Shamanism (a corruption of Sanscr. cramana) is the ancient religion of the Tartar, and of some of the other Asiatic tribes, and is one of the earliest phases of religious life. It is a belief in Sorcery, and a propitiation of evil daemons by sacrifices and frantic gestures The adherents of this religion acknowledge the existence of a supreme God, but do not offer him any worship. Indeed, they worship gods of no description, but only demons, whom they suppose to be cruel, revengeful, and capricious, and who are worshipped by bloody sacrifices and wild dances. The Shamanists have no regular priesthood. The priests, or magicians, are men or women, married or single, and affect to understand the secret of controlling the actions of evil spirits. When they are officiating, they wear a long robe of elk skin, hung with small and large brass and iron bells. They also carry staves carved at the top into the shape of horses' heads, also hung with bells; and with the assistance of these staves they leap to an extraordinary height. They have neither altars nor idols, but perform their sacrifices in a hut raised on an open space in a forest or on a hill. Nor are there fixed periods for the performance of their ceremonies; births, marriages, sickness, uncommon calamities, etc., are generally the occasions which call for them. The animal to be sacrificed is generally fixed upon by the Shaman or donor, and is killed by tearing out its heart. The officiating magician or priest works himself into a frenzy, and pretends or supposes himself to be possessed of the daemon to whom worship is being offered. After the rites are over, he communicates to those who consult him the information he has received. In Siberia the Shaman affected to cure dangerous diseases, hurts, etc., sucking the part of the body the most affected by pain; and finally taking out of his mouth a thorn, a bug, a stone, or some other object, which he shows as the cause of the complaint. Very many of its votaries have passed over to Lamaism, which is, in a measure, a kind of Shamanism, but infused with Buddhistic doctrines. See Chambers's Encyclop. s.v.; Gardner, Faiths of the World.

Bible concordance for SHAMA.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

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