What does this word even mean?
‘Spirits’ of the dead. You have ‘spirit’. The Mind, the body and the ‘spirit’…
Does the ‘spirit’ mean soul? What does the soul mean?
Words and meanings are often confused and mixed up. This episode goes deep into one of those words… ‘Spirit’!
Shamanism and English don’t mix
The problem is… Our language is not adequately equipped with the necessary words to convey the richness of the Animistic worldview. Perhaps because English is derived from distinctly non-animistic roots. Not to mention the fact that true Animism and Shamanism are experiential. Language really doesn’t matter much at all once you have learned Shamanism, only while you are learning Shamanism.
For example, languages like Mongol, Japanese, Chinese and the lesser known languages of indigenous, animistic peoples have many words which could be translated into English as ‘spirit’, but they mean totally different things.
The word ‘Spirit’ is a catch all.
Why is this a problem?
Well, if you observe a rich and diverse people through the lens of your own language, and attempt to translate the words they use, you will run out of words pretty fast.
What If there are twenty different words in Mongol which mean totally different things.
What if each word conveys a rich and diverse spectrum of ideas rooted in their Animistic heritage.
And what if each of these Mongol words is translated into English simply as ‘Spirit’… well…
Its like trying to cook a classic Bœuf bourguignon but the only ingredient you are allowed to use is the Beef. Ridiculous really!
This is an interesting episode. We look at the foundation and context for how we use the word ‘Spirit’. We also talk about the limitations of language and how it has shaped our perceptions of the world, and its implications for learning Shamanism.
We dispel many myths about the word ‘spirit’ and how it has weaved its way into Shamanism and ‘made fantasy’ its core principles which are anything but fantasy.
This is important because the last thing we want to do is get caught up in our own perceptions of what we are trying to learn here. Rather we want to dig beneath the limitations of language to the core of the ideas and the truth behind the words.
Topics covered in this episode:
- Shamanism and communicating with the ancestral spirits
- Why Mongol is a better language than English for talking about Shamanism
- How civilised societies suppressed Shamanism through culture and language
- Why Shamanism as a technical subject needs a technical vocabulary
- Animal Spirit guides and what they really mean
- Why the likes of Carlos Casteneda and Terrence McKenna talk about the ‘spirits of the plants’
- The first 3 stages of shamanism and how deeply essential they are to becoming a real shaman
(note that the video discussed towards the end of the podcast is no longer available on YouTube)