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  #1  
Old August 17th, 2005, 3:58 am
rust_loup  Male.gif rust_loup is offline
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Shamanism and the HBP connection.

This is a topic I have bounced around in several threads and have decided to make a thread soley devoted to its discussion. The topic being shamanic occurances in HBP and their meaning if any. Before starting, i just want to say that shamanism is a very open topic with some major and some minor differences from culture to culture. The purose of this thread is to look at them without a direct bearing on culture. This "cultural" open forum of sorts will give us a chance to look at the shamanic take from many different perspectives. Noone will really be right and noone will really be wrong, enjoy.


Harry as the Shaman:
In more traditional forms of shamanism the shaman does not choose his path. It is either hereditary or the spirits choose the shaman through marking him in some way. This marking was usually an animal attack or an illness which brought the shaman to deaths door. The thought is that by tasting death and returning back, the shaman would return with knowledge and powers from the spirit world. It was a blessing for the spirits to bring a person to their very doors to give them this power.

Once on the path, the shaman must work with these powers they are given in this world and the spirit world. Their sacred duty is to venture back and forth as a messenger to both sides. For this men go to them for advice, for this the spirits give them wisdom and come to their aid. The understanding of life and death and the importance of both predator and prey is integral to being a shaman.

Harry seems to fit this role of a shaman by having been marked by Voldemort. A spell for which all intents and purposes would have killed him merely marked him and left him with gifts and powers and a means of attuning into the source from which he gained those powers.

The Axis Mundi:
The world tree, or world axis. It is a path to traverse from the earth into the spirtual realms.

Far from being solely related to shamanism, the axis mundi is a nearly universal concept. It is important in bearing here as shamanistic cultures tend to issue a specific landmark to being the axis mundi.

This is what hit me when first encountering the veil in the Department of Mysteries. Several key things tie to being such. Firstly it is obviously a pathway between this realm and the spirit realm. Second, and I personally think more an indicator, is the fact that it is elevated up from the floor of the room. In the shamanic world where the axis mundi is attributed to a landmark, that landmark is most often a mountain or hill. An aread raised up and set apart from that surrounding it.

The job of the shaman is to traverse the axis mundi in order to bring back knowledge, items, and occasionally pieces of a broken spirit which will be addressed later.

This may perhaps be indicitive of the struggles Harry is already coping with. Or it may serve as an indicator that before all is said and done, to fulfiill his duty as shaman, Harry will have to enter the veil. Not only enter the veil but return from the veil with something. Be it a knowlede, an item, or a piece of spirit.

Totem Sprits:

A person can have a single totem or several watching over and protecting them. Over time a persons totem may change as the person themselves change. It is a given that we change. We are not now, for instance, who we were in our childhood. We have hopefully matured and learned from life. The totems are representitive of this and can change if truly we need the change.

Three things immediatly spring to mind when contemplating the characters totems. Those are their patronus forms, animagus forms, and familiars.

Each is an animal who seems to draw upon a certain aspect of the character and thereby make it stronger. They each fulfill a different aspect of the totem. The patronus serves the protector aspect of the totem for obvious reasons. The animagus form serves as the power medicine of the totem. It imbues them with its essence and they change shape gaining its strength for whatever endeavors they undertake. The familiar form fills the companion, confidant, and advisor roles. Its job is to commend us when we do a good job and give us a good sharp kick when we do not. It is the most visible aspect of the totem. The one we can closest relate to. The others may be elusive and oft hard to comprehend but the familiar aspect(pun intended) is something we can all relate to. A friend giving us advice we desperatly need.

The following is a breakdown of totems and their meanings for four of our characters. Hopefully it will shed some insight into the character itself.

Harry:
I will begin with Hedwig. Owls, typically are seen as harbingers of death. Depending upon the group's outlook this is a good or a bad thing. Death is an inevitable fact of life. This is the core of owl's medicine. Harry must use this aspect of the medicine to defeat Voldemort who's goal is to escape this. Yet owl teachs that he can try and keep trying but eventually the snake will be a night supper for owl and carried to the land of the dead. Owls are deliverers of spirits to the spirit world and therefore serve a similar job to that of the shaman. Hedwig most definitly fills his role as a reminder to Harry of when he is behaving poorly. Likewise Hedwig rewards him when he is good.

Next let us look at Harry's stag patronus which one could say he inherited from his father. The stag brings with it medicine teaching great power. But it is a noble power used as a last resort or in defending the thing one loves. This is medicine is Harry's link with his parents and anyone he holds dear. As Ginny herself accused him of being noble, that springs forth from the medicine of stag. Stag also teaches sensuousness and reproductive medicine strengthening both his link to Ginny whom he loves and his parents who's love brought about him.

Dumbledore:
Both Dumbledore's familiar and patronus are phoenix which in itself sheds light upon his charactter as a whole. Phoenix teaches an innocent and pure death/rebirth cycle. It also embodies enlightenment as it regains its former self and strives ever forward as a healer, protector, and bearer of burdens. Its medicine of rebirth sheds light on Dumbledore's view of the next great adventure and that there are in fact worse things than death. Its trust and loyalty are also embodied to and extreme degree by Dumbledore.

His funeral scene where he bursts into flames and the phoenix flies out hints of shamanic funeral rites. Intheres a person's body is burned. This frees their spirit to go onward to the spirit realm. It also represets a release for the persons totem so that they may go on to protect others. This is often someone close to the person such as a close friend or family member. Hence, Harry's inheritance as a protector, of his father's totem.

