David Lewis-Williams - Cave paintings and animals
Type of Spiritual Experience
In cave paintings, the idea of the shaman/out of body traveller becoming the animal of his ‘alter-ego’ is represented by means of the animal itself, but usually as a ‘hanging’ or ‘flying’ animal……….
A description of the experience
The Mind in the Cave – David Lewis-Williams
[Describing Upper Paleolithic rock art which describes shamanic imagery of altered states of consciousness].
The images are disengaged from any natural settings… there is no suggestion of the kind of environment in which real animals live – no trees, rivers or grassy plains. Moreover Upper Paleolithic images have … their own free floating existence, they are placed without regard to size or position relative to one another. These characteristics are exactly what one would expect of projected, fixed, mental images that accumulated over a period of time. Mental images float freely and independently of any natural environment. The impression of floating is sometimes enhanced by two further characteristics. Often Upper Paleolithic parietal images of animals have no hoofs; the legs terminate open endedly…… it is reasonable to assume the absence of hoofs implies an absence of standing. Then too when hoofs are depicted, they are sometimes in a hanging rather than standing position. In Lascaux and other sites, hoofs are depicted to show their underside or hoofprint.