The filter trap: Swarms, anomalies, and the quasi-topology of Ikpeng shamanism

David Rodgers


This article explores the first phase of shamanic initiation among the Ikpeng, an Amerindian people living close to the Middle Xingu River in southern Amazonia. Submerged in a nocturnal river or lake and staring up at the dark water surface, the initiate absorbs a swarm of water and forest beings, attracted by the potent aroma of jatobá tree resin, dripped onto the surface above his (or her) eyes, turning the novice’s body into a living container for these spirits. Attempting to unpack some of the topological complexity of this process, I introduce a series of concepts—swarm and anomaly, inoculation, plasma, quasi-events, entanglement, and multiple life—intended as improvised solutions to the contaminations, distortions, and alterations made to Western concepts when exposed to Ikpeng and Amerindian thought.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14318/hau3.3.005