Entering Trance, Entering Relationship: Liminality at Finnish Rock-Art Sites

Ulla Valovesi


This article presents four new possible images of drums in the Finnish rock art, and considers these, and apparent dancing images as an acoustic record of the past. It also presents preliminary results of testing echo at over 100 rock-art sites that suggest that exceptional soundscape is an elemental, if not a fundamental component, of rock art. Both the images and the echo correlate well with the local Sámi ceremonies of singing and drumming at sacred sieidi sites—regional tradition and Finnish rock art point to entering into deeper trance through music and dancing. However, in Finland, there are few entoptic signs in rock art. In some places these signs are connected to shamanism but research shows a correlation with entoptic signs and psychedelic substances but not necessarily with shamanism. This disconnect emphasizes the need for redefining ASC: the term is not singular, but plural. Contrary to being hallucinations, shamanic states can be better understood as being exceptionally present and part of an Indigenous knowledge formation process. A pattern of liminal features, images, and local analogies construe Finnish rock-art sites effectively as sites of liminality, trance, and relationship.

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