Folk Magic & Shamanism in the Indus Valley Culture



The Indus valley culture is well known for the sophistication of a people who had architectural and cultural prowess, which flourished for over 700 years before inexplicably abandoning their cities to return to a more pastoral lifestyle, even in the face of great regional climatic changes. Many scholars have made attempts to account for this abandonment, citing overpopulation, shortage of food due to climate change, among other factors, yet these people were some of the most adaptable farming communities of their time and the city sites show no signs of mass loss of life.

In this talk, the presence of shamanism and the use of folk-magic within the culture of the earliest known people in the region, (those of Mehrgarh, Balochistan), will be explored. Weaving together the threads from non-material connectives, a picture shall begin to emerge of their shamanistic relationship with nature, the spirits that occupied the higher realms in these regions and how the perception of time-and-space shaped their culture.

A Note From Matt Brown:

An Astrophysicist and Educator by profession, I have had a longstanding interest in shamanism, folk-magic and the connections to nature. Not only in terms of their rites and rituals but also in terms of the cultural cosmographies and the methodologies employed to access realms out of time, unknown to science. In my pursuit of an understanding of the beginnings of the universe, I have tried to unpack the cosmology of many cultures, putting them into context with the lives of the people at that time. As an outdoorsman I have a great reverence for nature and all that she is able to provide us. Whether it is the connection when paragliding above Mont Blanc, or seamless integration that occurs while being moved by the mountain on a backcountry snowboard run. It is this attainment of what Zen Buddhists refer to as samādhi and the melding with the spirits of nature that drives me to discover how these much earlier cultures initiated and experienced that connection, which drove their cultural and spiritual evolution.