Theory of Divination

November 20, 2017 | Author: ViatorTheon | Category: Consciousness, Intuition, Divination, Thought, Trance
Share Embed Donate

Short Description

Download Theory of Divination...


Toward a Theory of Divinatory Practice barbara tedlock, ph.d., Distinguished Professor of Anthropology Department of Anthropology, State University of New York at Buffalo Buffalo, New York [email protected] abstract Divination has been practiced as a way of knowing and communicating for millennia. Diviners are experts who embrace the notion of moving from a boundless to a bounded realm of existence in their practice. They excel in insight, imagination, fluency in language, and knowledge of cultural traditions and human psychology. During a divination, they construct usable knowledge from oracular messages of various sorts. To do so, they link diverse domains of representational information and symbolism with emotional or presentational experience. Their divinatory acts involve complementary modes of cognition associated with these rather different symbolic forms. In representational symbolism, intentional reference, within a relatively controlled inductive reality, is paramount, while in presentational symbolism, implicit experiential immersion, within a free-flowing context, is grasped intuitively. Wherever a theory of divination has been elicited from diviners, there is a clear recognition of the overlapping of inductive, intuitive, and interpretive techniques and ways of knowing. In order to arrive at a theory of practice for divination, as a form of practical consciousness or knowledge within different modes of cognition, one must take what diviners say and do seriously. Recent scientific studies reveal that consciousness is connected both to electrical information in the brain and nervous system and to electronic semi-conduction in body tissues. Brain consciousness is embedded in body consciousness and coupled to it. This validates the experience of mind-body consciousness diviners have used for millennia in their performances. keywords: mediumistic divination, cognition, intuition, somatic consciousness

Anthropology of Consciousness, Vol. 17, Issue 2, pp. 62–77. ISSN1053-4202, © 2006 by the American Anthropological Association. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permissions to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press’s Rights and Permissions website, 62

toward a theory of divinatory practice


introduction Divination has been conceptualized by positivists as the irrational weak sister of astronomy, mathematics, and medicine: a parasitic pseudoscience feeding on these more logical, rational sciences. This view is said to have originated with the Roman elite in the last century BCE who, we are assured by a number of classical scholars, were deeply skeptical about divination.1 The key text used as evidence of this supposed skepticism is Cicero’s famous dialogue On Divination (45–44 BCE). Careful analysis of the intellectual and cultural context, however, suggests that Cicero may not have been such a skeptic. A close reading of this and other texts indicate that he carefully balanced his arguments against divination in the second book by arguments in favor of divination in the first, so that, as he put it, “each (reader) might more easily adopt the view that seemed to him the most probable” (Beard 1986:35). To begin my work of taking divination seriously and proposing a theory of divinatory practice in our post-positivist, though still skeptical, age, I will begin by examining the intellectual relationship between theory and observation. The English word theory comes from the Greek noun theoria, which referred to a sacred pilgrimage, or journey to a distant land, to consult an oracle. Such a visitation combined the observation of material things seen in the physical world with a heightened form of witnessing, a sacramental form of seeing. The Greek verb theorein and its Latin form obsevatio, indicate a journey with a divinatory purpose combined with attentiveness to and caring for sacred objects and places. A person who made such a sacred journey, called a theoros in Greek, was commissioned by the government to travel to a shrine where one or more deities revealed themselves to humans. The theoros posed questions concerning the will of the deities on the basis of which future decisions could be made. In the ancient Greek world, as in other traditional cultures, religious festivals created a suspension of the world of work, providing an opening through which the holy can break in and illuminate the everyday world. The theoros, as a festival spectator, found access to meaning as the ultimate support for earthly existence. In time there was a change in the Greek concept of theory, from a festive journey to a work-oriented form of edifying travel. Further secularization brings us to the situation today, in which a theorist goes to the laboratory, the place of labor, rather than to a shrine, the place of festive manifestation (Jager 1974, 1983, 1997, 2003). There is another productive way of thinking about the relationship between observation and theory. In recent work in the history of science on the topic of “observability,” it has been pointed out that science was once regarded as an extension of common sense, based on occurrences in the visible, tangible world. Scientists limited themselves to examining how such observables behaved.


