19TH SAC SPRING MEETING, UC BERKELEY 1999
update March 19, 1999 (click here for program information)
Quantum Anthropological Linguistics
Dan Moonhawk Alford, California State University, Hayward
QuAL describes an approach to language enformed by 20th-century insights in anthropology and physics. In physics, the Quantum realm is apprehended only through a language of wholeness; such languages of wholeness became complementarily valid alongside more ordinary languages of fragmentation in Relativity. Current physicists acknowledge their narratives, in Western languages of fragmentation, as their toughest quantum challenge. Meanwhile, Bells Non-Locality, hailed as the greatest discovery in the history of science, demands telepathy in the quantum realm and in reality. Insights from anthropological linguistics include indigenous knowledge of telepathy in natural communication, and discovering human languages of wholeness; unlike mathematical counterparts, human languages fully interpenetrate cultures of wholeness as well. We will examine cross-over points between quantum and anthropological linguistic concepts, showing a trend of science coming full-circle to meet archaic insights of wholeness, ending with a plea for more cross-disciplinary partnerships between indigenous and western scientists.
The Essence and Original Personality in Physicalspace and Thoughtspace
Ralph B. Allison, Psychiatrist
After two decades with patients with Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), I know that the human mind is bipartite, with an intellectual self, the Essence, bonded to an emotional self, the Original Personality. These parts are disconnected by life threatening trauma in early childhood in MPD patients, but remain alloyed in all others. In children with MPD, the Original Personality goes for safekeeping from Physicalspace into Thoughtspace, where it is cared for by wise and loving collections of intelligent energy. Except in nondream sleep, the Essence stays in the body in Physicalspace. During sleep, it is in Thoughtspace being educated. The abilities and duties of the Essence are many and varied, consisting of both physical and mental activities. While each Essence is primarily interested in the welfare of its own Original Personality, it is also a part of a network of Essences throughout the world.
Cultural Manifestations of the Anthropopathy of Human Consciousness
Richard L. Amoroso, The Noetic Institute
Based on Aristotle's premise of the existence of an additional causal principle of purposefulness not found in matter but in consciousness, and the proof offered by Descartes of the existence of divine nature; it is proposed that an anthropopathy of human consciousness has certain cultural manifestations as evidenced in the existence of society itself and its ethical and spiritual attributes. Recently the sciences of biology, cognition, computation, cosmology and quantum mechanics have engaged in earnest pursuit of discovering the fundamental physical nature of the conscious universe. Anthropopathic cultural manifestations revealed in the Zeitgeist emerge from a dynamic web of the interaction of the free agency of the natural man and the teleology of the conscious universe and are indicative of the evolution of human consciousness. Cultural manifestations of human consciousness are the result of both immanent and transcendent aspects of a principle of action stemming from a philosophical tension inherent in the nature of awareness.
Redemption and Hallucinogens II
John R. Baker, Moorpark College
Humans, as biocultural organisms, are by definition subject to influences from both the biological and cultural domains. This suggests that behavior can be shaped and subsequently modified by factors found in either of these domains. This presentation complements the ideas developed in Marlene de Rios' paper by focusing on biological variables which can affect a person's tendency to misuse psychoactive substances. Mechanisms of neurotransmission and agonism/antagonism will be discussed, with special emphasis placed upon the known mechanisms of actions of certain hallucinogenic drugs. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that both biological and cultural factors can play a role in behavior modification, and that the relative roles of each will vary in different contexts.
Seidhr as Women's "Witchcraft": Contested Shamanistic Practice in Reconstructionist Religion
Jenny Blain, Dalhousie University, Canada
In the Icelandic sagas, the term "seidhr" is used for magic, often negative, performed chiefly by women, sometimes by men, with male seidhr-workers referred to by the derogatory term "ergi." In today's North America and Europe, seidhr is a growing practice within Heathen (Ásatrú or Northern European pagan) spirituality. This partly-experiential paper examines the construction of seidhr, including trance-divination, journeying, and healing, from accounts in the old literature together with anthropological descriptions of shamanistic practice and insight from core shamanism. The paper interrogates accounts of seidhr from practitioners who position themselves within competing discourses of magic, religion, and rationality, and in relation to communities of spirits, ghosts or wights, deities, as well as other Heathens and pagans, to define seidhr as central to their formation of identity. Today's seidhr is contested, gendered political practice, implicated in the shaping of new dimensions within Heathen spirituality.
Word Wars: Why It's So Hard to Get Along with People On-Line
Matthew C. Bronson, University of California, Davis
A manager in an international company endangers his career by e-mailing a frank, and he thinks, "confidential" assessment of an Irish subsidiary with disastrous results; an on-line student feels isolated and misunderstood by her fellow students. What these and other examples show are the many pitfalls and bumps in the information highway when it serves in its principle capacity as the medium for the negotiation of human relationships. Owing to the deletion of paralinguistic and pragmatic context, conflicting interpretations of the language game make such misunderstandings inevitable, often with dire consequences for careers and personal connections. Cyber-anthropology can help by clarifying the cultural rules underlying production and distribution of messages and their intended and received meanings. Grice's notions of "truth," "relevance," "conciseness," and "clarity" must be updated for the emergent media of the millennial period. Cyber-citizens who constantly re-orient to the flux of these radically re-configured social spaces will thrive.
The Foundation of Cytherics: On an Underground Theme in Western Classical Consciousness
Josef Chytry, UC Berkeley
Contemporary critical discussion frequently faces problems of fitting its debates into such conventional fields as aesthetics and politics when dealing with themes that cross such disciplines. Drawing on the importance of the motif of Cythera in the underground history of the Western classical consciousness, this paper proposes a faculty of thought called cytherics as one possible solution. The paper defines cytherics as the sighting and siting of an aesthetic-erotic, or aphrodisiac environment and provides a first justification for its usage. First, it defends the clam that the search for this common discursive domain reflects both the larger directions of aesthetics as an autonomous discipline and the extensive affair of radical speculative thought with wider political and metapolitical issues. Second, it elaborates the relevance of the particular term cytherics for the new faculty of thought and briefly indicates some zones of reflection that might result from incorporation of cytherics into modern academic disciplines and their present methodological aporiai. Third, it claims at least equal status with the traditional faculties of the Western university system. And fourth, it even proposes the priority of cytherics over those faculties.
