Experiencing Transformation

  • Mathias Guenther


This chapter deals with the impact, mentally and affectively, of the experience of transformation of a human into an animal. It considers that impact from two perspectives, one virtual and vicarious, through myth via the imagination, and the other real and direct, through the body. The former focuses on mythological protagonists whose reactions and emotions to an ontological transformation they are undergoing—such as a young woman and mother of an infant she nurses into a caracal or of a young man, playing a tune on his musical bow, transforming into a tree—are mediated by a storyteller. The latter considers a shaman’s lion transformation, either directly, through the body and senses, by the shaman, or, more accessible ethnographically, through first- or second-hand witnesses’ accounts. The latter includes an account by the author (expanded on in one of the appendices) of a leonine transformation he observed when conducting ethnographic fieldwork in the 1970s.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mathias Guenther
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyWilfrid Laurier UniversityOntarioCanada

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