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Shamanism, Oldest Healing Tradition in the World
Shaman is a Siberian expression that encompasses the tremendous variety of forms.
Bishnu K.C. (bishnuji)     Print Article 
Published 2006-03-12 17:38 (KST)   
Few cultures in the world lack an indigenous tradition of faith healers. While in broad outline Nepalese shamanism has been influenced by Tibetan and Indian traditions, a great variety of local Himalayan forms have evolved, corresponding to the diverse ethnic groups in the country. These practitioners are more commonly known as 쏪hankri and 쏡hami. The term shaman is of Siberian origin, encompassing a tremendous variety of forms. Shamanism is a spiritual practice of ancient civilizations and cultures and is the oldest healing tradition in the world.

A shaman is a man (or, less commonly a woman) who mediates between this world and the supernatural realm of ghosts, demons, witches, ancestors, and the like. The shaman셲 task is to restore the proper relationship between the two worlds when it has been upset, usually garbed in a long robe and a headdress of peacock feathers protected by straps or bells, ironmongery, and cowries and armed with a flat, double-sided frame drum.

The shaman usually accompanies his spiritual performance with the recitation of the myth, which may continue for many hours, invoking one or more divinities, who enter his body and speak through him. Once possessed, the shaman falls into a trance, which may involve violent shaking and wild dancing. Even demonstrations like licking red-hot iron or fire or tying swords in knots can be seen. In this case, it is the gods who then answer questions and make oracular statements and banish evil influences, speaking through their human medium in strange voices or unfamiliar languages.

The shaman also acts as healer of an ill person whose soul or life force has been stolen by a witch, demon, or the ghost of a restless dead person. In the healing process, the shaman must leave his body and fly through the other world in search of the lost soul and bribe, cajole, or force the captor into relinquishing it. The shaman negotiates the terms of his patient셲 recovery and will do battle with the assailants if all else fails.

Sacrifice is regarded as an important component of the commerce between the two worlds, in which the shaman acts as the broker. The client wants something from the spirit world and in exchange for this concession must send across something from the domestic sphere, such as a chicken, a goat, or a pig.

Among the skills a shaman must learn is divination, which is essentially a magical diagnosis to establish the cause of a problem. Methods include the scrutiny of egg yolks or the entrails of animals; the way the grain moves on a tightly wrapped drumhead; the number of beads in a section of a rosary.

The founder of shamanism is unknown, though the practice is found in almost all cultures throughout history. In the United States, the Native American religious tradition is representative.

Traditional shamanism is where the shaman functions as healer, spiritual leader, and mediator between the spirits and people, whereas modern shamanism claims its methods will bring personal power, spiritual enlightenment, greater harmony with nature, psychological insight, and physical healing. Temporary insanity, demonic possession, and tremendous physical suffering are some of the effects. Those treated with shamanistic techniques or methods may become converted to the occult.

Shamanism appears in Hindu and Buddhist communities of Nepal and parallels the activity of priests in these religions. Shamanism is still practiced mainly in the remote areas of my country, giving both good and bad results; but the continuing popularity of spirit mediums leaves little doubt that these revered shamans are still masters in Nepal.

Today, the theatricality of shamanism has entered the commercial world. Many shaman performances are now given in hotels for the entertainment of tourists.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Bishnu K.C.

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