Encounters with Ban Jhankri: Shamanic Initiation by Abduction in Nepal
Leslie Conton, Fairhaven College
The ban jhankri (translated: forest shaman) is both spirit and deity, as well as an accepted reality for most indigenous Nepali ethnic groups. The ban jhankri are said by many to be small creatures, hairy and golden, master healers and teachers of shamans. Those whom are "chosen" by the ban jhankri to be future shamans, are abducted and often taken to caves where the initiates receive shamanic training and instruction. The novice, who is typically young but may be an adult, is later returned to his/her community, several hours, days, or (rarely) weeks after being abducted. At this point, sometimes the initiate finds a human guru (teacher) from whom to continue to learn ritual methods and techniques of accessing spirit (i.e. ecstasy, trance, possession), but sometimes their training continues only through the agency of spirits, including contact with the initiating ban jhankri. Culturally, such experiences of "spontaneous election" are regarded as proof of being "chosen by spirits," and hence, endow these jhankri with special status; those shamans so chosen are themselves referred to as ban jhankri, distinguishing them from other kinds of jhankri. Representative oral texts of the shamans describe individual experiences of consciousness transformation through these encounters with ban jhankri. These spiritual experiences will be examined in light of other cross-cultural shamanic initiatory processes.
Redemption and Hallucinogens I
Marlene de Rios, California State University, Fullerton
This paper examines the phenomenon of drug substitution, when one hallucinogen is used in a religious or secular context to obviate and negate the cravings and withdrawal effects of a second substance. The plant and synthetic substances to be examined in this paper include ayahuasca (various Banisteriopsis sps.) studied by the author over the last 30 years in the Peruvian Amazon (see Dobkin de Rios 1992) as currently used in Brazil and Peru in a therapeutic context. Additionally, Native Americans, members of the Native American Church utilize the peyote cactus as a drug substitute for alcohol addiction. In Russia, researchers are using Ketamine, a synthetic drug, to diminish and reduce alcohol addiction. In urban contexts, researchers such as Deborah Mash are utilizing an African hallucinogenic shrub, Tabernanthe iboga to reduce cravings and withdrawals from opiates among addicts. In all cases, we find a redemptive model either religious or secular in place. This paper will examine redemption within a Judaic-Christian cross-cultural perspective, as well as scientific-rational world view in terms of cultural values inherent in such drug substitution. Additionally, psychological variables such as suggestibility discussed by de Rios and Grob (1992, 1994) will be examined in terms of subtle energies in interpersonal interactions enhanced by drug effects.
Sound and Form: Ornamental Designs as Coded Scripts of Extra-Sensory Physics
Renate Dohmen, Goldsmiths' College, London, UK
The proposed presentation will explore two geographically separate and culturally unrelated ornamental design traditions (South. America and India) rooted in visionary experiences, using Helmut Wautischer's article "A Philosophical Inquiry to Include Trance in Epistemology" as frame of reference. The dominant art historical explanatory approaches along the lines of "primitive decorative urge" and "horror vacui" and the neural explication prevalent in anthropological accounts will be juxtaposed with the hypothesis that these designs represent encoded recordings of subtle perceptual experiences of aspects of natural phenomena inaccessible to ordinary perception. The culturally diverse delineation of these experiences will be considered while discussing the posited referencing of the extrasensory experiences in question within the context of an energetic-wave world view, drawing attention to the issues of epistemology and art historical categorization raised by the proposed interpretation.
Death and the Corpse: An Analysis of the Treatment of Dead Bodies in Contemporary Society
Elizabeth Emerick, Western Washington University
This paper will analyze contemporary perspectives of the corpse intertwined with perspectives of death in American culture. Integrated into the paper will be cross-cultural ideas regarding treatment, both tangibly and philosophically, of the corpse and attitudes regarding death. In Western influenced cultures there are many ways to perceive death. Two predominate ways are fear and acceptance; fear being very dominate. This paper will discuss the difference between these two ways of treating death in regards to corpses specifically. It will analyse both the fear of death and corpses typically found in Western influenced societies with reference to common perceptions of body at death and thereafter. These ideas include violent deaths, peaceful deaths, the effects of disease, and the physiological breakdown of the body.
The Gaston Bachelard Center for Imaginary and Rationality Studies
Jennifer Marie Eustis, University of Burgundy, France
The activities of the Gaston Bachelard Center for Imaginary and Rationality Studies are a part of a project of the French National Research Center of Scientific Research. The Dijon Center of Gaston Bachelard is located at the University of Burgundy at Dijon, within the departments of philosophy and literature. The current research center has originated from a development of research projects on images, symbols, myth, and rationality. These projects were first initiated by Pr. Max Milner and later taken on by Prs Jean Foyard Gilbert Durand and Jean Jacques Wunenburger. A brief description of the activities of the center will be given.
Some Stories of Shamanic Discovery in Modern and Contemporary Physical Science and Mathematics
Stephen Gamboa-Eastman, San Francisco, CA
One of the deepest cultural myths of Western civilization since the time of Aristotle has been that the nature of science is logical and therefore has a special claim to our respect and acceptance. Heraklietos was both shamanic and logical. Aristotle initiates the science that claims to originate in logic as well as present itself in a final logical form. This myth is simply untrue. Theoretical science in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has been driven by discoveries made in shamanic states of consciousness trance, special dreams, ecstasy, fever, and ritual contexts. These are the stories of Cantor, Poincaré, Einstein, Gödel, Ramanajuan, Mendeleev, Kekulé, Dirac, Penrose, and others. And these are not piddling stories of shamanic discovery. These are the stories of the discovery of the periodic table of elements, the special theory of relativity, modular functions, undecidability in logic, the equation for the electron, and others of equal or near-equal moment. These stories of scientific discovery through shamanic states are not mere curiosities, but have possible deep significance for rebalancing science in its goals and practices.