anthropology of consciousness 17.2

Recently, however, it has been argued that the category of observables depends upon a theoretical or conceptual framework and this theoretical framework, in turn, depends upon observations. As a result, “observables” include both material things seen in the world and unobserved entities that can be imagined by extension or extrapolation from such observed phenomena. Observation, thus, is theory laden.2 Today we no longer regard the physical sciences as simply a form of exposure to sense perception. In fact, one of the hallmarks of much late 20th and early 21st century science has been its failure to conform to mental images drawn from our everyday experience. Instead, scientists are now imagining parallel universes, quantum non-locality, worm holes in time and space, mass-energy transformations, cosmic strings, gravity-bent light, and other strange concepts that defy common sense reality (Visser 1989; Hawking 1992; Nadeau and Kafatos 1999). Given these remarkable developments in the physical sciences, why should we not approach divination with the same conceptual openness, in what the English philosopher of science Mary Hesse (1980:147) aptly called “the spirit of the principle of no privilege”? This is precisely what the historian Francesca Rochberg (1999, 2004) has done by tracing the interconnections among the Babylonian scribal traditions of celestial science: including omen divination, personal astrology through horoscopes, and the astronomical text corpus. Many of the omens were problematic, she points out, in that they indicate schema for eclipses on days of the month beginning with the days of opposition—14, 15 and 16—but then they continue until conjunction at the end of the month. It is clear that on all of these days (14 through 30), it is not possible to observe a lunar eclipse. However, if these eclipse omens are thought of as referring to observables, or phenomena of interest to diviners, then they rightfully include unobserved entities that might be imagined by extension or extrapolation from observed phenomena. Thus, what should we make of so-called “eclipses” on days of the month other than the days of syzygy (three celestial bodies in a line)?3 When we examine the meaning of the Babylonian term AN.KU, usually translated as eclipse, we find that it also includes any darkening of the moon by clouds. On the bases of this and other examples, Rochberg argues that science did not emerge from a magical religious culture but rather it was fully integrated with such a culture. One of the key markers of integral studies today is that science is once again in dialogue with religion.4 All peoples during all historical periods have practiced divination as a way of exploring the unknown, solving problems, diagnosing ailments, and prescribing medicines and other healing treatments (Winkelman and Peek 2004). The earliest known form of divination, practiced in China during the second century BCE, involved reading patterns of cracks in oracular bones, made from the shoulder blades of deer, sheep, pigs, and oxen, or the shells of turtles. Oracular

toward a theory of divinatory practice


bones were first discovered in the 19th century by Chinese peasants, who found them in their fields and sold them as “dragon bones” to local druggists, who ground them up to make medicines. When scholars realized the importance of the inscriptions carved on the bones, they began to collect and preserve them. Since then, nearly 155,000 oracular inscriptions have been recovered. Many are fragmentary, consisting of only a word or two, while others have as many as 200 words (Smith 1991). In the classical world, ancient Egypt and the Middle East, the Americas, India, Tibet, Mongolia, Japan, Korea, and all over Africa, divination has had a critical role for millennia. Questions about future events, past disasters for which causes could not be explained, things unknown, hidden from sight, or removed in space, appropriate conduct in critical situations, including the healing of illness, determining the appropriate times and modes of religious worship, and making choices for undertaking particular tasks—have all been subjects of divinatory inquiry. There are hundreds of forms of divination practiced worldwide: including water-, crystal-, and star-gazing, dreaming, and the casting of lots, or sortilege, the reading of natural omens, the taking of hallucinogenic drugs, and the contemplation of mystic spirals, amulets, labyrinths, mandalas, and thangkas. In some instances, the diviner undergoes physical or psychological changes, so as to be able to serve as a medium or vehicle for divinatory power. At other times, animals, objects, and events themselves are considered signs of an external superhuman power (Tedlock 2001; Winkelman 2005; Morales 1995). These many forms of divination have been sorted by practitioners into four main types: omen, pattern, symbol, and trance. Omen divination refers to reading natural signs such as the flight of birds or the road crossings of animals. Pattern divination, such as rod or pendulum dowsing, refers to making a shape or design and then interpreting it by fixed guidelines. Symbol divination includes the Tarot, the Chinese I Ching, and the Yoruba Ifa readings, together with palmistry and geomancy. Here one uses a deck of cards, sticks, lines of a person’s hand, or special landscape features that depend upon a complex, often literary, interpretation system. Trance divination involves contacting spirits to answer questions. Shamans and priests have practiced this mediumistic technique worldwide for generations. There are a number of ways to enter trance, including altering the chemistry of the mind and body through fasting, rapid dancing, sonic driving, and the ingestion of hallucinogenic drugs. These four categories, in turn, have been collapsed by theorists into two main classes of divination: mediumistic (nonrational, inspirational, or natural) and inductive (rational, mechanical, or artificial). To which class a particular divinatory act belongs depends on the degree of rationality, or nonrationality, the investigator believes the diviner used during his or her divination. The early