Hermione:
Crookshanks as Hermione's confidant totem does his job excellently. He knew when to trust Sirius and when to not trust Scabbers. His insight lead him to warn them in his own subtle way all year. Instead of looking for his widom they(aside from Hermione) simply thought him a cat being a cat. Their view however changes once they realise his wisdom and how it could have saved them. Scabbers attempts on Wormtail show the crux of cat medicine. That is mysterious understanding into events which transpired. And as a guardian of the death realm. In attempting to take out Wormtail Crookshanks was employing its spiritual duty to make sure that the dead do indeed remain dead. And for that duty not having been carried out, Voldemort has arisen meaning more dead are testing the boundries which should not be tested.

As a protector her otter patronus symbolises the protection both Harry and Ron give her. The otter teaches us playful medicine and how to enjoy life. It is her connection to her friends and likely came into her life when they first bonded as friend. When Harry and ROn saved her from the troll.

Voldemort:
This one is the fun one. We do not know what his patronus or animagus are but his displaying the outward snaelike appearance gives us a good hint. This is how snake medicine works through him. As well as in his consort and horcrux bearer Nagini. Snake medicine is a medicine of intimidation power and wisdom. WHile not inherently evil most followers of snake medicine use their power to coerce others into doing their bidding. This coercion is usually in the guys of threats and likewise ill meant plans. Snake also teaches immortality medicine. It's shedding of skin represents eternal life. This puts it in opposition to the phoenix as the phoenix represents a continuance through death. This antithesis can bee seen in Fawkes vs. the basalisk as well in the ways that Dumbledore and Voldemort use their totem's medicine against one another. Dumbledore saying death is not so bad there are far worse, and Voldemort's refusal of death and seeing nothing worse.

The Severed Soul:
When a person has a singularly traumatic event in their life their spirit breaks and loses a peace. Without this they are never whole and succomb to illness or madness. It is a shamans duty to enter the spirit realm and retireve these peace. The bring them back and invoke totem medicine to bind the spirit back together making the person whole. This aspect of the shaman can be seen in Harry's quest to destroy the horcruxes. Voldemort is using bad medicine to intentionally seperate these peaces and destroy natural order. Harry as a shaman must retrieve the peaces and rectify the natural order of life. That we live then we die. Thus far allt he horcruxes we have seen(including the fake one) have been located in typical entrances to shamanic death realms. Subterrainian cavelike places and paths through holes in trees or vegetation are pathways into the spirit realm. A form of progressing the axis mundi. Thus far we have seen the diary in the chamber of secrets through which they must enter a downward hole into a cavelike area. We have seen the ring through which Dumbledore had to pass through the vegetation cluttered archway of the Gaunt house to acces. And last we have seen the locket hidden in a cave accessible through water. Water is a symbol of the spiritual lower realms, the realms inhabited by the dead. When they progress through the water they enter death. And what do they find in the spirit realm of the dead? A(supposed) piece of a broken soul and a whole host of the dead.


This has been my(hopfully) coherrent breakdown of shamanism found in the Half Blood Prince. Please discuss analyse break apart and/or add to as you will. I hope some find it helpful or at least worthy of discussion.


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  #2  
Old August 17th, 2005, 4:30 am
pensie  Undisclosed.gif pensie is offline
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WOW!! You've really researched this topic. I feel so dumb because I never would have looked at this series of books from this point of view on my own. I think your ideas are certainly one way to look at the story as a whole, but it's definitely going to be missing some crucial elements until the 7th book is published. I'm no authority, but I'm not sure this is the right place for your post - I think it would make a great editorial (heck, it practically already is!). If it fits in this HBP discussion room, though, I can't wait to see the responses. I find this stuff fascinating to read about (the topic you've written here)! Good Luck!

~pensie


  #3  
Old August 17th, 2005, 4:34 am
green_tea  Female.gif green_tea is offline
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Wow~ You must've spent a lot of time developing your theory. It is a very well thought out theory. I really liked how you described Harry as the connector between the 2 sides. Also how you made the connections between the different key locations in the book as the Axis Mundi.

Quote:
While not inherently evil most followers of snake medicine use their power to coerce others into doing their bidding.
It'll be very interesting to see if Voldermort actually needs to use his patronus when the dementors are around him.

Regarding Harry's patronus, I've always felt the stag is going to change in the next book. We've seen how Tonks' patronus chan changed, and there's no point in JKR showing us that without hinting us that someone else's patronus might change too in the next book.


  #4  
Old August 17th, 2005, 7:27 am
Emerald63  Female.gif Emerald63 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by green_tea
Regarding Harry's patronus, I've always felt the stag is going to change in the next book. We've seen how Tonks' patronus chan changed, and there's no point in JKR showing us that without hinting us that someone else's patronus might change too in the next book.
First off, just a very cool thread topic. I'll be watching to see if it grows - I hope so - and whether it's moved over to the HBP Common Room.

As for Harry's patronus changing, yeah... I got the feeling that might happen too. I'm thinking the shock of Dumbledore's death might do it, maybe even changing Harry's patronus to a Phoenix. I wonder what one's patronus changes to if the trauma one experiences doesn't involve another person? Like say, maybe your car flips on a slick road and you're badly hurt but no one else is involved. Hmmm... how might that affect the new patronus form?

rust_loup, may I ask if your knowledge of shamanism comes from a Native American background? There was just something about how you spoke of it that made me wonder. I'm not very familiar (um, no pun this time) with NA shamanism, but I have a couple of friends who've had other cultural models come down through their families, and which they still practice. And that you tied it in to HP... Waaay Cool!!!

