Originally a term given to medicine men or exorcists by the Tungus of Siberia, shaman has been extended to other cultures to refer to individuals with similar responsibilities and powers. A shaman is a ritual leader who aids people in matters of health and well-being and whose skill traditionally depends on supernatural powers. Shamans are variously referred to as medicine men or women, healers, herbalists, or witch doctors. They treat patients’ physical problems with healing herbs and medications and also attempt to heal the underlying spiritual causes of illness. In traditional African thought, illness was always caused by supernatural forces such as magic, witchcraft, or Sorcery. The cause of the illness could be determined by consulting oracles or through divination. Once the cause was identified, the healer could plan a course of treatment.
The shaman gained access to the spirit world and to the source of the power to be used in healing through a trance state, often achieved through dance. The trance dancer entered another level of consciousness through which he or she reached the source of supernatural energy and was transformed by it. The shaman could then use this energy for healing, rainmaking, or reestablishing harmony in the community.
Taken from : African Mythology A -Z by Patricia Ann Lynch ( second edition )
Edited for the Web by Occult World
Last updated: March 11, 2015 at 10:23 am
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