anthropology of consciousness 17.2

Greeks, for example, emphasized the field of mantics, divination about the future using trance and other mediumistic forms. The Romans, however, emphasized the mechanical pattern or inductive forms of divination. Many peoples worldwide, however, as we will see, actually perform mixtures of these two forms of divination.5 Mediumistic divination has been practiced nearly everywhere, in all historical periods. In Africa it currently occurs among many peoples, including the Yaka of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Tonga and Lungu of Zambia, the Nilotic Alur of Uganda, the Tumbuka of northern Malawi, and the Nguni of South Africa (Beattie and Middleton 1969; Devisch 1991; Friedson 1996; Willis 2004). Among the Nguni, the diviners, predominantly women, serve as the conduit of psychic information sent by the ancestors. During divination, the practitioners proceed through an intuitive “tuning in” to what their ancestors and other deities communicate to them. Initially, they speak ecstatically without editing, translating, or censoring what they hear, see, or sense kinesthetically (bodily). As the divination proceeds, they ask rational questions and receive specific feedback about the situation at hand (Hammond-Tooke 2002). The Navajo of the American Southwest also conduct what are primarily nonrational or mediumistic divinatory rituals. These diviners, most of whom are women, wash their hands and forearms, sprinkle corn pollen on their inside right forearms, from their elbows all the way down to the palms of their right hands. They also sprinkle pollen along the inside surface of their thumbs and along each finger out to the tip. Now, sitting with their eyes closed, they visualize and sing to the Eastern collared lizard. This is a large, night-hunting lizard with a predominantly green body, multicolored beaded collar, and yellow head. Silently, they ask their imaginal lizards for information about hidden problems. As they slip into trance, their extended arms begin to shake involuntarily, resembling the characteristic jerky body movements of this lizard. When a diviner becomes aware that her arm has been trembling uncontrollably, she opens her eyes. What she sees is an afterimage, perhaps the sun, the moon, a star, or a sand-painting symbol. This image indicates the proper ceremony she or another practitioner should perform to heal the patient. During this later ceremony, the healer represents her afterimage in a mandala-like sandpainting she draws on the earthen floor of the hogan. Her healing ritual now becomes more inductive and less mediumistic (Schwarz 1997:260–266; Keeney 2001:65–68). This shifting from nonrational to rational discourse appears to be as common as the opposite movement from rational to nonrational discourse. The anthropologist Roy Willis narrated his experience of this latter divinatory shift, which he observed when he visited Jane Ridder-Patrick, a well-known British herbalist, astrologer, and author of A Handbook of Medical Astrology (1991). When he

toward a theory of divinatory practice


asked her to do his astrological chart, he observed that she appeared rational at first but then, about two-thirds of the way through the hour-long reading, the atmosphere changed. The relatively mild-mannered Jane became suddenly powerful and authoritative, as though someone or something was speaking urgently through her, something quasi-divine. She became a priestess, possessed of Spirit, able to make all clear. Evidently, she had moved into an altered state of consciousness in which she was “seeing” things, connecting things together, as though a master plan or pattern had suddenly become apparent. It was weird and impressive. [Willis and Curry 2004:11]. Not only diviners but clients can also shift into altered states of consciousness during divination. Among the Kootenai, a Native American people living in British Columbia, divination has long been a central aspect of their healing system and a key factor in their self-reliant, adaptive autonomy as a people. During sweatlodge ceremonies, when the lodge becomes unbearably hot and people in the lodge have difficulty breathing, they may suddenly receive spiritual-healing messages. These messages, which are triggered visually, aurally, kinesthetically or by intuition, are often called “strange,” “obscure,” and “symbolic” and require discussion so that participants can understand their content, details, and meaning (Brunton 2002).

theories of divination Most research to date has rationalized divination after the fact, explaining what it accomplishes for individuals and societies without fully revealing that divination is a form of intentional shared social action.6 This creates a situation in which what Pierre Bourdieu (1977, 1990) has called the “practical mastery” or “practical knowledge” of diviners is neglected, precluding the development of a theory of divinatory practice. When researchers decide in advance that some actions are practical only in an objective realm they define, they exclude from investigation the practical mastery diviners understand and employ. A number of investigators who were impressed by the apparent mechanical nature of the divinatory procedure and the orderliness it ascribed to the universe saw divination in an ancestral or analogical relationship with Western science. The ethnographer June Nash (1967), for example, coined the word “sociopsy,” to describe the parallel function of Tzeltal Mayan divination to biopsy in Western medicine. This appears to give diviners a space within the so-called “objective” domain. However, this is true only to the degree that a diviner’s theory or practice is described as resembling those of the investigator, or those of other members of her society.7 Divinatory procedures that actively combine mechanical procedures with sudden bursts of intuition or insight, present another arena for the investigation


