Saturday, April 10, 2010
There are many variations of shamanism throughout the world; and several common beliefs are shared by all forms of shamanism. Common beliefs identified by Eliade (1964) are the following:
* Spirits exist and they play important roles both in individual lives and in human society.
* The shaman can communicate with the spirit world.
* Spirits can be good or evil.
* The shaman can treat sickness caused by evil spirits.
* The shaman can employ trance inducing techniques to incite visionary ecstasy and go on "vision quests."
* The shaman's spirit can leave the body to enter the supernatural world to search for answers.
* The shaman evokes animal images as spirit guides, omens, and message-bearers.
* The shaman can tell the future, scry, throw bones/runes, and perform other varied forms of divination
Shamanism is based on the premise that the visible world is pervaded by invisible forces or spirits which affect the lives of the living. Shamans require individualized knowledge and special abilities. Many shamans operate alone, although some take on an apprentice. Shamans can gather into associations, as Indian tantric practitioners have done.