Anthropology of Extra-ordinary Experience, Part I






"Extraordinary Experience and Fieldwork"



"Modeling Extraordinary Experience"



"Taking Our Informants Seriously"






I.1 pp. 16-38 Jean-Guy Goulet : "Dreams and Visions of Other Lifeworlds"

pp. 21-22 dream-reversal in repraesentations between human & animal

p. 21

Cree : " "dreaming of an opposite sex person, especially of foreigners, must be taken as an indication of game close at hand" (Tanner 1976:220-21 ...)." {in Siberian shamans’ terms, the "Eskimo woman" was the goddess controlling the moose on behalf of the hunters}

Tanner, A. : Bringing Home Animals. NY : St Martin, 1976.

p. 22

Wahiro (Goajiro) : "animals dreamt-of represent human beings, and vice versa (Goulet 1978; Watson-Franke 1981; Perrin 1987a, 1987b)."

Watson-Franke, Marie-Barbara : "Dreaming in Goajiro culture". JOURNAL OF LATIN AMERICAN LORE 7:239-54.

p. 25 "prophets" of the Dene-Ta ["referred to either as Slavey ... as as "the Dene-tha branch of the Beaver Indians" " (p. 38, n. 8)] of northwestern Alberta

"In Chateh ["also known as Assumption" (p. 35)], the Prophet Dance is officiated over by Dene Tha elders known in the local dialect as ndatin, from the verb ndate, "he / she dreamed." When speaking in English, Dene Tha refer to such an elder as dreamer, prophet ... . Prophets who claim knowledge on the basis of dreams say that ... their mind is powerful."

p. 29 intercession by the "prophets" on behalf of the author, in author’s visionary experience of receiving their blessing

"In the morning, to my surprise, I woke to the sound of drums. My eyes still closed, I ... saw the two elders to whom I had brought gifts. They were drumming".

"Dene Tha speak of the elders’ ability to travel long distances in spirit, with their animal helpers, to help the spirit of the individual who has asked for their help."

pp. 30-31 author’s personal visionary encounters

p. 30

encounter with his own double : "I suddenly realized that I was looking at a detailed life-sized image of myself. Here was my double before my very eyes, wearing the same clothes I was the wearing, kneeling by the fire, fanning the flames with my hat. ... The rationale for not blowing on the fire was that such an action would offend spiritual entities and induce a violent wind storm in the camp."

p. 31

encounter with dead person : "I attended a conference and suddenly saw a recently deceased Dene Tha appear before my eyes (see Watson and Goulet 1992:219-220 ...)."

Watson Graham & Goulet J.-G. : "Gold in; gold out". JOURNAL OF ANTHROPOLOGICAL RESEARCH 48.


I.2 pp. 39-70 Marie-Franc,oise Gue’don : "Dene Ways and the Ethnographer’s Culture".

pp. 41-42 authoress’s obedience to "the taboo prescriptions ... followed during menstruation"

p. 41

"to walk while keeping my feet together on the path; to put one foot on the

p. 42

door step; not to step over a stream, over a path, over a tool, never over a man; and to stay in my tent for three days every month."

pp. 44-45 prohibitions concerning myths

p. 44

"While the big myths were to be told only in the winter time, preferably during "the big moon festival," when spirits and monsters are away, these myths were nevertheless very often alluded to."

p. 45

"women are not supposed to tell bear stories, or even pronounce the name of "that which walks upright," "the big one," because of the story of the girl who married the bear, and of the story of the she-bear marrying a man."

pp. 45, 65 effect of myths

p. 45

"if one meets a porcupine on the trail, one will know that no bear will bother the traveling party, because of "the bear and porcupine story.""

p. 65, n. 7

"The Smart Beaver cycle of stories ... relates ... the hero ... modifying or taming the giant animals who roamed the earth during the early days (and thereby transforming them from "cannibals" into game), ... the hero also learns from friendly animals how to make snowshoes, bow, and canoes, ... as the originator of the human way of life".

pp. 52-53, 56 power-dreams

p. 52

" "If you dream, everybody dreams, even a little bit, you are a little bit a sleep-doctor" (... Tetlin, 1969)."

p. 53

"I was then repeatedly told ... that "everybody who dreams is some kind of sleep-doctor, everybody has power.""

p. 56

dream by authoress : "I dreamt I was a falcon, flying upriver. ... I saw myself piercing the sky with my beak, and I emerged right in front of the cabin." "I told the dream to my hostess. ... "Once", she shyly replied, "I dreamt I was an otter, and I swam down into the water, into the mud at the bottom, and I dug my way in, and when I got out, I too found myself in front of the cabin.""

p. 55 animal-telepathy; capture by bush-spirit

"injunctions from my instructors : ... "Animals, they hear you, they hear your thoughts, you watch your words, you think well of them.""

