Shamanism: old and new traditions

The old and new traditions of shamanism are linked by their idea of the psyche as being made of disparate elements that require integration if one is to function as a human being, without an integral loss of being or distortion of it.   Nietzsche depicts Zarathustra as being concerned with the selfsame issues:

When Zarathustra went one day over the great bridge, then did the cripples and beggars surround him, and a hunchback spake thus unto him:
"Behold, Zarathustra! Even the people learn from thee, and acquire faith in thy teaching: but for them to believe fully in thee, one thing is still needful--thou must first of all convince us cripples! Here hast thou now a fine selection, and verily, an opportunity with more than one forelock! The blind canst thou heal, and make the lame run; and from him who hath too much behind, couldst thou well, also, take away a little;--that, I think, would be the right method to make the cripples believe in Zarathustra!"
Zarathustra, however, answered thus unto him who so spake: When one taketh his hump from the hunchback, then doth one take from him his spirit--so do the people teach. And when one giveth the blind man eyes, then doth he see too many bad things on the earth: so that he curseth him who healed him. He, however, who maketh the lame man run, inflicteth upon him the greatest injury; for hardly can he run, when his vices run away with him--so do the people teach concerning cripples. And why should not Zarathustra also learn from the people, when the people learn from Zarathustra?
It is, however, the smallest thing unto me since I have been amongst men, to see one person lacking an eye, another an ear, and a third a leg, and that others have lost the tongue, or the nose, or the head.
I see and have seen worse things, and divers things so hideous, that I should neither like to speak of all matters, nor even keep silent about some of them: namely, men who lack everything, except that they have too much of one thing--men who are nothing more than a big eye, or a big mouth, or a big belly, or something else big,--reversed cripples, I call such men.
And when I came out of my solitude, and for the first time passed over this bridge, then I could not trust mine eyes, but looked again and again, and said at last: "That is an ear! An ear as big as a man!" I looked still more attentively--and actually there did move under the ear something that was pitiably small and poor and slim. And in truth this immense ear was perched on a small thin stalk--the stalk, however, was a man! A person putting a glass to his eyes, could even recognise further a small envious countenance, and also that a bloated soullet dangled at the stalk. The people told me, however, that the big ear was not only a man, but a great man, a genius. But I never believed in the people when they spake of great men--and I hold to my belief that it was a reversed cripple, who had too little of everything, and too much of one thing.
When Zarathustra had spoken thus unto the hunchback, and unto those of whom the hunchback was the mouthpiece and advocate, then did he turn to his disciples in profound dejection, and said:
Verily, my friends, I walk amongst men as amongst the fragments and limbs of human beings!
This is the terrible thing to mine eye, that I find man broken up, and scattered about, as on a battle- and butcher-ground.

And when mine eye fleeth from the present to the bygone, it findeth ever the same: fragments and limbs and fearful chances--but no men!  [emphasis mine]

Attaining wholeness -- this was the project that Bataille read into Nietzsche in his introduction to his book, On Nietzsche.   Bataille thought the majority of his time was prevented from being whole due to the enslaving nature of work.  In other words, history has a structure that creates deformities in its subjects. One need not take up Bataille's Marxist view explicitly to understand that history -- and our responses to it -- lead to the fracturing of identity.

Identity is, after all, not a tangible possession, but is an emotional relationship to one's inwardness.   One is whole so long as one's inwardness is integral, But force of circumstance may cause one to lose that relationship with one's integral self.  In that case, one loses wholeness and becomes deficient as a human being.

The resulting deficiency is not precisely personal, but can be viewed in terms of one's relationship to one's environment, which will differ from individual to individual, whilst often also having some aspects that are held in common (depending on the nature of the historical dynamite that would be capable of separating limb from limb).

It's easiest to give an example on the basis of one's own experiences, since one can claim to know oneself the best.   In my case, I experienced a degree of emotional numbing after emigrated from Africa to Australia in 1984.   In shamanistic terms, this meant my inner sense of identity had become scattered and was less than integral.   Emotional scattering is also cognitive scattering, as Antonio Damasio suggests. It can lead to being unable to make the best decisions.  Due to my having become scattered, I became susceptible to many viruses, as well as to others' misinterpretations of my identity.   I needed to restore the parts of myself that had become historically scattered, in order to restore my sense of wholeness.

My idea is that the fundamental goal of shamanisms, past and present, is to restore the individual's human wholeness, by recovering the parts of the self that has been lost due to historical change.

Since shamanism deals with history and with political forces, it differs from psychoanalysis, which restricts itself to pathologies arising from family structures.

Intellectual shamanism today is concerned with strategies to restore an individual's wholeness, through emotional integration of parts that were at times lost, due to the suddenness or violence of historical shifts.
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