Burning Consciousness Transformative Community or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Burn
Lee Gilmore, San Francisco, CA
The Burning Man festival is a paradox of artistic fertility blossoming in an infertile land, born out of the flesh of human community and balanced between multiple realities. The festival, which occurs annually at Labor Day weekend in northwestern Nevada's utterly barren Black Rock desert, is a celebration of art, fire, performance, community, survival, and radical self-expression culminating in the conflagration of a 40' wood, neon, and pyrotechnic sculpture of a "Man." The stunning emptiness of the land invites participants to recreate themselves within its barren context - through individual and collective creativity the community comes alive. The prime directive at Burning Man is "no spectators," and all are expected to engage fully as participants in the event. Many individuals report that "Burning Man changed my life." This paper will explore some specific experiences and related states of consciousness embedded in that statement.
Cartoons and Myths: Playing with Consciousness
Lourdes Giordani and Fred Keogh, Albright College
In this paper we compare a segment of the oral tradition of the Yabarana Indians (Venezuela), with various cartoon strips which illustrate and appeal to the child-like imagination. Although the two genres stem from different cultural traditions, form and spatio-temporal boundaries are distorted in both. We argue that this distortion promotes: 1.) a re-focusing of different levels of consciousness, 2.) the condensation of different experiences, and 3.) the integration of different levels of consciousness. In addition, we propose that this distortion is central to the development of human consciousness; and, as argued by Andrew Weil, reflects our innate desire to play with and alter consciousness.
Dancing at the Edge of Chaos: Wildness & Ceremony in a Brazilian Spirit Possession Religion
Daniel Halperin, UC San Francisco
The more ecstatic anti-structural elements of Northern Brazilian "Tambor de Mina" possession rites are examined, as well as this eclectic religious tradition's ritual structures, which are sustained in the midst of socio-cultural disarray. Even the violent trances and other "wild" manifestations of these dynamic rituals, which are analyzed as forms of psychophysiological liminality, constitute an integral part of the orderly Òritualized liminalityÓ invoked by the ceremonies. Comparisons are explored with the structural and anti-structural processes involved in cutting-edge art forms such as jazz improvisation. These complex ceremonies embody a religious-aesthetic nexus point wherein improvisation and structure, Dionysian ecstasy and Apollonian regularity, play and "work" (healing) converge and sometimes clash. "Dancing at the edge of chaos" negotiates those internal aspects of wildness and conflict while confronting the surrounding socio-economic hardship and turbulence of daily life in urban Brazilian society.
Equatorial Theory in Anthropological Practice: Finding the Ground Between the Poles of Extreme Relativism and Advocacy
Jerrod Hansen, Western Washington University
Recent arguments between cultural relativists and mandatory-advocacy anthropologists have constructed a paradigm of polarized theoretical and methodological perspectives which is inaccurate and counterproductive at best. This polarity persists despite the AAA's adoption of an ethical statement reconciling anthropological responsibility and sensitivity to the repercussions of fieldwork with anthropologists who desire to move from a position of researcher to one of advocate. I intend to explain the strength of this position over one of mandatory-advocacy and suggest a potential methodological model based on this view. Keeping in mind the difficulties with applying theoretical notions of "objectivity" and "neutrality" to fieldwork, I propose a 2-phase model designating objective analysis as the primary theoretical perspective of anthropological research while preserving and supporting the pro-advocacy anthropologists' appeal that anthropology adopt, in the words of Nancy Scheper-Hughes, a "politically committed and morally engaged" position.
Awakening in Corporate America: Shifts in Managerial Consciousness through Ethnographic Team Process
Linda Haviland, Sun Research Corporation
Descriptions of consciousness patterns/shifts in most anthropological literature rarely concentrate on the ethnographic team itself. this presentation will describe a multiple team process used to conduct large-scale applied ethnography for major corporations using examples from recent packaged goods projects, i.e., identification of contemporary trends in coffee drinking, brand bonding among young inner city males, lifestyle patterns related to outdoor cooking/barbecuing, exploration of new breakfast/morning eating occasions, understanding cultural receptivity to door-to-door insurance sales. It is discovered that, more frequently than the subjects and informants being studied, it is the corporate team members who undergo radical and subtle shifts in perception, feelings, sense of self, creativity, resonance, and life/work consciousness as they are immersed in this intensified process of team participant observation. Such unexpected changes of heart and mind among executives can influence new strategic directions, product development, and personal life decisions.
Cosmography: The Writing of the Universe
Gilah Yelin Hirsch, California State University, Dominguez Hills
Cosmography explores the relationship of form to emotion how images are stimulated and how they affect the physiology of the viewer: the nature of perception and cognition how the human mind makes sense of what it perceives and why; how all alphabets may have stemmed from five patterns in nature which mirror the neurons and neural processes of the perceptual apparatus; and how indigenous cultures utilize these forms in healing techniques because of their power to catalyze a sense of physical and emotional harmony. Through the vehicles of painting, photography and innovative experimental video effects, the discovery process is brought to life so that the viewer participates experientially in the creative journey of the artist.
Magic and Religion Revisited: Dream Divination and Gender in the Ancient Mediterranean
Laurel Holmstrom, Sonoma State University
This paper offers an example of how an analysis of gender can contribute to the discussions surrounding the definitions of magic and religion. Using the phenomenon of dream divination in the ancient Mediterranean is an especially useful case since this practice straddles the line between religion and magic and was used among Pagans, Jews, and Christians alike. Using Clifford Geertz's theory of religion as a symbol system, we can infer that those controlling dream interpretation were strongly shaping notions about metaphysical and physical reality. Dream divination writings provide little information by or about women. Women, however, are well represented as practicing inappropriate magic in the literature of the time. Interestingly, the material record we have of actual magical practices is either male gendered or gender cannot be determined. It may be that magic as a category is used to subordinate groups of people rather than that groups of "oppressed" people "resort" to magic.
Castaneda and Consciousness Studies: Notes on the Revolution Before Postmodernism?
