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  • The Problem with Shamanism March 3, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient
    The Problem with Shamanism

    ***dedicated to a misguided friend in Estonia*** All academic disciplines have terminological issues. Medievalists get excited about ‘feudalism’; archaeologists head-butt each other over ‘Celtic’; there are even some linguists who get upset about ‘Indo-European’. These words have been energized and arguments over them are about more than just semantics: disputes are bitter, useful and productive. However, […]

    A Shaman’s Apprenticeship September 12, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A Shaman's Apprenticeship

    Beach has been interested, nay fascinated, this summer, by the way in which certain people have serial transformative ‘psychic’ experiences as they grow through adolescence and towards middle age: let’s use very loose terminology and call it the shaman ‘s apprenticeship. In a modern industrial or post industrial society these experiences are usually ignored, kept […]

    Medieval Shamanic Account from Iceland January 17, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Medieval Shamanic Account from Iceland

    ‘Shaman’ is a much misused word. But here is a medieval account of shamnism from northern Europe that is, to the best of this blogger’s knowledge without parallel. The text is a saga: Vatnsdaela Saga, a thirteenth-century Icelandic text. The author tells of Ingimundr the Old who was born and brought up in northern Norway. […]

    Finns, Snow and Magic December 23, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Finns, Snow and Magic

    The earliest eyewitness account of the Laplanders (the Sami) to leak into European writing comes in Alfred’s translation of Orosius (late ninth century). It depends on the testimony of one Othere (aka Ohthere), a Viking who had travelled along the freezing coast of Norway and who had encountered the peoples of the White Sea. Note […]

    Flying Drums in Tibet July 20, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Flying Drums in Tibet

    A lot of interest recently in the objects used by witches to fly: broomsticks, trees etc: Other weird flying objects, drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com. This brought Beach to parallel traditions, among which is the extraordinary flying drum of Tibet. An earliest, perhaps the earliest example on record follows here.  The description is of a […]