P.2: Celts and Druids Speaking
Although for example many South American
shamans incorporate elements of Catholicism, astrology, mesmerism, Kardecism, etc. to enhance their power and authority.
Misappropriations of shamanism like in the case of Eliade (as seen in p.1
yesterday on SESN), reproduce pervasive themes such as evolutionism. But as in
the case of Michael Harner and neo-Shamanisms other critiqical issues explained for example in M.D.Jakobsen, Shamanism, 1999 are:
3 Reproduction and reification of
of indigenous shamanisms.
Harner's journey, as he tells it, from 'outside observer' to
practitioner of shamanism, began with his fieldwork among the Untsuri Shuar of Ecuador.
He reports also studying briefly with
North American shamans among the Wintun and Pomo in California, the Coast Salish
in Washington State, and the Lakota in South Dakota. (Harner,
The Way of the Shaman, 1990, pp. 1-20.)
Since an article on SESN already
followed up on the above “
We will next move on SESN to
contemporary forms of Paganism.
For example among British Europeans
there three categories, in order of popularity: Wicca, Druidry and Heathenry.
Practitioners in all three are diverse, making definition of them difficult,
but it may be agreeable to most to describe Wicca (derived from the Anglo-Saxon
wicca, probably meaning witch) currently as an initiatory religion in which
practitioners revere divinity in nature as manifest in the polarity of a
goddess and god (with female often privileged over male). Wicca has been
considerably influenced by shamanisms in a number of respects, as are
But practices such as inducing trance,
working magic, divination, interacting with spirits and animal familiars, and
healing via supernatural means are certainly also reminiscent of many
shamanistic practices. Of interest to archaeology is the way in which some
Wiccans claim descent from prehistoric European shamanisms. This idea was popularised by Margaret Murray, whose book The Witch Cult
in Western Europe (1921) argued that those persecuted during the late medieval
witch trials were members of an extant ancient pagan religion.
Her second contribution, The God of the
Witches (1933), 'asserted the doctrine that the horned god of the greenwood had
been the oldest deity known to humans, and traced his worship across Europe and
the Near East, from the Old Stone Age to the seventeenth century.
Murray’ s arguments, and his
presentations at major Pagan conferences have done much to disseminate these
findings among those Wiccans who had previously held Murray's interpretations
as fact. Vivienne Crowley , Wiccan High Priestess, and more recently Ronald
Hutton, have considerable influence on contemporary Witchcraft's evolving view
The more feminist and goddess-oriented
branches of Wicca, in many ways resonate with the so-called Goddess movement,
heavily influenced by the work of Marija Gimbutas,
for whom for example the Turkish site of Catalhuyuk
is a Goddess site par excellence.
Recent engagements between adherents to
Goddess Spirituality and archaeologists at the site (and off-site over the
Internet) are somewhat strained due to conflicting approaches and
interpretations. Despite Hodder's claims for a self-reflexive archaeological
process at the site, which accommodates both archaeological strategies and
alternative goddess views ( http://catal.arch.cam.ac.uk/). The differences between Pagans and academics are so
fundamental that there is little room for fruitful negotiation.
While some archaeologists today might
rather forget the fact, their predecessors are strange but intimate bedfellows
with neo-Shamanic approaches to the past, a past that cannot be ignored due to
its repercussions in the present.
Druidry is a case in point. It is
perhaps, after Wicca, the second most popular branch of contemporary paganism
in Britain today. From medieval and romantic Welsh and Irish literature to
archaeology and the legacy of early antiquarians such as William Stukeley, aka
The idea that Druids claim descent from
ancient Iron Age orders, is increasingly being replaced - among both Druids and
academics - by recognition that Druidry is very much a tradition situated in
the modern era.
The plethora of Druid Orders illustrates
how diverse contemporary Druidry is; sixteen alone are listed for Britain in
the Druids Voice magazine 'Druid Directory', and there are more orders in
Europe, the USA and Australia. Regarding relationships between Druidry and
neo-Shamanism, Kaledon Naddair,
for instance, founded the shamanic-based College of Druidism in 1982. He
describes the use of native shamanistic Celtic incenses formulated from native
plants which revives the ‘power smoke of the [Druid] shamans' without the use
of entheogens. He also recounts how, on one occasion, 'just like a traditional
Shaman I acted as a channel ... and whilst I allowed a mighty Keltic God to
speak through my body, my own higher consciousness was instantaneously
teleported to a far-off steep hillside' (“Pictish and
Keltic Shamanism, 1990: 94)
The Northern tradition, with such terms
as Asatru (discussed elsewhere critiqually on SESN,
due to its involvement with neo-Nazi elements), Odinism or Odinist and Vanatru, denoting preferences for specific deities.
Contemporary Heathens utilise Norse and Icelandic
literature and mythology, and Viking and Anglo-Saxon migration period history
and archaeological sources to revive and reconstruct a Heathen religion for the
In the UK there is Odinshof,
the Odinic Rite and Hammarens Ordens
SdIlskap (see their web site: http://www.geocities.com/hammarens/); in the UK and USA the Ring of Troth,
in Europe the Ring of Troth European Branch, in the USA the Asatru Alliance,
the Odinist Fellowship, Rune Gild and Asatru Folk Assembly; and in Iceland/
Reykjavik localised groups known as 'Hearths' meet
regularly and are comparable, in size and function, with a Wiccan 'Coven' or
June 27, 2003