Constantine Hriskos, Colby College
Around the time that Levi-Straussian Structuralism was crossing the Atlantic, a young graduate student in anthropology exploded onto the public scene with a captivating tale of his exploits as the reluctant apprentice of a Yaqui sorcerer. The work, inspired by studies in phenomenology, personal quandaries, ethnographic readings, and much of the counterculture of the sixties articulated a vision for an entire generation and also presented it with an all-encompassing critique of the prevailing rationalist/scientific view of reality. The young anthropology student seeking ethnographic data for his thesis was quickly drawn into the world of Don Juan; a non-ordinary reality where the common sense questions of waking life were ridiculed and suspended. In this way, the work challenged the basic notions of what anthropologists were supposed to be doing in the field. The Teachings of Don Juan and subsequent works became so popular that they raised the ire of Academic Anthropologists who set about debunking the authenticity of Castaneda's claims. A decade or so after Castaneda was ousted from the field, however, Postmodernism overtook it. The Postmodern view of the world embraced all that was antithetical to modernist sensibilities and set about questioning the very kinds of critiques that had been brought against Castaneda's texts. When viewed from this point in time, it could be argued that Castaneda may have represented a postmodern turn in the social sciences before the Revolution itself.
Collective Baha'i Identity Through Embodied Religious Persecution: "Be Ye as the Fingers of One Hand, the Members of One Body"
Curtis Humes and Katherine Ann Clark, Western Washington University
As a mediator of experience, the body constructs religious consciousness. In the Baha'i faith bodily persecution becomes a collective experience because of its history and use of metaphor. While anthropologists discuss relations between the body and consciousness, few discuss religious implications, and none discuss the Baha'i faith. Since its conception in 1863, and increasingly after the Islamic revolution of 1979, Baha'is have been slain for adherence to their faith. Under President Khatami, the persecution of Baha'is seemed to have come to a close. However, on July 22, 1998, the first Baha'i in six years was executed. A history of religious persecution focusing on torture and imprisonment constructed religious consciousness through the body as the foundation of devotion. Religious texts construct Baha'i identity in terms of the body and unified bodily experience. Persecution of Baha'i in Iran is experienced by Baha'is around the world through conceptions of a common religious consciousness.
Sangomas as Mediators in Witchcraft Accusation Trials
John Hund University of the North, South Africa
The South African Suppression of Witchcraft act No 3 of 1957 makes it a crime to practice witchcraft or to point someone out as a witch. It outlaws the participation of tribal chiefs and sangomas (shamans) as mediators in witchcraft accusation cases. As a result many ordinary African people, thinking themselves bewitched, resort to mob justice and witch-killings and -purges are escalating like never before. This paper recounts and analyses stories told to me by South African sangomas who have participated in witchcraft accusation trials in customary courts before the 1957 Act. Esoteric knowledge used by these African sage-healers to make determinations of guilt and innocence is in danger of being lost and, I argue, needs to be recovered, especially in light of the movement to repeal the 1957 Act and restore to chiefs and reputable sangomas their former roles as mediators in witchcraft accusation cases.
Parsing Personal Experiences
David F. Jacobs, Lincoln, CA
Complex societies, when compared to those of less complexity, have larger vocabularies, an unsurprising trend given the appearance and presence of many kinds of specialists. When the knowledge from various kinds of specialists is focused on the circumstances and experiences subsumed under the rubric of consciousness, it can produce quite different readings of these phenomena, with each specialty divergently organizing and describing (using their own vocabulary) the world along a set of parameter. Examples of extraordinary human experiences, such as near-death experiences, and healing ritual practices are discussed from multiple points of view. As an exercise in ethnocentrism, an assessment is offered, using parsimony as one of the criteria, for the best deciphering of the discussed phenomenon.
Influence of Medical Education on Attitudes and Assessments of Medical Professionals Concerning Medical Therapies and Therapists
Peter Kaiser, University of Tübingen, Germany
In the presented article the influence of standardized (bio-)medical education as well as working experience in the medical field on attitudes of physiotherapists towards medical treatments and therapists (e.g. physicians) in general was evaluated. A questionnaire was distributed to 21 students of physiotherapy and to 21 graduated physiotherapists with at least 5 years of working experience. It could be observed, that the students are still preserving less rigid ideas about Western medicine, their confidence in physicians is not yet waned, their image of holistic medicine is unspecified. This contrasts with the distinctive, more sober and self-confident dealing with therapies and therapists of the experienced physiotherapists. It seems, that the medical education has the capability to influence an holistic approach towards medicine and alternative treatments in a negative way, what widens the gap between the patients and the therapists understanding of disease and illness even more.
Voice, Power, and Politics: Neglected Ingredients in the Respectful Exchange of Indigenous Healing Wisdom
Richard Katz, Saskatchewan Indian Federated College
Increasingly we realize the profound wisdom carried in Indigenous healing traditions, such as the spiritual basis of healing. Yet unless we initiate a respectful exchange with Indigenous peoples, we run the risk of merely taking Indigenous rituals into our practice, initiating yet another round of exploitation. Indigenous healers offer to teach us freely yet there are costs. We must begin to correct the power imbalance between ourselves and Indigenous people before we can truly learn from them. Otherwise we are not learning but simply stealing their voice. Based on his work with Indigenous healers over the past 30 years in various parts of the world, Dr. Katz will suggest ways to address neglected ingredients in this respectful exchange, showing that healing must be understood as a political as well as a spiritual process. One example will be his work with the Ju/'hoansi of the Kalahari Desert, as he will highlight issues of healing and social change as raised in his 1982 book, Boiling Energy, and his 1997 book, Healing Makes Our Hearts Happy.
Personal Narratives: Transpersonal Selves
Moira Killoran, Institute of Noetic Sciences
This paper describes the North American sub-cultural world of people who have been "re-born" as transpersonal selves; that is people who have experienced life-altering events from the mundane to the life-threatening, that fundamentally altered their sense of themselves and their way of interacting in the world. In response to a request from the Institute of Noetic Sciences for personal stories of transformative experiences, 75 narrative essays were received that detail transpersonal life-altering incidents. Several general patterns were identified, such as a tendency to describe oneself as both an autonomous individual as well as a self with no boundaries. This group also expressed a proclivity to make major life decisions (careers, relationships, location) following the guidance of forces beyond the conscious self, in order to reflect their new life perspectives. Findings from research with "teachers of transformation" will be briefly explored and contrasted with those from this study.
