A shaman is a ritual or religious specialist who is believed to be capable of communicating with spirit powers. Man or woman, a shaman is said to be chosen by the spirits. A shaman's power comes directly from a spirit which takes possession of the shaman during a trance. Derived from a Tungus word, the meaning of shaman is 'he who knows.' The first identified shamans and shamanistic religion were among the peoples of Siberia. Not only in parts of Asia and in Oceania does shamanistic practices exist, but also in the American Indian culture as well. In order to ensure the communities well-being, the shaman regulates relations between the community and the spirits. They become involved in matters such as controlling the weather, expelling harmful spirits, detecting broken taboos that bring misfortune, locating game or fish and most of all cure the sick and guiding the souls of the decieced to the spirit world. Because of their unique powers, shamans gain a great amount of political influence in their surrounding communities. During a shamanistic practice, a shaman is known to receive a mystical light that enables her or him to discover the places where souls are taken. While in this state of mind the shaman possesses powers of knowing and healing; which will greatly benefit the patient. The major method of shamanic curing is the recovery of lost or stolen souls that have resulted in misfortune.
Pro's and Con's of Hmong Shamanism
The Spirits, Soul, and Ceremonies
Links for more info on Shamanism
Foundation for Shamanic Studies
What is Shamanism
FAQ Shamanism General Overview