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But not all shamans were self-deceived; many were shrewd and able tricksters. As the profession developed, a novice was required to serve an apprenticeship of ten years of hardship and self-denial to qualify as a medicine man. The shamans developed a professional mode of dress and affected a mysterious conduct. They frequently employed drugs to induce certain physical states which would impress and mystify the tribesmen. Sleight-of-hand feats were regarded as supernatural by the common folk, and ventriloquism was first used by shrewd priests.


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Many of the olden shamans unwittingly stumbled onto hypnotism; others induced autohypnosis by prolonged staring at their navels. While many resorted to these tricks and deceptions, their reputation as a class, after all, stood on apparent achievement. When a shaman failed in his undertakings, if he could not advance a plausible alibi, he was either demoted or killed.

Thus the honest shamans early perished; only the shrewd actors survived. It was shamanism that took the exclusive direction of tribal affairs out of the hands of the old and the strong and lodged it in the hands of the shrewd, the clever, and the farsighted. Spirit conjuring was a very precise and highly complicated procedure, comparable to present-day church rituals conducted in an ancient tongue.

Shaman: Devil's Deal by Clay Hurtubise, Lars Christensen |, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

The human race very early sought for superhuman help, for revelation; and men believed that the shaman actually received such revelations. While the shamans utilized the great power of suggestion in their work, it was almost invariably negative suggestion; only in very recent times has the technique of positive suggestion been employed. In the early development of their profession the shamans began to specialize in such vocations as rain making, disease healing, and crime detecting. To heal diseases was not, however, the chief function of a shamanic medicine man; it was, rather, to know and to control the hazards of living.

Ancient black art, both religious and secular, was called white art when practiced by either priests, seers, shamans, or medicine men. The practitioners of the black art were called sorcerers, magicians, wizards, witches, enchanters, necromancers, conjurers, and soothsayers. As time passed, all such purported contact with the supernatural was classified either as witchcraft or shamancraft.

A Mental Disease by Any Other Name

Witchcraft embraced the magic performed by earlier, irregular, and unrecognized spirits; shamancraft had to do with miracles performed by regular spirits and recognized gods of the tribe. In later times the witch became associated with the devil, and thus was the stage set for the many comparatively recent exhibitions of religious intolerance. Witchcraft was a religion with many primitive tribes. The shamans were great believers in the mission of chance as revelatory of the will of the spirits; they frequently cast lots to arrive at decisions.

Modern survivals of this proclivity for casting lots are illustrated, not only in the many. Once, the person counted out must die; now, he is only it in some childish game. That which was serious business to primitive man has survived as a diversion of the modern child. The medicine men put great trust in signs and omens, such as, "When you hear the sound of a rustling in the tops of the mulberry trees, then shall you bestir yourself.

Primitive astrology was a world-wide belief and practice; dream interpreting also became widespread. All this was soon followed by the appearance of those temperamental shamanesses who professed to be able to communicate with the spirits of the dead. Though of ancient origin, the rain makers, or weather shamans, have persisted right on down through the ages. A severe drought meant death to the early agriculturists; weather control was the object of much ancient magic. Civilized man still makes the weather the common topic of conversation. The olden peoples all believed in the power of the shaman as a rain maker, but it was customary to kill him when he failed, unless he could offer a plausible excuse to account for the failure.

Again and again did the Caesars banish the astrologers, but they invariably returned because of the popular belief in their powers.

They could not be driven out, and even in the sixteenth century after Christ the directors of Occidental church and state were the patrons of astrology. Thousands of supposedly intelligent people still believe that one may be born under the domination of a lucky or an unlucky star; that the juxtaposition of the heavenly bodies determines the outcome of various terrestrial adventures. Fortunetellers are still patronized by the credulous.

The Greeks believed in the efficacy of oracular advice, the Chinese used magic as protection against demons, shamanism flourished in India, and it still openly persists in central Asia. It is an only recently abandoned practice throughout much of the world. Ever and anon, true prophets and teachers arose to denounce and expose shamanism. Even the vanishing red man had such a prophet within the past hundred years, the Shawnee Tenskwatawa, who predicted the eclipse of the sun in and denounced the vices of the white man. Many true teachers have appeared among the various tribes and races all through the long ages of evolutionary history.

And they will ever continue to appear to challenge the shamans or priests of any age who oppose general education and attempt to thwart scientific progress. In many ways and by devious methods the olden shamans established their reputations as voices of God and custodians of providence. They sprinkled the newborn with water and conferred names upon them; they circumcised the males. They presided over all burial ceremonies and made due announcement of the safe arrival of the dead in spiritland. The shamanic priests and medicine men often became very wealthy through the accretion of their various fees which were ostensibly offerings to the spirits.

