By Viola Woolcott
The image of the North American Indian, or medicine man is usually conjured up in the mind when one thinks of Shamanism.
Shamanism does still exist today and not only in secluded little villages deep in the woods. A new form of the more traditional Shamanism is taking shape and gaining increasing popularity in the West. The hunger today for spiritual experience and finding meaning in life is enormous.
They had very strong ties in Europe around the time before monotheism. Though Shamanism is still a traditional organised religion in their own right in the cities of Mari-El and Udmurtia, two provinces in Russia. It does exist in other parts of the world as well.
Shamanism is practiced in Siberia of all places. Many people from the Uralic, Altaic and Paleosiberian do continue to practice even in today’s world.
Many hunters and reindeer breeders practiced shamanism as a living tradition in modern times. It was mostly practiced by people who lived in isolated areas. When the People’s Republic of China sealed off the border with Russian Siberia, the Tungas groups that were practicing were confined to the Manchuria and Inner Mongolia. The last of the Shaman in that region died in October in 2000.
Shamanism is still practiced in a lot of locations in Asia. South Korea has shamans but the role of the shaman is mostly filled by women. In Central Asia there is a strong tie to shamanism. The Tibetan Buddhism became associated with the Shamans in places like Tibet, Mongols and Manchu. There were some forms of shamanism that became like an organised religion under the Chinese Yuan and Qing Dynasties. Many people feared shamans in the early 8th century, they believed them to be witches who put spells on people rather than help them. Some people still believe that today.