one is never late for breakfast!

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3 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

If so, he'd likely be at the Camp of Innocence, which would be the north.

The Red Camp of Innocence was in the South and was abandoned. The story Beautiful Afidisa was about it, as the Artmali built their first city there.

The North Camp was annihilated by Umath's corpse.

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4 minutes ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

The Red Camp of Innocence was in the South

For whatever reason I connect the White Camp with Verithurusa who per GS 147 is both Keeper of Wisdom and yet innocence: "Verithurusa did many things which were innocent, unwise, and foolish."

While the Red Camp is listed as of Innocence, it is also the Camp of Strength (e.g. Nemarthshar, presumably Shargash).

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Most shamans from the north of the Han River perform in Hwanghae-do style — named after a former joint North and South Korean province — and are called into the profession by spirit sickness. First they get very ill, and once they finally realize that this is a call to become a shaman, they accept their gods and do an initiation ritual. In many cultures around the world, this is a classic call to shamanic practice. This is the type of shamanic practice where shamans get possessed by otherworldly beings.

This excerpt from the article reminded me of the Wheel of Time books. While having nothing to do with shamanism itself (the magic on those books is mostly a lot more like Gloranthan sorcery - albeit less Platonic idealism and rituals and more "mentally applied physics"), the books have channeling (its name for magic-using) coming up in a person usually around puberty. For those who are not taken into the learning institution, they usually get sick and either mentally block the ability to channel, or in some cases die.

Anyway, a bit tangential, but the commonality of "crisis as cause of initiation" is a good story-telling device, and tool for world-building as well.

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