- In some cultures, only men can serve as shamans, while in others, shamanism is almost entirely women’s business, and in still others, the role is open to anyone elected by otherworld persons or spirits. Similarly, women or men or both can be the main clients of shamans in particular cultures. Often the status of shamans and shamanism is higher when it is a largely male preserve. It is important to note that many cultures see gender quite differently from what seems normal in the West, sometimes recognizing more than two genders, sometimes classing shamans in a third gender of their own, and sometimes distinguishing animate and inanimate genders rather than sexual genders. That all these possibilities have cosmological implications is clearly argued in the work of Bernard Saladin d’Anglure, especially in relation to the Inuit. The study of women’s shamanic roles, authority, performance, and participation has been a particular focus of study by scholars such as Jeanne Achterberg, Jenny Blain, Laurel Kendall, Ioan Lewis, Barbara Myerhoff, Stacey Schaefer, Susan Sered, Barbara Tedlock, and Piers Vitebsky.
Historical dictionary of shamanism. Graham Harvey and Robert J. Wallis. 2007.