Episode:Evolutionary Religion—Shamanism (Part 1)

From Symmetry of Soul

As the religious concepts of primitive man evolved, the spirit world was eventually regarded as being unresponsive to the ordinary mortal. Only the exceptional among humans could catch the ear of the gods; only the extraordinary man or woman would be heard by the spirits. Thus did mankind come to believe that a medicine man, a shaman, or a priest must intervene between the religionist and the object of worship.

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Keywords: Urantia, Religion, Shamancraft, Witchcraft, Astrology

Summary by Kermit

Commentary on the Review

We shared reflections on sin, redefined in the 5th ER as deliberate disloyalty to Deity. In addition to considering the deliberate aspect of that which constitutes sin, we explored further the revelators’ reference to Deity rather than God. Deity can be thought of as being transcendent and foundational to God when considering Father Deity and Mother Deity respectively. So deliberate disloyalty to the transcendent existential Deity presents a very high bar for the finite creature to attain. But disloyalty to immanent and experiential Mother Deity presents us with entirely new considerations. Such infidelity might seem well within the reach of finite creatures. We noted the importance of the role of sincerity in discriminating between creature evil and sin. A path to perdition for mortals may not be so hard to imagine if we reflected on the story of our poster boy for sin, Lucifer. With all good intentions he embarked on a plan to improve system policy and administration. However, he reached a turning point where he became insincere in the prosecution of his plan and took the road to rebellion.

Paper 90: Shamanism—Medicine Men and Priests

As primitive man’s religious evolution progressed his religious observances became ever more complex. This development demanded a degree of specialization in religious practices and expertise in ritual execution that was beyond the rank and file tribesman, giving rise to a class of religious professionals—medicine men, shamans, and priests—mortal man’s intermediaries, intercessors, and interpreters for the spirits and gods. Religion thus gradually became secondhanded. And as we are reminded, this secondhand religion is where most Urantia systems of organized religious belief find themselves today. In thus anchoring religion in an outer life domain these “religious professionals” quickly become major obstacles to man’s finding genuine religious experience in the inner life. The relatively recent Protestant Reformation was a partial attempt to redirect man to an inner religious life. Yet even today man’s proclivity to externalize religious duty finds in the 5th ER a wealth of material with which to construct a compelling religion about Jesus, notwithstanding the revelator’s distinction between that and practicing the religion of Jesus.

90:1. The First Shamans—The Medicine Men

Mortal man’s history demonstrates his tendency to specialize as the requirements of living become ever more complicated. In this respect religion is not different from other domains of human activity. The shaman emerged as the ranking medicine man and focus personality for all practices of evolutionary religion. The criteria for such office and function among the primitives were essentially the possession of striking mental or physical abnormalities e.g., epilepsy, catalepsy, hysteria, and paranoia. Acting as priests or even priest-kings these religious practitioners became elite power personalities of the tribe.

Most shamans were self-deceived yet sincere in belief of their spirit possession. Along with elaborate dress and affectations they evolved rituals akin to performance art. Legerdemain and ventriloquism, were particularly impressive to the common folk. A shaman’s reputation and longevity depended on apparent achievement. Failure was generally rewarded with demotion or death. Thus, did the tricksters and the deceptive survive in greater numbers resulting in the rapid decline of the honest shamans. So it was that the direction of tribal affairs shifted from the old and the strong to the shrewd, clever, and farsighted shamans.

90:2. Shamanistic Practices

The shamans were believed to be the recipients of revelation. We took a short side discussion on the nature of revelation as a penetration of appearances to the underlying reality, accessible not by sight, but by insight. Shamans began to diversify to subspecialties as rain making, disease healing, and crime detection. Commonplace features of modern life now considered childish diversions and foolish superstitions were among the methods employed by the shamans. Games of chance, “counting-out rhymes”, astrology, fortunetelling, and magic are but a few of the surviving remnants of shamanic practices.

Notes by Brad

  • Did this author sin?
    • Well, what's Deity? It's transcendent of God... yet is so high, it's there at the foundation of everything.
    • Father Deity is remote. Mother Deity is right here! Everywhere!
    • I had to go back through nature mysticism (the mountain spoke to me) to come back to the 5th ER
    • Reflect on sincerity as well. Insincere occurs only once in the 5th ER.
    • And how is sincerity not humility? Not loyalty?
    • The truth of this must be discovered and lived in your own life.

  • Note the order: medicine men, shaman, and priest.
  • The moment the first intervener concept appears, religion has become bound to the outer life. A boat anchor in the outer life.
  • And if this intervener (shaman) has never sought the inner life? Oy vey...
  • The outer life can be somewhat wrestled into submission, or institutionalized. The inner life? It will transform you.
  • Still small voice? At first, yes. Stay humble.
  • Reverence may feel like a high concept, but it's still rooted in fear. Bound to time, not eternity.
    • Look at the night sky. Can you recognize beauty? It can get you past reverence.
    • Beauty shines through from eternity, the Isle of Paradise.

  • Jesus has no measure of hysteria
  • Don't be fooled by fancy mind, taking it for spirit or inspiration. Don't set the bar too low.

  • Shamans had (still have) a performance art--a mysterious air, a certain form of dress. They're still around today, if not in official name.
  • "I died on stage" says the performer, echoing a time when poor performing shamans were killed.
  • Shrewd politicians are problematic, but if that leads (in spite of ourselves) to clever and farsighted politicians, that's not as problematic.
    • If it leads to a tradition of the farsighted being leaders, there can be a non-selfish evolution into that.

  • Be careful to not think the 5th ER came to us by shamanic conduits.
  • The true fifth epochal revelation is acquired by insight, not by sight. Thus, the true fifth epochal revelation is not the words on the page/screen of The Urantia Book.
  • Black art and white art--there's the dual spiritism again.