Sorcery

Sorcery – term used to refer to the harmful (combat or assault) activities associated with some shamans, especially when turned against their own kin or community. While it can be used to distinguish “our shamans” from “enemy sorcerers,” the idea of sorcery can also point to the ambiguity of shamans in many cultures—people who might be able to either heal or cause illness. Such allegations and fears are commonplace (e.g., in the Caribbean traditions of Vodou and Obeah), but academics have only recently devoted sustained attention to these issues (most interestingly in relation to Amazonian “dark shamans”). Sorcery may even be institutionalized; for example, Johannes Wilbert concludes that the Warao of northeastern Venezuela “separate young shamanic healers from old shamanic sorcerers,” noting that these groups formed and performed complementary functions in the confrontation with enemy groups and with the diseases and disruptions of colonialism. For the Warao, both their shamans and sorcerers were good, as opposed to the bad shamans and sorcerers of enemy groups.

SOURCE:

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

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