Namaste,
Emerald


  #5  
Old August 17th, 2005, 2:51 pm
rust_loup  Male.gif rust_loup is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emerald63
rust_loup, may I ask if your knowledge of shamanism comes from a Native American background? There was just something about how you spoke of it that made me wonder. I'm not very familiar (um, no pun this time) with NA shamanism, but I have a couple of friends who've had other cultural models come down through their families, and which they still practice. And that you tied it in to HP... Waaay Cool!!!

Namaste,
Emerald
It comes from several sources actually. First and foremost it began with my grandfather who was half Cherokee and raised Cherokee. When I was younger, we'd hang out and he would tell me stories about animals and the lessons they teach us. He would also teach me various arts and crafts and a bit of what one would call folk magic, though really it amounted to homeopathic healing. He moved on when I was 11 but it most definite;y helped shape me. Over tiem I had different teachers from different backgrounds with different ideals. I am at a point now where I learn through practice and my teachers go from being fellow men to spirits who's medicines I practice.

To veer back onto topic I'd like to add something about the view of death in shamanic societies. As I have said death is seen as an inevitable thing but it is a chnage leading to a new adventure. Likewise all change is seen as a little death. The more major of a persons changes can be seen as a literal death of the person. When such a big death happens, the person often chooses a new name for themself so as to mark them as new people, being so far changed from who they were. This is embodied by Tom Riddles big death as a mortal person who could do so much better. And the birth of Lord Voldemort, who shall conquer death as no half breed ever could despite the grand lineage.


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"Omnes angeli, boni et mali, ex virtute naturali habent potestatem transmutandi corpora nostra"

"What if it's a race with the fate of the world hanging in the balance? Will men turn into animals before animals turn into men?" - the man in black, Cry of the Leopard
  #6  
Old August 17th, 2005, 8:44 pm
rust_loup  Male.gif rust_loup is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pensie
WOW!! You've really researched this topic. I feel so dumb because I never would have looked at this series of books from this point of view on my own. I think your ideas are certainly one way to look at the story as a whole, but it's definitely going to be missing some crucial elements until the 7th book is published. I'm no authority, but I'm not sure this is the right place for your post - I think it would make a great editorial (heck, it practically already is!). If it fits in this HBP discussion room, though, I can't wait to see the responses. I find this stuff fascinating to read about (the topic you've written here)! Good Luck!

~pensie

I chose the HBP discussion room sense I make mention of things such as horcruxes in it. Hopefully I was right in this line of thought? Would a prefect or a mod please let me know? Appologies if I am mistaken.


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Moony's Tea Brigade: When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Make Tea

"Omnes angeli, boni et mali, ex virtute naturali habent potestatem transmutandi corpora nostra"

"What if it's a race with the fate of the world hanging in the balance? Will men turn into animals before animals turn into men?" - the man in black, Cry of the Leopard
  #7  
Old August 18th, 2005, 2:54 am
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rust_loup
Far from being solely related to shamanism, the axis mundi is a nearly universal concept. It is important in bearing here as shamanistic cultures tend to issue a specific landmark to being the axis mundi.
Things I've read, and I would not be able to find or quote any of them just now, suggest the axis mundi is wherever the person (shaman) happens to be. So I would like hearing more about the axes that are specifically located in different cultures. While I've understood the arch and veil being a gateway to the spirit realm, I didn't equate it with the polar axis simply because there didn't seem to be any vertical dimension between the worlds, rather it was horizontal. However your image of it being at a height is a good point. Other images of the world axis in my opinion would be the whomping willow with its gyrating limbs representing the heavens and the tunnel beneath being the underworld; Hagrid's umbrella, the shaft being the axis and the cloth opened being the heavens (although he has never opened the umbrealla, and I'm hoping that happens in book 7); and Mad Eye Moody with his peg leg as the axis and his crazy eye the North Star or its swivelling being the rotating sky. This image in particular echoes the caduceus with its staff, the axis, and winged golden sphere on top. The Christmas tree which regularly is mentioned in 'Harry Potter' is the world axis with the star on top being the polar star.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rust_loup
Voldemort:
This one is the fun one. We do not know what his patronus or animagus are but his displaying the outward snaelike appearance gives us a good hint. This is how snake medicine works through him.
A bee in my bonnet for at least a year is the fact that Voldemort has undergone the shaman's process of death, dismemberment and rebirth -in a cauldron no less. Some of his experience of faux death shall we call it seems like what I've read of Tibetan lamas who upon death are able to retain the sense of self and guide their souls through the spirit world. The images of Voldemort undergoing the process of becoming a shaman seem blatant, deliberate and undeniable to me and I have not been able to reconcile them with Harry, who may have been initiated as a shaman but not in such an obvious way.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rust_loup
The Severed Soul:
When a person has a singularly traumatic event in their life their spirit breaks and loses a peace. Without this they are never whole and succomb to illness or madness. It is a shamans duty to enter the spirit realm and retireve these peace. The bring them back and invoke totem medicine to bind the spirit back together making the person whole. This aspect of the shaman can be seen in Harry's quest to destroy the horcruxes. Voldemort is using bad medicine to intentionally seperate these peaces and destroy natural order. Harry as a shaman must retrieve the peaces and rectify the natural order of life.
This whole business is great. I don't think it explains all the mechanisms Ms Rowling has in mind but it's a good framework to speculate on.


