Bay Center, WA
Only if words are felt, bodily presences, like echoes or waterfalls, can we understand power of spoken language to influence, alter, and transform the perceptual world.
This is the revelation of the shaman.
Traverse indigenous culture across the world and feel the importance of the shaman. They’re described differently from place to place, of course. The West African griot; the Indian sadhu; the Middle Age European troubadour; these aren’t simply wandering ascetics, devout artists, bands on the run. They are magicians, straddling the boundary between the esoteric knowledge of the more-than-human world and the presence of that which is encounterable by laypeople: that which, to those untouched by the gods, seems real.
They share a similar perspective: pushing social boundaries. Injecting perspective. Keeping things moving.
Of course, for educated intellectuals like us, there’s no purpose for shamanic knowledge because there is nothing that’s more-than-human. All world is our world and vice versa. All knowledge is here in front of us or at least discoverable in a lab, or by sophisticated number crunching software. All things can be discerned from the historical record.
What role is played by the magi, the astrologer, in the 21st century?
He’s still here, riding his bike across the country, pursuing love and play and knowledge. Sure, his tools have changed, but the spirit is the same, the knowledge is ancient, and the inspiration is bountiful.