Music as Knowledge in Shamanism and Other Healing Traditions of Siberia

Marilyn Walker


Introduction. Several presenters made the point that one cannot look at narrative alone, without taking into account the music, dance, and drumming that, in many settings, go along with it. One of these presenters was Marilyn Walker, who has had the good fortune to work with healers in Siberia. Although academic in approach, Marilyn’s paper also recognizes the importance of experiential ways of knowing. In her Quebec City presentation, she shared some of this experiential dimension by showing and commenting on videotaped segments featuring three Siberian healers. Walker’s paper discusses healing at several levels. In addition to several healing dimensions that she lists at the end of her paper, she mentions the physiological effects of music, dance, and drumming. Current research is leading to a better understanding of how trauma affects the brain and the body, and ways that various therapies, including new therapies focusing on sensorimotor effects, can promote healing. Along with these developments has come a greater appreciation and understanding among some mental health practitioners of some of the neuropsychological processes by which traditional practices such as narrative, singing, drumming, and dancing, may bring about healing. WHA

  • Marilyn Walker, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Mount Allison University 144 Main Street, Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada E4L 1A7

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