anthropology of consciousness 17.2

of the practical mastery of divination. Before I begin to describe some of these systems, I need to say a few words about intuition. The root of the English word intuition comes from the Latin intuitus, meaning the act of gaining knowledge from direct perception or from contemplation. The vast body of literature on the topic of intuition converges around a set of themes that point to intuition as a form of instant interpretation, or “tuning in,” that pushes into and sometimes even overwhelms conscious knowing or awareness. The source of such intuition may be in the form of an apprehension that lies outside sensory channels and analytical thought, or it may lie in subliminal or nonconscious awareness that is embedded within the unconscious. What appears to be happening is an “opening up” to inner promptings deriving from deep psychodynamic forces. Intuition has been conceptualized and described within neurophysiological, cognitive, and spiritual, or transpersonal, frameworks. These rather different ways of approaching “intuitive knowing” have created a fertile area of research in the emerging field of consciousness studies (Dennett 1991; Laughlin, McManus and d’Aquili 1992; Cohen and Rapport 1995; Floyd and Arvidson 1997). Beginning in the mid-1970s, researchers uncovered the fact that the two hemispheres of the human brain carry out complementary functions: the left lob mediates language production and analytical thought, while the right lobe mediates the production of images and the spatiotemporal world. Some researchers used these findings to suggest that humans have two modes of consciousness: “reason,” associated with left-lobe functioning; and “intuition,” associated with right-lobe functioning. More recently, however, it was discovered that the hemispheres are not isolated from each other but connected by passageways consisting of bands of fibers: the corpus callosum, the massa intermedia and the anterior commissure. Neurons are constantly coursing between the left and right hemispheres within these fiber passageways. As a result of these and other findings, researchers have begun studying inter-hemispheric coherence and suggesting a cognitive continuum consisting of “propositional” and “compositional” modes of thought with a third integrative mode lying in between (McEen and Schmeck 1994:26–32; Laughlin 1997:19–37; Carter 1998:68–76; Rodd 2003:81–83; Tedlock 2005:88–89). Wherever a theory of divination has been proposed by diviners, we find not only inductive or propositional thought and intuitive or compositional thought, but also integrative consciousness or ways of knowing. Integrative modes of consciousness have neurobiological substrates. In South Africa, Zulu diviners have explained that there are three main methods of divination: through the spirits, with bones, and with the head. The first type, “through the spirits,” is a form of mediumistic or trance divination in which the diviner communicates with and becomes possessed by spirits who are located in the roof. “Divination with bones” is a form of inductive or pattern divination in which the practitioner places bones in medicine and carefully examines them in order to find out what questions the

toward a theory of divinatory practice


client wants to pose. Divining with the head involves an interpretive approach that is neither purely a nonrational mediumistic process, based on no tangible object, sign, or natural event, nor purely a rational inductive process of examination of tangible objects, signs, or events. Here we have a continuum of cognitive processes and behavior, ranging from the showiness of trance mediumship to the rational manipulation of physical objects interrupted by sudden breaks of deeply embodied insight (Kohler 1941; Berglund 1989; Jolles and Jolles 2000). A similar combination of divinatory methods, revealing several underlying cognitive processes, has also been described by Tiv diviners. Here diviners are called upon at a preconscious level to garner information about feelings, as well as information about events. They use divining chains, which encourage them to allow their fantasies and feelings to emerge into consciousness, a technique similar to the psychoanalytical practice of free-floating attention. Thus, Tiv divining-chain oracles cannot be classified as either strictly inductive or strictly intuitive, but rather, as operating along an integrative cognitive continuum (Bohannan 1975:142). Shona divination works in a similar manner. The diviner begins with a seemingly inductive use of a tangible object, in this case dice, which he casts once or twice until he suddenly “knows everything.” At this point, he is able to tell his clients such things as where they have come from, the name of the deceased, the type of person the deceased was, and the cause of death (Gelfand 1962:106–110). In the year 2000, a group of Dagara diviners, from northern Ghana and southern Burkina Faso, began a series of annual pilgrimages to the African burial grounds of England and the United States, that is, the burial grounds of those of direct African descent who died in England and the United States. The mission of this organization of diviners, known as the Dagara Peace Commission, is to heal the effects of centuries of racism experienced by African Americans and British citizens of African descent. During graveside divinations, they uncover hidden truths that were eliminated from the history books—painful truths about African ancestors who were horribly tortured and died during the slave trade, slavery, and colonization. They explained that it is only through the revelation of the gruesome facts of the sexual and other physical and psychological abuse and exploitation under slavery that grieving can occur. And this, they say, is a necessary prerequisite for forgiveness and healing.8 Among the Highland Maya of Central America, with whom my husband Dennis Tedlock and I have worked for many years, the act of divination combines the inductive use of material objects—tree seeds and quartz crystals—with narratives centering on the interpretation of the days within the ancient Mayan 260-day calendar. During the act of divination itself, these procedures are further combined with a mediumistic shamanic gift called koyopa, or “sheet lightning,” which races through the diviner’s body, resulting in “the speaking of the blood,” or kacha’ uki’k’el. Since the body of the diviner is understood as a microcosm


