They asked modern Namibian Ju'hoansi tribespeople to explain the 2,000-year-old Cape paintings, and were amazed to hear how they represented complex cosmological and shamanic beliefs.
The Ju'hoansi believe that during a night-long dance associated with rhythmic clapping and chanting, special people in the tribe take on the power of animal spirits and use it to heal the others in their group.
A continent away, a US psychologist studying shamanism and hypnosis has added his piece to the puzzle. Etzel Cardena works with Americans especially susceptible to hypnosis.
He has found that all these people report the same kinds of feeling and visual hallucinations, which mirror the experiences of those involved in shamanic and other religions.
He believes that this means our minds are all the same, and we share the same experiences in altered states of consciousness.
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