From: (Erich Schneider)
Newsgroups: alt.techno-shamanism
Date: 28 May 93 12:17:55

"Why don't we start with a definition?"

The shamanic worldview usually involves a belief in supernatural forces that can be accessed to cause alterations in "external reality". These supernatural forces are usually accessed through appeals to various "spirits", which live in a "spirit world" that can be accessed through dreams or other consciousness alteration methods (sweat lodges, psychoactives, chanting, ecstatic dancing, etc.). These spirits are amenable to interaction in the same way humans can be interacted with - threats, bribes, appeals, etc.

The shaman employs a mode of operation known as "bricolage" (from the French "bricoleur", "handyman"). Unlike the engineer, who has some idea of "theoritical principles" which underly a given "practical implementation", the bricoleur has a set of techniques from which they pick and choose the appropriate "tool" to be used in the situation at hand. It is not necessary to understand _why_ something works, only that it _does_ work. The shaman's set of tools include a set of symbolic associations to help determine how to affect certain spirits. For example, eagle feathers would be useful in contacting the archetypal Eagle.

Also important: shamans traditionally are associated with a community, and serve as the community's healer/psychiatrist/miracle-worker. When the community has a problem that "mundane" means cannot solve, they go to the shaman for supernatural assistance. The shaman also orchestrates the rituals which bind the community together.

The techno-shamanic worldview is an extension of this. It invovles a belief that humanity's technological infrastructure has become so complex and vast that it cannot be entirely understood through use of an engineering-type theoretical construct. However, this technological infrastructure obviously has a direct impact on how we live our lives. Thus, the techno-shaman serves the community by accessing the technological infrastructure, not as a tool-user ordering their machine to do something, but as one sentient being negotiating with another for the performance of a service.

Drug use, ecstatic dancing, and trance music are well-established in today's techno-shamanic subculture, as is their use in ritualistic events to bind communities together. One can easily see a mapping between computer networks and the spirit world, and between computers and the powerful entities the traditional shaman interacts with.

An excellent example of techno-shamanism is seen in the AI-oriented "voodoo" in Gibson's _Count Zero_. Something similar shows up in Shepard's _Life During Wartime_, and in a more sophisticated form in Vinge's _A Fire Upon The Deep_.

Erich Schneider

From: (Arthur Chandler) Subject: The Technoshaman
Date: Thu, 27 May 1993 23:06:38 GMT

A Technoshaman is one who:
1) Believes that the essential core of the universe is an Algorithm;
2) Holds that there is a morality that can be derived from this Algorithm, which can be briefly stated as: IF NEED, THEN HELP;
3) Acts to help others by applying the derivatives of the Algorithm to everyday human existence;
4) Develops the spirit of technology to serve as the means of carrying out the Algorithm.

From: (Pavao Aaron)

Okay. When I hear the word, "shamanism," I think of the Native American/Mongolian traditions. The shaman, or spiritual leader, would let the spirit of an animal or natural force to 'enter his being,' as it were. This spirit would then guide him or grant him certain supernatural powers.

Now, when we consider this and assume that "techno-" refers to technology. We get someone who lets technology enter his/her being and guide him or her, or grant powers. Sound kind of cyberpunk?

Taking it a step further and adding in some modern cultual ideas about shamanism, we get someone who works "magic & miracles" through the use of technology.

Perhaps another word to work with here would be "technomancer." It has the same supernatural connotations, with different spiritual ones.

So, there's my thoughts (for now). Here's mud in your eye.

AKA: Aaron Pavao
"May all your ware be wet."

Date: Wed, 17 May 1995 22:15:24 -0700 (PDT)
From: Fraser Clark <>

Since I coined the word (in 1987 I think) I suppose it's for me to define it. I first used tecnoshaman in that year to decribe the DJ's role in the Rave. Harmonic navigator is a term we started using in megatripolis/London last year. Basically the DJ is in charge of the group mood/mind. He senses when it's time to lift the mood, take it down, etc just as the shaman did in the good ol' tribal days (which are still very much alive, of course, outside the west).

Technoshamanism has a wider meaning. Think of it this way; a shaman can't really opeate with more than say 20 people over a period. If you reckon that every raver today is responsible for getting 20 people into RC then their job is personal shaman. Technoshamanism is using the technology, media (despite what some think) to help spread the vibe, the meme, sketching out a rough map for the trek ahead of them