Is Our Paganism Shamanism?

(This is adapted from my book “Compassionate Tarot Companion”. {Free download} )

Is our Paganism shamanism?

I follow the anthropologists' description of shamanism: An extremely diverse worldwide phenomenon, a form of magic arising from human psychology, present in most or all human cultures.

I believe our Paganism definitely fits.

But how can we tell?

To start, we might seek a standard definition of Shamanism and see if our Paganism fits that; But unfortunately there isn't any standard definition.

For example, see the Wikipedia article “Shamanism”. What you'll find is a very long and detailed argument about defining it, with many definitions offered, packed with examples, and going back several centuries.

However: Among the rest you'll find the definition used by anthropologists today, as i've stated it above. So at least Wikipedia supports my framing of the question.

But there's more: We can usefully compare our Paganism to the wealth of examples given there and elsewhere in the literature. For comparison i'll use a New England psychic fair as an example of our Paganism.

Comparison #1: As described in the literature, shamanism typically involves healing of some sort. == At a psychic fair we heal broken lives and broken hearts, perform aura cleansing, and advise the sick on how to live well.

Comparison #2: As described in the literature, many shamans travel in trance to a realm of strange beings who are symbols of things here, and they help matters here by interacting with those beings. == Doesn't that describe an expert reader with their sentient cards?

Comparison #3: As described in the literature, many shamans contact the spirits of the dead on behalf of their community. == Spirit mediumship is exactly this, but on an individual basis.

Comparison #4: As described in the literature, every culture's shamanism is uniquely shaped for that culture. == Isn't our Paganism?

And finally: Here as everywhere, shamanism arises from deep in human psychology.

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  • Admin

    Thanks for this, it is interesting. 

This reply was deleted.