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The Strong Eye

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Shamanic faith [Sep. 11th, 2011|06:59 pm]
The Strong Eye
Just a quick question, do you people feel Shamanism is a religion (spirituality, spiritual path etc) in its own right or is it a role one can have inside different spiritual groups (pagan, Native, etc).

The main difference is that under the first definition, there should/would be shamanic lore, explenations and frameworks that fit all under the name shaman. The latter would suggest that shamans could have different explenations and interpetations of similar activity's and perhaps even entity's.

[User Picture]From: lupagreenwolf
2011-09-11 06:42 pm (UTC)
Shamanisms are more practices than they are religions--and yes, I use shamanisms plural deliberately. The main issue in calling shamanism a singular religion is that it falls prey to the same flaw that core shamanism does--assuming that you can strip out the cultural elements of a given culture's shamanisms and call what's left "universal".

The supposedly "universal" parts of shamanisms are things that are common to the human condition, not just the shamanic condition. For example, we orient to a world tree or similar concept because we are visual, bipedal creatures of average size, and so we orient concepts in ways that are familiar to us--we are vertical creatures, and it is easier for us to express a vertical concept in two dimensions.

However, saying things like a world tree, or journeying, or power animals, can be taken out of their cultural context and called "universal" and then plugged into any other culture is the same as saying that there is supposedly a culture-free food. Anything we create is informed by our cultural background. Core shamanism was created by a middle-aged, middle-class male anthropologist, and has been largely popularized by college-educated, middle-class white people, and so those are cultural markers that give core shamanism its personality.

tl;dr version: Shamanisms are unique to their cultural settings and are not universal.
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From: vafud
2011-09-11 07:18 pm (UTC)
It seems to be a tricky topic to slap definitions on. Personally I roughly agree whit what you are saying though. But then should we not learn the basics of our ways from others within our own tradition, and leave the more universalist aspects for later when we have established ourselves and our frameworks?
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[User Picture]From: houseofchimeras
2011-09-11 08:49 pm (UTC)
I agree with lupabitch. I tend to see shamanism more as a practice within some belief systems more than a belief system in and of itself. Various people have had certain aspects of their beliefs and practices which are often ’shamanic’ in some respect or another but their actual beliefs are often rather different in respects. Some belief systems that are animistic might also be shamanicistic for instance, but even that is rather vague.
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[User Picture]From: lalitadevi
2011-09-13 06:18 am (UTC)
I agree as well. It is a practice, a source: The well of spirituality, as it is direct contact with the gods. It is the opposite of religion in some ways. Religion creates human-made structure and institution around spirituality. Shamanism feeds spirituality by direct communication with the gods.

Maybe in some ways though, religion confuses itself with shamanism....Maybe that is actually where a lot of problems with religion lays. In the way it mistakes the will of humans for the will of the gods.

I also agree that shamanism is not universal. Shamans work within many cultural and spiritual contexts.
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