Shamanism: An Exploration in the “Technique of Ecstasy”
Introduction: The introduction provides a brief overview of shamanism as an ancient practice that is found throughout history and across cultures. This paper will examine traditional forms of shamanism, as well as neo-shamanism, the re-emergence of shamanic practices in contemporary Western culture. Ultimately, this paper argues that shamanistic practices are effective methods of healing developed and utilized as a spiritual path for thousands of years.
Working Thesis: Despite the prevailing dismissive and often negative Western scientific attitude toward shamanism, this ancient method of healing is an effective practice that, through a transpersonal experience in which an individual undergoes a change in consciousness, the individual gains access to his or her archetypal, inner resources which results in healing, insight, and self-empowerment.
I. Traditional Shamanism (the first part of this paper briefly answers the following questions concerning traditional shamanism): A.What is a shaman?
This section discusses the definition (and issues of defining) the traditional concept of a shaman. It provides a brief overview of the origin and distribution of shamanic practices around the world throughout history. b. How does one become a shaman?
This section discusses a shaman’s initiation process, training, and death-rebirth experience. c. What does a shaman do?
This section examines the methods of healing performed by shamans, (for either individuals suffering from illness or for a community as a whole) including: healing of the spirit, herbal healing, bodywork, divination, soul-leading, ceremony and ritual. It also provides information about a shaman’s guides or “spirits” and the processes by which a shaman travels to the “other world” (or induces a “shamanic state of consciousness”). A brief discussion of cultures that use various hallucinogenic or mind-altering substances is...
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