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Old August 18th, 2005, 3:26 am
Emerald63  Female.gif Emerald63 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rust_loup
It comes from several sources actually. First and foremost it began with my grandfather who was half Cherokee and raised Cherokee. When I was younger, we'd hang out and he would tell me stories about animals and the lessons they teach us. He would also teach me various arts and crafts and a bit of what one would call folk magic, though really it amounted to homeopathic healing. He moved on when I was 11 but it most definite;y helped shape me. Over tiem I had different teachers from different backgrounds with different ideals. I am at a point now where I learn through practice and my teachers go from being fellow men to spirits who's medicines I practice.
A very close friend of mine is also 1/8th Cherokee and has incorporated a great deal of that into his daily secular life and his daily spiritual life. (Although for him, as well as myself, that's really two sides of the same coin.) The other friend I was thinking of specifically is half Danish. Her father knew many, many folk ways and ways of communicating with Spirit in many of its forms. She is a shaman of the same variety, having learned it from him. But she also teaches to those who are not hereditary shamans. I've been having e-mail difficulties but when I get that fixed I'll try to remember to let her know about this discussion. I'm pretty sure she's read the HP series and I'll be really interested to see how she feels about this tie in with her beliefs. Well... back to the topic at hand.


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Old August 18th, 2005, 3:34 am
TheRealDJ  Male.gif TheRealDJ is offline
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I'm not sure if there's any direct relation between Harry being a shaman, but congrats on how much research you gave


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Old August 18th, 2005, 3:58 am
rust_loup  Male.gif rust_loup is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barmy codger
Things I've read, and I would not be able to find or quote any of them just now, suggest the axis mundi is wherever the person (shaman) happens to be. So I would like hearing more about the axes that are specifically located in different cultures. While I've understood the arch and veil being a gateway to the spirit realm, I didn't equate it with the polar axis simply because there didn't seem to be any vertical dimension between the worlds, rather it was horizontal. However your image of it being at a height is a good point. Other images of the world axis in my opinion would be the whomping willow with its gyrating limbs representing the heavens and the tunnel beneath being the underworld; Hagrid's umbrella, the shaft being the axis and the cloth opened being the heavens (although he has never opened the umbrealla, and I'm hoping that happens in book 7); and Mad Eye Moody with his peg leg as the axis and his crazy eye the North Star or its swivelling being the rotating sky. This image in particular echoes the caduceus with its staff, the axis, and winged golden sphere on top. The Christmas tree which regularly is mentioned in 'Harry Potter' is the world axis with the star on top being the polar star.
The cadceus could also hold some symbolic ties with the wand in general linking all wizards with the axis mundi relating to the a common bond of shamanism between them. I like that thought, as it would make the wand itself a highly potent fetish with the added strength of the fetish core, but it could also represent two wizards in particular. The wand could be the two wands of Harry and Voldemort who share the same feather, the entwined snakes would of course symbolise Dumbledore's cryptic note about "in essence divded" in reference to Harry and the Dark Lord. With the orb on top of course being the prophecy uniting them. This would play into a theme of two opposed shamans each with strong medicine.

Though the various noticings hint at wizard kind in general having a knack for animal medicine, in particular due to their wands and the wand cores.

The Whomping Willow is an excellent catch on many levels and I am let down with myself for not having noticed it sooner. It is worth note that on their first(only) trip through it, thus entering the spirit world, they come back with Wormtail, essentially entering the realm of the dead and returning with the dead(or assumed dead). In the same book Harry learns to conjure his patronus.' PoA seems to be his first trip as initiate into the world of the shaman. The first part of the series ahndles his apprenticeship in steaps with the later half going through his intiation and thus in the 7th book being the shaman.

Book one: Harry is introduced to the world of the Shaman and after a year of preparation and studying the mysteries, chances a trip into the underworld to retrieve a power item. In the process he faces the one whom eventually he must defeat and keep locked in the spirit realm.

Book two:Harry continues his apprenticeship. It culminates into his again descending into the spirit world and facing the dark shaman again. This time the shaman uses his power animals against Harry forcing Harry to seek out the aid of a totem which gives hi knowledge, teaches him the art of healing, and gives him the weapons he needs when decending through to the land of the dead. He also, though unwittingly, begins to understand the meaning of the broken soul and how to deal with it.

Book three:Harry's final year of apprenticeship, endig with his being tested on just how much he knows. This is symbolically related to the tasks Lupin sets in his end of the year exams, that end with themgoing into the trunk. Harry's tasks are in working with and understanding totem spirits and their medicine. This is seen in the wisdom of Crookshanks and the use of the Patronus. Anoher task is his decent into the underworld and working medicine there to release the dead and those imprisoned by them. THis is seen in his clearing of Sirus and outting of Wormtail.

Book four:Harry begins his initition through a series of trials ending in the hardest of trials. He understands he and Voldemort are using the same medicine in opposite ways. And Voldemort uses his snake medicine to cheat natural order.

Book five:The second year of Harry's initation ends with another confrontation with Voldemort and he also learns the lessons of death. He sees a very close person to him die and begins to stumble in his path and explodes in rage.

Book six:The ending of his initiation bvegins with him understanding the cycle of predator and prey. That we are all fated to die and that lingering on the dead only causes hurt. This is the biggest step and prepares him for his final and hardest lesson. The reuniting of the broken soul. Again with the death of his mentor it is passed to him to be the shaman and that becomes his place. In book seven he will continue the shamanic path of descending into the spirit realm to reunite the broken soul and put the natural order back on the path it belongs. He has all the tools he needs, now he only need see with his own eyes and listen to the wisdom of his power animals.

