The use of ‘shamanism’ and/or neuropsychology in the interpretation of rock art imagery has been much contested, with opinions often polarized between so–called ‘shamaniacs’ and ‘shamanophobes’ who support or oppose these lines of enquiry, respectively. Ethnographic analyses have, arguably, suffered most in this controversy. In this article I explore Layard’s ethnography of the bwili or ‘flying tricksters’ of Malakula, Melanesia, to interpret rock art in the northwest of the island – in the same region and, apparently, of the same era as Layard’s bwili. In contrast to uncritical shamaniac interpretations and their misleading equation of ‘entoptics = shamanism’, and as a challenge to the criticisms of shamanophobes, I theorize the term ‘shamanisms’, scrutinize Layard’s ethnography, and critically apply Lewis–Williams and Dowson’s (1988) neuropsychological model to interpret the rock art of northwest Malakula. The article therefore seeks to reinstate these approaches – ethnography and neuropsychology – as complementary elements in the interpretation of rock art.