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Iatromantis[1] is a Greek word whose literal meaning is most simply rendered "physician-seer." The iatromantis, a form of Greek "shaman", is related to other semimythical figures such as Abaris, Aristeas, Epimenides, and Hermotimus.[2] In the classical period, Aeschylus uses the word to refer to Apollo[3] and to Asclepius, Apollo's son.[4]

According to Peter Kingsley, iatromantis figures belonged to a wider Greek and Asian shamanic tradition with origins in Central Asia.[5] A main ecstatic, meditative practice of these healer-prophets was incubation (ἐγκοίμησις, enkoimesis). More than just a medical technique, incubation reportedly allowed a human being to experience a fourth state of consciousness different from sleeping, dreaming, or ordinary waking: a state that Kingsley describes as “consciousness itself” and likens to the turiya or samādhi of the Indian yogic traditions. Kingsley identifies the Greek pre-Socratic philosopher Parmenides as an iatromantis. This identification has been described by Oxford academic Mitchell Miller as "fascinating" but also as "very difficult to assess as a truth claim".[6]


  1. ^ Ancient Greek: ἰατρόμαντις from ἰατρός, iatros "healer" and μάντις, mantis "seer".
  2. ^ Luck, Georg (2006). Arcana Mundi: Magic and the Occult in the Greek and Roman Worlds: A Collection of Ancient Texts. The Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 500. ISBN 0-8018-8346-6.
  3. ^ Aeschylus, Eumenides l. 62.
  4. ^ Aeschylus, Suppliant Women l. 263.
  5. ^ Kingsley, Peter (1999). In the Dark Places of Wisdom. The Golden Sufi Center. p. 255. ISBN 1-890350-01-X.
  6. ^ Mitchell, Miller, "The Proem of Parmenides" in Sedley, David (ed.), Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Volume 30 (Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 15, note 24.