Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Shaman Mean?

Shaman is the name given to someone who is believed to be able to connect with the spirit world, and channels their transcendental energies into divination or healing. In practicing shamanism, it is believed that a person can enter altered states of consciousness.

The origins of the term are believed to have roots that go back more than two millennia, and the word likely comes from the Tungusic Evenki language of North Asia. However, today the term, “shaman,” is used quite broadly to apply to spiritual work across a range of religious and cultural practices. It may also be used interchangeably with terms such as “healer,” “spiritual leader” or “medicine man/woman.”

The spiritual foundations of both shamanism and yoga have led some to combine them in shamanistic yoga practices.


Yogapedia Explains Shaman

The spirits that a shaman may access can be both malevolent and benevolent. The shaman is seen as the intermediary between the spirits and the human world, and they are believed to be able to communicate with spirits of the deceased. In some shamanic practices, the shaman may conduct rituals such as drumming, singing, dancing or herbal work in order to reach a state of spiritual or religious ecstasy; and in doing so, enter into communion with spirits of the deceased.

Typically, the shaman will endeavor to heal ailments or illnesses by working on the soul of the individual. They may seek to alleviate trauma to the spirit or soul, which is thought to have an impact on the individual’s physical health, or they may call on their spirit guides to perform healing acts.

Because of the shaman’s role in treating emotional and physical ailments as well as communicating with the deceased, some have suggested that the shaman’s role is partly to help those in their community manage their grief and bereavement.

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