An Encyclopedia of Shamanism, vol. 1 - download pdf or read online

By Christina Pratt

Shamanism could be outlined because the perform of initiated shamans who're wonderful by means of their mastery of more than a few altered states of cognizance. Shamanism arises from the activities the shaman takes in non-ordinary truth and the result of these activities in usual fact. it's not a faith, but it calls for religious self-discipline and private sacrifice from the mature shaman who seeks the top levels of mystical improvement

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The common element among all shamans is their mastery of shamanic altered states, regardless of the perceived origin of the non-ordinary energy utilized in the trance state. To display mastery the shaman must remain in control of his or her self whether in spirit flight or spirit embodiment. The shaman must be able to utilize the trance state for the specific reasons the shaman entered the trance to begin with. The shaman must be able to direct the powers available in the trance state to effect the change needed in the patient or community.

In contrast, a mentally ill person unintentionally enters altered states and is usually inaccurate or unclear in naming the invisible beings to whom he or she is speaking. There is no accuracy, self-control, precision, or efficacy in the altered state experience of the mentally ill. The misunderstanding about the shaman’s working relationship with spirit is further confused by the assumption that possession, an illness, is the same state of xxxix consciousness as embodiment, a trance state employed by shamans.

In Psychomental Complex of the Tungus (1935), one of the most authoritative ethnographic studies of Siberian shamanism, author Shirokogoroff posits that the most basic attribute of the shaman’s trance is the mastery of spirits, or embodiment of the helping spirit. The Tungus distinguish between an involuntary possession trance, which is an illness, and the voluntary embodiment trance of the shaman. The shaman intentionally possesses spirits as a part of curing the possession illnesses in others.

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