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The spots are segregated onto only certain parts, not as in the real feline but as in a person decorating the body with images of spots to invoke the powers that go with those markings. Each spot is in fact a tiny jaguar, so that the levels of meaning multiply. Yet the important point here is that a person and a cat are masterfully presented as one dualistic being. This piece sets the stage for the first of the featured works.


Figure 3. A seated man in the shamanic meditation pose betrays characteristics of someone who has contracted the flesh-wasting disease we call leishmaniasis.

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Michael C. Carlos Museum, Gift of William C. Thibadeau, Photograph by Michael McKelvey, In Figure 3, a person is illustrated who is experiencing the dreaded flesh-eating disease now called leishmaniasis [leash-meh -NI-ah-sis]. Infected sand flies transfer the disease from dogs and cats to humans. In the muco-cutaneous form of leishmaniasis, cysts form around the nose and mouth, spread, and the flesh begins to die, to the point of exposing the skull in extreme cases.

This person is first identified as a man because he wears large round earrings that were male finery; however, his long dress is a female garment, so he may well be between gender categories as is common among shamans in the Americas and worldwide. Figure 4. Physiognomic portraits of non-diseased individuals are also typical in Moche art. Arnett, Michael C. To demonstrate that the face of the individual in Figure 3 is not simply a common face of men—or women—depicted in this era the Moche of AD in Peru , a representative head jar is shown in Figure 4 with soft lips, a prominent nose, and eyes with notable eyelids.

In its attention to human physiognomy, the Moche style is unusual in the scheme of ancient Andean, and American, art as a whole. Therefore, Fig. Moche portraits depict not only heads but also full-body renditions, many of them depicting the same individuals celebrated in the head sculptures. In other full-body renditions, visual impairment, loss of limbs, and other conditions are represented. In all these images, it is possible to argue that survivorship, rather than pathology, is a strong message. People can live for long periods with cutaneous leishmaniasis; however, if they also have visceral leishmaniasis, they are much less likely to survive.

Indeed, previous to modern drug treatment, most people would have eventually died of this illness as it horrifically advanced. It may well have been an ancient practice to cut away the affected flesh, especially because leishmaniasis often begins in the nose. However, more importantly, in shamanic terms, such a person would evince more powers, more ability to heal, more spiritual blessings. They would in a sense already be a shaman, a healer of themselves, and through the logic of the wounded healer, able to assist others.

Figure 5. The visage of a snarling jaguar features visible teeth, a flat nose, and darkly outlined eyes, which could be seen as generally similar to that of the man in Figure 2, according to shamanic belief in animal selves. Photograph courtesy of Pixabay. Returning to the issue of humans and animals, the face of someone in the throes of this disease can be likened to that of an animal, specifically a feline Figure 5. The artist darkening the outlines of the enlarged eyelid-less eyes also mimics the coloration of jaguars, which have strongly black-outlined eyes.

Therefore, in shamanic logic, to resemble one is to manifest not dis-ability or dis-ease but ideal, true power. In shamanic belief, a jaguar is not simply perceived as a physical animal; rather, it is the manifestation of a larger spirit of all jaguars, all animals, all phenomena. The Inca called this camay, a relationship between a camac spiritual infuser, such as the Great Spirit of Llamas and a camasca spiritual receiver, actual earthly llamas. What a person with advancing leishmaniasis and the jaguar may share is a profound spiritual connection, not simply a physical one with the similar fangs, nose, eyes.

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If the outer manifests the inner, a staple of Andean worldview and shamanic experience, then a person with such features is manifesting a jaguar-self. They can use those prodigious powers to intercede with the spirit realm on behalf of others with the condition, according to the logic of the wounded healer.

I had experienced as a bird and a fish, a freedom of movement, flexibility, grace. I moved as a tiger in the jungle, joyously, feeling the ground under my feet, feeling my power; my chest grew larger. I then approached an animal, any animal. I only saw its neck, and then experienced what a tiger feels when looking at its prey.

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Although the latter person did not become specifically a jaguar during trance, he did hunt in his vision precisely as a tiger does by breaking necks whereas jaguars crush skulls. Indeed, most Central and South American ancient languages and those that continue in use to this day use the same word for shaman and for jaguar, which translates as jaguar. Western medicine thankfully has found a way to stem the tide of leishmaniasis, although it still affects not only Americans but Asians and others living in the tropics. The Native American positive attitude toward anomalous bodies—seeing them as decidedly not disabled—seems fairly unusual in world history and culture.

Such cross- temporal and cultural awareness may inform present-day global attitudes in intriguing ways. Empowerment is a theme that can unite rather than divide. Rebecca R. Stone, PhD, received her B. Her M. Dissertation research on Wari tapestry tunics CE, Peru took her to 49 museums on three continents. After teaching one year at the Johns Hopkins University, she came to Emory as a Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow from and began as the Faculty Curator of Art of the Americas, a joint position she holds to this day.

Hired in the Art History Department in to teach art from the United States southward before AD, she received tenure in and full professorship in Besides a number of articles ranging from West Mexican tomb sculpture to various aspects of shamanic art and ancient textiles, her books include: Threads of Time: Tradition and Change in Indigenous American Textiles, Michael C.

Carlos Museum with essays by Dr. Dorie Reents-Budet and Shelley A.

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Burian, M. Your email address will not be published. Paul was a prolific author and consummate wordsmith who loved languages. In , Paul was in the hospital recovering from a kidney infection.

J. M. Langdon & G. Baer, eds., Portals of Power. Shamanism in South American - Persée

Diane was visiting him when he had a massive left-hemisphere stroke. Having just written a book on brain research An Alchemy of Mind 2 , she immediately recognized the signs:.

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Paul shuffled out of the bathroom and stood at the foot of the bed, eyes glazed, his face like fallen mud. His mouth drooped to the right, and he looked asleep with open eyes that gaped at me in alarm. Indeed, in those early days the outlook for Paul seemed bleak. Yet, several years later, Paul had returned not just to writing daily but also to authoring and publishing books. At the core of this remarkable recovery was a home program Diane herself designed, one grounded in her curiosity about how the brain works, in her knowledge of her husband, and in her own desire to reconstruct their life together.

One Hundred Names for Love is organized into two parts. Diane describes these early weeks as frustrating, confusing, and exhausting—both for her and Paul. With little understanding of what the future might hold, she was now faced with making life choices for both of them. The early diagnosis from the speech-language pathologist SLP included: oral apraxia and severe apraxia of speech; expressive and receptive aphasia; and dysphagia with risk of aspiration.

Throughout these weeks in the hospital, Paul expressed his fervent desire to go home. And Diane finally agreed. At six weeks post-stroke, she moved Paul and his rehab program home.

From her study of the brain, Diane knew that, to prompt his brain cells to grow more connections and the right connection, Paul needed an enriched environment every bit as much as the lab rats who thrived in enriched cages. Thus, she set out to drench Paul in meaningful language and meaningful routines. During her daily visits, Liz engaged Paul as an audience to her stories, regaling him with updates on the nefarious exploits of Gustaf her neighbor as well as more mundane stories about her own trips and past jobs.

When Paul was too tired to fully listen, Liz and Diane would chatter together to pass the time, allowing Paul to be a peripheral participant in their back-and-forth banter. At other times Liz would create on-the-spot word games with Paul, trying to impress him with her new medical knowledge:. Where were you going?

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