Apr 3, 2017

The Ancient Shamanic Link To Yoga, Meditation & The Other Major Religions (With The Swastika Link Between Native Americans, Hindus & Buddhists Explained)

This post traces the link to Shamans as the originators of many myths and traditions that are still a part of our modern cultures in some way or another.

Compare the Shaman of the Lascaux cave of 15000 BC, with his penis erect...

“... in the great paleolithic cavern of Lascaux, in southern France, there is the picture of a shaman dressed in a bird costume, lying prostrate in a trance and with the figure of a bird perched on his shaman staff beside him. The shamans of Siberia wear bird costumes to this day, and many are believed to have been conceived by their mothers from the descent of a bird. In India, a term of honor addressed to the master yogi is Paramahamsa: paramount or supreme (parama) wild gander (hamsa). In China the so-called “mountain men” or “immortals” (hsien) are pictured as feathered, like birds, or as floating through the air on soaring beasts. The German legend of Lohengrin, the swan knight, and the tales, told wherever shamanism has flourished, of the swan maiden, are like-wise evidence of the force of the image of the bird as an adequate sign of spiritual power. And shall we not think, also, of the dove that descended upon Mary, and the swan that begot Helen of Troy? In many lands the soul has been pictured as a bird, and birds commonly are spiritual messengers. Angels are but modified birds. But the bird of the shaman is one of particular character and power, endowing him with an ability to fly in trance beyond the bounds of life, and yet return.” - Primitive Mythology, page 258

Breaking News: A figure of a shaman seems to have been found at Gobekli Tepe but they don't seem to know it yet. It has the erect penis but is headless... though it's right next to a bird! All the same mythological motifs are there!...

Extract from the Gobekli Tepe research blog: While some more reliefs to the left of the scorpion and the bird are hidden by the perimeter wall, to the right of the bird’s neck an especially interesting motif is depicted. Due to damage to the pillar it is not preserved completely, but the representation of a headless human with an erect penis is quite clearly recognizable.

The link between the ancient shamans of the caves to the later Shiva religion of India has been established with this amazing find!

I covered this here:

Göbekli Tepe: Tracing Probable Links In The Mythology Of Göbekli Tepe To The Native Americans

Breaking News - The Shaman Of Gobekli Tepe: The Link Between The Shaman Of Lascaux Cave, Shiva & The Headless Man Gobekli Tepe

[Primitive Mythology -Pages 347-354] 1b. Within the field of the hunting mythologies, however, a second force appears in the phenomenology of shamanism. This cannot be tritely dismissed as "mere neurosis, schizophrenia, ans self-hypnosis." The phenomenology of shamanism is locally conditioned only in a secondary sense - as I believe we have well enough seen. And since it has been precisely the shamans that have taken the lead in the formation of mythology and rites throughout the primitive world, the primary problem of our subject would seem to be not historical or ethnological, but psychological, even biological; that is to say, precedent to the phenomenology of culture styles. 

The connection of Shamanism to Gobekli Tepe is pretty obvious to many people looking at this;

Some random blog: Göbekli Tepe Shamans and their Cosmic Symbols – Part I

As it is understood from previous research, Göbekli Tepe was utilized as a ritual center under the control of the Neolithic shamans. Klaus Schmidt, who was the head of excavations clearly referred that Göbekli Tepe had once been the ritual center of the region. According to Schmidt, shamanic rituals were carried out in Göbekli Tepe temples, located in today's Southern Turkey

Some researchers like Andrew Collins also mention the possible shamanism in Göbekli Tepe with regard to astronomy and cosmology. He approaches the subject in terms of pole star belief which we know from shamanism. Pole star is the creation point of all the universe, according to shamans. Today in Asia, Turkish, Mongolian and Tungus shamans still believe that the sky-god Tengri Ülgen ascends the throne on the pole star, Polaris.--- In my opinion, Göbekli Tepe was not only the ritual center of shamans, but also the initiation center of pupil shamans. When Pillar-2 is examined closely, we clearly see bended legs of the crane. On this basis, Schmidt explains that the body of this bird may represent the human being who transforms into the crane form. Afterwards, Schmidt suggests that this phenomenon is related to the shamanism concept.--- Power animals are known as the protector souls of the shaman. In the eyes of shamans, all animals are the elements of shamanic practice. The soul protects the shaman from diseases and malignancies. The shaman who gains that soul no longer cures the illnesses and prophesizes. Power animals are an “alter ego” of the shaman. Shamans imitate his or her power animal and coalesce with them during the ritual. Shamans ascend to the sky – and vice versa on land - with power animals, as they are fellow travelers.

