As might be expected, considering his focus and early success on the interpretation of South African rock art in light of shamanic influences, he tends to find shamanism behind pretty much anything he looks at. At this point I must confess that I believe that the use of shamanism as an explanation of rock art is hugely overdone. I have gotten to the point where I think of shamanism as the “S”-word. It has reached the position where anyone who cannot come up with a better explanation for rock art just calls it shamanic. A few decades ago pretty much all rock art of animals was dismissed as “hunting magic” and much of the early respect afforded Lewis-Williams came from the fact that he very convincingly gave us an alternative to that overused term. We need to be very careful that we now do not just automatically substitute the “S- word” for “hunting magic” and continue to make the same mistake.
Self portrait by Samantha, 1998.
It is a natural human impulse to assign answers to unexplained phenomena, but that does not make them correct.