Shamans are an integral part of communal religious traditions, professionals who make use of personal supernatural experiences, especially trance, as a resource for the wider community's physical and spiritual well-being. This Introduction surveys research on the topic of shamanism around the world, detailing the archaeology and earliest development of shamanic traditions as well as their scientific 'discovery' in the context of eighteenth and nineteenth century colonization in Siberia, the Americas, and Asia. It explores the beliefs and rituals typical of shamanic traditions, as well as the roles of shamans within their communities. It also surveys the variety of techniques used by shamans cross-culturally, including music, entheogens, material culture and verbal performance. The final chapters examine attempts to suppress or eradicate shamanic traditions, the revitalization of shamanism in postcolonial situations, and the development of new forms of shamanism within new cultural and social contexts.
Thomas A. DuBois is the Birgit Baldwin Professor of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison where he teaches in the fields of Scandinavian Studies, Folklore Studies and Religious Studies. He is author and editor of five books including Nordic Religions in the Viking Age (1999) and Sanctity in the North: Saints, Lives and Cults in Medieval Scandinavia (2008).
Preface; Part I. Introductions: 1. Shamanism and the issue of religion; 2. A history of shamanic encounters; 3. Shamanism in archaeological evidence; Part II. Shamanic Soteriology and Ritual: 4. Cosmology and the work of the shaman; 5. The call and initiation; 6. Mediating the spirit world: shamanic roles and careers; Part III. Examining Ritual Effectiveness: 7. Seance, trance and the shamanic mind; 8. Shamans, clients, and healing; Part IV. The Shamanic Arsenal: 9. Music and entheogens: pathways to ecstasy; 10. The material culture of shamanism; 11. Shamanic verbal art; Part V. Shamanic Politics in a Changing World: 12. Shamanism under attack; 13. Shamanic revitalizations; 14. Neoshamanism; Epilogue; Bibliography; Index.