Sharon, Douglas

Sharon, Douglas – Following Sharon’s now-classic anthropological study Wizard of the Four Winds (1978), which brought the Peruvian shaman Eduardo Calderon to public attention, Calderon was commercialized by neo-shaman and psychologist Alberto Villoldo who conducts spiritual tours for neo-shamans to meet and practice with the shaman. Donald Joralemon, who has since collaborated with Sharon, considers how Calderon’s involvement with neo-shamans brings his reliability as an “authentic” ethnographic informant into question, perhaps even jeopardizing the credibility of Sharon’s research. Equally alarming for Joralemon is how Calderon responds to the neo-shamans’ requirements by substantially altering his “traditional” practice for them. Calderon thus becomes both a shaman, practicing local Peruvian healing, and a neo-shaman, blending New Age terminology with local beliefs. At the same time, Joralemon is impressed with the way Calderon shifts between local Peruvian and neo-shamanic modes of understanding illness and the supernatural. Adapting to new social and cultural circumstances is indeed what Calderon and countless other shamans have been doing with their “traditions” for generations, and in Peru, where shamans are increasingly urbanized and must engage with Christianity, cultural facets blend and new forms of helper-spirits include Christian saints.


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


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