Share This Article:

Shamanic Trance Journey with Animal Spirits: Ancient “Scientific” Strategy Dealing with Inverted Otherworld

Full-Text HTML XML Download Download as PDF (Size:4750KB) PP. 91-126
DOI: 10.4236/aa.2018.83006    440 Downloads   863 Views Citations


Since palaeolithic times, shamans involved animal depictions in cave ceremonies and adopted animals as helping spirits during their trance journeys. This study aims at explaining the rituals with new evidence: the shamans were acting rationally to deal with an inverted otherworld, still rooted in many traditional beliefs, and seen as an impressive natural phenomenon in superior mirages. After experimenting with unhealthy upside down positions, shamans have adopted more convenient ways to “invert” their consciousness by generating oxygen deficiency and trance for entering the inverted world. San rock art from Brandberg, Namibia, is used as a model to learn more about the logic behind shamanistic trance travel, for example aimed at attracting rain. When travelling to an inverted otherworld San shamans used, besides trance-inverting their consciousness, symbols of inversion (inverted sex, inverted body posture and body painting) and were hiding their faces. Negative hand stencils, dotted (mirage) animals and hidden faces were correspondingly used in palaeolithic caves during trance ceremonies. The animals painted on cave walls were aimed at meeting their counterparts in the other world, a condition for the termination of earthly life, to enable their successful hunting. Animals seen to behave “supernaturally” in mirages and mirage phenomena themselves became helping spirits for the voyage. The mirage of earthly objects into the sky itself served as role model for shamanic travel. Voluptuous Venus figures were carved for the inverted world. They show an inversion of reality. The conclusion is that early spiritual and religious concepts developed rationally, like other strategies for survival, in attempts to deal with an occasionally but worldwide seen natural phenomenon which suggested an inverted otherworld.

Cite this paper

Tributsch, H. (2018) Shamanic Trance Journey with Animal Spirits: Ancient “Scientific” Strategy Dealing with Inverted Otherworld. Advances in Anthropology, 8, 91-126. doi: 10.4236/aa.2018.83006.

Copyright © 2018 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.