The traditional peoples of Europe had been extra keen on masks and non secular ritual than you
would suspect should you noticed Europeans at the moment. 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 understood about historic European peoples’ involvement with masked ritual or the
observe of magic. That’s the reason discovering out about similarities between the concepts behind
masks from world wide 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
as a result of extra ‘sanitised’ manner Europe has developed due to church
interference in folks’s lives. The church dominance nearly stamped out any pagan
It was not till after 1960, when the People skilled a revival of the
curiosity in shamanism, that a lot has turn out to be identified in regards to the European model of
the observe of magic and masks sporting. There’s 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 had 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 professional, describes the cave: A central determine stands sporting
the pinnacle and antlers of a deer. He stands, shaman like, surrounded by animals.
Animals which are vital to the tradition he represents. Among 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 had 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of a stag, the eyes and beak of an owl, the bearded face of an outdated man, the tail of a
wolf, the paws of a bear and the legs of a dancing shaman. He stood in entrance of
painted searching murals. The Shaman served as mediator between people and their
commemorated animal kin.
That is just about the most effective proof in tangible kind that we have now of our ancestors’
animistic beliefs. It dates again 10,000 years and is accompanied by an abundance of
myths and tales displaying 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 sturdy a shamanic
custom as, for instance, any of the American Indian tribes,” she stated.
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 each one these cultures share are regarding 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 rather a lot 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 learn about. Within the UK, the Inexperienced man and the
Passion horse are two potent examples. “To me there’s a great hyperlink which is
certain up with the very nature of the folks we’re and the way we have now developed. Our
formative roots dwell 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 straight check with 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 grew to become 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 nineteenth century, lengthy after
these wild warriors ceased to exist. That is illustrative of how the custom seemingly
interrupted, nonetheless lived on.
Comparable “Bear Medical doctors” tales have been discovered amongst California tribes. In some
circumstances, the Berserkr or Ulfserkr would even eat the center of the bear or wolf to realize its
energy. One other feast of hearts happens within the seiðr trance, as described above.
Not rather a lot was identified about Western shamanism till it hit the limelight within the 1960
and the undoubted professional 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 method. Shamanism, he says, is ‘not strictly drugs males/girls,
magicians, or healers’. That is the conclusion of intensive research of the phenomenon
world wide in his guide ‘Shamanism: Archaic Strategies of Ecstasy’.
believes that shamans usually are not the identical as clergymen; they might 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 not less than they don’t give up to them. Like a medium or
channeler, a shaman could seem unconscious when working, however upon returning, the
shaman can inform the place she or he has gone”, he says.
The shaman just isn’t the instrument of the spirits. Conventional shamans treatment folks
by way of their trances, accompany the souls of the useless to the Otherworld, and
talk with the gods. “This small mystical elite not solely directs the
group’s spiritual life however, because it had been, guards its ‘soul.”
Modern-day processions the place you possibly can nonetheless see outdated masks being worn embody
processions by which giants and witches are displayed. These and different
masquerades are among the many extra highly effective tangible hyperlinks we nonetheless should historic
In well-known childrens’ tales and folklore narrative, the hyperlinks are additionally apparent.
Dragons for example are examples creatures pervading each alley you possibly can think about
of outdated folklore and mythology, straight into trendy occasions tales. Descriptions of the
beast’s benevolence differ from the playful Puff (of Peter Yarrow’s track) 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
encompasses a battle between Prince Phillip and the evil Maleficent a couple of curse than
can solely be damaged by three fairies. Likewise, the Germanic fable “Die Nibelungen”
climaxes with the battle between Siegfried and the large Fafnir, who has reworked
himself right into a dragon in an effort to turn out to be extra scary.
Our response to the bodily traits of the dragon is one other factor that we
share with and which connects us to our ancestors. World wide the beasts are
usually depicted as large lizards, bigger than elephants on common. Lengthy fangs are
typically accepted as are twin horns of various size. Western cultures typically
embody massive bat-like wings giving the dragon the potential of flight. However japanese
dragons, often wingless, use a extra magical technique of flying. Japanese dragons additionally
are typically extra snake-like in nature, albeit with entrance and rear legs.