(pdf file, 15 ill.)
This article is based on the assumption that prehistoric shamanic rituals include the perception, interpretation and depiction of what we today call ‘eye floaters’ (muscae volitantes). It is suggested that, together with other shamanic symbols, floaters continue to be experienced and depicted in later shamanic societies up to the present day. The present article supports this thesis from the examples of modern Siberian and contemporary Tukano shamans. A closer look at their visual arts reveals geometric structures and characteristics that are typical of eye floaters.
Introduction: Eye Floaters
Many people experience mobile and scattered semitransparent dots and strands in the visual field, best perceived in bright light conditions. They floataccording to eye movements, which makes them hard to focus on.
In ophthalmology, these dots and strands are called eye floaters or vitreous floaters, also known as muscae volitantes (Latin: “flying flies”). They are explained as idiopathic (i.e. without pathological cause) opacities in the gel between the lens and the retina (vitreous humor) due to the age-related liquefaction (synchysis) and the collapse of the collagen-hyaluronic structure of the vitreous (syneresis) (Sendrowski/Bronstein 2010). In a number of articles, I set these “shining structure floaters”, as I call them, apart from different looking other types of floaters. I argue that, unlike real idiopathic or pathological deposits in the vitreous, shining structure floaters – which are most commonly seen by individuals – may not be vitreous opacities at all. Instead, they can be understood as entoptic (i.e. from within the visual system) geometric light phenomena similar to phosphenes and form constants…