anthropology of consciousness 17.2

with its own cardinal directions, mountains, plains, lakes and winds, intuitive, embodied sensations are interpreted according to their location, direction, and speed. The mapping of the meanings onto the human body proceeds according to sets of paired terms that are in a dialectical, interlocking complementarity, rather than in a dualistic opposition. It uses a combination of divinatory methods together with a discussion between a diviner and his or her client to arrive at the proper “understanding,” or ch’obonik in K’iche’ Mayan. Each of these interlocking, embodied, iconic, and narrative systems combines inductive, intuitive, and integrative ways of knowing within a multidimensional dialogical narrative structure to properly diagnose, comfort, release, and heal (Tedlock 1982; 1992:133–171). In these and many other divinatory systems, the cognitive continuum that diviners use combines ratiocination (intellect, reason, and logic) with unconscious operational processes, including intuition. While ratiocination refers to culturally created models of cognitive processes, intuition is an unconscious cognitive process that is neuro-gnostic, or genetically determined, in its structure and function (Winkelman 2000:243–244). Whenever it occurs, divination involves complementary modes of cognition associated with primary-process and secondary-process thinking (Fernandez 1991; Kracke 1992). Diviners are specialists who use the idea of moving from a boundless to a bounded realm of existence in their practice. They excel in insight, imagination, linguistic fluency and knowledge of cultural traditions. During a divination, they construct usable knowledge from oracular messages by combining intuitive-synthetic modes of thinking with logical-analytical modes of thinking. Through a dialogical and interactive mode, they link diverse domains of representational information and symbolism with emotional or presentational experience.9 In representational symbolism, specific intentional reference is paramount, the medium of expression is straightforward, and inductive reality is dominant. In presentational symbolism, meaning emerges directly from experiential immersion in the expressive or emotional patterns of the symbolic medium that is grasped intuitively. By combining representational with presentational symbolism within a single narrative structure, diviners provide a surplus, or “superabundance,” of understanding for their clients (Werbner 1973). During the act of divination, individual creativity operates: jumbled ideas, metaphors, and symbols suggest possible interpretations, which slowly give way to an ordered sequencing and to more limited interpretations. Through dialogue between diviner and client, these interpretations are superseded by an unambiguous classification of the history and causes of the situation and what is needed to respond to or change them (Hunt 1995:41–42; Wilce 2001). These forms of symbolism are tightly intertwined. Referential language is filled with emotion in the form of intonation, gesture, and emphasis as its

toward a theory of divinatory practice


emotional aspect, while presentational language and emotional states have a sense of intentional meaning in the form of an incipient portent. Thus, each of these symbolic modes has a bit of the other in a subordinate or background position. The presentational side of our symbolic capacity conveys more about context than about referential focus. The delay in pragmatic semantic meaning, found in many systems of divination, allows the time needed for the maximum felt synthesis of presentational symbolism. The interactions that take place during divination between these rather different forms of cognition suggest that we pay attention to the findings of scientists working in the area of integral mind-body research. Mae-Wan Ho (1993, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000), a pioneer in the physics of organisms, discovered that within the cellular and extra-cellular areas of the human body, there is a protein matrix composed of liquid crystals and biopolymers that behave as electronic conductors, storing large amounts of cognitive information. It is this liquid crystal structure that gives us our characteristic flexibility, sensitivity, and responsiveness, allowing for rapid intercommunication and enabling us to function as coherent, organized wholes. She and other researchers have suggested that consciousness itself resides in these cellular and extra-cellular matrices. This form of somatic consciousness, distributed throughout the entire body, possesses all the hallmarks of consciousness: sentience, intercommunication, and memory. Thus, mind exists not just in the brain, but it is also distributed throughout the body, especially in the connective tissues, including the skin, organ linings and membranes, bones, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. Such tissues have been found to be responsible for the rapid communications that enable the body to function as a coherent whole (Lipton 2001; Pert 2004, 2005; Goldman 2005). Our entire nervous system, as well as areas of the body where nerves and capillaries are not found, is composed of a special protein matrix mostly consisting of a network of collagen immersed in water and hydrogen molecules that support rapid jump conduction of protons. Jump conduction, a form of semiconduction, is much faster than electrical conduction through nerve fibers. Collagen fibers in the connective tissues provide channels for communication arranged to correspond to the mechanical stresses to which the tissue is subjected. Their interlocking lineal alignments provide passageways for electrical intercommunication that resemble the acupuncture meridians in traditional Chinese medicine and the paths that koyopa or “sheet-lighting” follows in the K’iche’ Mayan bodily divinatory system. The implications for the study of divination are enormous. The jump conduction of streams of information within the protein matrix of our bodies appears to be connected to the sudden bursts of intuition in the midst of otherwise inductive procedures—like the casting lots—that have been so often described in the literature on divination.


