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The Tibetan Book of the Dead turns out to be seriously chunky stuff. Between its value as a philosophical tool, and all the tie ins to myth, to folklore, and just as anthropological information, it's not something I'm going to read just once. This thing is packed with good stuff, and I'm not just saying this because of the elaborate descriptions of furry monster girls and Jack-Kirby-like Tathagathas.

There are little shamanic seeming details scattered all through the thing so far (emphasis on skeleton, blood and entrails, that last part reminds me especially of the zuld in Buryat mysticism) but one part especially struck me;

Then the Lord of Death will drag you by a rope tied round your neck, and cut off your head, tear out your heart, pull out your entrails, lick your brains, drink your blood, eat your flesh and gnaw your bones; but you cannot die, so even though your body is cut into pieces you will recover.

That's being mystically killed eight times, and it sounds like a lot of Siberian stuff as documented in Eliade. Dayumn.
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1. I'm vaguely interested in Athapaskan speaking cultures and have been rereading Make Prayers to the Raven, which points out Athapaskan speakers through Oregon and California which I hadn't known about before; Kato, Chilula, Tolowa and some people around the Eel and Rogue rivers. Even more interesting some of them seem to have been studied by Alfred Kroeber.

2. Make Prayers to the Raven includes a glossary with words for "fox" and "wolf" but unsurprisingly given species distribution and competition, doesn't include "coyote." It does have a kenning to avoid mentioning lynx out loud and thereby inviting poor hunting luck, "nodooya," something-going-around. It's occured to me that Dene as other Athapaskan speakers might be using "yenaldlooshi," he-goes-on-all-fours, as a similar kenning to avoid mentioning shapechangers.

3. I've in the middle of reading Primitive Mythology. Fairly early on you get to reading about this central Australian aboriginal circumcision ceremony which is this big long involved crunchy thing with all sorts of little Freudian and Jungian details. You can imagine Campbell having pedantgasms over it. Part of the week long ceremony is a part in which the youth lies down, and watches as different adults embody central cultural concepts and heros, and then lay on top of the kid to convey the magic of the idea. Reading this in 100 degree heat, all that I could think is that, if I were a 13 year old Aborigine, about the last thing I would like is for some big, heavy, warm, bearded guy to sit on me to convey wisdom.


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