Hendrix As Shaman

Hendrix As Shaman

Shaman, 1930 oil painting by Arman Manookian

 If you’ve read my essay entitled, Hendrix And Heidegger, you know what
I’ve already written about Jimi Hendrix, the Heidegerrian-style thinker.
In this offering, I would like to present Jimi in his role as
shaman.

Shaman, according to Witchcraft Terminology, is

a
word derived from the Tungas language of Siberia, it is a generic term
for healers and spiritual leaders in tribal societies. Traditional
shamans induced trance states through drums, dancing, ingesting
hallucinogens, self-mutilation and deprivation and virtually any means
by which one might achieve an altered state of consciousness. While in
such a trance, the shaman crosses over into another world to get
information for his people such as the cause of illnesses and other
misfortunes. The shaman is the peoples’ link to the spirit world.

Anyone who has given much attention to the music of Jimi Hendrix,
especially the live performances, can easily see that he was such a man.

Now, we must remember not to get bogged down in literalism, as
we are so prone to do with so-called supernatural things. These are
issues of Psyche, where the mythopoeic is the norm; metaphors and images
are the rule here. When we hear of “spirit world,” we immediately think
of some other physical locale, perhaps out in space. We humans are
worlds within worlds, so think imaginally. The Spirit world could be the
collective unconscious, or beyond. We can’t fathom these things, so why
reduce them to mere physicality?

We must think of the effects of
Jimi’s music on our consciousness. What images does he paint within us
as we listen to him play? Do we experience a connection with another
“level of reality”?

Here is another good description of what a shaman does:

In
traditional societies, a shaman is a person who, usually in an altered
state of consciousness, acts as an intermediary between the natural and
supernatural worlds to predict and control the future, cure illness,
generate miracles, and the like. Originally applied to societies in
Siberia and Central Asia, the term now is used to refer to various kinds
of healers, medicine men & women, witch doctors, mystics, priests,
magicians, sorcerers, diviners, and so on, in any part of the world (Zoo Fence).

Recently, while watching the wonderful DVD, Jimi plays Berkeley, I fell
into a mild, sort of hypnagogic state. This was when I conceived this
essay. In such a state of mind, one feels very peaceful and at ease, a
welcome respite from this crazy world we live in. His music, especially
the songs he was writing just prior to his death, are incredibly
inspirational.

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