Re: K. Gudnadottir & spirit styles

Somniferum (2453mauri@UMBSKY.CC.UMB.EDU)
Mon, 15 Apr 1996 17:09:44 EDT

>>In a post about "truth" Marcus Aurin writes:

>Why do so many people not of northern European descent seem to have no
>problem believing in, say, Legba, penicillin, Jesus Christ *and*

Here in Iceland (a North European country) a belief in both Christ and
spiritualism has never been problematic. The eclecticism in New Age
thinking (very much a western phenomena) seems on the surface at least to
be similar to this.
A spiritist is not a spiritualist. I was referring to the
subculture/religion/medical-systems referred to as "spiritism," such as
condomble (Brazil), vodun/vaudou/voodoo (Haiti), shango (Trinidad) and
santeria (Cuba, Puerto Rico). Alan Harwood has described santeria: "...the
incorporation of African spirits into the spirit hierarchy [of
santeria] based on a view of history in which...`orichas' [African
spirits] are said to have become incarnate in the bodies of Whites. Thus
Jesus is the incarnation of Olofi, the highest `oricha,' while the
Christian saints and some heroes are lower-order orichas....[t]he hierarchy
in Santeria is suffused with African spirits. Among the 15 or so [Catholic]
saints who figure prominently in Santeria, each has his or her
corresponding African manifestation....In addition, [dead] Africans appear
as guides and protectors in the spiritual ranks below the level of saints
and are called `congos' or `mandingas,' depending on the cadre from which
COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCE, Alan Harwood, Cornell University Press,
1977, pp. 45-6.) Harwood describes, in this book, how followers of santeria
in New York have an elaborate etiology of sickness based on a santeria,
spiritist cosmology (e.g. Brujeria [sorcery], Mala influencia [evil
influence] etc.) involving spirit possession of various sorts and
treatments involving other types of beneficial possession and spirit
mediums, which does not exclude western bio-medical treatments (like
penicillin) but often parallels and augments them.

But I fully agree with your point:

>>the danger, or maybe rather the implication, inherent in the
generalization: It may lead us to assume that all "westerners" at all times
are locked up in this kind of thinking, that the heritage from the Greeks
and later from Comte et al (philosophy and science/empiricism combined)
rules western thought in all aspects. If we agree, as most anthropologists
do, that myths are a part of us all (our lives, that is), then it is
obvious that the classical thinking process is only a part of our thought.
As an aside, I have found the striving for empirical and rational thought
(with "truth" as aim) to be mostly a striving of academics.
My point was that these academic forensics about believing in what is or is
not really true are purely self referential and have little relation to
what happens on the ground. Real people seldom have difficulty believing in
what they believe.

--Marcus Aurin