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Mircea Eliade - On Achomawi healing 003682



Type of Spiritual Experience


This description is of a healing ceremony among the Achomawi…

A description of the experience

Mircea Eliade – Shamanism Archaic techniques of ecstasy

 He sways, chanting, his eyes half closed.  First it is a humming in a plaintive tone, as if the shaman wanted to sing despite some inward pain.  The chanting becomes louder, takes the form of a real melody, but still hummed. 

 The audience begins to fall silent, to listen, to pay attention.  The shaman has still not his damagomi.  It is somewhere, perhaps far off in the mountains, perhaps in the night air, quite close by.  The song is to charm it, invite it to come, even constrain it……

 These songs, like all those of the Achomawi, comprise only a line or two, making up two, three or at most four musical phrases.  The song is repeated ten, twenty, thirty times in succession, uninterruptedly, the last note being immediately followed by the first of the beginning, with no musical rest.  The singing is in unison.

 As for measure, it is clapped out.  It has nothing to do with the rhythm of the melody.  It is in a different rhythm, a perfectly ordinary rhythm, but regular and without accent.  Usually at the beginning of a song everyone beats a slightly different measure.  But after a few repetitions, they come together

The source of the experience

Native American Indians

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps


Music therapy