The traditional peoples of Europe have been extra keen on masks and non secular ritual than you
would suspect should you noticed Europeans in the present day. Masks sporting and shamanism was half
and parcel of on a regular basis life in historic Western European custom, say researchers.
There are tales abound about African and North American tribal shamans however not a
lot is thought about historic European peoples’ involvement with masked ritual or the
apply of magic. That’s the reason discovering out about similarities between the concepts behind
masks from all over the world and people originating from European soil, is a
discovery of intriguing and actual beliefs.
The much less apparent hyperlink of European societies with shamanism or spiritual ritual than
for example the North American native Indian customs or magic exercise prior to now is
because of the extra ‘sanitised’ method Europe has developed due to church
interference in individuals’s lives. The church dominance nearly stamped out any pagan
It was not till after 1960, when the Individuals skilled a revival of the
curiosity in shamanism, that a lot has develop into recognized concerning the European model of
the apply of magic and masks sporting. There may be extra verifyable details about
the true roots of Western European civilisation than initially suspected.
“The spirit if not the precise practise of shamanism has been handed on by way of
Europe’s generations”, one authority on the topic, Leigh Ann Hussey, believes. The
earliest recordings of ceremonies involving masks have been discovered within the caves of the
Trois Freres (Three Brothers) in France the place work of a Paleolithic scene
depicting European animism of the primary order.
Ian Bracegirdle, a masks knowledgeable, describes the cave: A central determine stands sporting
the top and antlers of a deer. He stands, shaman like, surrounded by animals.
Animals which can be essential to the tradition he represents. A number of the animals no
longer exist on this space. Ibex, reindeer, bison, stag and horses. The shaman, for that
is what he appears to be, stands, a human determine amongst the potential meals.
It’s believed that the paleolithic cave served as a spot the place hunters have been initiated.
The sorcerer or shaman was image to sympathetic magic. He wore ears and horns
of a stag, the eyes and beak of an owl, the bearded face of an previous man, the tail of a
wolf, the paws of a bear and the legs of a dancing shaman. He stood in entrance of
painted looking murals. The Shaman served as mediator between people and their
honored animal kin.
That is just about the perfect proof in tangible kind that now we have of our ancestors’
animistic beliefs. It dates again 10,000 years and is accompanied by an abundance of
myths and tales exhibiting our ancestors had loads of comparable concepts. A detailed analogy
exists within the tales of Kernunnos, forest god of the later Celts. The masks specific
animism to some extent.
His data is confirmed by Ms Hussey, who went on a hunt in European
shamanism and located when she examined historic sources, that she didn’t must
borrow from different traditions. “It’s clear that tribal Europe had as robust a shamanic
custom as, for instance, any of the American Indian tribes,” she mentioned.
Summing up the final symbolism that unites masks from across the globe,
Bracegirdle says that there are various hanging similarities between the traditional cultures
of the Pacific West Coast of North America and the tribal traditions of Africa. Symbols
that every one these cultures share are referring to fertility, the hunted animal, ancestors,
initiation into rites, circumcision, cannibalism actual and symbolic, therapeutic and crossing
over into the spirit world for steerage and therapeutic powers or to appease the gods or
ancestors are the accompanying concepts behind masks.
Not quite a bit has been handed on from era to era in any a lot
recognisable kind or form, however among the many strongest hyperlinks is the seasonal
nature of many traditions we nonetheless find out about. Within the UK, the Inexperienced man and the
Passion horse are two potent examples. “To me there’s a super hyperlink which is
sure up with the very nature of the individuals we’re and the way now we have developed. Our
formative roots reside in our societies now”, believes Bracegirdle.
The hyperlinks to historic beliefs may also be discovered in lots of European languages. When
we are saying in English that we’re going berserk, we even instantly seek advice from the shamanic
state of extasy. The adjective comes from the noun ‘berserker’, or ‘berserk’, the Outdated
Norse for ‘wild warriors’ or ‘champions’. ‘Ber’ referring to ‘bear’ and ‘serkr’ to ‘shirt’ or
These berserkers turned frenzied in battle, howling like animals, foaming at
the mouth, and biting the perimeters of their iron shields as in the event that they acted in a Nike
industrial. Berserker is first recorded in English within the early 19th century, lengthy after
these wild warriors ceased to exist. That is illustrative of how the custom seemingly
interrupted, nonetheless lived on.
Related “Bear Docs” tales have been discovered amongst California tribes. In some
instances, the Berserkr or Ulfserkr would even eat the guts of the bear or wolf to realize its
energy. One other feast of hearts happens within the seiðr trance, as described above.
Not quite a bit was recognized about Western shamanism till it hit the limelight within the 1960
and the undoubted knowledgeable within the discipline is the late Mircea Eliade, a faith historian
who taught on the Sorborme in Paris and later on the College of Chicago.
He described Shamanism, or ‘witchcraft’ as it’s referred to additionally, as not a faith however
extra as a way. Shamanism, he says, is ‘not strictly medication males/ladies,
magicians, or healers’. That is the conclusion of in depth research of the phenomenon
all over the world in his ebook ‘Shamanism: Archaic Strategies of Ecstasy’.
believes that shamans should not the identical as clergymen; they could have coexisted with
clergymen and even have fulfilled priestly capabilities in addition to shamanic ones. A shaman
was extra a mystic than a priest or a minister.
A shaman was not “possessed”, as many individuals now imagine, says Eliade. Neither
was the shaman a medium or trance channeler. “Shamans management the spirit beings
with whom they work, or no less than they don’t give up to them. Like a medium or
channeler, a shaman might seem unconscious when working, however upon returning, the
shaman can inform the place she or he has gone”, he says.
The shaman will not be the instrument of the spirits. Conventional shamans treatment individuals
by way of their trances, accompany the souls of the lifeless to the Otherworld, and
talk with the gods. “This small mystical elite not solely directs the
neighborhood’s spiritual life however, because it have been, guards its ‘soul.”
Modern-day processions the place you may nonetheless see previous masks being worn embrace
processions wherein giants and witches are displayed. These and different
masquerades are among the many extra highly effective tangible hyperlinks we nonetheless need to historic
In well-known childrens’ tales and folklore narrative, the hyperlinks are additionally apparent.
Dragons for example are examples creatures pervading each alley you may think about
of previous folklore and mythology, straight into trendy instances tales. Descriptions of the
beast’s benevolence range from the playful Puff (of Peter Yarrow’s music) to the sinister
Smaug in J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit”. Babylonian legends painting the Queen of
Darkness as a multi-headed dragon – Tiamat. Walt Disney’s Sleeping Magnificence
includes a battle between Prince Phillip and the evil Maleficent a few curse than
can solely be damaged by three fairies. Likewise, the Germanic fable “Die Nibelungen”
climaxes with the battle between Siegfried and the enormous Fafnir, who has remodeled
himself right into a dragon in an effort to develop into extra scary.
Our response to the bodily traits of the dragon is one other ingredient that we
share with and which connects us to our ancestors. World wide the beasts are
usually depicted as big lizards, bigger than elephants on common. Lengthy fangs are
typically accepted as are twin horns of various size. Western cultures typically
embrace massive bat-like wings giving the dragon the potential of flight. However japanese
dragons, often wingless, use a extra magical technique of flying. Jap dragons additionally
are typically extra snake-like in nature, albeit with entrance and rear legs.