Meet New Shaman, Same as Old Shaman

Sometimes getting fooled again is good for you, as in healing good. Shamans have been healing people for tens of thousands of years, using their considerable powers of persuasion and that most efficacious of treatments: placebo.

While shamanic healing methods are varied, there is a great deal of ritual similarity across time and space: trance, sucking, rattling, manipulation, and suggestion. The more dramatic the performance, the better. This historic and geographic continuity is not the result of cultural diffusion. Shamanic healing methods are similar across time and space because they can improve therapeutic outcomes.

I was reminded of these things while watching the intense trailer for Balian, a documentary in progress by filmmaker Daniel McGuire:

“Balian,” a documentary by filmmaker, Dan McGuire, tells the story of the rise and fall of a charismatic Balinese shaman (or “Balian”) named Mangku Pogog. In Bali healers enter powerful trance states in which they embody their spirit help, often drawing the patient into trance as well. Mangku Pogog engaged in full embodiment trance states curing conditions like blindness and leprosy by guiding the power of spirit through yoga postures, large stones, heavy sticks, and sucking extractions.

Join Dan and host Christina Pratt as they explore the world-view of Balinese healers and their attitudes towards sickness, health, and the healing power of transformative ritual. Through the story of Mangku Pogog we can see the effect of globalization on the belief systems of traditional people. What new challenges are presented to traditional healers as people come for healing with different worldviews and diverse beliefs about healing? Will traditional wisdom survive or be changed by “spiritual tourism.”

Compelling stuff! Dan is trying to complete the film and is running a Kickstarter Campaign. I encourage everyone to get involved with what promises to be an important film.

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