Upper Worlds

Upper Worlds – Among the other worlds of many shamanic cosmologies, the existence of realms above the earth are significant. Shamanic initiations and journeys may entail a visit to these places. Among the ascent routes noted by Piers Vitebsky are the use of a branch lowered from the sky to aid Khanty shamans, the crossing of a bridge made of smoke by Nenets shamans, and the Chukchi shaman’s riding on reindeer. He also notes that in addition to being aided by birds or flying animals in their ascents, shamans sometimes become their own vehicles for dramatic locomotion. Some even draw on nontraditional vehicles such as airplanes and trains to aid their journeys. Mircea Eliade’s construction of shamanic cosmology privileges the upper world and ascent journeys to the extent that he twists an Aboriginal Australian “Dreaming” narrative and denigrates underworld and this-worldly journeys as “degenerate.”

SOURCE:

Historical Dictionary of Shamanism by Graham Harvey and Robert J. Wallis 2007

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