This particular series was begun under the assumption that God has spoken and is speaking into all cultures of people. Could it be that ancient (and even more recent) shaman are experiencing God dynamics? If so, is it also possible that Christ models the search, the experiences, and the utopian hopes wrapped up in the vocation of the shaman?
In the case studies of shamanic trance travels there is an oft repeated theme of crisis and shamanic travel being combined. In some cases this crisis accompanies an initial journey which beckons a neophyte into a lifetime calling of service to others as a shaman or medicine man. In other cases danger is part of the trance journey, and challenges the shaman even before he completes a descent into the under/other world.
Black Elk's initiation into his life as an Oglala Sioux Medicine Man outlines a 12 day struggle with sickness when he was a young man. For those 12 days he laid sick in his parent's teepee. In his dreams, or in trance-like state Black Elk traveled to distant places, and heard sacred things. Upon his recovery the medicine man who was credited with healing him declared that he had a special thing to do in his life, because he was "sitting in the sacred manner."
Black Elk would go on to serve as a Holy Man for nearly 50 years. During his time he joined a Messianic movement called the "Ghost Dancers," and became a Christian who served God and his tribe in a uniquely native American manner, which included dreams and trances with messianic visions.
The Altaic shamans speak of underworld journeys with dangerous bridges to be crossed on path down, and visions of shamans trapped in the underworld who could not make it because they were sinners. Evil beasts are met on the path, and must be fought or avoided. These stories retold in Eliade's book Shamanism underscore a oft repeating motif in shamanic underworld journey: It is frequently met with difficulty.
Jesus' entrance to the underworld began in the greatest of human struggles: death, and not any death, but a violent, tortuous death met at the painful hands of betrayal. His journey, which would end up victorious begins on this deadly note, and appears to have no hope for redemption.
Part 1 of the series
Part 2 of the series
Part 3 (thoughts on shamanism and glossalalia as it relates to Christians)
Part 4a of the series