As a “wild,” drumming thunder shaman, a warrior mounted on her spirit horse, Francisca Kolipi’s spirit traveled to other historical times and places, gaining the power and knowledge to conduct spiritual warfare against her community’s enemies, including forestry companies and settlers. As a “civilized” shaman, Francisca narrated the Mapuche people’s attachment to their local sacred landscapes, which are themselves imbued with shamanic power, and constructed nonlinear histories of intra- and interethnic relations that created a moral order in which Mapuche become history’s spiritual victors.
Thunder Shaman represents an extraordinary collaboration between Francisca Kolipi and anthropologist Ana Mariella Bacigalupo, who became Kolipi’s “granddaughter,” trusted helper, and agent in a mission of historical (re)construction and myth-making. The book describes Francisca’s life, death, and expected rebirth, and shows how she remade history through multitemporal dreams, visions, and spirit possession, drawing on ancestral beings and forest spirits as historical agents to obliterate state ideologies and the colonialist usurpation of indigenous lands. Both an academic text and a powerful ritual object intended to be an agent in shamanic history, Thunder Shaman functions simultaneously as a shamanic “bible,” embodying Francisca’s power, will, and spirit long after her death in 1996, and an insightful study of shamanic historical consciousness, in which biography, spirituality, politics, ecology, and the past, present, and future are inextricably linked. It demonstrates how shamans are constituted by historical-political and ecological events, while they also actively create history itself through shamanic imaginaries and narrative forms.