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About Shamanism
By:Rena Sherwood

Shamanism is considered one of mankind's oldest branches of pagan belief systems with roots in prehistoric times. Shamans were found all over the world, although the word "shaman" is Siberian. Male and female shamans held a powerful place in aboriginal tribal societies because they could manipulate spirits. Spirits could be ancestors, deities, elemental forces or even from certain diseases. Practicing shamans still exist today.

Function
Shamans were primarily healers in aboriginal tribal cultures, but they could also seek knowledge from spirits, transform into animals or fly invisibly to spy on enemies in order to advise members of the tribe.

Identification
Shamans are chosen by other shamans or by the tribe. One identifying trait is that they survived a near death experience through accident or illness.

Trance
Some shamans enter into trances through hallucinogenic drugs, fasting, sleep deprivation, chanting or drumming. While in the trance, they enter into the realm of spirits and convince the spirits to work for the tribe.

Offerings
In order to appease the spirits, shamans must give many offerings and observe taboos. If they break a taboo, they risk offending a spirit and losing power.

Fun Fact
The most famous shaman was Yaqui Indian don Juan Matus, described in twelve books by Carlos Castaneda. However, there is no proof that don Juan ever existed.