Often confused with the exceptionally close or “spiritual” relationship of a shaman with a particular animal or plant, totem derives from an Algonquian term for “clan.” Many indigenous cultures understand that clans are not merely kinship groups larger than families, but groups of persons related across species boundaries. That is, a clan includes both human and other-than-human persons and may be known by the priority it gives to a particular type of such person, for example, the “bear clan.” Totemism expresses the understanding that all beings share responsibility for the well-being of every person who lives in an area. It is a particular form of sociality emerging from a broader animism. This provides the larger context in which shamans form intimate relationships with other-thanhumans within and beyond their clans; those relationships are better indicated by terms like power animal or helper plant. The use of totems among neo-shamans in this more individualized sense derives from anthropological debates that found the notion of interspecies clans difficult and conceived of totemism as a peculiar way of thinking about animals, humans, and the cosmos. Both forms of totemism indicate something about the “true self” of the individual as construed by animist and modernist cultures.

Historical dictionary of shamanism. . 2007.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Totemism — • Constitutes the group of superstitions and customs of which the totem is the center Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Totemism     Totemism      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • totemism — TOTEMÍSM s.n. Ansamblu de credinţe şi obiceiuri religioase primitive legate de totem; credinţa în totemuri. – Din fr. totémisme. Trimis de LauraGellner, 28.06.2004. Sursa: DEX 98  totemísm s. n. Trimis de siveco, 10.08.2004. Sursa: Dicţionar… …   Dicționar Român

  • Totemism — To tem*ism, n. 1. The system of distinguishing families, clans, etc., in a tribe by the totem. [1913 Webster] 2. Superstitious regard for a totem; the worship of any real or imaginary object; nature worship. Tylor. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • totemism — [tōt′əm iz΄əm] n. 1. belief in totems and totemic relationships 2. the use of totems to distinguish kin or descent groups 3. social customs based on this totemist n. totemistic adj …   English World dictionary

  • totemism — totemistic, adj. /toh teuh miz euhm/, n. 1. the practice of having totems. 2. the system of tribal division according to totems. [1785 95, Amer.; TOTEM + ISM] * * * Complex of ideas and practices based on the belief in kinship or mystical… …   Universalium

  • totemism — An association between human groups or individuals and specific animals or plants which entailed ritualized observances and sometimes eating avoidances. The term was first drawn to the attention of Westerners by J. Long in Voyages and… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • totemism — noun Date: 1791 1. belief in kinship with or a mystical relationship between a group or an individual and a totem 2. a system of social organization based on totemic affiliations …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • totemism — noun ˈtoʊtəmɪzm The belief that a person or group has a special mystical relationship to a totem See Also: totemistic …   Wiktionary

  • totemism — Belief in a kinship with, or a mystical relationship between, a group or individual and a totem …   Medical dictionary

  • TOTEMISM —    division of a race into tribes, each of which has its own Totem, or animal, as the symbol of it and the name, and as such treated with superstitious veneration, as involving religious obligation …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

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