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A Shaman is the name given by anthropologists to holy men who appear to have a closer tie to the spirit world than others, and who have become endowed with exceptional powers to deal with the supernatural (Zimmerman and Molyneaux, 1996). The word ôshamanö is derived from the Tungus reindeer herders of Siberia, and describes a special type of holy man (McElroy, 2000). The Siberian shamans interact with spirits and deities through prayer, ritual and offerings, and also by direct contact with the spirits. The Siberian shamans enter into a deep trance (really an out-of-body mystical state), with the aid of rhythmic drumming and chanting. This trance frees his consciousness from his body and allows it to enter the realm of the spirits and experience ôOther Worldsö but, at the same time, maintain all the senses from the earthly realm.

The term ôshamanismö is now assumed by many to be a Native American word, and they believe that shamanism is a universal North American Indian religion, but there is no such thing (McElroy, 2000). There are hundreds of North American Indian tribes, each with its own language, customs and beliefs. The trance-journeys of the Siberian shamans are not common practice with most North American Indians cultures. A shaman is defined as a master of the trance-journey, and shamanism refers to the beliefs and practices which arise from this technique. He is not a holy man or a medicine man.

Native North American Indians do not like the term ôshaman,ö and prefer to use the term ôholy manö (Zimmerman and Molyneaux, 1996). Holy people either attain that position because of one particular powerful vision they had, or are in constant communication with the spirits and can manipulate the world around them. Famous North American Indians of the first kind include Chief Sitting Bull and Chief Crazy Horse, whose people regarded them as holy men. These men had limited contact with the spirits world,...

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Shamans. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:19, June 26, 2019, from