Quotables: What’s in a Name?

I am well aware of those ethnic purists who proclaim with fervor that the word shaman can only be applied to tribal mystics of the Tungusic-speaking peoples of Siberia. However, allow me to note that the word shaman was chosen by professional anthropologists and ethnographers in the twentieth century and given a precise definition to accurately describe tribal mystics who perform spiritual practices on behalf of their communities, usually on a part-time basis. Such practitioners are very widespread on planet Earth today, and despite different appellations used to describe these visionaries, there is a remarkable congruence in their practice and in their worldview. Accordingly, it can be observed that the shaman is a universal figure found in some form in every culture and that our Western use of the term shaman is valid.

Hank Wesselman, Ph.D, The Re-enchantment: A Shamanic Path to a Life of Wonder

One of the big bats comes to the plate to back my play. *smile*

Seriously, though, he’s absolutely right; I look at the linguistic aspects of this issue in more depth here.

(photo: Wikipedia)

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2 thoughts on “Quotables: What’s in a Name?

    1. I’m currently reading the book, and it looks like (granted, early on) it’s going to be a “what it means to be a shaman in the modern world” book, but one of the better of the crop.

      Like

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