Wounded Healer

Wounded Healer – Many recorded examples of shamanic initiation involve a debilitating or life-threatening illness, recovery from which is facilitated only by the assistance of spirits who instruct the novice that in return for this healing s/he must become a shaman. The consistency of this initiatory illness and subsequent healing has led to the application of the term wounded healer as a characteristic feature of shamanisms. Nonetheless, such a general term and monolithic approach should be treated with caution since the diversity of indigenous realities resists simplistic classification. The German performance artist and “shaman” Joseph Beuys’s urge to “show your wound” is reminiscent of the shaman as a wounded healer.


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


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