Shamans are often required to be visionaries, sometimes aided by powerful otherworld or other-than-human persons or by plants such as ayahuasca. The ability to alter perspective is a vital skill for many Amazonian shamans, as discussed by Eduardo Viveiros de Castro. A note of caution should be attached to all claims that shamans make use of substances that induce visions and altered states of consciousness, especially when these are labeled “hallucination” by Western observers. Indigenous understandings may not overly privilege vision over other senses and may seek the aid of plants not simply to alter consciousness but to aid communication with others in the wider-than-human cosmos.

Historical dictionary of shamanism. . 2007.


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