Spiraling Pottery, Shamanic Ritual & Altered States – Christine VanPool, Professor of Anthropology

From Christine: “I propose the pots (Medio Period (AD 1200 to 1450) Casas Grandes) were animate “pot-people” created for shamanic rituals. They were created with unusual designs including painted images and incised patterns that emphasized the spinning/vertigo that was central to the shamans’ soul flight experience. In some cases, the pots were literally spun, as evidenced by the distinctive wear patterns on their bases. The shamanic designs on the pots that reflected the upper and lower worlds, the depiction of spinning in the pottery decorations, and the literal spinning of some pots reflected the sympathetic and mimetic magic that linked them to the spirit world. They were imbued with the liminal nature of the creatures they depicted, and the symbolic and occasional literal emphasis on spinning would allow them to enter into a shamanic trance in a manner similar to their human counterparts. They, thus, were designed to enter into ASC in a manner that paralleled their human counterparts.”

Over the last four years, I have worked with the Cuyamungue Institute (established by Felicitas Goodman) to produce ASC without the use of entheogens using Goodman’s Ritual Body Posture practice (Goodman 1990). I follow their ritual protocols and hold a posture while listening to a rapidly beating drum or rattle for 15 min. On numerous occasions, I have experienced the sensation of quickly spinning; it can be horribly dizzying and does strongly correspond to the feeling that I was moving through time/space into another realm. Sometimes, I fall deep into the earth; other times, I fly out into the cosmos. Many times, I found myself transforming into a flying bird during this journey. Spinning as an aspect of ASC is an interesting neurological phenomenon that needs more study.”
To view full paper: Here is the link: