ROBERT W. BROCKWAYTHE ROOTS OF NEW AGE
Today there are also Western New Agers who claim to be shamans, and apply that name to themselves. These, however, are less interesting than those individuals who experience the same kind of phenomena without attempting to interpret them in these terms. Western urban society abounds with many such examples, such as the aforementioned “near death” experiences. Almost everyone knows someone who has had experiences such as those which Clotte and Williams identify as ASCs. Many have had them themselves.
My mother told me of one or two experiences which she had when young. Her father died at the age of forty-five in 1912. Shortly after the funeral, she was sleeping on the ground floor of the house where he died; other family members were sleeping in the house as well. She had a vivid experience in which her father came to her in his grave clothes and said: “I’m ashamed of you, Edna, because the coffin is too small.” He then gave the dimensions. My uncles found my mother staring wide-eyed and in a trance. When they wakened her from it, she told them about their father’s apparition and one of them told her that the dimensions of the coffin were exactly as she had said.
My mother, who was of Scottish Nova Scotian origin, also had “second sight” as the Scots call it, and often had dreams to which she attributed special meaning. Whenever she dreamt of her grandmother, for instance, we moved. Since my father was a soldier in the United States Army this was fairly often. I have inherited a little of it myself, although I always have been too skeptical to believe it. However, I do have little intuitions as I call them. I sometimes anticipate what someone is about to say before they say it, which is possibly clairvoyance or telepathy. I have had a few déjà vu experiences, as when I went to Europe for the first time, and saw the rocky coast of Cornwall. Although my father’s ancestors came from London in 1654, I always have had the “feeling” that their forbears were Cornish. I had a very “special” feeling about Cornwall when Katie and I spent a holiday at Tintagel and found a “Brockway Shoe Store” there. When I lose something, like my keys, or a favorite hat, I often have the “feeling” that I will find it again. Sometimes, though, I’ll “know” that I won’t. Many people, though by no means everyone, can cite instances of “little intuitions” like these. I think that they are fairly universal, and that those who deny them are usually doing so because they are highly skeptical or very practical, wanting no part of anything which they dismiss as nonsense. (My wife, however, would disagree: she would point out that we remember those intuitions which are correct, and conveniently forget those which prove to be wrong.)
Native North American Shamans
As of 1970, the majority of native North Americans were at least nominal Catholics and Protestants thanks to indoctrination by missionaries and education in denominational residential schools. The latter were government-sponsored institutions, part of a program that began in the United States during the first administration of Grover Cleveland during the early 1880s. At the time, it was an enlightened policy, replacing the previous program of the Grant Administration’s Secretary of War William Tecumseh Sherman, which was openly devoted to the genocide of the native American people as part of the westward expansion