Retromythology in Virtual Communities
Tim Lavalli, Worlds Away Technologies, Fujitsu
Individuals enter virtual space without cultural context. Unless the cultural and mythopoetic trappings of ordinary reality are transported into cyberspace, the individual is adrift without cultural signposts or conscious(ness) markers of self and other. Retromythology takes place when community organizers consciously create and support an emergent mythology which expands to incorporate the unique needs and demands which arise in a virtual community. This presentation offers a case study of the author's evolving virtual character/persona as the leader of Fujitsu's Mythic World Dreamscape.
Creating and Sustaining Sacred Space in On-line Avatar Communities
Janet LeValley, Worlds Away Technologies, Fujitsu
When an individual travels, via avatar embodiment, within the digital space of on-line graphic interactive communities, the shape of spiritual expression and efforts to create and sustain sacred space there reflects the cultural imperatives on off-line ratava experience (non-digitally-embodied self) and gives birth to intriguing cultural adaptations, appropriate to the new physics encountered. Based on interviews and 3 1/2 years of ethnographic data collected in two Fujitsu virtual worlds Dreamscape and Club Connect this presentation considers how sacred space is created and utilized, both publicly and privately, in these digital environments and how that functions to provide spiritual expression and enrichment opportunities for the ratava.
Involuntary Memory: Walter Benjamin's Images of Remembering in an Anthropological Perspective
Hsuta Lin, Princeton Universityu
This paper addresses remembering in terms of how people live through their experience, and further how the consciousness of self/other is revealed during the remembering of the past. Among anthropological literature, the study of remembering is often overlooked. Walter Benjamin explores how self-consciousness is associated with involuntary memory, and how materiality of the past becomes interpreted and flashed out. For Benjamin, the past is not the place to represent meaning, but the place of reference for meaning to be revealed. Drawing on Benjamin's images of remembering, I will explore experiencing and interpreting subjects of the object-world in terms of the plurality of consciousness.
Transactions in Power: Healing in Urban Russia
Galina Lindquist, University of Stockholm
It has been argued that phenomenological foundation of healing is the existential re-orientation of Self, and that Self is better understood in context of other cultural ontologies. These ontologies are expressed as culturally salient themes about agency, morality, and the relation to the Divine. This paper analyzes healing discourses in today's urban Russia, focusing on the themes of humility, obedience, atonement, and forgiveness. I suggest that communication between healer and patient re-presents and reproduces broader relations of power and hierarchy, but also reinforces definition of Self not as an atomistic entity familiar in the West, but as a part of the larger whole, intertwined and deeply involved with the Other.
Ritual Literacy and Religious Literature Development in the Iu-Mien Refugee Community
Jeffery L. MacDonald, International Refugee Center of Oregon
The Iu-Mien refugee community in Portland, Oregon, provides a rich study of the development of competing ritual literacies. One, utilizing archaic and magical Chinese characters, conveys a body of Taoist ritual and religious literature in a sacred language dating back over 700 years. The other, originally created by Western missionaries with roman characters, conveys the Christian Bible, Protestant teachings, and some secular communications in vernacular Mien. This latter literacy, known as the Unified Script, has become a transnational means of uniting Iu-Mien in China, the U.S., France, and Southeast Asia. Rather than being displaced by the modern script, the ancient Chinese literacy has grown in usage recently due to the remarkable efforts of a local Mien spirit master who is using it to create new forms of ritual literature. The paper examines this new literature and how competing literacies represent profound differences in consciousness.
Potential Influence of Virtual Reality Technology on Human Consciousness
Michal Malinowski, Coco Baby Planet, Japan
Virtual Reality research has developed to the level to provide the illusion of realistic representation of interactive space which can be inhabited, by users avatars or realistic-looking virtual humans animated with believable behaviors in multiple levels of control. In the twenty-first century, interactive human collaboration in a networked Virtual Reality environment is expected to become an increasingly popular method of every day acting. The previous multidisciplinary research examine dominance of the information acquire by perception systems like important elements to formation of mind. In this study it was investigated how Virtual Reality technology extended human perception and how immersion in the new representation of interconnected space can influence consciousness? It was suggested from multidisciplinary position what kind of experience of VR contribute the improvement of perceptual knowledge and how its affected human awareness. The conclusion is that synthetic space posed strong capacity to influence human consciousness and to challenge the vision of the universe in various aspects.
Reflections on Castaneda: Positing a Non-Ordinary Reality, Challenging Boundaries and Relativizing Ethics
Yves Marton University of California, Los Angeles
Like a brilliant vision, Castaneda's work was influential in stimulating or inspiring investigations into the realm of non-ordinary reality, by other scholars (Peters, Stoller, E. Turner). In our anthropological search for cultural authenticity, Castaneda appears to bridge the gap between our attraction to far-away indigenous and/or ancient magico-religious traditions and our general distaste for close to home occultist and esoteric disciplines from marginal members of our own Western society. How do issues of censorship and self-disclosure further entangle the entire impact of Castaneda on our profession? How does discussing and evaluating another person's actions, especially one who is successful outside of "the guild" and remains mysterious, raise certain ethical questions? I will discuss these issues in regards to a previous paper aiming to shed light on the controversy surrounding Castaneda (Marton 1989). Afterthoughts, very brief contact with the author, and the recently flowering of post-Castaneda offshoots provide additional sources to consider the significance of the late Carlos Castaneda's legacy to all of us.
Beyond Anthropology: Non-Ordinary Reality in Ordinary, Everyday Life
Bernard McGrane, Chapman University
Castaneda's works are concerned with the radical disjuncture between ordinary and nonordinary states of reality. Don Juan through a series of trials and exercises forces his pupil to really "see." Seeing implies moving beyond the perceptions and understandings that the self has acquired through habituation and socialization - beyond the everyday world of ordinary reality. Seeing implies that this world of the habitus must be shattered before one can know. Don Juan admonishes Castaneda, however, that there are many worlds; that in the world of ordinary reality, for example, one does not talk to coyotes, in the world of the sorcerers' reality one does. But he goes on to say that seeing occurs only when one sneaks between the worlds so that one must not allow oneself to be trapped either in this world or in the world of sorcery. This paper presents a series of exercises that I have used with students to effect such changes in consciousness. Following Don Juan's suggestions I set a number of tasks for them: Disrupting habitual routines, attending to shadows, to silence, doing sleep, and taking Death-as-an-advisor. Some of results of these experiments are given in the form of self-reports by a number of students below.
