What is shamanism? Where is it from? How does one become a shaman?What are the requirements to become one? Anthropologists tell us that the word shaman derives from the Tungus language and traditions, but few people understand the full scope of what that means. In his groundbreaking book, Spirit Voices, David Shi answers all these questions and more.
Drawing upon his own ancestral traditions, Shi explores the history and practice of shamanism. He guides readers through what may be the unfamiliar landscapes of North Asia—the place where shamanism was born—as well as the largely hidden and unfamiliar traditions of Turkic, Mongolic, and Tungus shamanism, exploring the subtle and unique aspects of each tradition. Shi provides a clear and accessible guide that explores the many different North Asian shamanic traditions.
So, what exactly is shamanism? David Shi suggests that the most accurate definition derives from shamanologist Nicholas Breeze Wood, who writes, “A shaman is someone chosen by the spirits [typically at or before birth] and who can go into a controlled and repeatable deliberate trance state, during which they A) experience ‘spirit flight,’ where they go to the spirit worlds and meet spirits, who they either fight with, negotiate with, or trick, in order to create change in this physical world, or B) are often taken over/possessed by the spirits (normally ancestral shaman spirits, or local land spirits) while in this physical world—the spirits using the shaman’s voice and body to heal, or give advice to members of the shaman’s community. Without the spirits and their blessing, a shaman cannot exist or function. Without the trance state, it is not shamanism.”
Featuring history, firsthand experiential reports, mythology, and folklore, Spirit Voices explores the spirits, spirituality, tools, and practices of true shamanism, past and present. Shi also provides practical information for those readers seeking to implement shamanic practices, including those that are appropriate to noninitiates and outsiders to the culture. As the author points out, “the purpose of shamanism can be summed up in two words: coexistence and balance—coexistence with our spirits and our communities, and the balance that must be preserved between all of us and within ourselves.”
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