Role and responsibilities of shamans

Role and responsibilities of shamans

Shamans are held with high regard in the traditional society. They are socially sanctioned practitioners that regulate their attention to enable them access the information that is not readily available. The information they get is instrumental in serving the community by satisfying certain needs of the community. Shamans are believed to have the ability to jungle between the normal world and the spiritual world in a way that they can communicate with the spirit world. It is in the spirit world that shamans obtain the powers and knowledge they use to serve the community. The ability of shamans to connect and enter the spirit world gives them special skills to reconnect with the natural world. Shamans are able to create self awareness and balance between nature, spirit and self. Shamans do not choose themselves, but they are chosen by the spirits to serve the community. Shamans have three major roles and responsibilities.

Shamans are healers, in that they have a duty to treat the sick in the community. How shamans administer treatment for various diseases vary from one community to another.  Traditional healing is divided into various categories including medicinal, magical and mystery. Shamans’ treatment involves herbal medicines, physical intervention and rituals that connect an individual to the spiritual world. The magical treatment allows the patient to seek for spiritual intervention for the condition from the spirit world. However, the ability to cure is more inclined to the patient ability to control self, body and the spirit to accept the prescribed treatment. This intervention by the patient is in line with arguments presented by Torrey (1986) that for any sort of treatment to be effective on any patient, administered by traditional healers of professional doctors is dependent on positive expectations by the patient, personal qualities of the practitioner, shared world view between the patient and the healer, and the sense of, mastery on part of the patient that engenders empowerment.

In many societies shamans are practitioners. The treatment offered by the shamans is not only limited to convectional treatment. Their ability to communicate and enter the spirit world gives them special ability to heal spiritual illness. In most cases, spiritual illnesses have symptoms similar to those of depression and conversion reaction. Shamans attribute such illnesses to possessions by the spirits, and therefore, needs more than conventional medicines. Such illnesses are attributed to changes in the society that resulted to imbalance between the social, spiritual and self. Shamans also healed other spiritual illnesses that are attributed to sorcery and mental illnesses. The ability of shamans to strike a balance between self, body and the spirit that enables them to communicate and enter the spiritual world gave the role of a healer and the responsibility of ensuring the balance between the self, body and the spiritual world in the community.

Shamans have the role of educators. They are trained from childhood while others follow their lineage making a birth right. The training and traditional background gives them unique perceptions and their cognitive abilities is exceptional. They have special ability to remember cultural myths and practice as educators because of their wisdom that is far and above the younger generation. It is in their role as educators that they transfer skills and wisdom from one generation to another. This enables the traditional knowledge of ascent medicines and particular techniques that are decisive important for healing process to be transferred from one generation to another in its original form. Therefore, shamans have the responsibility to train others who will continue with their work once they are gone, by doing do they play a role of an educator and fulfill their responsibility of passing knowledge from one generation to another.

Shamans are naturally connected to the spiritual world. This ability places them in an important position to play the role of a priest. Shamans do not choose to be put are called by the spirit to serve in the community. Some are also called through their lineage, immediate while others may come back to the lineage after years of their lineage being out of shamanism. They have deep understanding of traditional beliefs and practices. Their links with the spirit world gives them a deep knowledge of the truth far beyond the common member of a community. The shamans renounce their lives and devote themselves to the service of the people where they walk on a very sharp edge of sanity to work with what is seen and the unseen. They are usually committed to relinquish themselves from all attachments to enable them work from a neutral space. Their life is under the control of the spirits and provides a balance between what is seen and the unseen. Shamans are called to healing and spiritual mastery in order to serve the community with devotion and neutrality.

The role and responsibilities of shamans are many but compounded into healing, education and priesthood. As a healer, shamans ensures that the community well being in terms of body and spirit. As an educator, shaman ensured continuity of society indigenous knowledge by training new healers. They also played the role of the priest by providing the link between the community and the spirit world.


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