Siberian shamans have power animals like the bear, wolf, rabbit and owl; Yakut shamans have mostly bull, eagle and bear. The forenamed animals are quite similar to the animals found carved on Göbekli Tepe pillars.


On top of that, if we compare the Hindu tradition to something we found at a later Neolithic sites called Nevali Cori, we find a continuous continuum of a tradition that can be link directly to the Hindus on one side and the Shamans on the other. (Not from an accredited site as none seem to exist but probably accurate all the same);

To the "proto-Shiva" of the Indus Valley civilization of 3000 BC, with his penis erect...

"the yogi, as a high transformation of the shamanistic techniques and experiences of ecstasis" Joseph Cambell, Primitive Mythology, Page 437

Clearly there is a direct link between the proto-Shiva of 3-4 thousand years ago (& probably older than that) to the birdman of 15000 BC. In other words, one culture influenced by the ancient shamans, from who the yogic systm was developed, is India.

Later the cult of Shiva led to a bunch of phallic symbols worshiped in temples you can see in India even today. (And even around the world?)

The shamans with the erect penises became Shiva - and then in some cults - Shiva becomes JUST the erect penis (the whole evolvement of the Lingam symbol of Shiva from ancient times in a nutshell!)...

So the link between the 15000 BC caves and Shiva is clear. 

"Ice Shiva" in a cave (caves are still holy places in India where gods like Shiva, descended form the shamans, still reside);

Another interesting fact is that this drawing appears on a seal that emerged as a fully developed cultural artifact in the remains of the Indus valley civilization of Mohenjodaro and Harappa (which must have emerged from a culture that used wood somewhere in Southern India and/or along it's coasts where yoga had already gone through its basic development stages);

"The so-called Harappa stage of the great cities of Mohenjo-daro, Chanhu-daro, and Harappa (c. 2500-1200/1000 B.C), which bursts abruptly into view, without preparation, already fully formed and showing many completely obvious signs of inspiration from the earlier high centers of the West (i.e. fertile crescent), yet undeniable signs, also, of a native Indian tradition – this too already well developed. As professor W. Norman Brown has suggested, a native Indian center (i.e., a mythogenetic zone) somewhere either in the south or in the Ganges-Jumna area would seem to be indicated, where the characteristically Indian traits, unknown at this time farther west, must have come into form. For on two of the stamp-seals of the period we find figures seated on low thrones in the meditating yoga posture."

"One of these is flanked by two kneeling worshipers and rearing serpents, while the other, with two gazelles reposing beneath his seat, is surrounded by four wild beasts – a water buffalo, rhinoceros, elephant, and tiger. It is well known that precisely these compositions are associated in later Hindu and Buddhist art both with the god Shiva and with the Buddha. One can only suppose that the practice of yoga must have already been developed and associated with the concept of heightened state of consciousness, not only worthy of worship but also capable of quelling and fascinating the animal world – like the music of Orpheus in the later tradition of the Greeks. The presence of serpents in the attitude of attendant worshipers or protectors, furthermore, indicates that the well-known serpent daemon (naga) motif that plays such a conspicuous role in later Indian religion had already been evolved - no doubt from the primitive theme of the monster-serpent of the abyss. We have referred to the God Vishnu reclining on the Cosmic Serpent, which in turn is floating on the Cosmic Waters. The supporting energy and substance of the universe, and consequently of the individual, imaged in India in the figure of the serpent. And the yogi is the master of this power, both in himself (in his control of his own spiritual and physical states) and in the world (in his magical mastery the phenomenon of nature)."