Quote:
A bee in my bonnet for at least a year is the fact that Voldemort has undergone the shaman's process of death, dismemberment and rebirth -in a cauldron no less. Some of his experience of faux death shall we call it seems like what I've read of Tibetan lamas who upon death are able to retain the sense of self and guide their souls through the spirit world. The images of Voldemort undergoing the process of becoming a shaman seem blatant, deliberate and undeniable to me and I have not been able to reconcile them with Harry, who may have been initiated as a shaman but not in such an obvious way.
To reference Tibetan Buddhism, Voldemort is a preta(hungry ghost) and his craving is that of immortality. The drastic nature of his initian is indicitive of the ferver which he craves that power. In the process he is sidestepping natural orer. Nature has a way of fixing itself and it is a shaman's duty to do such. This pits him against Harry and the wizarding world in general. As we have seen, he continuously sets into motion the events leading to his downfall. This is how it often goes when one pursues the long road for the wrong reasons. It seems he and Harry are setting the groundwork for the paths the shaman can take and the outcomes of those paths. Choose a dark pathand attempt to shortcut a thing that we will, for good reason never,master in our lives. And you are asking to fail.



You made some really good observances methinks. I am wondering what your thoughts are on compairing caduceus with the wand/bone symbol of the healers. Both could be symbols of fetishes and both are powerful indicators of the axis mundi.


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"Omnes angeli, boni et mali, ex virtute naturali habent potestatem transmutandi corpora nostra"

"What if it's a race with the fate of the world hanging in the balance? Will men turn into animals before animals turn into men?" - the man in black, Cry of the Leopard
  #11  
Old August 18th, 2005, 4:03 am
Emerald63  Female.gif Emerald63 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barmy codger
Things I've read, and I would not be able to find or quote any of them just now, suggest the axis mundi is wherever the person (shaman) happens to be. So I would like hearing more about the axes that are specifically located in different cultures. While I've understood the arch and veil being a gateway to the spirit realm, I didn't equate it with the polar axis simply because there didn't seem to be any vertical dimension between the worlds, rather it was horizontal. However your image of it being at a height is a good point.
Hmmm... I'm not that versed in axes, regardless of cultural origin, except for a bit about the World Tree (Yggdrasil) in Norse mythology. Is that bit about a vertical connection meant literally in most cases? A vertical, physical element? I guess I thought it was more conceptual, as in the Gods being "above" our plane and the dead being "below" our plane as ways of explaining them being seperate from our plane.


Quote:
Originally Posted by barmy codger
Other images of the world axis in my opinion would be the whomping willow with its gyrating limbs representing the heavens and the tunnel beneath being the underworld... and Mad Eye Moody with his peg leg as the axis and his crazy eye the North Star or its swivelling being the rotating sky.
I happened to start seeing numerous tie-ins between the Potterverse and Norse mythology a while back. I hadn't known that much about the Norse pantheon until I saw one thing that reminded me of what little I did know (the goblin name "Ragnok" was so similar to Ragnarok). Once I did a bit more reading on it I kinda put the Whomping Willow together with Yggdrasil, even though it's neither a yew nor an... oak(?). Someone also mentioned on one of the mythology threads that Mad Eye would be the perfect reflection of Odin, what with the missing eye and his arcane knowledge. Too bad he wasn't the central male authority figure.

rust_loup, can you tell us if Mad Eye also has shamanic characteristics? He's obviously got the physical trauma part! Can shamans - communicators between the spirit world and ours - ever be as crusader-like as an Auror? If not, how would that affect Harry's role as a possible shaman?


Quote:
Originally Posted by barmy codger
A bee in my bonnet for at least a year is the fact that Voldemort has undergone the shaman's process of death, dismemberment and rebirth -in a cauldron no less. Some of his experience of faux death shall we call it seems like what I've read of Tibetan lamas who upon death are able to retain the sense of self and guide their souls through the spirit world. The images of Voldemort undergoing the process of becoming a shaman seem blatant, deliberate and undeniable to me and I have not been able to reconcile them with Harry, who may have been initiated as a shaman but not in such an obvious way.

This whole business is great. I don't think it explains all the mechanisms Ms Rowling has in mind but it's a good framework to speculate on.
I've never been sure that JKR is using any one precedent (mythos, genre, etc) over others as her main source for mechanisms. I think most people would agree with that, too. But this is indeed a great framework to add to the list of her many sources.

About "Lord Voldemort and/or Harry as shaman"... I don't have any one complete idea to express, just some things I've noticed. First, LV has acted purposefully to attain his transformations, first to become a practitioner of the Dark Arts, then to attempt immortality, and most recently to regain a physical body. I don't get that feeling from Harry's situation (especially the initial act). Well, not yet anyway and it doesn't feel like there's enough time left in one book for him to do a good guy analog to all that.

Correct me if I'm wrong, anyone, but mustn't one actively pursue the role of shaman? It doesn't just fall into your lap, right? Even if you have the gift within your family, it doesn't guarantee everyone in the family gets the gift. Even for those who do, it still requires a great deal of learning and apprenticing (for lack of a better word) before one can begin to be seen as an effective shaman... correct? If I'm right in this, would Harry's lack of coordinated and focused effort toward becoming a shaman be a drawback to his character ever achieving that role?

