Warfare

Warfare – While many commentators recognize that shamans may protect their communities by gaining advance knowledge of attack by enemies or predators, Carlos Fausto argues that “there is an intrinsic link between warfare and shamanism.” Among many Amazonian peoples, shamans are those who can gain the perspective of dangerous “others.” In a thoroughly animate world, shamans “are capable of interacting [with nonhuman entities] verbally and establishing relationships of adoption or alliance, which permit them to act upon the world in order to cure, to fertilize, and to kill.” Such alterations of perspective are, like warfare and hunting, aggressive acts that turn enemies into “pets” or “prey,” that is, beings that can be used to sustain shamans and their kin and allies. As warriors engage with human enemies and gain power (which may be understood both socially and mystically) from such relationships, shamans engage principally with other-than-human enemies (e.g., animal or “spirit” persons).

SOURCE:

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

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