Protection

Protection – A significant role of shamans in many indigenous communities is to provide protection from enemies of various kinds, including sorcerers, witches, predators, enemy shamans, annoyed ancestors, illnesses, and even deities. They may protect by obtaining knowledge of impending attack, by offering mediation for breaches of purity or insults to other-than-human persons, or by healing illnesses with the aid of powerful otherworld helpers. In Amazonia and elsewhere, shamans’ ability to alter their perspective, to see as another sees, can enable them to see past material forms to understand the real nature of a potential predatory or prey animal, human, or spirit. Among some Amazonian peoples, a chief role for a community’s shaman is to indulge in mild acts of predation (bloodletting) against their neighbors in order to protect them from far more aggressive assaults by cannibalistic deities. Among the San in Southern Africa, healing rituals are guarded by those who ward off the cocreative deity and ancestors who made the world a harsh place, while others seek the energy to heal.

SOURCE:

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

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