"one of the pubescent girls disappeared from sight. She was found within the hour, unconscious ... (ashen face, dark rings around her eyes, clammy skin). ... The entire community discussed the case ... which was finally attributed to a kidnapping by ... a spirit-like humanoid called "Nahani" and well-known in most Dene communities for prankish and wild behavior."


I.3 pp. 71-95 Edith Turner : "A Visible Spirit Form in Zambia". [Ndembu tribe’s rite, led by anthropologists]

pp. 74-83, 92, 95 ritual journey, carrying (p. 74) a musical rasp (to play while walking) and a mongoose-skin bag (to put into it sacred plant-leaves collected along the way), to locations of sacred medicine-trees, involving talking (praying) to "the bad ones, the ayikodjikodji" (p. 76) at each such tree arrived at; culminating in authoress’s participation in conjuration of, & in witnessing apparition of, an ectoplasmic spirit

p. 75

"we set off to ... to look for yitumbu (medicines) --"



cognate word

utility of plant

p. 75

mufungu (African oak)

"gathering ... of ... animals"

is^ikenu ‘welcome’ ("greeting")

p. 76


kusengula ‘to bless’

"blowing on the food"

p. 77

musoku (soap root)

kusosa ‘to wash’

"used as a lid ... has a strong smell"


muc^a (coco plum)


"its pit is very durable ... . The wood is hard and the root is sweet."


mututambulola (Congo pepper)

"to swarm"

"The root is bright orange inside; ... it makes ihamba obey."




"its leaves fall all at once".

p. 78



"could even take away the evils of unmotivated witchcraft."



mpepela (‘the wind’)

c^is^inga (forked shrine-pole)




"cured malaria"



kusolola ‘to reveal’

"the ihamba would appear quickly and would not be able to hide."

p. 79

c^ikwata (thorn tree)

kukwata (catch)



"no reason"

"for inducing abortions."

p. 80

"The libations were for the useless spirits, the ayikodjikodji, who must not be left out." "I drank some of the tea. For a moment it made my head swim, but soon my senses cleared."

p. 81

"Then they began divining the ihamba’s name."

p. 83

"I saw with my own eyes a giant thing emerging out of the flesh of her back. It was a large gray blob about six inches across, opaque and something between solid and smoke."

p. 92

Another witness to this episode "told us that you could see the ihamba moving through the veins of the body ... . ... When an ihamba goes into a horn you feel it vibrating."

p. 95, n. 6

Singleton "was the kind of healer who is endowed with a tutelary spirit who guides him in his craft."

p. 79 termite nest is used ritually as "a grave for ihamba".

p. 94, n. 3 ihamba-tooth : Hunters actually remove a tooth from a dead comrade and carry it with them on their expeditions in order that it might help them kill animals." {cf. West African myth of tooth of Death-god as source of death for all humans}

pp. 71-72 other accounts of spirit-entities, experienced by anthropologists leading rites in other tribes

p. 71

"When an anthropologist has an unusual experience, this ... may take the form of ... seeing a mysterious light (as with Evans-Pritchard ... [1937]:11, among the Azande), ... or become the climax of a book which is published as a novel, such as Return to Laughter (Bowen ... [1954])."

Evans-Pritchard, E. : Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic among the Azande. 1937.

Bowen, Elenore S. : Return to Laughter. 1954.

p. 72

"Paul Stoller experienced witchcraft among the Songhay of Niger and found himself to be changed as a result. He says (1984:110), "All my assumptions about the world were uprooted from their foundation on the plain of Western metaphysics".

Stoller, Paul : "Eye, mind, and word in anthropology". L’HOMME 24:91-114.


David E. Young & Jean-Guy Goulet (eds.) : Being Changed : the Anthropology of Extraordinary Experience. Broadview Press, Peterborough (ON), 1994.