From the proto-Shiva of ancient India we can not only trace a link to the shamanic religions of the paleolithic age but also to the Gods of the Ancient Greeks (Poseidon) and to the symbolism in yogic and Buddhist mythology;

"The seated yogi among the beasts wears on his head a curious headdress with a high crown and two immense horns, which, as Heinrich Zimmer has pointed out, resembles to a striking degree on of the so-called "Three Jewels" (symbolizing the Buddha, the doctrine, and the order of the Buddha’s followers), which in the form of a kind of trident. The Hindu god Shiva carries a trident also; and among the Greeks, as we know, this same sign was the attribute of Poseidon (Neptune), the god of the watery deep." Primitive Mythology page 436

Another Link (Ancient Egypt)

Yet another link that I noticed has to do with the three pronged symbol in the left hand of the Egyptian god Thoth, who seems to be a derivation of the same ancient tradition, not to mention the bird head;
Thoth, the God of Knowledge and everything mystical

“Among the Buriat, the animal or bird that protect the shaman is called khubilgan, meaning “metamorphosis,” from the verb khubilku, “to change onesself, to take another form.” - Joseph Campbell, Primitive Mythology, page 257

Clearly there is a direct link between the proto-Shiva of 3-4 thousand years ago (& probably older than that) to the birdman of 15000 BC. ... and the man next to the bird in Gobekli Tepe with the erect penis.

Also, notice this coffin of Osiris...

Yet another piece of evidence linking the ancient Pharaonic civilization of Egypt to shamanism as I wrote in the following post?:

Was Ancient Egyptian Culture Influenced By Shamans & Shamanism In Its Early Development Stages?

About the dismemberment and reconstitution of Osiris (the God of death and resurrection "Dionysus" in Ancient Greek times);

[Primitive Mythology -Pages 347-354] 2. In contrast to the childlike spirit of the mythology of the paleolithic hunt, a new depth of realization is achieved in the horrendous myths and rites of the planting cultures. The cultural continuum in which these are at home would appear to extend in a broad equatorial band from Sudan, eastward through East Africa and Arabia, India, Indo-China, and Oceania, to Brazil. 

Death, here, is not simply the blithe passage of an immortal individual once again through a door through which is has already gone many times and back through which he will again return. A fundamental complementary is vividly recognized between not simply birth and death, but sex and murder. A mythological age is supposed to have anteceded the precipitation of this pair-of-opposites, when there was neither birth nor death but a dreamlike state of essentially timeless being. And the precipitating mythological event by which this age was terminated is renewed in the festivals, in rites such as reviewed and studied in Part Two.

The contrast with the hunting mythology could not  be greater. Yet one may ask whether the later mythology does not represent simply a deepening, an enrichment, and a systematization of ideas already inherent in the earlier. Is this "opposite" mythology, or simply a "more mature"? Are the underlying ideas so different that we cannot speak of a common psychological substratum?

The other center of civilization influenced by Shamans is that of Egypt, through which we can trace a link to the middle eastern religions;

Ra - The Sun God

“Among the Buriat, the animal or bird that protect the shaman is called khubilgan, meaning “metamorphosis,” from the verb khubilku, “to change onesself, to take another form.” - Joseph Campbell, Primitive Mythology, page 257

Ra (in the center) travels through the underworld

Looks like a drawing of a shamanic journeying experience to me (but expressed through the Egyptian culture). Here is a description of the shamanic journey by Joseph Campbell;

"The magic of his drum carries him away on the wings of its rhythm, the wings of spiritual transport. The drum and dance simultaneously elevate his spirit and conjure to him his familiar - the beasts and birds, invisible to others, that have supplied him with his power and assist him in his flight. And it is while in his trance of rapture that he performs his miraculous deeds. While in this trance he is flying as a bird to the upper world, or descending as a reindeer, bull, or bear to the world beneath." Joseph Campbell, Primitive Mythology, Page 257

(I covered this link of Shamanism and Early Egyptian Mythology in this post: Was Ancient Egyptian Culture Influenced By Shamans & Shamanism In Its Early Development Stages?)

Dreams are still an important part of culture and invention, even in our own time, showing a long cultural continuum for the influence of dreams and visions. In other words, the shamanic link of visions for innovation and religious experience is also present in all the cultures of this earth (especially when you notice the Native American influence on American psychology... "all men are equal" is in no where "self-evident" in the Bible with its acceptance of slavery as a fact of life but in the paleolithic age. 

