To understand the term “spirits” as the indigenous world uses it requires a holistic, comprehensive understanding of that worldview. Indigenous spirituality is a complex and all encompassing view of the world that surrounds us. At the core of this, every thing is interconnected; people, plants, animals, earth and the celestial bodies, from the micro to the macrocosm, nothing is inanimate, everything is alive and embodied by spirit. And most telling, we humans are on an equal footing with all the rest of nature. Not less, not more, but equal to all members on the web of life. In this worldview, the invisible and the visible pulse with the same life force; the sacred is not separate from the secular, all are interconnected and interactive.
How to define “spirits” is an age-old quest, and the debate continues. The Western approach is to view “the spirits” as a social construct without a basis in reality. Then came a new breed of of researchers who found that to truly understand the indigenous worldview required an immersive form of participant observation, and to engage in direct experience. This approach became a significant development for the research and findings of the founder of the Cuyamungue Institute, Dr. Felicitas Goodman.
In this issue, anthropologist Edith Turner, who engaged in the study of ritual, religion and consciousness for over sixty years, shares her journey in what she calls the anthropology of experience, “humanistic anthropology”. Dr. Turner summarizes her approach: “Good anthropology rests on humanism – that is, respect for the ideas and religions of other cultures and, where possible, the willingness to experience through the eyes of others. Analysis therefore seriously has to take into consideration local exegesis (interpretation), and local statements of experience. For ourselves, we may look upon these experiential moments as crossing points into a culture’s familiar world of the spirits. Human life is not limited to the mundane and, conversely, the body itself is often the medium through which people experience the spirit.”
Thank you Dr. Turner for permission to share your article.
In This Issue
——– The Reality of Spirits: A Tabooed or Permitted Field of Study by Edith Turner
——– The Spirit World by Nick Brink
——– A Time-Free Transparent World by Barbara Hand Clow
——– Maypole Celebration – Experiences and observations
—— Scroll down for links to articles.
Once again, thank you for your continued support of the Cuyamungue Institute!
President / Executive Director
Cuyamungue: The Felicitas D. Goodman Institute
The Reality of Spirits: A Tabooed or Permitted Field of Study
by Edith Turner
In the past in anthropology, if a researcher “went native,” it doomed him academically. My husband, Victor Turner, and I had this dictum at the back of our minds when we spent two and a half years among the Ndembu of Zambia in the fifties.
All right, “our” people believed in spirits, but that was a matter of their different world, not ours. Their ideas were strange and a little disturbing. Yet somehow we were on the safe side of the White divide and were free merely to study the beliefs. This is how we thought. Little knowing it, we denied the people’s equality with ours, their “coevalness,” their common humanity as that humanity extended itself into the spirit world.
Try out that spirit world ourselves? No way!
But at intervals, that world insisted it was really there. For instance, in the Chihamba ritual at the end of a period of ordeal, a strong wave of curative energy hit us. We had been participating as fully as we knew how, thus opening ourselves to whatever entities that were about. In another ritual, for fertility, the delight of dancing in the moonlight hit me vividly, and I began to learn something about the hypnotic effect of singing and hearing the drums. ———–> Full Article
I have been concerned by the narrowness of ecstatic trance audience. It seems that most people are caught up in the rational world and do not relate to what we are doing in using ecstatic trance and visiting the world of the spirits. I would like to offer some bridges from the world of rationality to the beauty and power of the world beyond, the world of spirits. The bridge I first suggest is to recognize that our nighttime dreams are of this spirit world, something that we all experience. The dream world is normal and can be powerful in gaining deeper understanding of our lives and the world around us if we open ourselves to them.
I have offered ecstatic trance workshops at five of the last few conferences of the International Association for the Study of Dreams and have found that the hundred plus participates in these groups quick resonate with the ecstatic trance experiences. There is a clear connection between dreaming and ecstatic trance. They both take us into the same world of the spirits. ————–> Full Article
We are right in the middle of astronomical and cultural cycles that are profoundly altering the Earth, and most of us don’t know where we are going. The most critical cycles during this period are the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius; the ending of two ancient Mayan Calendars in 2011 and 2012; and seven squares between Uranus and Pluto that were exact during 2012-2015, and are still in the square within 10 degrees until 2020. These cycles have been fomenting mind-boggling and confusing global changes with the dysfunctional structures of the patriarchy crashing and burning all over the world. In the midst of this time-sensitive revolution, I’ve been working with two practices that explore time going back a hundred thousand years that I will describe during this lecture.
Many of you, especially those who are younger than me, have been tuning into the Paleolithic and Neolithic worlds through farming and food—such as so many people adopting Paleolithic diets—because you sense archaic wisdom can help you to be in harmony with our planet. I now believe many of us are transiting rapidly into a time-free transparent world. We’ve contemplated deep human time, and by doing so we’re recovering repressed ancient skills—the archaic hunter-gathering mind and magical mind of the Paleolithic world, and the mythic mind of the Neolithic. Before you get up to go chotsky-shopping at this Expo, this is the most difficult concept I will offer today! If you stay around, you will at least partially understand your own part in this awakening of the planetary mind, and also we will experience a guided journey with the Pleiadians into Earth’s deepest structures. To keep it simple for now, first I will tell you the story of my quest, which I will relate to the cycles and thoughts of other researchers. ————–> Full Article
CI added two new events in 2016 — Volunteer Week and a Mayday Celebration!
Thanks to Carol Gallentine and Cece Stanford for the inspiration to return to CI for a week at the beginning of the workshop season to help get the facilities ready. Carol brought along her husband Dave, and the four of us gave the facilities a deep clean, with an incredible amount of hard work getting done. Thanks also to Dori Smith who helped with some bookkeeping and archiving of historical documents.
I had long wanted to celebrate May Day, and last year, when I learned that Carol had also been researching May Day and various traditional rituals, we decided then that Volunteer Week had to be scheduled to culminate on May 1st. The first day of May has additional significance for CI, as this was the date last year when we completed the purchase of the additional 192 acres of land to CI. A fitting date on a number of levels!
————–> Full Article
Each workshop contains a specifically designed series of ritual postures to provide the context for a journey of self-discovery. We go deep within utilizing the Cuyamungue Method – which includes a established ritual journey method. Introductory workshops are are prerequisites for advanced classes.
Here is the workshops and events for 2016 at the Cuyamungue Institute, so you can get the jump-start on making your plans to join us this season. future. Feel free to ask questions.
June 17th – 21st – Initiatory Training
July 27th – 31st – Initiatory Training
August 3 – 7 – Initiatory Training – Advanced Course
August 16 – 21 – Instructor Training – Contact us
August 23 – 28 –Men’s Conclave Contact us
September 20th – 25th – Masked Trance Dance – Contact us
The Cuyamungue Institute, like many non-profit organizations, has limited resources. We are proud of the scope of work we have already accomplished. However, there is much more to do, and we depend upon your support. We always use our all resources with great care. Our focus and key priority to continue to ensure the financial stability of CI for the future.
There are several ways to participate:
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President / Executive Director
Cuyamungue – The Felicitas D. Goodman Institute