Thursday, June 13, 2013

Shamanism in American Indian

North American Indian medicine men and shamans have played a large role in the the older literature on North America. The nineteenth century saw the first anthropology description of American medicine men and shamans. 

By definitions, all shamans would be medicine man but to all medicine men would be shamans.

Shamanism means traditions of prehistoric origin that are characteristic of Mongoloid peoples, including the American Indians.

They believed and acknowledge one supreme, all powerful, and intelligent Being, or Giver of Life, who create and governs all things.

The Shaman functions in the chief place in all religious and ceremonial activities, thus making shamanism synonymous with religion.

It is the shaman rather than the priest who is called upon to treat the sick, to foretell the future.

Medicine power is often attributed to a fetish or charm adopted to typify a tutelary demon, or mystery guardian and the superior performance of one “juggler” over another is often attributed to the fact his medicine is the stronger.

Medicine is also associated with magic numbers. The usual sacred number among Indian is four, signifying the cardinal directions, but sometimes six, adding the up and down directions.

The Medicine bundle was perhaps the most important. In the thirties the medicine bundle cult still survive among the Potawatomis along with the more recent religion or drum dance, and peyote religion, as one of the three curing cults still extant.

The medicine bundle was usually made of an animal skin as deer tails, dried fingers, and often the maw stone of a buffalo.

Characteristically, the shaman is a healer, a psychopomp (who guides the souls of the dead to their home in the afterlife), and more generally a mediator between her or his community and the world of spirits (most often animal sprits and the spirits of the forces of nature).
Shamanism in American Indian
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