Here is a direct the link from ancient Egyptian mythology to the ancient Persians (Zoroastrians) and the Semitic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam)...

The Scales of Judgement

From Wikipedia: This detail scene, from the Papyrus of Hunefer (c. 1275 BCE), shows the scribe Hunefer's heart being weighed on the scale of Maat against the feather of truth, by the jackal-headed Anubis. The ibis-headed Thoth, scribe of the gods, records the result. If his heart equals exactly the weight of the feather, Hunefer is allowed to pass into the afterlife. If not, he is eaten by the waiting chimeric devouring creature Ammit composed of the deadly crocodile, lion, and hippopotamus. Vignettes such as these were a common illustration in Egyptian books of the dead.

Bible connection

Job 31:6
Let Him weigh me with accurate scales, And let God know my integrity.
Psalm 62:9
Men of low degree are only vanity and men of rank are a lie; In the balances they go up; They are together lighter than breath.
Proverbs 16:2
All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives.

Quran (Islam): And We will set up a just balance on the day of resurrection, so no soul shall be dealt with unjustly in the least; and though there be the weight of a grain of mustard seed, (yet) will We bring it, and sufficient are We to take account. (21:47)

... and note that the best mythologist of our age (&, probably, recorded history) confirms this shamanic link from ancient times to the present with contemporary primitive cultures and yoga being an eventual development from ancient shamanic practices. Buddhism is, of course, an outcrop of applying yoga practices to ancient Indian philosophy and the Chinese system of Zen (& Taoism!) is simply taking the archaic mediation technique of meditation (called "Dhayana" by yogis) and applying it to life as a philosophy (as I've outlined in my site on the subject, which is probably taboo in China under communist rule).


Other things in our culture we can probably link to the shamans in some way or another (considering that they were the driving force for innovation in society... while also occupying such powerful roles as healer, leader, chief/king and seer)

The following is an extract from a trace I did on the Paleolithic age to ours (i.e. Tracing The Sources Of Our Culture To The Paleolithic Age... With Art & Music Being Well Over 40,000 Years Old!)

Extract: Cultural Inventions from the Paleolithic era;

Some ideas off the top of my head linking these inventions to Shamans; Shamans wear talismans which may have created the tradition of jewelry, body paint is used in ceremonies which are designed and orchestrated by shamans, burying the dead indicates a belief in the afterlife (with all the implication that how one talks to a person/child about death in our culture goes back 300,000 years at least!) and shamans were creators and keepers of mythology for the local tribe & thus influenced the beliefs of the large tribal alliances that must have exited in the past if Native American political organization is any indication of what must have been.

Linking The Swastika To Creation Myths From The Beginning Of Myth (Paleolithic Era Cultures) To The Mythology Of Modern Cultures (Hindu & Buddhist)

Athough there is a stigma attached to the swastika symbol because of the actions of Hitler who seems to have stolen it from the Hindus (Aryan is a Hindu word meaning "Noble Ones", i.e. nothing to do with race or skin color) it was originally infused with deep mystical meaning with the creation of the world since time immemorial... here is an interesting piece of evidence that not only links ancient primitive cultures together through diffusion but also reveals the original - mystical - meaning of the swastika symbol (when twirled in a clockwise direction it is said to be the symbol for the creation of the world)...

As Joseph Campbell Explains: The world creator Black Hactcin held out his hand, and a drop of rain fell into the palm. He mixed ths with earth and it became mud. Then he fashioned a bird from the mud. "Let me see how you are going to use those wings to fly," he said. The mud turned into a bird and flew around. "well, that's just fine!" said Black Hctcin, who enjoyed seeing the difference between this one and the ones with four legs. "But," he said, "I think you need companions." Then he took the bird and whirled it around rapidly in a clockwise direction. The bird grew dizzy, and, as one does when dizzy, saw images round about. He saw all kinds of birds there, eagles, hawks, and small birds too, and when he was himself again, there were all those birds, really there. And birds love the air, dwell high, and seldom light on the groud, because the srop of water that became the mud out of which the first bird was made fell from the sky.

