Predation – A significant theme of many Amazonian cultures is that there are basically two kinds of beings—predators and prey— each of which is divided into three major groups: spirits, people, and animals. However, all living beings (and in these animist cultures that might mean all beings) see themselves as humans. Thus, a spirit (as seen from a human perspective) might see itself as a human preying on animals, while an animal (again as seen from a human perspective) might see itself as a human preyed on by spirits; people (from a human perspective) see themselves as humans preyed on by spirits and predatory animals. A shaman’s job therefore includes achieving the perspective of others—“seeing as they see”—and making use of the resulting knowledge to achieve particular goals. Similar cosmological, social, and relational understandings (of importance for resource management and mediation) are discussed in relation to Siberian peoples by Roberte Hamayon and Ioan Lewis.


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


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