anthropology of consciousness 17.2

conclusions It is only by engaging with diviners and observing their acts of divination, in the spirit of the principle of no privilege, that we can study divination as we would any other meaningful social or cultural phenomena. While divination has been thought of as either inductive (i.e., rational) or mediumistic (i.e., nonrational), many peoples worldwide have long practiced a combined or integrative form of consciousness. Integrative consciousness involves disclosure and orientation. In any one instant during a divination, little or nothing may be said. Instead, a silent language of objects and signs may be used for the presentation of felt realities, for reflection, meditation, and interpretation. If words are used, they are often cryptic, poetic, and highly allusive, sometimes even spoken in a foreign or archaic tongue. The images these words and objects conjure are paradoxical and evocative: they create and are created by a sense of discovery. By paying attention to what diviners say about and do during divination, we can develop a theory of divinatory practice. Wherever this has happened, we have uncovered integrative ways of knowing along a cognitive continuum stretching from ratiocination to intuition. The ongoing interactions between these divergent forms of cognition suggest that the various forms of consciousness manifested during divination are much more complex than we once thought. Recent findings in biophysics indicate that cognition is found not only in the brain and nervous system but also throughout the entire protein matrix of our bodies, most especially in our connective tissues. Divination is a way of knowing that depends only partly on cognitive information from our brains and nervous system. It also depends, perhaps to a larger extent, on the electronic conduction of information stored throughout the tissues of our bodies. This is why divination, as an embodied human universal, will simply not go away. Although it has been laughed at, legislated against, and banned by the church, it continues to be practiced worldwide and always will be. notes 1. This view, which was formulated by Lily Ross Taylor (1949:76–97), remains the dominant one. See Dumézil (1970:549–550). 2. My discussion of the interaction of theory and observation is informed by the work of Hanson (1958), Wortofsky (1968), Hesse (1970), Horton (1993), Kitcher (1993), and Hardcastle (1994), among others. 3. During a syzygy, three celestial bodies are positioned along a straight line: Sun, Earth and the Moon or a planet, where the latter is in conjunction or opposition. Both solar and lunar eclipses are examples of syzygy. 4. For a discussion of the integral vision today, see the on-line journal Ikosmos, founded and edited by Byron Belitsos:

toward a theory of divinatory practice


5. The Romans were so fond of the inductive form of divination that they set up a college that specialized in augury: interpreting species, cries, numbers, and the direction of the flight of birds. See Bouché-Leclercq (1879); Cox Miller (1994); Tedlock (2001). 6. For notable exceptions to this generalization, see Jules-Rosette (1978) and Shaw (1985). 7. Indigenous people themselves sometimes make an analogy between divination and the high-status diagnostic techniques of Western medicine. Thus a Tumbuka diviner in Africa told the ethnographer Steven Friedson (1996:37) that diviners X-ray their patients. 8. For more details about the divinatory work of the Dagara Peace Commission, see “African delegation brings wisdom to slave trade history,” Miami Times, October 9, 2001. 9. This representational-presentational distinction was first suggested by the philosopher Susanne Langer (1942) and later developed by a number of cognitive psychologists and anthropologists. See Geschwind (1965), Haskell (1984), Peek (1991), and Winkelman (2000).

