Ancient Traditions: Shamanism in Central Asia and the by Gary Seaman, Jane S. Day

By Gary Seaman, Jane S. Day

Shamanism is the world's oldest faith. The rituals and ideology of this old culture have been carried from Asia and Siberia into the recent international by means of nomadic searching bands starting 12,000 years in the past. This precise number of essays on shamanism in significant Asia and the Indian Americas presents sound and fascinating scholarship that displays the nice variety during this interesting box. First released in 1994, "Ancient Traditions" has turn into an important, usually stated reference within the ongoing learn of old religions. Over the centuries, shamanism has persevered as an abiding subject of curiosity not just due to a human main issue with the earlier but in addition as a result of a typical craving to recognize existence lived in nearer symbolic courting to the earth. For readers attracted to indigenous cultures and religions, this choice of essays clarifies a lot of the hot Age hypothesis on universals in shamanism, supplying reliable study on particular ethnic and historic expressions.

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Although every shaman has a command of magic, Eliade continues, obviously not every magician is a shaman. And although every medicine man is a curer, not every healer is a shaman. Shamans employ techniques of curing that are exclusive to them, because they alone have access to those spirit forces that divination and dreams have identified as the ultimate source of an illness. However, many shamans are also expert herbalists, a point to which I return later. Page 6 Page 6 As for the trance, notwithstanding the shaman's mastery of ecstatic techniques, there are varieties of religious ecstasy that do not properly belong with shamanism; hence, not every ecstatic is or was a shaman.

In a sense, that perception is an accident of history: more learned and open-minded travelers, especially the natural historians, came upon and studied the phenomenon earlier in Siberia than elsewhere. In recent years, scholars have come to realize that the old geographical and cultural limits were too narrowly drawn, because the same cultural conditions and religious ideologies that made the Siberian or Inuit (Eskimo) shaman the center of tribal magico-religious life also existed, and to a degree still persist, in the Indian Americas and in other places as well.

In so-called tribal societies, shamans usually function side by side with chiefs, although occasionally the two offices may be merged in a single individual. (A classic study of the interacting roles of chiefs and shamans is that of Anna Gayton [1930:361420] of the Yokuts and Mono of Northern California. Yokut/Mono chiefs are primarily political leaders, and shamans are specialists in the sacred and healers of illness. ) Although every shaman has a command of magic, Eliade continues, obviously not every magician is a shaman.

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