Spirit of the Rain Forest, Book Review Example

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Book Review

Introduction

Each individual views the world in his or her own way and seeks opportunities to share the vision with others. Therefore, it is important to listen to this vision and to determine how it might teach others a lesson or provide them with tools to conduct their own lives in the desired manner. Mark Andrew Ritchie is no different and his book entitled Spirit of the Rainforest: A Yanomamo Shaman’s Story represents a set of individual accounts of the Yanomamo tribe of the Amazon, where violence and rampage are the norm and suffering is difficult to overcome. The protagonist of the Ritchie’s book, a chief named Jungleman, describes some of the horror and violence that exists in this society and demonstrates that that people of this tribe face critical challenges and other factors that limit their independence and freedom in different ways and limits their contributions to society as a whole. The primary issues to consider include anthropologists and the beliefs of the Yanomamo tribe against the anthropologic state and the provision of sin.

Analysis

This book describes a number of challenging circumstances that impacted the Yanomamo tribe in the Amazon and how they faced critical challenges and how women were treated very poorly and without a modicum of respect for their contributions to the tribe.[1] In essence, the tribe treated women very poorly and did not demonstrate any level of respect for them, which created problems and a significant divide between the males and females of the tribe. [1]  In addition, the tribe experienced many conflicts that were indicative of internal strife and discord in many ways that typically ended in a violent fashion. From Jungleman’s perspective, the story takes a turn into a very dark place and engages the reader in dramatic and challenging examples of terror and fear that are not easy to forget. An environment that is fearful and terrifying for its residents is depicted in the text and creates doubt in the reader’s mind regarding the reasons behind these events and why they took place. The book is disturbing on many levels due to the violent acts that are described; however, since this is part of the Yanomamo culture, it is evident that these actions also represent a means of exploring the depth of this tribe and the actions that are taken in a unique manner. The book is shockingly interesting to a reader who is not familiar with the culture and represents an opportunity to convey the different characteristics of the culture and its spiritual belief system.

The Yanomamo culture represents a number of unique perspectives that drive the story and its direction in different ways. It is evident that the culture of this tribal population is unique and its primitive nature represents an aggressive stance on life and how to defend oneself not only to keep the peace, but also to demonstrate power and prowess in the eyes of others. This culture resorts to violence in many different forms in order to establish the chain of command and the belief in revenge against those who have sinned against the people of the tribe. The necessity to avenge actions taken against the tribe is evident throughout the book and conveys the importance of the tribe’s belief system on it is entire culture and direction.

As a reader, this culture is far different and distinct and represents another place in time, another world that relies on violent acts to support the cultural needs and expectations of this tribal community. As a reader, it is important to address the impact of this culture and how it is unique and diverse from other cultures, thereby representing a level of violence that is not familiar to many other cultures. The view of this culture from the inside is largely based upon tradition and supports the continued development of traditional means and objectives in order to capture the spirit and essence of the tribe and its people. The culture’s belief in revenge and taking action to preserve the integrity of the tribe and its people is not a shared view because this type of behavior is not the norm in more advanced societies. In advanced societies, this type of behavior is more likely to occur in the form of a renegade or vigilante situation and is not a part of normal society. Therefore, this type of behavior would not be accepted in a more advanced culture because it does not represent the values and ideals of a modernized society. On the contrary, it represents a primitive population with a simplified life that does not use any form of technology and other modern conveniences for its survival.

The culture of the Yanomamo tribe also presents other challenges because it does value gender equality and instead, presents males as the dominant gender and the dominant force within this group. Therefore, they are taught in such a way that defense is critical to their longevity and wellbeing in every way[1]. The actions that are taken against females within this group are unacceptable by modern standards, yet they are the norm within this smaller society. [1] As a reader, it is important to consider the consequences of these actions on the women of this culture and how this is reflected in other areas, such as the spiritual nature of the tribe and its belief system. In this capacity, the tribe has a unique spiritual perspective that also focuses on the shaman practice, whereby males are able to become faith healers in the capacity of removing “demons” from people who are sick or distressed. [1]  This perspective is not unique within the context of the tribal culture; however, it is not a concept that is often considered in modern and advanced cultures in such an open manner. Therefore, it must be considered in the context of its ability to positively impact the tribe, even when its people, especially women, suffer on a daily basis in the throes of violence and other actions that are taken against them. Therefore, as a reader, recognizing the differences in spirituality and beliefs that exist are necessary to consider the tribe as its own unique entity.

Based upon the spiritual context and the belief system of the Yanomomo tribe, it is important to recognize this culture and how to effectively communicate with this culture and its people in different ways. It is important to address these challenges and the different areas that would enable an individual with a modern interpretation of culture to communicate with an individual from this tribe. As a Christian, there is a consistent set of spiritual beliefs in God and life after death; however, communication between God and an individual is conducted through prayer. However, for the Yanomamo culture, this belief system is represented through simplicity and the lack of acceptance of material goods. This life and spiritual belief system is simple; however, plants and animals appear to have “souls” and should be treated with respect and reverence. [1]  This belief is further advanced by the shaman leaders in their capacity to create an environment that supports their beliefs and their ability to serve as the interloper between real life and the afterlife. [1]  The shaman is representative of a faith healer; however upon the death of an individual, it is customary to dispose of the body by burning and then the performance of a ceremonial ritual that is part of the religious tradition of the tribe. [1]  Although every culture has its own set of beliefs and customs regarding different actions, this tribe is representative of a different approach that impacts the smaller tribal community and its people in important ways that they understand and recognize as the norm.

Communicating with an individual from the Yanomamo tribe requires an effective understanding of the tribe and its cultural beliefs and customs in great detail. These differences are very stark and dramatic in comparison to modern Christian beliefs, yet they are truly reflective of the tribe and its belief system. Therefore, communication within the Yanomamo framework would require an understanding of shaman practices and how these impact the entire culture in different ways. The humanity of this culture is observed differently from a modern context, yet these traditions are deeply rooted in this primitive and simplistic approach to daily living. These efforts are important indicators of this belief system and the tendency for violent acts and the training of all male children to be warriors and to defend themselves.

Conclusion

The unique customs and spiritual beliefs of the Yanomamo tribe are depicted in Ritchie’s book in different ways, including an account of the actions taken by this culture and its dependence on the shaman as a faith healer and intermediary between the living and the dead. [1]  This offers an opportunity to convey the different ideas and expectations of the culture and its use of violence to protect the integrity of its culture and spiritual belief systems. From a reader’s perspective, this book is violent and depicts many acts of horror, yet it also promotes a realization that there are significant differences between cultures and that in particular, primitive cultures must be respected for their beliefs, even if they are not accepted on a widespread basis by the masses. These beliefs are deeply rooted in tradition and should be respected in a manner that is consistent with the tribe’s overall perspective of life and death.

References

Ritchie, Mark Andrew. Spirit of the Rainforest: A Yanomamo Shaman’s Story. Island Lake.

[1] Mark Andrew Ritchie. Spirit of the Rainforest: A Yanomamo Shaman’s Story. Island Lake, 2000.

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