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Neo-Shamanism

Doctrines As with most modern Paganism, there is no single dogma or central authority for Shamanism, and Shamanism is perhaps one of the least readily definable of the Pagan religions, being extremely diverse. The spirit world is viewed as part of everyday reality - it surrounds us and we live with spirits all the time; the Shaman has the ability to move between the worlds and thus provide a bridge, becoming a pathfinder for his people. Shamanism is an ecstatic religion, and through training or calling the Shaman is able to access the spirit worlds and work with the powers there; through this contact, the Shaman is able to work acts of healing, divination and magic, revealing human spirituality through vision, poetry and myth.
Shamans place great emphasis on personal experience, and therefore usually follow a solitary path though some work together in groups. Shamanic practice is characterised by seeking vision in solitude and is deeply rooted in the mysteries of nature.
A Shaman is one set apart, usually identified at an early age as possessing special powers of communication with the otherworld. Often they had had a spontaneous, severe and traumatic experience - an illness or spiritual crisis - which forced open for them the doors of the otherworld. The work of the Shaman is considered dangerous and, in many societies, to be chosen as a Shaman is seen as much as a curse as a blessing.

History Shamanism is a technique and practice which is of growing importance in modern Paganism. Shamanism originated in Siberia and Central Asia and spread from the Russian steppes westwards into Europe and Eastwards into North America; it has also been found in South America and the Pacific. Thus, historically, Shamanism can be found throughout the world.
Elements of Shamanism are found throughout European Paganism, but are most obvious in Finno-Ugric religion where Vainamoinen the First Shaman, son of Ilmater Water-Mother, the Creatrix Goddess, helps complete the creation of the world. Shamanism is also found in the Celtic tradition.
The growth of modern neo-shamanism began with Mircea Eliade's classical study Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy (1951), becoming more popular as a form of 'spiritual ecology' in the 1960s; however, it was not until the 1980s that non-academic publications and organisations regarding modern-day shamanism appeared. Shamans of today range from those trained in the path of a particular society, such as a native American tribe, to those reconstructing Shamanic experience from historical accounts and their own experience.

Symbols Each shaman will make use of symbols personal to them which may change from time to time. Most shamans have an affinity to a particular animal or bird, which becomes their totem, a guide and helper in their work.

Adherents No official figures available. Shamanism is still remarkably widespread, remaining in many tribal societies which have survived to the present day, providing knowledge and techniques utilised by modern European Shamans.

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