The Tree of Worlds in the Nordic-Germanic and the Algonquian Cosmology
Ralph Metzner, California Institute of Integral Studies
In the Nordic-Germanic mythological world view, the world tree Yggsdrasil has nine worlds five along the central axis, and four in the four directions from the center. The Algonquian cosmological model, though not called a "tree," also has five worlds along a central axis two above and two below the middle world, called Earth Lodge by them, Midgard in the Norse world. In comparing the two world images, there are interesting similarities and differences. In both cosmologies, the lower world(s) are inhabited by beings that determine the lives and fates of humans and other earthlings. The highest realm in the Nordic view is Asgard, home of the ruling sky gods at the crown of the world-tree. The highest realm in the Algonquian world view, encompassing worlds beyond the Earth, is vaster and more inclusive than the Nordic-Germanic.
Sun Dance Visions and the Ute Community: The Problem of Outsider Participation
Barry Michrina, Mesa State College, Colorado
White participation in the Ute Sun Dance is nearly as old as the ceremony itself. Whether motivated by spiritual searching, the desire for unique experience, or phenomenological research, some whites have over the years boldly sought permission to dance, and the Sun Dance Chief has often found it difficult to say no. Many Utes, however, are not happy with this condition. Some fear that whites will take over the Sun Dance, while others like Ah Kah'nuche, the retired Sun Dance Chief, describe the disharmony caused as non-Indians confuse, perplex, and frustrate the singers and get in the way of Ute dancers seeking to receive visions to help their community. Because Utes believe that their Sun Dance was given to them by the Creator so as to help their people, there is no meaningful place for outsiders in the yearly rite.
The Duality of Consciousness in America and the Need to Reconcile With Nature and the Natural Self
Jackson Milikan, Western Washington University
The realm of consciousness within which most members of American society live, and within which all American citizens must operate at least some of the time, is fraught with illusory ÒtruthsÓ born of the stringent individuality, fierce competitiveness, and greed that are the axiom of capitalistic materialism. However, there exists an inner self, or true consciousness, which is composed of the essence of nature. As such, it is imbued with all the instincts-the ethics and skill-that it needs to responsibly play its role in the ecosystem. Whereas the outer self, agent of public consciousness, is an apparition, a specter having no moral core of its own, existing only by its contextual association with others like it. It is widely believed that this is a generation of reckoning, that we have come to a precipice of civilization, and from here will either plummet to annihilation or blossom into a renaissance. The outcome will be decided by the ability of the masses to return to who we are, to once again exist in a natural consciousness.
Medicine Rituals and Music: The Santo Daime Church of Brazil
Susan Grace Miller, California Institute of Integral Studies
The Santo Daime Church is a church in Brazil in which the participants take a sacrament they call the "daime" which is also known as ayahuasca or yage. The paper explores the known history of the use of Daime with music in a ritual form. We will look at the theology of the Church as handed down through the hymns or hinarios and present interviews with Church members describing their experience. We will explore the relationship of music for an altered state of consciousness and suggest some clues as to the nature of consciousness.
Human Culture is Human Consciousness (Are we Prisoners of our own Device?)
Gregory M. Nixon, Prescott College
Consciousness is often studied as either the inevitable byproduct of evolved neurological processes or the remnant of universal spiritual unity. Contrary to both these views the objective and the subjective I discern consciousness to be the result of three interconnected cultural-linguistic processes: 1) speech assertion, 2) narrative, and 3) intersubjectivity. An important distinction must be made between non-conscious experience and conscious experience. It is suggested that experience achieved (and achieves) the quality of consciousness as the result of crossing the symbolic threshold and assuming the narrative position of the implied subject. This position allows the organism to experience itself simultaneously asserting intentional speech and consciously anticipating communicative understanding from its communicated. This intersubjectivity the second person perspective is the mirror which makes experience visible to itself as consciousness, and which forever transfigures natural experience into cultural experience. Are we exiled from the Eden of carnal awareness?
Culture and Indifference
Blanca H. Parfait, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina
It is not common at philosophy conferences to hear papers dealing with the relationship between philosophy and other branches of culture, especially literature. In this paper I shall explore the link between philosophy and literature by focusing on the question of pain. the later is particularly important in literature and constitutes an important topic of consideration together with the concept of the impersonal in the philosophy of being. I shall examine the theme in the work of Chekov. The concept of the impersonal is one which postulates the thought that "should be" because these are the ones which the majority possess. We hold that this idea of culture is similar to the contemporary vision of the same problem: pain.
The Power of Song: Song Prayers in Native American Rock Art
Carol Patterson, James Cook University
The power of songs in Native American Shamanism is demonstrated in healing rites, vision quests, and rain making ceremonies. Songs evoke images from the unconscious and intuitive centers, and unite one with the spirit world. They are the language of spirits. All power comes through songs. Evidence of songs portrayed in the rock art appears throughout North America. Five culture areas of the Western United States with petroglyphs portraying songs used for praying or acquired during vision quests will be discussed in this presentation. They include the Salish of the NW Coast, Sahaptin of the Columbia Basin, Shoshoni of the Wind River Range, Paiute of Utah, Hopi of Arizona, and Keres of New Mexico.
Mantra and Consciousness Expansion in India
Ian Prattis Carleton University, Canada
The Gayatri mantra is the integral component of the Sandhya - Upasana ceremony, currently used as a practice to train teachers and initiators in Siddha Samadhi Yoga a meditation tradition currently popular in South India. The intent of the ceremony is to expand consciousness in multiple directions. The Gayatri is a meditation on Om, and the Sandhya ceremony is regarded as the most effective means of integrating with the universal consciousness denoted by Om. The author describes his experience of preparing for and participating in the ceremony with attention to physiological, perceptual and cognitive shifts.