references Beard, M. 1986 Cicero and Divination: The Formation of a Latin Discourse. The Journal of Roman Studies 76:35. Beattie, J. and J. Middleton 1969 Spirit Mediumship and Society in Africa. London: Routledge. Berglund, A-I. 1989 Zulu Thought: Patterns and Symbolism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Bohannan, P. 1975 Tiv Divination. In Studies in Social Anthropology, J. H. M. Beattie and R. G. Lienhardt, eds. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Bouché-Leclercq, A. 1879 Histoire de la Divination Dans l’Antiquité. Paris. Reprint Culture Civilisation: Bruxelles. Bourdieu, P. 1977 Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1990 The Logic of Practice. Cambridge: Polity Press. Brunton, B. 2002 Kootenai Divination. Shaman 10:21–32. Carter, R. 1998 Mapping the Mind. Berkeley: University of California Press. Cohen, A. and N. Rapport 1995 Questions of Consciousness. London: Routledge. Cox Miller, P. 1994 Dreams in Late Antiquity: Studies in the Imagination of a Culture. Princeton: Princeton University Press.


anthropology of consciousness 17.2

Dennett, D. 1991 Consciousness Explained. New York: Little, Brown. Devisch, R. 1991 Mediumistic Divination Among the Northern Yaka of Zaire: Ways of Knowing. In African Divinatory Systems: Ways of Knowing, P. M. Peek, ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Dumézil, G. 1980 Archaic Roman Religion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Fernandez, J. 1991 Afterword. In African Divination Systems: Ways of Knowing, P. M. Peek, ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Floyd, R. D. and P. S. Arvidson 1997 Intuition: The Inside Story. New York: Routledge. Friedson, S. 1996 Dancing Prophets: Musical Experience in Tumbuka Healing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Gelfand, M. 1962 Shona Religion with Special Reference to the Makorekore. Cape Town: Juta Press. Geschwind, N. 1965 Disconnection Syndromes in Animals and Man. Brain 88:237–294, 585–644. Goldberg, L. 2005 The Possible Mediating Role of Quantum Mechanical Phenomena in MindBody Interactions. Bridges 16:15–20. Goldman, C. 2005 Molecules of Emotion. New Dimensions. Electronic document,, accessed May 8, 2004. Hammond-Tooke, W. D. 2002 The Uniqueness of Nguni Mediumistic Divination in Southern Africa. Africa 72. Hanson, N. R. 1958 Patterns of Discovery: An Inquiry into the Conceptual Foundations of Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hardcastle, V. G. 1994 The Image of Observables. British Journal of Philosophy of Science 45:585–597. Haskell, R. 1984 Empirical Structures of Mind: Cognition, Linguistics, and Transformation. Journal of Mind and Behavior 5:29–48. Hawking, S. 1992 Chronology Protection Conjecture. Physical Review D 46:603–607. Hesse, M. 1970 Is There an Independent Observation-Language? In The Nature of Scientific Theories, R. Colodyny, ed. Pp. 35–77. Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh University Press. 1980 Revolutions and Reconstructions in the Philosophy of Science. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

toward a theory of divinatory practice


Ho, M-W. 1993 The Rainbow and the Worm: The Physics of Organisms. Singapore: World Scientific. 1996 Bioenergetics and Biocommunication. In Computation in Cellular and Molecular Biological Systems. R. Cuthbertson, M. Holcombe and R. Paton, eds. Pp. 251–264. Singapore: World Scientific. 1998 Quantum Coherence and Conscious Experience. Kybernetes 26:265–276. 1999 Coherent Energy, Liquid Crystallinity and Acupuncture. Talk presented to the British Acupuncture Society, October 2, 1999. Electronic document, http://www.i-sis., accessed January 10, 2005. 2000 The Organic Revolution in Science and Implications for Science and Spirituality. Talk given at “Future Vision.” In The State of the World Forum, September 4, New York. Electronic document, Institute of Science and Society, http://www., accessed January 15, 2003. Horton, R. 1993 Patterns of Thought in Africa and the West: Essays on Magic, Religion and Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hunt, H. 1995 On the Nature of Consciousness: Cognitive, Phenomenological, and Transpersonal Perspectives. New Haven: Yale University Press. Jager, B. 1974 Theorizing, Journeying, Dwelling. Review of Existential Psychology and Psychiatry 13:213–235. 1983 Theorizing and the Elaboration of Place: Inquiry into Galileo and Freud. Duquesne Studies in Phenomenological Psychology 4:153–180. 1997 Concerning the Festive and the Mundane. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology 28:197–234. 2003 Rilke’s ‘Archaic Torso of Apollo’. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology 34:38. Jolles, F. and S. Jolles. 2000 Zulu Ritual Immunization in Perspective. Africa 70. Jules-Rosette, B. 1978 The Veil of Objectivity: Prophecy, Divination, and Social Inquiry. American Anthropologist 80(3):549–570. Keeney, B. 2001 Walking Thunder: Diné Medicine Woman. Philadelphia: Ringing Rocks Press. Kitcher, P. 1993 The Advancement of Science: Science without Legend, Objectivity Without Illusions. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Kohler, M. 1941 The Izangoma Diviners. Pretoria: Government Printer. Kracke, W. 1992 Myths in Dreams, Thought in Images: An Amazonian Contribution to the Psychoanalytic Theory of Primary Process. In Dreaming: Anthological and Psychological Interpretations, Barbara Tedlock, ed. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press.


