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Shamanism is a religious practice that involves a practitioner (shaman) interacting with what they believe to be a spirit world through altered states of consciousness, such as trance.[1][2] The goal of this is usually to direct spirits or spiritual energies into the physical world for the purpose of healing, divination, or to aid human beings in some other way.[1]

Beliefs and practices categorized as "shamanic" have attracted the interest of scholars from a variety of disciplines, including anthropologists, archaeologists, historians, religious studies scholars, philosophers and psychologists. Hundreds of books and academic papers on the subject have been produced, with a peer-reviewed academic journal being devoted to the study of shamanism.

In the 20th century, non-Indigenous Westerners involved in counter-cultural movements, such as hippies and the New Age created modern magico-religious practices influenced by their ideas of various primitive religions, creating what has been termed neoshamanism or the neoshamanic movement.[3] It has affected the development of many neopagan practices, as well as faced a backlash and accusations of so-called cultural appropriation,[4] exploitation and misrepresentation when whites have tried to practice the ceremonies.[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Singh, Manvir (2018). "The cultural evolution of shamanism". Behavioral and Brain Sciences 41: e66: 1–61. doi:10.1017/S0140525X17001893. PMID 28679454. 
  2. Shamanism. Encyclopædia Britannica (May 12, 2020). “Shamanism, religious phenomenon centred on the shaman, a person believed to achieve various powers through trance or ecstatic religious experience. Although shamans’ repertoires vary from one culture to the next, they are typically thought to have the ability to heal the sick, to communicate with the otherworld, and often to escort the souls of the dead to that otherworld.”
  3. Finding New Cosmologies. Berlin: Lit Verlag Dr. W. Hopf (2009).
  4. Shamans and religion : an anthropological exploration in critical thinking. Prospect Heights, Ill.: Waveland Press (2000). ISBN 978-1-57766-162-7
  5. Wernitznig, Dagmar, Europe's Indians, Indians in Europe: European Perceptions and Appropriations of Native American Cultures from Pocahontas to the Present. University Press of America, 2007: p.132. }}