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social sciences

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The tightly bound relationship between shamans and their other world helpers, especially those with whom they form sexual and/or marital relationships, may mean that secrets are kept, and the revealing of such secrets may lead to the withdrawal of assistance from a nonhuman helper, thus compromising the shaman's ability to shamanize.

Sex has been theorized as key to understanding shamanism by Roberte Hamayon, who attends to shamans, sex, and gender in Siberian shamanism. She argues that shamanic séances among the Evenk and Buryats are "sexual encounters" in themselves. She views the "marriage" between shamans and their non-human helpers as more significant in understanding what these shamans do than the "ecstasy," "mastery of spirits," "altered states" or "journeying" emphasized by other scholars.

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Early work on Siberian shamans by Sergei Shirokogoroff demonstrated that shamans may be either (or both) "hostages to the spirits" and their sexual and/or marital partners. Shamans might, then, be defined as people who welcome "possession" as an embodiment of (sexual and/or marital) relationship with other-than-human-persons.

As the most effective mediators, then--between genders, between humans and nonhumans, the living and dead, and so on--shamans mediate between all the many constituent elements, beings, and situations of the cosmos. They thereby actively accomplish meanings through the construction of relations between human and other-than-human worlds.

Robert J. Wallis

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Blain, Jenny. Nine Worlds of Seidr-Magic: Ecstasy and Neo-shamanism in North European Paganism. London: Routledge, 2002.

_____, and Robert J. Wallis. "The 'ergi' seidman: Contestations of Gender, Shamanism and Sexuality in Northern Religion Past and Present." Journal of Contemporary Religion 15.3 (2000): 395-411.

____. "Ritual Reflections, Practitioner Meanings: Disputing the Terminology of Neo-shamanic 'Performance.'" Journal of Ritual Studies 20.1 (2006): 21-36.

Harvey, Graham, ed. Shamanism: A Reader. London: Routledge, 2003.

____. Animism: Respecting the Living World. London: Hurst; New York: Columbia University Press; Adelaide: Wakefield Press, 2005.

Humphrey, Caroline, with Urgunge Onon. Shamans and Elders: Experience, Knowledge, and Power among the Daur Mongols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Hutton, Ronald. Shamans: Siberian Spirituality and the Western Imagination. London: Hambledon, 2002.

Johnson, Nathan J., and Robert J. Wallis. Galdrbok: Practical Heathen Runecraft, Shamanism and Magic. London and Winchester: The Wykeham Press, 2005.

Lang, Sabine. Men as Women, Women as Men: Changing Gender in Native American Cultures. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998.

Narby, Jeremy, and Francis Huxley, eds. Shamans through Time: 500 Years on the Path to Knowledge. London: Thames and Hudson, 2001.

Price, Neil S., ed. The Archaeology of Shamanism. London: Routledge, 2001.

Roscoe, Will. Changing Ones: Third and Fourth Genders in North America. London: Macmillan, 1998.

Wallis, Robert J. "The Bwili or 'Flying Tricksters' of Malakula: A Critical Discussion of Recent Debates on Rock Art, Ethnography and Shamanisms." Journal of The Royal Anthropological Institute 8.4 (2002): 735-60.

____. Shamans / neo-Shamans: Ecstasy, Alternative Archaeology and Contemporary Pagans. London: Routledge, 2003.

Whitehead, Neil L., and Robin Wright, eds. In Darkness and Secrecy. Durham: Duke University Press, 2004.


    Citation Information
    Author: Wallis, Robert J.  
    Entry Title: Shamanism  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2007  
    Date Last Updated August 4, 2007  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2007 glbtq, Inc.  


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