Only professional biologists and natural scientists are properly accredited to deal with the question of life in contemporary Western societies. As a result, the question has become framed in a very specifi c way. One key element is that life is always conceived of as continuous; it is transmitted from organism to organism in uninterrupted sequences across vast stretches of time. In the process, life evolves. For example, it has recently been established that all extant birds evolved from feathered theropod dinosaurs that lived during the Jurassic period. This theory of evolution is one of the cornerstones of the modern sciences. A central axiom is that nature does not take leaps-natura non facit saltum; sudden great modifi cations are considered impossible. So-called indigenous people evidently tend to disagree with that assumption of a fundamental continuity. In their myths, metamorphosis is all but ubiquitous. In their magic, shamans change shape into birds, snakes, and much else. In their rituals, transformations into all sorts of monsters and beasts take place time and again. Yet this does not constitute a major problem for proponents of the Western cosmology. The animistic alternative of discontinuity is easily brushed aside if one accepts the modern bifurcated model.