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Neoshamanism refers to a "new" form or a revival of an old form of "shamanism", a system that comprises a range of beliefs and practices related to communication with the spirit world.

Neoshamanism is sometimes used as a disclaimer or qualifier, where revivalists are trying to piece back together shattered systems that no longer exist as a whole due to significant changes in the original culture, often as the result of colonisation, globalisation, or genocide. Neoshamanism is not a single, cohesive belief system, but a collective term for many such philosophies. However, certain generalities may be drawn between neoshamans. Most believe in spirits and pursue contact with the "spirit-world" in altered states of consciousness which they achieve through drumming, dance, or the use of entheogens. Most systems might be described as existing somewhere on the animism/pantheism spectrum.[1] Most neoshamans were not trained by any traditional indigenous shaman directly but rather gain their training through books and self experimentation. That is the reason they are called "neo" or new. True Traditional Shamans were raised directly in cultures with indigenous shamans and have apprenticed directly with an indigenous shamans for many years. There are very few of these Traditional Shamans left.[citation needed]

Many members of traditional, indigenous cultures and religions are suspicious of neoshamanism, believing it to rely too heavily on cultural appropriation, or that it is an excuse by fraudulent shamans to cover up inconsistencies in their ceremonies.[2][3] According to York (2001) one difference between neoshamanism and traditional shamanism is the role of fear.[4] Neoshamanism and its New Age relations tend to dismiss the existence of evil, fear, and failure. "In traditional shamanism, the shaman’s initiation is an ordeal involving pain, hardship and terror. New Age, by contrast is a religious perspective that denies the ultimately [sic] reality of the negative, and this would devalue the role of fear as well."[5]

The 2011 United Kingdom census made it possible to write in a description of one's own choosing for "Religion". The figures for England and Wales show that from just over 80,000 people self-identifying as Pagan, 650 wrote in the description "Shamanism".[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Karlsson, Thomas (2002). Uthark - Nightside of the Runes. Ouroboros. ISBN 91-974102-1-7. 
  2. ^ Hagan, Helene E. (September 1992). "The Plastic Medicine People Circle". Sonoma County Free Press. 
  3. ^ Hobson, G. (1978). The Remembered Earth. Red Earth Press. 
  4. ^ Shaman on the Stage (Shamanism and Northern Identity) by Tatyana Bulgakova
  5. ^ York, Michael. "The Role of Fear in Traditional and Contemporary Shamanism". Bath Spa University College. Retrieved 23 January 2012. 
  6. ^ Office for National Statistics, 11 December 2012, 2011 Census, Key Statistics for Local Authorities in England and Wales. Accessed 12 December 2012.

Further reading[edit]

  • Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Primitive Mythology. 1959; reprint, New York and London: Penguin Books, 1976. ISBN 0-14-019443-6
  • Richard de Mille, ed. The Don Juan Papers: Further Castaneda Controversies. Santa Barbara, CA: Ross-Erikson, 1980.
  • George Devereux, "Shamans as Neurotics", American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 63, No. 5, Part 1. (Oct., 1961), pp. 1088–1090.
  • Mircea Eliade, Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy. 1964; reprint, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-691-11942-2
  • Jay Courtney Fikes, Carlos Castaneda: Academic Opportunism and the Psychedelic Sixties, Millennia Press, Canada, 1993. ISBN 0-9696960-0-0
  • Joan Halifax, ed. Shamanic Voices: A Survey of Visionary Narratives. 1979; reprint, New York and London: Penguin, 1991. ISBN 0-14-019348-0
  • Michael Harner: The Way of the Shaman. 1980, new edition, HarperSanFrancisco, 1990. ISBN 0-06-250373-1
  • Graham Harvey, ed. Shamanism: A Reader. New York and London: Routledge, 2003. ISBN 0-415-25330-6.
  • Åke Hultkrantz (Honorary Editor in Chief): Shaman. Journal of the International Society for Shamanistic Research
  • Philip Jenkins, Dream Catchers: How Mainstream America Discovered Native Spirituality. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-19-516115-7
  • Alice Kehoe, Shamans and Religion: An Anthropological Exploration in Critical Thinking. 2000. London: Waveland Press. ISBN 1-57766-162-1
  • Jeremy Narby and Francis Huxley, eds. Shamans Through Time: 500 Years- on the Path to Knowledge. 2001; reprint, New York: Tarcher, 2004. ISBN 0-500-28327-3
  • Daniel C. Noel. Soul Of Shamanism: Western Fantasies, Imaginal Realities.Continuum, 1997. ISBN 0-8264-1081-2
  • Åke Ohlmarks 1939: Studien zum Problem des Schamanismus. Gleerup, Lund.
  • Kira Salak, "Hell and Back: Ayahuasca Shamanism" for National Geographic Adventure.
  • Piers Vitebsky, The Shaman: Voyages of the Soul - Trance, Ecstasy and Healing from Siberia to the Amazon, Duncan Baird, 2001. ISBN 1-903296-18-8
  • Michael Winkelman, (2000) Shamanism: The Neural Ecology of Consciousness and Healing. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.
  • Andrei Znamenski, ed. Shamanism: Critical Concepts, 3 vols. London: Routledge, 2004. ISBN 0-415-31192-6
  • Andrei Znamenski, Shamanism in Siberia: Russian Records of Siberian Spirituality. Dordrech and Boston: Kluwer/Springer, 2003. ISBN 1-4020-1740-5
  • Andrei Znamenski, The Beauty of the Primitive: Shamanism and Western Imagination. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. ISBN 0-19-517231-0

External links[edit]