Theriomorphism

Theriomorphism – In animist contexts in which the ability to transform is understood to be a defining characteristic of persons, or specifically of powerful persons, the ability of some humans to transform themselves into animal forms or to imagine themselves as animals (so as to understand and anticipate their actions and intentions) may be important both to shamans and to hunters. Brian Morris (2000) discusses this as an aspect of human–animal relationships in Malawi in Southern Africa. David Lewis-Williams and Thomas Dowson discuss the interpretation of rock art depictions of some therianthropes, part-human and part-animal beings, as shamanic.
See also Shape-Shifting.

SOURCE:

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

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