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Directory of Shamanism Resources

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The word 'shaman' comes from the Tungus language in Siberia. The term refers to the spiritual leaders of certain societies, usually small-scale societies without centralized political organizations and occupational specialization. The shaman's primary function is to serve as an intermediary between his or her community and the spirit world. He has direct contact with the spirit world through trance states, uses the trance state for healing, bewitching and divining for his people, and uses his connections to spirits to achieve good or evil goals. Because of this perceived power, he is often the most feared person in the society. The techniques used in shamanic religions have been adopted by individuals and groups of non-shamanic societies seeking access to the spirit world. Modern versions of shamanism emphasize healing of self and others, but often lack the community foundation of traditional shamanic religions. In these contexts, shamanism is no longer a religion but rather a spiritual practice borrowed from traditional beliefs.


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