- Among many animist communities, illnesses may be considered to be other-than-human persons or spirits in their own right. Elsewhere they may be caused by the actions of sorcerers, witches, or aggressive enemy shamans. In particular, illnesses may be thought to be inserted into bodies by darts thrown by such predatory beings. In either case, healing may be a necessary role for shamans in such communities. They may mediate with otherworld or other-than-human persons to resolve whatever problem caused them to intrude into human bodies, they may combat the invading beings, or they may apply local medical or doctoring methods to remove the intruding dart or other substance. In some cases, illnesses result in some aspect of patients being alienated from themselves, and shamans may need to journey in search of that part (e.g., lost, stolen, or damaged souls) and return it to their patients.
Historical dictionary of shamanism. Graham Harvey and Robert J. Wallis. 2007.
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