"The primacy for the [indigenous] magician of nonhuman nature — the centrality of his relation to other species and to the earth — is not always evident to Western researchers. Countless anthropologists have managed to overlook the ecological dimension of the shaman’s craft, while writing at great length of the shaman’s rapport with "supernatural" entities. We can attribute much of this oversight to the modern, civilized assumption that the natural world is largely determinate and mechanical, and that that which is regarded as mysterious, powerful, and beyond human ken must therefore be of some other, nonphysical realm above nature, “supernatural.”

"The oversight becomes still more comprehensible when we realize that many of the earliest European interpreters of indigenous lifeways were Christian missionaries. For the Church had long assumed that only human beings have intelligent souls, and that the other animals, to say nothing of trees and rivers, were "created" for no other reason than to serve humankind. We can easily understand why European missionaries, steeped in the dogma of institutionalized Christianity, assumed a belief in supernatural, otherworldly powers among those tribal persons whom they saw awestruck and entranced by nonhuman (but nevertheless natural) forces. What is remarkable is the extent to which contemporary anthropology still preserves the ethnocentric bias of these early interpreters. We no longer describe the shamans’ enigmatic spirit-helpers as the "superstitious claptrap of heathen primitives" — we have cleansed ourselves of at least that much ethnocentrism; yet we still refer to such enigmatic forces, respectfully now, as “supernaturals” — for we are unable to shed the sense, so endemic to scientific civilization, of nature as a rather prosaic and predictable realm, unsuited to such mysteries. Nevertheless, that which is regarded with the greatest awe and wonder by indigenous, oral cultures is, I suggest, none other than what we view as nature itself. The deeply mysterious powers and entities with whom the shaman enters into a rapport are ultimately the same forces — the same plants, animals, forests, and winds — that to literate, “civilized” Europeans are just so much scenery, the pleasant backdrop of our more pressing human concerns.”

© David Abram, ‘The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human-World’, 1st Vintage Books Edition, 1997

"For the [indigenous] magician’s intelligence is not encompassed within the society; its place is at the edge of the community, mediating between the human community and the larger community of beings upon which the village depends for its nourishment and sustenance. This larger community includes, along with the humans, the multiple nonhuman entities that constitute the local landscape, from the diverse plants and the myriad animals — birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, insects — that inhabit or migrate through the region, to the particular winds and weather patterns that inform the local geography, as well as the various landforms — forests, rivers, caves, mountains — that lend their specific character to the surrounding earth.”

© David Abram, ‘The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human-World’, 1st Vintage Books Edition, 1997

This landscape of shadowed voices, these feathered bodies and antlers and tumbling streams …

© David Abram, ‘The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human-World’, 1st Vintage Books Edition, 1997

[M]agicians — whether modern entertainers or indigenous, tribal sorcerers — have in common the fact that they work with the malleable texture of perception.

© David Abram, ‘The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human-World’, 1st Vintage Books Edition, 1997

"If I insist that rocks have no life or agency whatsoever, then I can’t easily notice or account for the way that a slab of granite affects me very differently than does a sandstone boulder, or the manner in which each influences the space around it in a distinct way. But as soon as I allow that that rock is not entirely inert, then I can begin to feel into the very different style and activity of that sandstone relative to the granite’s way of being, or to that of a piece of marble. So this is really a way of beginning to access the irreducible plurality of styles, or velocities, or rhythms of being, of waking up to the manifold otherness that surrounds us, rather than reducing all this multiplicity to one flattened-out thing, ‘the environment’ [emphasis mine].”

© David Abram in an interview with Dougald Hine entitled, ‘Coming to Our (Animal) Senses, A Conversation with David Abram

"If I sense the things of this earth not as resources but as sources, if I feel them as wellsprings bubbling out of the unknown depths, well, this is not to deny that many of those springs seem to be drying up. This is a horrific circumstance that we’ve gotten ourselves into. But the way beyond this mess has to involve, first, a reconceiving and a re-seeing and sensing of this wild-flowering world as something that cannot ever be fully objectified, a zone of unfoldings that can never be understood within a purely quantitative or measurable frame [all emphasis mine]. This ambiguous biosphere, in its palpable actuality, is not so much a set of quantifiable objects and determinate processes as it is a dynamic tangle of corporeal agencies, of bodies — or beings — that have their own lives independent of ours. To feel this breathing biosphere as something other than an object is to begin to sense that there’s something inexhaustibly strange about this world, something uncanny and unfathomable even and especially in its everyday humdrum ordinariness. The way any weed or clump of dirt seems to exceed all of our measurements and our certainties. And it’s this resplendence of enigma and otherness, this uncanniness, that we eclipse whenever we speak solely in terms of scarcity and shortage.”

