Always appreciate your perspectives Russ, and the clarity of your writing, and I’d like to make a few comments specifically on your statements about shamanism. While religious historians say shamanism is probably the root of all religions, it is actually not considered a religion itself. While religious phenomena can be and often is produced as a result of its practice, shamanism is more appropriately defined as a specific knowledge-and-skill-set. It is a compilation of techniques that are surprisingly similar throughout the various shamanic cultures of the world.
And yes, as far as we know, it originated during the magical stage of development, which we as integralists understand to mean, among other things, that psyche was still halfway fused with environment; the individual, separate-self sense of ego had yet to fully emerge. Yet it’s important to note that shamanism is not a “dead” thing; it is still practiced throughout the world by various indigenous people, and also by contemporary Westerners either as a form of “self-help” and personal problem-solving and healing, or as a livelihood/vocation in service to others. Western shamanic practitioners are practicing a form of “trans-rational magic,” different from what we suppose was the case during culture’s magical stage. Some health insurance companies have actually covered shamanic healing treatments in the same vein as coverage for mainstream medical or mental health services.
Shamanism can and does co-exist with religion, and nowadays in most places is influenced by them (as some religions in certain locales have been influenced by shamanism). There are shamans and shamanic practitioners who work with Christian, Buddhist, or Hindu deities, for instance, as well as plant, animal, mineral, and elemental energies. Not being a religion, it is able to be quite democratic in the sources from which it draws its “help.”
In terms of a trans-rational magical practice, shamanism has a lot to teach the world and its incessant need to fragment and split things: the profane and the “sacred,” self and other, society and nature.
As for shamans believing that if they eat an animal, they gain that animal’s power—just consider for a moment that if you take a handful of vitamins, will you not gain the power/energy of those vitamins? If you drink alcohol (often called “spirits”), will not your bodymind be influenced; will you not know the “power” of alcohol? Why else do we eat food, but to turn it into energy? Combine that with a practice/technique in which you are able to merge with the essence or ‘spirit’ or ‘soul’ of an animal or plant you ingest (or vitamins or alcohol), and some of these shamanic beliefs and practices are not as far-fetched as one would think. There are still shamans who will put on a bear skin or deer antlers and “become” that animal, not through just donning the pelt or antlers, but through specific methods for “becoming one” with the animal.
While not a religion per se, shamanism probably was humanity’s first methodical healing and divination technique; developed out of necessity and through trial-and-error, and perhaps with the help of psychoactive plants (the jury is still out on that one.) And it was a community endeavor, with full participation of the community in the shaman’s ceremonies and such, as the shaman existed/exists to serve them. And while not a religion per se, today, many Westerners do use shamanic methods for spiritual development, and some have profound unity experiences through their practices.
I know your statements about shamanism during the “Purple” stage were meant to help readers see the psychological aspects of that stage as differentiated from Red, and you did that. I just wanted to fill in a little around the topic of shamanism. Thanks.