Or would his ongoing training as a wizard be the same thing as training to be a shaman? It seems like there is a lone wolf aspect, an apart-ness between a shaman and his, er, clients(?) and Harry fits that. That apart-ness also seems to imply a leadership-through-hierarchy relationship, something else Harry seems to have. Even so, he hasn't really been doing anything different in his wizard training than anyone else has. (OK, he did learn to do a patronus way before anyone else, and he's the one that taught the others.) Dumbledore finally began teaching Harry the lore behind his adversary's psyche, so he can better work the appropriate "medicine" for it, but I don't feel DD got around to connecting how to incorporate the lore into the magic. Harry's got a better read on LV now, but I didn't see anything showing how he could magically take advantage of this new knowledge, rather than just taking advantage of it in general. Can (or should) a shaman learn that aspect of his mission on his own? Or is that usually something his teacher is supposed to guide him in?

rust_loup, I know you said you've continued studying on your own (and I know of many who've done likewise) but I just can't see Harry having enough time to really get his act together like that, not with just the one book left. But maybe now that he has no super-close or super-knowledgable elder left to help, he'll see fit to catch up on this on his own. Thoughts anyone?


EDIT: OK, since I started writing this post, rust_loup has added some very good info on what all Harry has done in the different books. I can see he's been getting a lot more shamanic experience than I had realized. But even though he seems to intuit a great deal from these things that happen to him, or pursues the particular events for mundane reasons, I still am not sure if he's realized any need to purposefully pursue his development as a shaman with particular skills for this great mission of his. Am I missing a point somewhere?



Last edited by Emerald63; August 18th, 2005 at 4:14 am.
  #12  
Old August 18th, 2005, 4:16 am
dumblesdame  Female.gif dumblesdame is offline
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Excellent thread! I am very fascinated by this subject matter. I see the corollary in your theory. But it doesn't take much for me, really, having read Joseph Campbell. I see many cultures and religions in the HP series, because as a student of Campbell's material I see beneath the packaging and think that every culture/ religion is connected by the same mythologies. They wear different costumes, but are very much the same in theory.
Harry is the quintessential Hero's Journey saga, which is a similar myth in just about every belief system. A great book on that is 'Hero with a thousand faces'. I don't mean to be a Campbell pusher, but that book encompasses alot of what we're discussing and then some.
Very good. I love intelligent postings! Thank you, Rust Loup.


  #13  
Old August 18th, 2005, 6:19 am
barmy codger's Avatar
barmy codger  Undisclosed.gif barmy codger is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rust_loup
The cadceus could also hold some symbolic ties with the wand in general linking all wizards with the axis mundi relating to the a common bond of shamanism between them. I like that thought, as it would make the wand itself a highly potent fetish with the added strength of the fetish core, but it could also represent two wizards in particular. The wand could be the two wands of Harry and Voldemort who share the same feather, the entwined snakes would of course symbolise Dumbledore's cryptic note about "in essence divded" in reference to Harry and the Dark Lord. With the orb on top of course being the prophecy uniting them. This would play into a theme of two opposed shamans each with strong medicine.
Right. I hadn't been paying enough attention to wands. The two opposed shamans is exactly what is described in 'The Myth of the Magus' by E.M. Butler.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rust_loup
Though the various noticings hint at wizard kind in general having a knack for animal medicine, in particular due to their wands and the wand cores.
Thank you for this. It is right but I never saw it from your perspective.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rust_loup
The Whomping Willow is an excellent catch on many levels and I am let down with myself for not having noticed it sooner.
It's up to you to figure what is a suitable punishment or penance for not seeing this, but it only occurred to me recently after some months of awareness of the axis mundi in 'Harry Potter'. I wouldn't lose any sleep over it that's for sure. The whomping willow is there for a reason.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rust_loup
Book one: Harry is introduced to the world of the Shaman and after a year of preparation and studying the mysteries, chances a trip into the underworld to retrieve a power item. In the process he faces the one whom eventually he must defeat and keep locked in the spirit realm.....
Your summary makes a lot of sense and shows wonderful insight. If Ms Rowling is thinking in terms of shamanism we're all set. Though I've kept shamanism in mind, 'Harry Potter' uses a lot of symbolism from Rosicrucian alchemy and that's where my focus has been. Also Ms Rowling has suggested reading authors who have similar symbolism ( Jane Austen and Wilkie Colins), all of which keeps things in a European tradition. Supposedly the same thing is being dealt with --at the core is a universal message and it is in our world in different languages such as shamanism, the later version it as the magus, the arcana of alchemy, and the myths of astrological events. The Rosicrucian and medieval Christian symbols in 'Harry Potter' may obscure the idea of duelling shamans or magi because that's not part of the concept of alchemy as personal spiritual growth (unless one takes into account the abstractions of evaporation and condensation, the 'quarrelling couple' concept of opposing agents, etc). The personal growth scheme of alchemy hasn't been able to account for the conflict between Voldemort vs Harry. And your shamanistic scheme does. However, the alchemical scheme as I see it offers Harry not as being the adversary of Voldemort but as the personification of the process of spiritual growth. Harry as the process is effecting a change in Voldemort. What I am thinking is that Ms Rowling is telling a story that is universal and the language you use explains it very well but it is not the language she is using since supposedly there is Christianity involved. So I am guessing we have to match up what you see in your language to what she is saying in her language.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emerald63
I've never been sure that JKR is using any one precedent (mythos, genre, etc) over others as her main source for mechanisms. I think most people would agree with that, too. But this is indeed a great framework to add to the list of her many sources.
You've said it more succinctly than I just did.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emerald63
Correct me if I'm wrong, anyone, but mustn't one actively pursue the role of shaman? It doesn't just fall into your lap, right?
We've had a similar disagreement in the Alchemy thread. The view was that Harry is in the process of the alchemical Great Work of spiritual growth. But I said that he represents the process and is not the alchemist who seeks the Stone, for the very reason you give. He is not consciously choosing to pursue this. I say he is the process of seeking, not the seeker. His actions are spontaneous responses and not premeditated steps of one searching enlightenment. So that tempers the idea he is one shaman or magus battling with the other (Voldemort). Never been able to substantiate it but it seemed to me Voldemort will be saved despite himself. rust_loup's scenario is reason to think about this some more.