The Imagination of Matter, Pre-Columbian Cultural DNA, and Maize Cultivation
Kathleen Rogers, The Surrey Inst. of Art and Design, London, UK
This paper is based on field research in the maize growing community of Chiapas, Mexico, conversations with senior maize specialists with a broad knowledge of the scientific, social and anthropological aspects of maize and visits to the classic Mayan site of Palenque. My aim is to present an integrative model of human consciousness based on cross-disciplinary comparisons of the symbolism of maize in genetic science, ancient Maya mythology and art and contemporary Maya maize cultivation rituals. Contemporary science and ancient mythology harness systems of life in systems of images. Both have an absolute bearing on reality and actively shape the imaginative and spiritual framework of human consciousness. In the social and archetypal worlds of powerful image is one that can call to mind and express that which is unknowable and unformed. In this way an image operates as an axis between conscious and unconscious modes of perception.
Cross-Personal Commonalities in the Ayahuasca Experience
Benny Shanon, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Ayahuasca is a psychotropic brew consumed throughout the upper Aamazonian region. It is especially famous for the powerful visions that it induces. In a paper presented in a previous SAC meeting I have made the case for the cognitive-psychological (as contrasted with the botanical, pharmacological, medical, clinical-psychological as well as anthropological) study of Ayahuasca and highlighted the significance of such an investigation for the study of consciousness. In this sequel paper I present empirical data marking some common cross-personal patterns that are exhibited by data reported by different populations of informants who have been subject to the Ayahuasca experience. These patterns pertain to the specific contents of images, to the themes of major visions, and to ideas entertained during the inebriation. It is suggested that these patterns define cognitive universals of a rather special kind, hence their special theoretical significance.
Uncoiling the Splendor: Self, Symbol, and Interiority in Becoming a Kundalini Yoga Teacher
Mark Thomas Shekoyan, University of Oregon
The discipline and practice of Kundalini Yoga presents a rich field for the analysis of how a particular cultural selfhood is both manifest through symbols, and internalized through embodied practices which lead to the self transformation of practitioners. By eliciting first person narratives on the experience and feelings of people undergoing teacher training in Kundalini Yoga, I will demonstrate how a particular self identity as teacher is formulated through a particular interpretative framework linked to both the lived experience of members, and the patters of praxis. This will engage both the intentionality and interiority of consciousness, and broaden the grasp of consciousness as found in a framework that embraces Òlevels of consciousness.Ó
A Castaneda Way of Knowledge: Implications of an Anthropological Legacy
Amy Smith, Salt Lake City, UT
The world of Carlos Castaneda has brought to the fore several issues that are central to the Anthropology of Consciousness. Personally exploring non ordinary states of consciousness, addressing the existence of multiple realities and other unusual phenomena, using both emic and etic interpretation, and documenting and reporting these experiences through a narrative ethnography were groundbreaking achievements that remain essential to the field. In this vein, I will argue that the study of religion and states of consciousness requires a more participatory methodology in order to address and understand its unique subject matter. Experiential Anthropology, Radical Empiricism, Transpersonal Anthropology, and Descriptive or Narrative Ethnography can all be seen as following the legacy of Castaneda by emphasizing these important issues.
Mythos Renewed: Potentials Toward the Reactualization of Creative Consciousness
Brian Thompson, Lewis & Clark College
Humanity is in the midst of a profound transformative phase. As we continue to shift from the cultural isolates of our past to, increasingly, global contexts, many of the perspectives that once framed and sustained human experience have become obsolete. Mythic accountability has fallen to a diminished standard of economic-political "necessity." The legacy is obvious: unresolved social and psychological conflict; ecological decimation; and an ever increasing nihilistic sense, a loss of hope and meaning for much of the world's population. We are "out of synch" with the creative processes which form the foundation of our consciousness. Shiva dances on, but we no longer understand. However, traditional mythic expressions, such as the Balinese wayang kulit, provide in their symbols an appropriate standard with which contemporary humanity can reactualize its creative consciousness and best realize its individual and collective potentiality.
Natalie Tobert, University of Wales, Lampeter, UK
Fieldwork reports by anthropologists like Turner and Obeyesekere, record emic perceptions that ancestors in Zambia and Sri Lanka, can either afflict the living with misfortune or be transformed by propitiation. Are these apparently similar perceptions of possession by ancestral spirits purely symbolic? Do ancestral spirits manifest because peoplesâ ritual interaction with them functions well to release social conflict or personal discomfort? Or, have specialists in these societies developed an awareness of altered states of consciousness which allows them to access knowledge about the subtle energy of human beings after death? How many explanatory models may we choose to interpret the data? Which concepts are culturally determined, which universal?
The Teachings of Castaneda
Edith Turner, University of Virginia
Ordinary and non-ordinary reality, tonal and nagual: this is the true debate over Castaneda. The paper will deal with Castaneda's place in this endemic dispute, and will attempt to assess what Castaneda achieved and what we should make of anthropology's reservations about him. He has taken us like Dante through a dark passage out the other side into a state of enlightenment. Castaneda's vast huge public did not all become sorcerers because of him but took "The Teachings" as a liberation. From what? From capitalism, communism, consumerism, Church rationality and exclusivism; from reductionism, fundamentalist Marxist scientism and its type of elitism, which condemns the folk; and lastly from nihilism, the eternal war of revenge upon the sins of many societies which can never be forgiven. Meanwhile, humanism has developed and, curiously enough, it was liberated indirectly by Castaneda. Owing to humanism and the study of consciousness, we are allowed to talk with empathy, for instance, about the Nigerian sacred Bori personage, about the Hindu guru, the Brazilian mae de santo, Rumi, the Tibetan oracle, Jesus, the Bal Shem Tov, the Dalai Lama, Black Elk, and at last, Don Juan.
