Towards a better understanding of Shamanism

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, November 1996

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Shamanism in Anthropology has been an entity in a constant

metamorphosis. It has always been considered exotic and its

existence around the globe was never contradicted. However, over

the years it did not receive the scholarly attention that it so

requires. The age of discovery garnered a multitude of

information on shamanism all over the world. The reporters

invested a great deal of accuracy in the gathering of the

information, but their observational skills were mostly

underdeveloped. Furthermore as could be expected, they saw and

evaluated things solely on the basis of European religion and

social customs (Flaherty, 1992, pp.3) without having it

necessary to view its ramifications to the people who are so

imbued by it. Despite these methodologies which were grave in

nature, matters began to shift during the 1940's and 1950's when

the social sciences were rapidly coming into their own

disciplines. Shamanism, was beginning to be looked upon as a

complex religious notions and modes of behaviour (Lommel, 1967,

pp.8). Although shamanism was beginning to harness scholarly

attention there were still different contradicting theories being

laid out in the scientific community. More recently since the

notion of tribalism has become more prevalent shamanism is

beginning to be recognized as holding the key puzzle in life.

Furthermore, it is growing and encompassing many areas such as

Psychology, Pharmacology, and even believe it or not Physics.

Now before we elaborate on the historical significance of

shamaninsm in anthropology it is imperative that a general

definition of shamanism is established.

In order to study shamanism the shaman must first be

understood. The original word shaman came form the Ural

mountains in Russia. It applied to people who acted in several

'non-ordinary' capacities for their tribes. Shamans may be

defined as man or a woman who through their ability...