Embodying Another Self for Western Shamanic Voyage

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 9:30 AM
Room: Booth 66
Oral Presentation
Denise LOMBARDI , Sciences Religieuses, Ecole Pratique Hautes Edtudes , PARIS, France
New Shamanism is one of the many answers provided by Western countries in order to satisfy the new spiritual urgencies proposed by modernity.

Spiritual research and physical wellness are the two basic constituents through which the argumentation about health is built up in contemporary Western world.

Both spiritual and therapeutic research share the same objective attainable through activities borrowed from other disciplines like yoga, traditional medicine, Eastern philosophies and neo-shamanic practices.

My analysis is focused on how new-shamanism is being developed and conjugated in Western world, being it considered a form of therapeutic primitivism populated by small fleeting groups gathering together during  meetings and seminars (with fee) in France in order to learn new “exotic” healing techniques.

In this context, the Shaman plays the role of a teacher-therapist in front of the novice-patient; both  are involved in a healing and education process where teachings are all about the possibility to raise awareness in exotic cosmologies by learning visualization techniques capable of carrying participants into the shamanic universe fitting the western world demands.

The purpose of this paper is to lay special stress on the modalities used by western participants (mostly middle class women, aged 40-50) to embody and assimilate the techniques they learn during seminars. The common objective to such techniques is to allow participants to bring to effect the so called “shamanic voyage” without resorting to psychoactive drugs.

It is my opinion that the possibility to reach a different, transitory and unknown cosmology implies the ability to embody another self.

It relates to a self which possesses a specific “ritual face” capable of manifesting itself during the symbolic interaction taking place in the social microcosm of shamanic seminars for western people in France.