The Enchantment and Disenchantment of the World of the San

  • Mathias Guenther


This chapter deals with the at-times hovering closeness of myth and spirit beings and presences in the natural and social world of the San that brings some of the myth and spirit world’s ontological inchoateness and inconstancy to this world. The San forager’s being-in-the-world place and space is the natural environment, in particular the hunting ground, the arena within which animals are encountered most directly, eye-to-eye and cheek-by-jowl. This in itself keeps humans constantly aware of ontological ambiguity ad mutability, their sameness-as and otherness-from animals whose identity they may assume mentally and bodily at certain moments in the hunt. That awareness is intensified by the presence, in the same landscape, and, at times on hunting ground, in the form of a lion- or jackal-shaman or a trickster-eland, of the ontologically fluid beings or states from the mythical and preternatural domains. This presence potentially transforms their being-state, from virtual, imagined or “thought-out” myth and spirit beings to actual ones, seen, encountered or even “become”—at times “danced out”—by people.


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Authors and Affiliations

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

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