chapter  3
8 Pages

The nature of shamanism

There is no agreed cross-cultural defi nition of “shamanism.” Indeed, it is characterized by a chameleon-like elusiveness. . . . There is, nevertheless, a certain combination of key characteristics[:] . . . a layered cosmology, with the fl ight of the shaman’s soul to other levels of this cosmos, and the power to use this journey to fi ght, command and control spirits which inhabit these realms and affect human destinies. Thus shamanism is both an epistemology, that is a system of contemplative thought with an implicit set of propositions, and a blueprint for action, as in the location of game animals or the retrieval of kidnapped souls.