The clockwise whirling image from which the birds of the air were produced suggests those designd on the earliest Samarra pottery of the Mesopotamian high neolithis (c 4500 - 3500 BC) where the forms of animals and birds emerge from a whirling swastika, 

and it is surely by no mere accident or parallel development that similar designs - as those in the figures below - occur among the Prehistoric North American mound-builder remains,

Design from shell gorgets, Spiro Mound, Oklahoma

Image: Engraved design on conch drinking cup from Craig Mound, Spiro with four Piasa figures (part snake, cat, and bird) arranged in swastika around a central circle and cross.

or that in the ritual life and symbolism of the present Indians of the Southwest - the Pueblos, Navaho, and Apache - the swastika plays a prominent part. This circumstance, however, may supply us not only with additional evidence of a broad cultural diffusion, but also with a clue to the sense of the swastika in the earliest neolithic art and cult, both in the Old World and in the News.

The creator whirled the bird in a clockwise direction and the result was an emanation of dreamlike forms. But swastikas, counter clockwise, appear on many Chinese images of the meditating Buddha; and the Buddha, we know, is removing his consciousness from just this field of dreamlike, created forms - reuniting it through yogic exercise with that primordial abyss or "void" from which all springs.

Stars, darkness, a lamp, a phantom, dew, a bubble,
A dream, a flash of lightning, or a cloud:
Thus should one look upon the worlds.

This we read in a celebrated Buddhist text, The Diamond-Cutter Sutra, which has had an immense influence on Oriental thought.

Now I am not going to suggest that there has been any Buddhist influence on Apache mythology. There has not! However, the poignant thought that Calderon, the great Spanish playwright, expressed in his work La Vida es Sueno ("Life is a Dream"), and that his contemporary, Shakespeare, represented when he wrote

We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with sleep.

Was a basic theme of the Hindu philosophers in the earliest phase of thier tradition; and if we may judge from the evidence of certain little figures in yoga posture dating from c. 2000 B.C. that have been found in the ancient ruins of the Indus Valley, this trance-inducing exercise must have been developed in the earliest Indian hieratic city states. One of the best-known forms of the Hindu deity Vishnu shows him sleeping on the coils of the cosmic serpent, floating on the cosmic sea and dreaming the lotus-dream of the universe, of which we are all part. What I am now suggesting, therefore, is that in this Apache legend of the creation of the bird we have a remote cognate of the Indian forms, which must have proceeded from the same neolithic stock; and that in both cases the symbol of the swastika represents a process of transformation; the conjuring up (in the case of the Hactcin), or conjuring away (in the case of the Buddha). of a universe that because of the fleeting nature of it's forms may indeed be compared to the substance of a mirage, or of a dream. - (Primitive Mythology, Page 232-234)

Observation: While swastikas are symbols of creation in ancient cultures...

 And over time they lost their meaning and become "symbols of auspiciousness"...

WikipediaCalled svastika in Sanskrit, it is an ancient symbol of auspiciousness in HinduismBuddhism, and Jainism.

WikipediaHindu child with head shaven and red Swastika painted on it 
as part of his Upanayana ceremon

Swastika was a symbol probably created by shamans, transformed by the shamans of another age to mean something else... but always at the center of psychological/spiritual discussions dealing with creation and meditation in the ancient world.

[Primitive Mythology -Pages 347-354] 3. The dawn of history, as we know it,  has now been securely placed in the Near East in the early hieratic city states. And the powerful diffusion of the great syndrome of the higher civilizations from those early centers to the bounds of the earth has now been traced clearly enough to let us know that most of what used to be regarded as evidence of, in Frazer's words, "the effect of similar causes acting on the similar constitution of the human mind in different countries and under different skies." is actually evidence, rather, of diffusion. Many of the culture forms, furthermore, that formerly were thought to be primitive are actually - as we know now - regressed: regressed neolithic, regressed Bronze, or even regressed Iron Age configurations.

That's it for this post linking shamans and shamanism to ancient cultures and from ancient cultures to us in the modern world.

Tracing The Origins Of Culture & Civilization

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