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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.
Shamanism goes far beyond a primary self-concerned transcendence of ordinary reality. It is transcendence
for a broader purpose, the helping of humankind. The enlightenment of shamanism is the ability to light up
what others perceive as darkness, and thereby to see and to journey on behalf of a humanity that is perilously close
to losing its spiritual connectedness with all its relatives, the plants and animals of this good Earth.
-- Michael Harner (1980) The Way of the Shaman
NATIVE AMERICAN SPIRITUALITY #
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