© David Abram in an interview with Dougald Hine entitled, ‘Coming to Our (Animal) Senses, A Conversation with David Abram

"People in traditional societies necessarily are more realistic about their dependence and are trying to understand what the plants are doing all around them. Because we’ve become so detached and so urbanised we’ve drifted away from this to a large extent. We don’t know an awful lot of things that even our recent ancestors did about vegetation and so on … But simply from where they stand they are much more realistic. It is more a fact about us that we have drifted right away from a realistic understanding of the world."

Philosopher Mary Midgley in an interview with Jeppe Dyrendom Graugaard.

"[T]here was a sort of embarrassment about storytelling that struck home powerfully about one hundred years ago, at the beginning of modernism. We see a similar reaction in painting and in music. It’s a preoccupation suddenly with the surface rather than the depth. So you get, for example, Picasso and Braque making all kinds of experiments with the actual surface of the painting. That becomes the interesting thing, much more interesting than the thing depicted, which is just an old newspaper, a glass of wine, something like that. In music, the Second Viennese School becomes very interested in what happens when the surface, the diatonic structure of the keys breaks down, and we look at the notes themselves in a sort of tone row, instead of concentrating on things like tunes, which are sort of further in, if you like. That happened, of course, in literature, too, with such great works as James Joyce’s Ulysses, which is all about, really, how it’s told. Not so much about what happens, which is a pretty banal event in a banal man’s life. It’s about how it’s told. The surface suddenly became passionately interesting to artists in every field about a hundred years ago …

"In the field of literature, story retreated. The books we talked about just now, Middlemarch, Bleak House, Vanity Fair — their authors were the great storytellers as well as the great artists. After modernism, things changed. Indeed, modernism sometimes seems to me like an equivalent of the Fall. Remember, the first thing Adam and Eve did when they ate the fruit was to discover that they had no clothes on. They were embarrassed. Embarrassment was the first consequence of the Fall. And embarrassment was the first literary consequence of this modernist discovery of the surface. ‘Am I telling a story? Oh my God, this is terrible. I must stop telling a story and focus on the minute gradations of consciousness …

"So there was a great split that took place. Story retreated, as it were, into genre fiction — into crime fiction, into science fiction, into romantic fiction — whereas the high-art literary people went another way. Children’s books held onto the story, because children are rarely interested in surfaces in that sort of way. They’re interested in what-happened and what-happened-next.

"I found it a great discipline, when I was writing The Golden Compass and other books, to think that there were some children in the audience. I put it like that because I don’t say I write for children. I find it hard to understand how some writers can say with great confidence, ‘Oh, I write for fourth grade children’ or ‘I write for boys of 12 or 13.’ How do they know? I don’t know. I would rather consider myself in the rather romantic position of the old storyteller in the marketplace: you sit down on your little bit of carpet with your hat upturned in front of you, and you start to tell a story. Your interest really is not in excluding people and saying to some of them, ‘No, you can’t come, because it’s just for so-and-so.’ My interest as a storyteller is to have as big an audience as possible. That will include children, I hope, and it will include adults, I hope. If dogs and horses want to stop and listen, they’re welcome as well.”

© Philip Pullman in an interview with Barnes & Noble Review as quoted in Terri Windling’s blog Myth & Moor.