Last edited by barmy codger; August 18th, 2005 at 6:25 am.
  #14  
Old August 18th, 2005, 1:08 pm
rust_loup  Male.gif rust_loup is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emerald63
rust_loup, can you tell us if Mad Eye also has shamanic characteristics? He's obviously got the physical trauma part! Can shamans - communicators between the spirit world and ours - ever be as crusader-like as an Auror? If not, how would that affect Harry's role as a possible shaman?
Actually Moody makes a very grizzled old shaman. As barmy codger has mentioned his leg and eye tie him to the axis mundi. It is also worthy of note that his staff ties him to it as well. It also conveys the wisdom he carries as staves are powerful fetishes, more powerful than wands even, and they symbolise his accumulated wisdom over the eyars. Essentially saying, in much the same way as his scars, that he has been there and experienced the shamanic path first hand. It bears testament, actually, to his ability as an aurour and just how powerful he was and is. His eye, apart from tying him to the cadceus and thus the axis mundi, shows as well how powerful a shaman he is. Its seeing everything visibile and invisible, and its seeing through things to their source, shows tht he has gained a powerful shamanic sight. He is capable of not only entering the spirit world through the axis mundi but accessing it here in the physical world at all times. This is highly significant and seems to be a trait he shared with Dumbledore, whow as capable of seeing the invisible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Emerald63
Correct me if I'm wrong, anyone, but mustn't one actively pursue the role of shaman? It doesn't just fall into your lap, right? Even if you have the gift within your family, it doesn't guarantee everyone in the family gets the gift. Even for those who do, it still requires a great deal of learning and apprenticing (for lack of a better word) before one can begin to be seen as an effective shaman... correct? If I'm right in this, would Harry's lack of coordinated and focused effort toward becoming a shaman be a drawback to his character ever achieving that role?
A person must choose to walk any path they take whether it is the one out their front door or the one they seek out to get to their desired destination.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Emerald63
Or would his ongoing training as a wizard be the same thing as training to be a shaman? It seems like there is a lone wolf aspect, an apart-ness between a shaman and his, er, clients(?) and Harry fits that. That apart-ness also seems to imply a leadership-through-hierarchy relationship, something else Harry seems to have.
The shaman is seperate because his is stuck living his life in two worlds. No matter how much he strives for normallacy or no matter how close he wants to be with those outside his path, he will always be alone. People will always fear, respect, and envy him. Really the shaman does not make himself seperate the people make the shaman seperate.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emerald63
EDIT: OK, since I started writing this post, rust_loup has added some very good info on what all Harry has done in the different books. I can see he's been getting a lot more shamanic experience than I had realized. But even though he seems to intuit a great deal from these things that happen to him, or pursues the particular events for mundane reasons, I still am not sure if he's realized any need to purposefully pursue his development as a shaman with particular skills for this great mission of his. Am I missing a point somewhere?
He will need to realise that he still has much to learn. As for the process of the learning, he is in a stage where he can learn through experience. One could say he has always learned through experience, but now this experience will be gained primarily on his own. It is his lot in life.

Quote:
Originally Posted by barmy codger
It's up to you to figure what is a suitable punishment or penance for not seeing this, but it only occurred to me recently after some months of awareness of the axis mundi in 'Harry Potter'. I wouldn't lose any sleep over it that's for sure. The whomping willow is there for a reason.
*in a squeaky voice* rust had to iron his hands sir.
Sorry I do agree it is there for a reason. The tree serves as both guard and entrance. We have seen guards at the majority of the entrances to the spirit realm. Whether it is Fluffy, in role of Cerebus, or a riddle such as having to speak parsel tongue or make an offering to the gate. We can only see the guards growing stronger as Harry seeks to pass through in places with more connection to the spirit and earth realm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by barmy codger
However, the alchemical scheme as I see it offers Harry not as being the adversary of Voldemort but as the personification of the process of spiritual growth. Harry as the process is effecting a change in Voldemort.
Even as an adversary he can affect that change. They are two people walking the same path, seeing the same scenery and meeting the same folks along the way. For Harry the merit of it all lies in the adventure along the way, the meeting of the people and the seeing of the scenery finally laying down for a well earned rest at the end of a long journey. For Voldemort the merit lies not in the journey or the meeting of the people but to persist and drag out his walk as long as he can because he is afraid of what might be at the end of the path. He is forsaking the things that make the journey worthwhile simply to keep the journey going. But as he and Harry are walking the same path, Harry has every possibility to point the scenery out to him and introduce him to new people. I hope the analogy made some form of sense. I am not very good with them. I can sum it up with a Zen Buddhist daying. "the journey is the reward."


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  #15  
Old August 18th, 2005, 2:22 pm
Sinistra  Female.gif Sinistra is offline
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Snake medicine also embodies knowledge and a sort of wisdom, and Voldmeort has learned and done more in the way of Dark magics than any other wizard known. Snake medicine can also be associated with herbs and potions, and Voldmeort certainly seems well-versed in those, as witnessed by the potion that accomplished his "resurrection". (Loved the cauldron stuff you pointed out, rust_loup!)

What about Hogwarts itself as the Axis Mundi? It's tall and narrow (like many castles) and perched on a height. And the Astronomy tower, the highest point, has now become a special place because it is where Dumbledore gave up his life. And is that a coincidence, that Dumbledore chose to give up his life in the highest place? For it was the highest act. And he rejioned the spirit world in the highest place. Will Harry finally defeat Voldemort underground? That would be an interesting parallel/lesson.

