According to Eliade, one of the most common shamanistic themes is the shaman's supposed death and resurrection. This occurs in particular during his initiation.[137] Often, the procedure is supposed to be performed by spirits who dismember the shaman and strip the flesh from his bones, then put him back together and revive him. In more than one way, this death and resurrection represents the shaman's elevation above human nature.

First, the shaman dies so that he can rise above human nature on a quite literal level. After he has been dismembered by the initiatory spirits, they often replace his old organs with new, magical ones (the shaman dies to his profane self so that he can rise again as a new, sanctified, being).[138] Second, by being reduced to his bones, the shaman experiences rebirth on a more symbolic level: in many hunting and herding societies, the bone represents the source of life, so reduction to a skeleton "is equivalent to re-entering the womb of this primordial life, that is, to a complete renewal, a mystical rebirth".[139] Eliade considers this return to the source of life essentially equivalent to the eternal return.

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A quote saved on June 3, 2019.


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