Not infrequently a shaman would accumulate practically all the material wealth of his tribe. Upon the death of a wealthy man it was customary to divide his property equally with the shaman and some public enterprise or charity. This practice still obtains in some parts of Tibet, where one half the male population belongs to this class of nonproducers. The shamans dressed well and usually had a number of wives; they were the original aristocracy, being exempt from all tribal restrictions.

They were very often of low-grade mind and morals. They suppressed their rivals by denominating them witches or sorcerers and very frequently rose to such positions of influence and power that they were able to dominate the chiefs or kings. Primitive man regarded the shaman as a necessary evil; he feared him but did not love him. Early man respected knowledge; he honored and rewarded wisdom. The shaman was mostly fraud, but the veneration for shamanism well illustrates the premium put upon wisdom in the evolution of the race.

Since ancient man regarded himself and his material environment as being directly responsive to the whims of the ghosts and the fancies of the spirits, it is not strange that his religion should have been so exclusively concerned with material affairs. Modern man attacks his material problems directly; he recognizes that matter is responsive to the intelligent manipulation of mind. Primitive man likewise desired to modify and even to control the life and energies of the physical domains; and since his limited comprehension of the cosmos led him to the belief that ghosts, spirits, and gods were personally and immediately concerned with the detailed control of life and matter, he logically directed his efforts to winning the favor and support of these superhuman agencies.

Viewed in this light, much of the inexplicable and irrational in the ancient cults is understandable. The ceremonies of the cult were primitive man's attempt to control the material world in which he found himself. And many of his efforts were directed to the end of prolonging life and insuring health.

Since all diseases and death itself were originally regarded as spirit phenomena, it was inevitable that the shamans, while functioning as medicine men and priests, should also have labored as doctors and surgeons. The primitive mind may be handicapped by lack of facts, but it is for all that logical. When thoughtful men observe disease and death, they set about to determine the causes of these visitations, and in accordance with their understanding, the shamans and the scientists have propounded the following theories of affliction:. Ghosts--direct spirit influences. The earliest hypothesis advanced in explanation of disease and death was that spirits caused disease by enticing the soul out of the body; if it failed to return, death ensued.

The ancients so feared the malevolent action of disease-producing ghosts that ailing individuals would often be deserted without even food or water. Regardless of the erroneous basis for these beliefs, they did effectively isolate afflicted individuals and prevent the spread of contagious disease. Violence--obvious causes. The causes for some accidents and deaths were so easy to identify that they were early removed from the category of ghost action. Fatalities and wounds attendant upon war, animal combat, and other readily identifiable agencies were considered as natural occurrences.

But it was long believed that the spirits were still responsible for delayed healing or for the infection of wounds of even "natural" causation.

Shaman: Devil's Deal

If no observable natural agent could be discovered, the spirit ghosts were still held responsible for disease and death. Today, in Africa and elsewhere may be found primitive peoples who kill someone every time a nonviolent death occurs. Their medicine men indicate the guilty parties. If a mother dies in childbirth, the child is immediately strangled--a life for a life.

Magic--the influence of enemies. Much sickness was thought to be caused by bewitchment, the action of the evil eye and the magic pointing bow. At one time it was really dangerous to point a finger at anyone; it is still regarded as ill-mannered to point. In cases of obscure disease and death the ancients would hold a formal inquest, dissect the body, and settle upon some finding as the cause of death; otherwise the death would be laid to witchcraft, thus necessitating the execution of the witch responsible therefor.

These ancient coroner's inquests saved many a supposed witch's life. Among some it was believed that a tribesman could die as a result of his own witchcraft, in which event no one was accused. Sin--punishment for taboo violation. In comparatively recent times it has been believed that sickness is a punishment for sin, personal or racial. Among peoples traversing this level of evolution the prevailing theory is that one cannot be afflicted unless one has violated a taboo.

To regard sickness and suffering as "arrows of the Almighty within them" is typical of such beliefs. The Chinese and Mesopotamians long regarded disease as the result of the action of evil demons, although the Chaldeans also looked upon the stars as the cause of suffering. This theory of disease as a consequence of divine wrath is still prevalent among many reputedly civilized groups of Urantians. Help Center. Exchange offer not applicable. New product price is lower than exchange product price. Exchange offer is not applicable with this product.

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