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What Is Shamanism?
By:Victor Cina

Shamanism is a set of traditional beliefs and practices that deal with communicating with the spirit world. Shamanism is widely practiced by hunter-gatherer tribes like Native American Indians of the Plains or by agricultural tribes. One who practices Shamanism is called a Shaman or a Medicine man or woman. While Shamanism has different forms throughout the world the main similarity is the link between the spirit world and humans. A man or woman can become a Shaman by surviving a near death experience, whether this be a fall from a great height, recovering from a severe illness or dreaming of losing an organ that is diseased.

Shaman Duties

Shamanism is the relationship between the spirit world and humans. The Shaman is the portal in which the spirits communicate. Shamanism is based on the idea that the visible world is pervaded by spirits that influence the lives of human beings.

Shamans perform various duties within their groups. They perform or lead sacrifices, healing rituals, storytelling or singing of songs that preserve the traditions of the tribe. Shamans also command fortune telling and guide the souls of the dead to their proper places in the afterlife.

Shamans are the main healers within the group and usually call upon the good spirits to help rid an infected body of the evil spirits that are causing illness. Shamans help produce trances that create a vision that helps a tribal member to understand something that is happening in her life or requires her to go on a quest to resolve her issues.

Techniques Employed by the Shaman

The Shaman uses different techniques to contact the spirits and receive advice from them or channel their energy to heal the sick. Shamans carry some form of talisman with them that symbolizes the visual form of the spirit in which they are closely related, like an eagle, jaguar, bear or rabbit.

The Shamans also employ dietary conditions that help with communications with the spirit world. Most employ some sort of fasting to heighten the hunger of the soul while others use natural forms of hallucinogens to produce their visions.

Music or chanting convey paths of communicating with the spirit world. Many believe that loud noises like those of the Taiko drums in Japan drive away angry spirits.

Shamans also use runes or other fortune telling devices that read and convey some meaning to the tribe or tribal member.

Shamanism and Shamans have remained a fixture in cultures for thousands of years and they still persist today.