Now, don’t think I’m gonna get all New Agey on you. Rather, I’m getting old-timey with a close look at the shamanistic culture that existed in the Pacific Northwest during the millennia since the last Ice Age, and still exists today.
The image is a portrait of a Hamatsa Cannibal Shaman photographed by the legendary cameraman Edward S. Curtis at the beginning of the last century on Vancouver Island. He’s taking part in a ceremony whose purpose was to initiate young folks into the rituals of the Cannibal Bird Society. The legendary ethnographer, Franz Boas described the cult as a central part of the old Kwakiutl culture.
Now, there is some doubt as to whether these guys ate human flesh or not, but the legendary cannibal birds were said to consume it whenever they could get it.
I’ll be discussing this, and other interesting shamanistic tidbits from Northwest Native American culture at the Paranormal Fair, next Sunday, April 24, at the Norwescon science fiction convention in SeaTac, Washington. You might consider dropping by my display table to chat about things shamanistic, if it isn’t too far to travel. If you can’t travel that far, consider doing what the ancient shamans of Seattle’s Duwamish Tribe did. They constructed a “Spirit Canoe” with sacred cedar planks and performed a seance-like ritual to travel to the land of dead spirits and retrieve lost souls, which they then brought back to their rightful owners, their sick patients.
I hope to see you, or at least your disembodied emanation, there.