The whole Voldemort as anti-shaman and Harry as shaman destined to return the natural order to the universe by defeating Voldemort makes a great deal of sense. Looking at the various horcruxes may give a bit of insight into the processes of how Voldemort came to be what he is, and how Harry may defeat him. We still need to know about that missing horcrux, what it is, and then what it does.

Great thread rust_loup, and I love that we can look at the books in light of so many different disciplines, and still enjoy the sotry. JKR has indeed crafted an archetypan cycle for the ages.


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  #16  
Old August 18th, 2005, 2:51 pm
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Rust_loop I was just waiting for this thread! I think that you make some very valid parallels and it is amazing to see how well the characters fit into the characteristics of Shaminism. I especially appreciate the reference to their totem animals. I do remeber hearing about this part of Shaminism prior to HP and think that it fits nicely. Especially the part about Hermione as the protector. I also find the severed soul part interesting.

Is there anything in Shaminism abotu repairing a severed soul?


  #17  
Old August 18th, 2005, 3:02 pm
Tane  Female.gif Tane is offline
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Quote:
The job of the shaman is to traverse the axis mundi in order to bring back knowledge, items, and occasionally pieces of a broken spirit which will be addressed later.
I am impressed, this thread really opens up the doors and brings in the veil possibility again and as already mentioned the Hogwarts castle. From these two places Harry experiences the most painful deaths, at the axis mundi. You could say that the death of Sirius brought Harry knowledge in the form of the prophecy and as painful as I have to admit, Dumbledore' death brought back an item in the locket.

Though I could be interpretation all this incorrectly as I have never really looked at Shamanism.


  #18  
Old August 18th, 2005, 3:18 pm
rust_loup  Male.gif rust_loup is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sinistra
What about Hogwarts itself as the Axis Mundi? It's tall and narrow (like many castles) and perched on a height. And the Astronomy tower, the highest point, has now become a special place because it is where Dumbledore gave up his life. And is that a coincidence, that Dumbledore chose to give up his life in the highest place? For it was the highest act. And he rejioned the spirit world in the highest place. Will Harry finally defeat Voldemort underground? That would be an interesting parallel/lesson.
Hogwarts makes an excellent axis mundi as it is reall the first place we see the physical world seperated from the spiritual world. And it is the place where we most often find that distinction. Hogwarts's being bound to both worlds as an entrance of sorts makes it a very good training ground. Allowing the students to traverse both worlds to get their training. And as we have seen through his early adventures and now his search for the horcruxes, Harry's spirit quests are taking him deeper and deeper into the spirit realm. I think we can expect him to go through it and get to the very edge of death himself in the seventh book. It is possible he may even cross over it to return with powerful medicine or an artifact of some sort, perhaps even a horcrux.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tonks2005
Is there anything in Shaminism abotu repairing a severed soul?
Repairing a severed soul is one of the chief jobs of the shaman and thusly one of the hardest. To begin with the shaman must go to the spirit world and find the soul fragment. It is a very difficult thing to do but not as hard as one would imagine because there are ways of finding what one needs within the spirit world. Sometimes the fragment is convinced that it is the person and it has died, sometimes it is being watched over by a spirit wanting it for whatever reason. In these cases the shaman must use his cunning and knowledge fo medicine in order to retrieve the fragment of soul and bring it back to the person's body. Once it is brought back the spirit must be mended back together which is done through using an animals medicine and ritual to heal the spirit. Birds are usually used for this, they are seen as having great knowledge of the spirit realm and go back and forth between it easir than a great many creatures. Owl medicine is rarly used for this as owl is a servant of death and sees it as its job to return the spirit to the realm of the dead. The crow is liekwise seen as a servant of deat but has a wisdom and distiction granting it the ability to understand this person needs yet to live. Crow and raven medicine are powerful for magic and for shapeshifting which the shaman may need to do to join the spirit.

Quote:
I am impressed, this thread really opens up the doors and brings in the veil possibility again and as already mentioned the Hogwarts castle. From these two places Harry experiences the most painful deaths, at the axis mundi. You could say that the death of Sirius brought Harry knowledge in the form of the prophecy and as painful as I have to admit, Dumbledore' death brought back an item in the locket.
Actually I think that is a most excellent viewpoint on the matter.


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Last edited by rust_loup; August 18th, 2005 at 3:37 pm.
  #19  
Old August 18th, 2005, 3:28 pm
Tane  Female.gif Tane is offline
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I wonder whether Godric Hollows would be the third axis mundi could be, where we find the broken spirit and if so what could this have something to do with the broken spirit.


  #20  
Old August 18th, 2005, 3:48 pm
rust_loup  Male.gif rust_loup is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tane
I wonder whether Godric Hollows would be the third axis mundi could be, where we find the broken spirit and if so what could this have something to do with the broken spirit.
As far as the name of Godric's Hollow, it would imply that it would be a good axis mundi point as a descent into the earth is as good an entrance point as an ascent into the sky. I am not sure Voldemort would leave a relic there as it signify's him at his weakest point and broadcasts his alrgest miscalculation. It is possible that there Harry will find items or knowledge from his parents who were both quite powerful. I think the biggest thing he will take for there is a strengthening of who he is. I do not know whether it will be by entering the spirit realm or simply by feeling ghosts of memories left on the area, though. I would think the latter however. It gives meaning to his being as much a part of this world as the spiritual world. It is most likely to be a fount of sorts renewing and strengthening his resolve and thusly him.


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