Re: virus: How Does a Shaman Pay?

Brett Lane Robertson (
Mon, 11 Aug 1997 07:52:17 -0500

Wade (somewhat off topic),

I was reading a book called "People of the Plains", a prehistorical fiction
novel like the "Clan of the Cave Bear" series. In this particular book,
there was a shaman who said the reverse of what he meant. The people of the
book were very literal minded and the act of saying the opposite of what was
obvious to them made this "clown" a VERY mysterious person. At one point
he screamed and said that everyone should run because they were in great
danger...he meant that everyone should sit down and enjoy themselves since
they were in a place of peace. I can imagine what type of effect this type
of behavior would have on a group!

Evolutionarily, I decided, there may have been several reasons that this
type of behavior (which may not have happened to any such degree, but which
has mythological counterparts and has been declared a psychological
archetype by some Jungians). First, the literal mind has certain is limited in creativity, generativity, independent
thought...does not lend itself well to math, story telling, art...may become
intrenched in cause and effect irrationally (the picture of the hunt
produces a good hunt). I can imagine that someone might have had to perform
the task of making language a figurative tool capable of utilizing symbols
and expressing non-objective data (emotions, subjective opinions,
preferences, etc.). I also wonder if this was done intentionally, or if a
new level of language evolution had begun and some were capable of making
the advance while others were not. In addition, negating beliefs which are
strongly held offers the chance for a re-evaluation of these beliefs, for
redefining, for re-affirming.

I like the social model which evolved concerning shaman. I wonder now about
an evolutionary model. I was also thinking that I should work on a social
theory (like capitolism, socialism, etc.). I agree that community and
spirituality play minor roles in modern paradigms; but, I base my models
on the medicine wheel...they all tend to follow a matter/body/spirit/mind-4
quadrent-pattern--which is self confirming (what happens in one quadrent has
an affect on the other quadrents and this effect is predictable so that the
quadrents check each other and either confirm or disconfirm the hypothesis
posited in one quadrent or another). As in the above example, I assume that
the shaman has a purpose (evolutionarily, sociologically, psychologically,
etc.) or they would not exist--though you are right, they are not as obvious
today as they may have been at one time...though I think they still exist
perhaps as a cultural phenomenon which is not obvious to others who are not
involved with that culture. I do not assume that they are parasites (though
there are parasites in the ecology and they most likely perform a needed
function, too, or else they would not exist either). I *do* wonder how they
are tolerated, though...they seem very oppositional to what we believe in
and *do* seem to exist in this oppositional memeset even within their own
cultures (maybe they are the "control group"...Are they, do you think,
immune to common memes?).

Thanks for your response

At 12:06 AM 8/11/97 -0400, you wrote:
>>I wrote this economic model this morning in response to your question.

>It certainly smacked of the economically minded, and sounded like a
>reference. Thanx for it.

>>I am curious as to your comment that the definition of shaman was expanded
>>too far into the "politic". Please explain your comment as it would help me
>>to further modify this model. I am wondering if you mean that you are
>>surprised that shaman, as I have defined it, has "equal" control over the
>>community as does the priest, teacher, warrior and/or government. Perhaps,
>>you feel that material resources are of greater importance than mental or
>>spiritual resources...or that recreation is not a valid concern for an
>>economic model?

>Well, recreation is a valid part of an economic model. Yes, I am
>surprised to see an equality for the shaman, a role I certainly see as
>anachronistic, or at least fading fast. The valuation of 'spiritual'
>resources in any economic model is troubling, though, yes? We have the
>additional problem of 'community' in this model. It may be asking too
>much of an economic model to bother with these terms. The resources paid
>to a shaman I certainly view as parasitic.

>>I am also intrigued by your comment on the "non-physical". Would you
>>include influence, power, and community assets (schools, etc.) as
>>non-physical? Do you now see the shaman as being misunderstood in similar
>>fashion to the college professor being misunderstood by the construction
>>worker (ie. because they fall within different subcultures)? Or, do you
>>still think that the shaman somehow performs "magic" and that it is for
>>*this* that he receives compensation?

>Yes, I think the shaman, within my definition, does indeed claim to use
>'magic' and expects to be paid for this. The shaman is never
>'misunderstood' by _his_ culture. So this part of your question I view as
>irrelevant. But- influence and power are certainly intangibles in many
>instances, although I think we have contained 'non-physical' to mean the
>'spiritual'... or 'magical'.

>The shaman will always, and intentionally, be 'misunderstood' by the
>reasonable. It is not in his interest to be understood.... He uses
>'secrets' after all. That the shaman is tolerated is the paucity of a
>culture, IMHO. Or at least the degree of toleration.

Wade T. Smith

Rabble Sonnet Retort
He that leaveth nothing to Chance will do
few things ill, but he will do very few things.

George, Lord Halifax