Spirit Magic vs. RQ Animism

Submitted by newsalor on Wed, 08/08/2012 – 11:27

I’m doing a bit of research for my upcoming Pavis game and shamanism may or may not come up. Now, my principal source in this thusfar has been Sami/Siberian shamanism and I’m a bit confused, because their spirit magic doesn’t seem to be something you have.”Spirit Magic users strike deals with spirits—entities resident in animals, plants, simple objects, and features of the natural world. A spirit is something you have. You need to satisfy your spirits in order for them to work for you.”I do like the satisfying your spirits bit that the new Glorantha material has. I can get down with bargaining with spirits and having relationships with them, but the shamanism I’ve read about has more to do with spiritual things. Now, granted, the Sami people don’t have access to a Firesword charm, which would have made their approach substantially different, but I’m wondering, is Gloranthan shamanism more in the mold of native american shamanism?Instead of a charm monger a shaman of Sami tradition is a seer, one who sees the spiritual side of this world and beyond.a healer, one who can heal spiritual wounds and integrate lost pieces of the patients spirit to the whole and thus healing physical and mental illness.a wise man, one who can get to the true (spiritual) causes of things.an intercessor with the spirit world, who can mediate between the world of spirits and mortals, between the middle world and higher and lower worlds.Perhaps there is something on this vein in Gloranthan shamanism somewhere. You could have the courage charm be a lost part of you that you have integrated with the guidance of a shaman and now tattooed on your chest.Does any of this touch praxian shamanism or should I read up on native american shamanism, which is presumably more about having charms and stuff, where you keep your spirits?

back to basics

Submitted by David on Wed, 08/08/2012 – 15:01.

Before going too far in your research, it’s work going back to the basics of all of this. The first thing is that animism is the root of all of this – a belief that everything has a spirit.
Shamanism is the tool by which you access the powers of spirits.

  • First you need to get in to an altered state – there are quite a few ways of doing this: Drumming, rattling, singing, dancing, fasting, sweating and “medicine” plants. Different cultures have their own special way of doing it, ranging from one of those on the list to a combination of them.
  • You meet spirits within in your cultural context, that do things for you.
  • You do this a controlled way, the way you do it works for you.
  • There are different parts of the spirit world where different spirits can be found – generally an upper, middle and lowerworld. There may be different levels of upper and lower worlds, or you may just visit one. This is defined by your culture.
  • The spirits do any work, not you. You are the intercessor, you stand between the worlds.
  • In order to maintain a connection with your spirits, you have representations of them around you. You make things that they ask for.
  • You may be a “general” shaman that does a range of things: healing, curse removal, finding things, etc. Or you may be a specialist that just does one type of thing: psychopomping, visions of the future, removing sickness from children.

If you now apply this to the Sami shaman, all of your points are covered above – They use a large drum with a monotonous beat to journey to the spirit world, whilest in their trace they can see the spirit world, when healing, it’s their helper spirits that come and do the work. Sami shaman certainly have charms.
Different shamanic/animist cultures use aspects and combinations of the above.
Real world shaman have what we call charms, sacred items that help them do their work with the spirits. I was in a blessing ceremony with Altai shaman, he had a skin coat covered in iron discs and rods. He dragged this over us so it would touch us and the spirits within would bless us. He was a shaman of the Eleventh Heaven, he only jouneyed to the 11th level of the upper world.
The Hmong people make charms and put the spirits of the things they want to get rid of in them, addiction, headaches, illness. You mustn’t touch them or the spirits will get into you.
I can’t think of any shamanic culture that doesn’t have what we would call charms. Charm in this case meaning a representation of a helping spirit or spirit house.
I would slightly expand the definition of a charm under HQ2 and say that it’s not just the home of a spirit, but can also be an item the the spirit has an affinity for, like a focus. That makes it easier for the spirit to appear.
The Tradition in Heroquest is what defines how this works culturally in the game. There is information on number of them – Kolating, Earth Witch, Pavic, Lunar. There has yet to be a full write up of a full cultural tradition – like the Praxian tradition.
The Pavic tradition is a good example of one with lots of variety and mixing from outside. I left it vague so you could fill it out.

David Scott

Submitted by newsalor on Thu, 09/08/2012 – 14:24.

Thanks a bunch. This really helped me a lot. I think I got it.So, for example, if a shaman sees with his other sight that a sick person is missing a part of his spirit, he can search for it in the spirit world and persuade it to return. The spirit is doing the work, but the shaman is acting as an intermediary. A charm could help keep the spirit connected to the patient.Now about this Pavic tradition, where is it published? (I wants it, needs it…)

nearly there

Submitted by David on Thu, 09/08/2012 – 14:53.

The shaman sees with his other sight that the sick person is missing a part of his spirit. He gets one of his spirit helpers who is good at finding spirit parts to help him find it. The shaman is helped to stay in contact with the finding spirit by a connected item – the charm. Once the spirit part is found, the shaman persuades it to come back, or he catches it with his spirit catching helper etc.
The charm would be called something like Return Broken Spirit and it would have a taboo along the lines of always eat sheep eyes. (or what ever fun alternative or culturally appropriate taboo you can come up with).
The Pavic tradition is mentioned in Pavis:
Page 10 Sidebar has the Mani spirit society.
Page 11 mentions that Pavic tradition spirit societies are important.
Page 11 Box, mentions the Zebra riders and the tradition.
Page 11 Sidebar has the Blackfang spirit society.
That’s all – not very much! —–David Scott

Too fun a link to not give out

Submitted by Dan on Fri, 10/08/2012 – 10:57.

Hard-boiled detective as Siberian shaman.

Submitted by newsalor on Fri, 10/08/2012 – 11:26.

I absolutely love Muktuk! It has heroquests and everything.