“Shamanism is a practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to encounter and interact with the spirit world and channel these transcendental energies into this world. A shaman is someone who is regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of benevolent and malevolent spirits, who typically enters into a trance state during a ritual, and practices divination and healing. The origins of shamanism are uncertain, but it is thought to have originated in North Asia during the Upper Paleolithic period. Shamanism was then adopted by many cultures around the world, becoming an integral part of their spiritual and religious practices. In shamanism, the spirit world is accessed through altered states of consciousness, which allows the shaman to interact with spirits in order to gain knowledge, power, and healing. There are many different techniques that can be used to achieve altered states of consciousness, but the most common is through the use of drums and chanting. The use of drugs is also sometimes employed, but this is less common. Once the shaman has reached an altered state of consciousness, they will enter into the spirit world and interact with the spirits. This can be done for a variety of reasons, such as to gain knowledge, power, or healing. Shamanism is a complex and varied practice, and it is not possible to provide a comprehensive overview in such a short space. However, this brief introduction should provide a basic understanding of the main features of shamanism.” (TEWAI)


Eliade, M. (1964). Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Castaneda, C. (1968). The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge. New York: Simon & Schuster.

What is Shamanism?

“Today, many people closely associate shamanism with Native American peoples; however, anthropologists have studied evidence of shaman practices on all six habitable continents, some of which date to the Paleolithic era. Put simply, shamanism is a means by which humans have tried to understand the universe and our place in it. It does not force adherence to any particular deity or dogma. Rather, a shaman concerns him or herself with nature and uses insight to heal (physically, mentally, or spiritually) and to promote communal prosperity. What this means in practice runs the gambit from herbal knowledge to contact with supernatural forces, from cool-headed logic to prophecy.” (Ancient Origins).


“Shamanism is a religious practice that involves a practitioner (shaman) interacting with what they believe to be a spirit world through altered states of consciousness, such as trance. The goal of this is usually to direct spirits or spiritual energies into the physical world for the purpose of healing, divination, or to aid human beings in some other way. Beliefs and practices categorized as “shamanic” have attracted the interest of scholars from a variety of disciplines, including anthropologists, archaeologists, historians, religious studies scholars, philosophers and psychologists. Hundreds of books and academic papers on the subject have been produced, with a peer-reviewed academic journal being devoted to the study of shamanism.

In the 20th century, non-Indigenous Westerners involved in counter-cultural movements, such as hippies and the New Age created modern magico-religious practices influenced by their ideas of various Indigenous religions, creating what has been termed neoshamanism or the neoshamanic movement. It has affected the development of many neopagan practices, as well as faced a backlash and accusations of cultural appropriation, exploitation and misrepresentation when outside observers have tried to practice the ceremonies of, or represent, centuries-old cultures to which they do not belong.” (Wiki)

The Shaman
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