The Colonization of Cosmos and Culture: Coevolution, Modernity, and the Invisible Other
Pablo Ignacio Valero, California College of Arts and Crafts
The Modern Era, inaugurated with the "discovery" of America, represented the culmination of a process that had been brewing since the time of Classical Greece, when a new way of relating to the world took shape. The Platonic body-soul split is revisited by the Mind-Matter split of Descartes and widened by the Reformation, and the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions that launched modern Capitalism. The end result was a new form of consciousness: Instrumentalism. It was the breakdown of the coevolutionary dynamic of Nature and Culture leading to alienation, objectification and literalism. The coexistence of divergent forms of art, science and religion, magic and tradition, expressed in premodern myth and song, is transformed into separate and distinct categories. What Max Weber called "The Disenchantment of the World," resulted in the primacy of the ephemeral moment, the highly unstable here and now. But the contemporary cultural and environmental crisis coupled with globalization, human migration, and popular culture are forcing re-interpretations, creating convergence, and a fresh set of "maps and dreams."
Consciousness and the Development of Yuman Earthen Art
Jay von Werlhof, Imperial Valley College Desert Museum
Over a 6,000 year period within the Holocene, Yumans near the 28th parallel began an outward movement northward in response to the shrinking carrying capacity of that desert environment. They brought with them a rudimentary earthen art tradition that was not to be repeated in their new habitat along the Colorado River until their acceptance of the territory had been fully established. The Yumans consciously re-invented their cultural creation as part of their acceptance of the new land, and incorporated mythological icons into geoglyph form including their creator and creation events. As their consciousness about their new homeland became more particularized, the Yuman added more specific icons to their geoglyph inventory, as octopus, bird, worm, water, fish, etc.
Consciousness is that Part of Consciousness of which We are Conscious: How the Ancient Seers and Shamans of Mexico Short-Circuited the energy-Body
Roy Wagner, University of Virginia
Like many Native American teachers, don Juan begins instructing Carlos by locating everything significant 'outside' of the body, even in the case of the human assemblage-point (also located outside the body as we know it). However these things may depend upon, or even determine, human subjectivity, they are 'objective', like Native American animal-spirits. Thus what appears to be an amazing precision in revealing aspects of an "inner self" or inner life does so by making a scam of that dimension of our existence, and might be read as a science of human self-deception. For, having devastated the "inner" (subjective, imaginal, hence "heuristic") support for our ability to conceptualize things in the world, don Juan has turned the whole "subjectivity" fantasy inside-out: we do not "think" his lessons except insofar as they think us.
Communication, Consciousness, and Technology: On Exchanging Information, Being Aware, and Keeping Machines in Their Place
Roxana C. Wales, Foster City, CA
The inventions of the high technology industry have contributed to a world-wide communication revolution. In the process, whole new cultures of interaction have developed, from cell phones everywhere to Internet chat rooms, from virtual worlds to on-line conference calls. What is the relationship between human consciousness and these high tech information worlds? This presentation will look at some of the ways in which consciousness is affected by the culture of technology as people attempt to exchange thoughts, messages and information, and the levels at which awareness is manifest in this interaction. More specifically, it will draw from a study in interaction analysis research, which looked at the ways in which people communicate in time, across the space of a long distance phone conversation while reviewing shared computer software.
Shamanistic Transformation in the Rainforest of Belize: A Personal Journey
Noga Weinstein, Central American Institute of Prehistoric and Traditional Cultures at Belize
Passion, even eroticism, and agony of the soul are awakened when one travels the path of shamanistic transformation. It is a state that is rarely experienced by those who doggedly pursue the various ideologies of "schools" that claim to possess knowledge of The Way. Indeed, it has been my experience that the greatest enemy of true transformation of consciousness is a social or political definition of this concept. During my stay at the Central American Institute, situated in the heart of the jungle in Belize, my personal experiences have led me to understand that shamanism is not what one often thinks it is, nor does it appear where one expects to find it. Originally, I had arrived in Belize with strong preconceptions based on popular views, only to realize how little these had to do with a genuine shamanic path. Driven by a strong desire for personal transformation, I was committed to such a journey. As I discovered later, however, I had not possessed a full grasp of its experiential and cognitive dimensions. The conventional ideas that I had of helping spirits and harmony in nature were dwarfed by my sudden confrontation with the brutally relentless churning of the raw forces and creative energies that must be contended with by indigenous shamans. True shamanistic transformation is possible only with the dismissal of personal agendas and a total willingness to enter the paradox that is the shaman's labyrinth. .
Images of Death on the Stage
Elizabeth Wilson, Western Washington University
The theater offers us an insight into culturally appropriate images of death. A blend of actor, playwright, and director seduce a receptive audience into believing in their personal views of reality. These images of death have changed over time from classic Victorian deathbed scene to the absence of images of death in the modern theater. What constitutes a perfect death in the theater? And how does comedy and tragedy play upon the perfect death? In this paper, I will explore the actor, playwright, and directorÕs role in presenting death on stage an the audienceÕs response.
Epistemological Perspectives on Castaneda
Michael J. Winkelman, Arizona State University
Castenada's concepts such as "Separate Reality," "stopping the world," and "tonal and nagual" are analyzed from an epistemological perspective. His approaches to the sorcerer's practice were explicitly epistemological, centrally concerned with processes through which human conceptual processes are structured and contribute to the reality known. Central aspects of Castenada's training involved learning how to suspend the ordinary epistemological constructs and enter into a "natural epistemological mode." These innate constructs of nature and the human brain/mind are revealed by comparing them to similar epistemological systems and practices found in other contemplative disciplines. The nature of the sorcerer's epistemological development is assessed from the perspectives of genetic epistemology.
Kathleen Young, Western Washington University
In this paper, based on 12 years of analysis of the conflict in Kosova and the war(s) in the former Yugoslavia, I discuss ethnic consciousness and the current situation in Kosovo. The analysis raises questions concerning anthropological assessment of ethnic identity, nationalism, and the articulation of religious consciousness as ascribed ethnicity. The situation of the displaced and refugee population within and without their country of origin, the immanent humanitarian catastrophe that looms for the Kosovoans, and the role of the anthropology in times of war and genocide are considered. I conclude anthropological perspectives are as malleable as the perspectives of the various sides in the war(s) in the former Yugoslavia.
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