Dealing with Uncertainties

The ambiguities of the existing world have been dealt in various ways throughout the course of human history. These ways have changes and evolved together with people reflecting their beliefs, values, worldviews, and needs. When faced with different approaches, people sometimes deem them as ineffective, imaginary, or even childish. However, such ways of dealing with helplessness or randomness as divination, storytelling, and shape-shifting are important for people who believe in them.

All three practices are regarded by certain communities as something that exists beyond any doubt. Such phenomenon as shape-shifting, for instance, is a reality and the attempts to challenge it do not lead to any change in opinions. As research shows, the shape-shifting ability is often displayed by individual who undergo a serious personal crisis or do not fit into the community. It can be argued, therefore, that their alleged ability to transform into a totemic animal, which is respected and feared at the same time, is the way to find their place in the community and to feel powerful and confident in otherwise unfavorable situation. The similar argument may be applied to storytelling and divination. People usually ask a diviner’s advise when they are desperate and the world seems unfamiliar and foreign place. In such cases the advice of a seemingly knowledgeable person can grant a sense of security, purpose, and order as opposed to randomness and unexplainable events. Furthermore, in storytelling the characters are usually bestowed with such qualities as the person would like to possess himself or herself. In this way a kind of distancing happens but at the same time approximation to the hero in the story. This technique enables the storyteller to exercise power and pride but at the same time to remain modest. The opposite is also true when a person tells about the event he/she has experienced and exaggerates his/her achievements.

As one can see, storytelling, shape-shifting, and divination are methods explain and accept the difficult and unexplained phenomena of the surrounding world. It would be wrong to judge these methods only because one is not used to them. The main focus should be whether or not they are effective in what they are supposed to achieve.