Music – In addition to the making of rhythmic sound aided by drums, rattles, bells, and other instruments, shamans in many cultures sing or chant in the course of the rituals they conduct. Some of this music has healing intent and/or properties, some purifies or educates listeners, while other examples cause effects (e.g., illness) at a distance. Some shamanic chants are said to be revealed by other-than-human persons or otherworld helpers, for example, powerful plant persons such as ayahuasca. Some songs or chants are taught by an elder shaman to initiates. They may involve special languages known only to shamans and can involve complex cosmological myth recitals that reestablish and adjust the order of the cosmos or of relationships, disturbance of which causes illness, famine, or social problems.

Recordings of indigenous “shamanic,” neo-shamanic, and techno-shamanic music are available. In addition to groups that identify themselves as shamanic such as the Shamen (who worked with Terence McKenna), others acknowledge the influence of shamanic ideas and practices. For instance, Santana’s album Shaman has a companion website in which Carlos Santana says that “a Shaman is a spiritual healer who brings balance to mind, body, heart and spirit with colors, sound, herbs and song, creating unity and harmony in the world”; it also suggests reading books by Mircea Eliade, Michael Harner, McKenna, Ruth Heinze, and Mihály Hoppál, and Otto von Sadovszky.


Historical Dictionary of Shamanism by Graham Harvey and Robert J. Wallis 2007


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