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shamanism
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SHAMANISM
The animistic religion among traditional cultures based on the belief in powerful spirits. Shamans (magician, healer, or medium) owe their power to mystical communion with the spirit world. The shaman shields humans from destructive spirits by rendering the spirits harmless. He--or she--receives powers from a spirit who selects him and whom he cannot refuse. Characteristically, he goes into auto-hypnotic trances, during which he is said to be in contact with spirits. He occupies a position of great power and prestige in his tribe. Noted especially among Siberians, traditional shamanism is also found among the Eskimos, some Native American tribes, in Southeast Asia, and in Oceania.