anthropology of consciousness 17.2

Langer, S. 1942 Philosophy in a New Key. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Laughlin, C. 1997 The Nature of Intuition: A Neuropsychological Approach. In Intuition: The Inside Story. Floyd, R. D. and Arvidson, P. S., eds. New York: Routledge. Laughlin, C., J. McManus and E. d’Aquili 1992 Brain, Symbol and Experience: Towards a Neurophenomenology of Human Consciousness. New York: Columbia University Press. Lipton, B. 2001 Insight into Cellular Consciousness. Bridges 12: 2. McEen, B. and H. Schmeck 1994 The Hostage Brain. New York: Rockefeller University Press. Morales, E. 1995 The Guinea Pig: Healing, Food, and Ritual in the Andes. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. Nadeau, R. and M. Kafatos 1999 Over Any Distance in ‘No Time’: Bell’s Theorem and the Aspect and Gisin Experiments. In The Non-local Universe. Pp. 65–82. New York: Oxford University Press. Nash, J. 1967 The Logic of Behavior: Curing in a Maya Indian Town. Human Organization 26:132–140. Peek, P. 1991 African Divination Systems: Ways of Knowing. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Pert, C. 2004 Your Body is Your Subconscious Mind. Boulder, CO: Sounds True. 2005 Psychosomatic Wellness: Healing Your Bodymind. Boulder, CO: Sounds True. Ridder-Patrick, J. 1991 A Handbook of Medical Astrology. London: Arkana. Rochberg, F. 1999 Empiricism in Babylonian Omen Texts and the Classification of Mesopotamian Divination as Science. Journal of the American Oriental Society 119(4):559–569. 2004 The Heavenly Writing: Divination, Horoscopy, and Astronomy in Mesopotamian Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rodd, R. 2003 Märipa: To Know Everything—The Experience of Power as Knowledge Derived from the Integrative Mode of Consciousness. Anthropology of Consciousness 14(2):60–88. Schwarz, T. M. 1997 Molded in the Image of Changing Woman: Navajo Views on the Human Body and Personhood. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. Shaw, R. 1985 Gender and the Structuring of Reality in Temne Divination: An Interactive Study. Africa 553:286–303.

toward a theory of divinatory practice


Smith, R. 1991 Fortune-Tellers and Philosophers: Divination in Traditional Chinese Society. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Taylor, L. R. 1949 Party Politics in the Age of Caesar. Berkeley: University of California Press. Tedlock, Barbara 1982 Sound Texture and Metaphor in Quiché Maya Ritual Language. Current Anthropology 23 (3):269–272. 1992 Time and the Highland Maya. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. 2001 Divination as a Way of Knowing: Embodiment, Visualization, Narrative, and Interpretation. Folklore 112:189–197. 2005 The Woman in the Shaman’s Body: Reclaiming the Feminine in Religion and Medicine. New York: Random House. Visser, M. 1989 Traversable Wormholes: Some Simple Examples. Physical Review D 39:3182–3185. Werbner, R. P. 1973 The Superabundance of Understanding: Kalanga Rhetoric and Domestic Divination. American Anthropologist 75:1414–1440. Wilce, J. M. 2001 Divining Troubles, or Divining Troubles? Emergent and Conflictual Dimensions of Bangladeshi Divination. Anthropological Quarterly 74(4):190–200. Willis, R. 2004 Some Spirits Heal, Others Only Dance: A Journey into Human Selfhood in an African Village. Oxford: Berg. Willis, R. and Curry, P. 2004 Astrology, Science and Culture: Pulling Down the Moon. Oxford: Berg. Winkelman, M. 2000 Shamanism: A Neural Ecology of Consciousness and Healing. Westport, CT: Bergin and Garvey. 2005 Divination. In Shamanism: An Encyclopedia of World Beliefs, Practices, and Culture. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC CLIO 1:78–82. Winkelman, M., and P. M. Peek 2004 Divination and Healing: Potent Vision. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. Wortofsky, M. 1968 Conceptual Foundations of Scientific Thought: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science. London: Macmillan.

View more...


Copyright ©2017 KUPDF Inc.