Archive for September, 2015

I’ve spent the almost two months since I last posted trying to figure out the birth of the spirit vision — and it’s been slow going.

It’s easy to see how the kinship vision would have been a useful supplement to the original “vision of everything.” If the impulse “to explore strange new worlds” was a defining characteristic of our own species from the very start — as opposed to the more stay-at-home Neanderthals — those early explorers would have needed a framework within which they could interact peacefully with any strangers they encountered. And the simplest way to accomplish that would have been a mutual understanding that we are all ultimately kin, descended from the same long-ago ancestors.

This extension of kinship beyond the limits of motherhood and grandmotherhood would also have proven useful back home. It would have given fathers more of a stake in raising their children. It would have provided the basis for the complex networks of reciprocal obligations among in-laws that typify fully-developed kinship systems. It would have enabled humans to interact more productively with other humans in both good times and bad.

But what would have been the utility of the spirit vision that arose out of the hallucinatory experiences of the first proto-shamans? That’s where I got stuck until I realized that I was looking at things backwards.

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