Vol 13 No. 6 (2011) Issue Number 6, November 1998
Notes from the Underground
The Pomegranate READERS’ FORUM [+] 2-5, 47-56
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The Saga of Eirik the Red describes the visit of a spákona, a seeress, to a Greenland farm, one thousand years ago. Her clothing and shoes, her staff and cloak, are detailed. She is asked to predict the progress of the community; she eats a meal of the hearts of the farm animals, and the next day a “high seat” is made ready for her, where she will sit to foretell. She engages in ritual practices known as seidhr, which requires a special song to be sung to “the powers” in order that she may gain their knowledge, in trance.
In anthropology, archaeology and popular culture, ‘Shamanism’ may be one of the most used, abused and misunderstood terms to date. Researchers are increasingly recognising the socio-political roles of altered states of consciousness and shamanism in past and present societies, yet the rise of ‘Neoshamanism’ and its implications for academics and their subjects of study is consistently neglected.
The Old Religion [+] 29-34
The theme of this article is a movement that has been called the fastestgrowing religion in the US. Nobody knows exactly how many Americans identify themselves as Witches, Wiccans, and Neopagans. The number has been estimated as anywhere from 200,000 to 500,000, but there are no hard statistics and few formal organizations. Besides, religious prejudice still makes it expedient for may of today’s Pagans to keep quiet about their preferences.
As an archaeologist, I found Mara Keller’s assessment of the discipline and Marija Gimbutas’ contributions to it in the August 1998 issue of The Pomegranate both inaccurate and disturbing. Keller’s portrayal of archaeologists is a parody of the discipline a half century ago, while she uncritically accepts Gimbutas’ Interpretations which are fraught with very real problems.