the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

9, Shaman

“…the shaman cannot be cured by the usual methods of healing. He has to find the unique way, the only way that applies to him.”

— Marie-Louise von Franz.

Idiosyncrasies attributed to shamanism all orbit altered states of consciousness of indigenous folk; spells of out-of-body experiences, rituals, chants, supernal access, divination, animal spirits, and more.

Legos depict crystal formation via the nucleation process.

Extending on the network section from earlier; crystals phase transition or precipitate out of solution via nucleation. Nucleation can be thought of as a self-assembly into thermodynamically stable configurations. Spontaneous clusters, nuclei, instantiate the symmetry that branches over the system; the symmetry conditional on the systems’ internal & external conditions.

The nuclei here and the shaman, for me, share the same function: singularities that communicate, to the network, a new pertinent symmetry. A paradigm shift to subsist through new flux. Through a social lens this flux looks like any stressors that impact social groups/societies; e.g. access to resources, population size, demographic distribution, politics, natural phenomena.

“…the shaman is the great specialist in the human soul; he alone “sees” it; for he knows its “form” and its destiny.”

— Mircea Eliade

Symmetries summing over a material yielding some functionality, kindles an erred sense of unidirectionality in the field of functional nanomaterials.

Deformation over a piezoelectric PZT unit cell.

Let’s peer into some piezoelectric crystals to gain clarity (pondering my orb 🤣). Piezoelectric crystals generate an electric charge when experiencing elastic deformation. i.e. a charge occurs from the temporary asymmetry that arises from mechanical stress over the lattice.

An exchange is occurring:

  • the atomic orientation of unit cells feed into a lattice that scales into a larger construct (crystal).
  • stressors from the environment act on that construct.
  • the construct distributes the stress across the lattice.
  • each lattice configuration shifts as the distributed stress displaces each atom’s position.
  • The new orientation, under stress, results in an imbalance of electric dipole moments; charge ensues.
  • The reverse is true; applying an electric potential will elicit an inverted deformation cycle over the lattice. (i.e. if compression in one axis induces charge; then a potential will induce a compression over the lattice along the same axis).
FEM simulation: two modes of oscillations distributed across multimodal architecture of piezoelectric beam.

The field of functional nanomaterials takes advantage of (and optimises) that dialogue between the environment and a material’s properties (intrinsic & extrinsic). A mosaic enfolding molecular stoichiometries, synthesis processes, lattice symmetries, optimum architectures, applications, environment and function.

Rather than a unidirectional flow of information, we witness a network of feedforward and backpropagation recursive over scaling hierarchies. Very reminiscent of homeostasis: the self-regulating pinball flux shared across the holobiont.

Cover artwork for Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids ‘Shaman!’ — Tokio Aoyama [c. 2020]

“The shamans have played an essential role in the defence of the psychic integrity of the community…”

— Mircea Eliade.

Proceeding with the crystallography analogy; the new symmetry refers to the divinations (new information) that orients (updates) the group (network) toward advantageous outcomes. I propose, the shaman’s supernal access to divination relates to a delocalisation from the coplanar exchange of information across the network. The ‘coplanar exchange’ refers to socio-cultural dynamics specific to the group.

“Dissociation is posited to be a psychological mechanism for coping with internal and external stress.”

— Christopher D. Lynn.

Anthropologists have juxtaposed shamanic phenomena with dissociative characteristics. Lynn suggests that dissociation is an adaptive ability; only expressing as maladaptive in the extremes: ‘unsupported excessive dissociation’ and ‘lack of dissociation’.

“…one can also point out that sexual intercourse and eating are biological adaptations far more fundamental than dissociation, yet promiscuous intercourse can be used to selfishly or ignorantly hurt others and spread diseases. Likewise, overeating or poor nutrition can lead to poor health and social dysfunction.”

— Christopher D. Lynn.

In my opinion, the metric for ‘maladaptive’ exists on a spectrum that conforms to a socio-cultural basis for success of the group. Socio-cultural niches stratify social groups. For example, cities are often said to have personalities. In London, a mosaic of subcultures thrive; stirring a distinct identity that ripples through its citizens. A buzz diffusing through clefs of sky peeking through staves of buildings. Much different from the towns in Surrey and Oxfordshire, where I sojourned during my research & 1st career role.

I’ve had the beautiful pleasure of enjoying this Christmas season and striding into the new year at Birmingham. Another english city weaving its own tempo stitched together over tributaries. You can feel the deep breath of the city as you move between the ‘Brumm’ towns and villages.

“To find out what is truly individual in ourselves, profound reflection is needed; and suddenly we realize how uncommonly difficult the discovery of individuality in fact is.”

— Carl G. Jung.

Personalities aren’t the only traits that scale to cities. Cities have been shown to have distinct microbiota that reflect their niche character. Imagine; what kinds of citywide information these microbiota encode? One study, lead by Chengsheng Shu, pivots on this ‘fingerprint’ of cities. Amassing swab samples from ~60 cities’ transport systems (noted for high human density).

Shu and his team were able to build a metagenomic map that correlated the relative abundance of microbial signatures to a city’s unique conditions. Essentially encoding the city’s disposition. For example, relative intensities of antimicrobial-resistant gene signatures correlated with a city’s antibiotics protocol; directly linking the health system.

This hints to a world inundated with innumerable quarries of information. A profundity of vast undertones streaming just under (or over) our attention. Concise ciphers of insight awaiting decryption. A wealth of knowledge teeming in cold nips of air whistling through quaint moonlight; pirouettes of starlight eagerly charting epics eclipsing Homer’s Odyssey; a kiss of dew softly articulating gentle furrows quilting my lips; old hymns wafting up through soil contouring under my feet.

“The eye is always caught by light, but shadows have more to say.”

— Gregory McGuire.

Via an abscission; the shaman decants into an implicit perception that divines over a higher order architecture. In essence, a sort of apperception discerns the anatomy (truth) and momentum (will) across the holobiont spanning the local ecology. (S)he/they then disseminate the divinations across the coplanar network (group) via efficient communication channels specific to that socio-cultural niche. This in turn reorients the network toward a comprehensive scope of success.

Ergo; I propose that humanity’s average momentum is locked in a maladaptive shamanic process.

“An inefficient virus kills its host. A clever virus stays with it.”

— James Lovelock



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