This is my beloved Hunza Valley in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. Surrounded on all sides by some of the highest mountains in the world (Nanga Parbat, Rakaposhi, Ladyfinger and Ultar peaks), this is one of the most enchanting, otherworldly places I have ever been. I gave my heart to Hunza many years ago and have been visiting on and off since then. Right now, I am munching on dried apricots, one of Hunza’s specialties, lovingly tended and harvested in the ‘Valley of the Gods’ by strong, hardworking village women. Due to its inaccessibility and extremely high altitude, the valley and its surrounding alpine forests have remained natural and pristine, unadulterated by urban-human encroachment. May it stay that way for many years to come. Long live Hunza Valley!© Zaina Anwar | Sept. 2014 | http://indigenousdialogues.tumblr.com/P.S. Photographs are not mine.
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This is my beloved Hunza Valley in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. Surrounded on all sides by some of the highest mountains in the world (Nanga Parbat, Rakaposhi, Ladyfinger and Ultar peaks), this is one of the most enchanting, otherworldly places I have ever been. I gave my heart to Hunza many years ago and have been visiting on and off since then. Right now, I am munching on dried apricots, one of Hunza’s specialties, lovingly tended and harvested in the ‘Valley of the Gods’ by strong, hardworking village women. Due to its inaccessibility and extremely high altitude, the valley and its surrounding alpine forests have remained natural and pristine, unadulterated by urban-human encroachment. May it stay that way for many years to come. Long live Hunza Valley!© Zaina Anwar | Sept. 2014 | http://indigenousdialogues.tumblr.com/P.S. Photographs are not mine.
Zoom Info
This is my beloved Hunza Valley in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. Surrounded on all sides by some of the highest mountains in the world (Nanga Parbat, Rakaposhi, Ladyfinger and Ultar peaks), this is one of the most enchanting, otherworldly places I have ever been. I gave my heart to Hunza many years ago and have been visiting on and off since then. Right now, I am munching on dried apricots, one of Hunza’s specialties, lovingly tended and harvested in the ‘Valley of the Gods’ by strong, hardworking village women. Due to its inaccessibility and extremely high altitude, the valley and its surrounding alpine forests have remained natural and pristine, unadulterated by urban-human encroachment. May it stay that way for many years to come. Long live Hunza Valley!© Zaina Anwar | Sept. 2014 | http://indigenousdialogues.tumblr.com/P.S. Photographs are not mine.
Zoom Info
This is my beloved Hunza Valley in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. Surrounded on all sides by some of the highest mountains in the world (Nanga Parbat, Rakaposhi, Ladyfinger and Ultar peaks), this is one of the most enchanting, otherworldly places I have ever been. I gave my heart to Hunza many years ago and have been visiting on and off since then. Right now, I am munching on dried apricots, one of Hunza’s specialties, lovingly tended and harvested in the ‘Valley of the Gods’ by strong, hardworking village women. Due to its inaccessibility and extremely high altitude, the valley and its surrounding alpine forests have remained natural and pristine, unadulterated by urban-human encroachment. May it stay that way for many years to come. Long live Hunza Valley!© Zaina Anwar | Sept. 2014 | http://indigenousdialogues.tumblr.com/P.S. Photographs are not mine.
Zoom Info
This is my beloved Hunza Valley in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. Surrounded on all sides by some of the highest mountains in the world (Nanga Parbat, Rakaposhi, Ladyfinger and Ultar peaks), this is one of the most enchanting, otherworldly places I have ever been. I gave my heart to Hunza many years ago and have been visiting on and off since then. Right now, I am munching on dried apricots, one of Hunza’s specialties, lovingly tended and harvested in the ‘Valley of the Gods’ by strong, hardworking village women. Due to its inaccessibility and extremely high altitude, the valley and its surrounding alpine forests have remained natural and pristine, unadulterated by urban-human encroachment. May it stay that way for many years to come. Long live Hunza Valley!© Zaina Anwar | Sept. 2014 | http://indigenousdialogues.tumblr.com/P.S. Photographs are not mine.
Zoom Info

This is my beloved Hunza Valley in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. Surrounded on all sides by some of the highest mountains in the world (Nanga Parbat, Rakaposhi, Ladyfinger and Ultar peaks), this is one of the most enchanting, otherworldly places I have ever been. I gave my heart to Hunza many years ago and have been visiting on and off since then. Right now, I am munching on dried apricots, one of Hunza’s specialties, lovingly tended and harvested in the ‘Valley of the Gods’ by strong, hardworking village women. Due to its inaccessibility and extremely high altitude, the valley and its surrounding alpine forests have remained natural and pristine, unadulterated by urban-human encroachment. May it stay that way for many years to come. Long live Hunza Valley!

© Zaina Anwar | Sept. 2014 | http://indigenousdialogues.tumblr.com/
P.S. Photographs are not mine.

viperslang:

etymology of shaman : from sanskrit “śramaṇá “or श्रमण, “ascetic, monk, devotee”. root word : from श्रम (śráma, “labor, toil”)