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#1 Sugarbunny

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 11:45 PM

I suppose I'll just go ahead and ask because it will never get answered if I don't.

I was wondering if there was a big difference between Shamans and Witches. I have been doing a little research and I'm only finding a few things different so far. Does one consider a shaman to be a traditional witch if they have learned from traditional sources? Witches and Shamans are both healers of their social groups and can perform various other tasks, and these tasks are awfully similar.

Just lost in thought.
-Jet

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#2 Mountain Witch

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 12:53 AM

Not all shamans are witches (in the generally-accepted sense) and not all witches are shamans (in the generally-accepted sense). You might have a look at the link in this thread.

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#3 Grimr

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 02:28 AM

In addition to the link provided by MW, I would like to posits my own personal feelings on this matter of discussion.

Personally, I feel that they are completely separate 'entities' albeit with many similarities in form.
Shamanism is culturally defined, they are stewards of their communities as healers, guides, magic workers, seers, etc. They provide a service.
Witches are often the outcast, the ones who lie between the hedgegrow, they are not entirely culturally defined and they do not consistently serve their communities - if we look at history as an example, both Christian and Pagan communities regarded the Witch with abhorrence and fear. They are generally cthonic in nature. I see them as being members of a larger grouping of 'Visionary Traditions' but not the same or even related in their function. What we know of 'Shamanism' is often a watered-down, culturally-ambiguous practice that bears no resemblance to authentic and vibrant traditions still practiced today amongst their own.
While their outward mode may appear in sync - in reality I feel their mode of form and function sets them apart.

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#4 Aurelian

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 03:55 AM

Shamans, I believe in the most traditional sense, are trained mostly , if not entirely, by oral tradition, and generally have an apprenticeship period under an elder tribal shaman before taking up those duties him/herself; witches, while also having a similar venue of training, may also employ a wider knowledge base and may not entirely stick to a specific, delineated knowledge base. I would note that shamanic and 'craft methods and training are hardly mutually exclusive. I believe that traditional shamans ministered to the spiritual health of their tribes and communities, while witches may or may not do so.


Moreso than that, the two words have an ineffably different feel to me; this is only my opinion, but I believe that witches are more concerned with what can be accomplished with the Art, what we humans can DO and create, whereas shamans are more concerned with what humans ARE. No offense to anybody, these are just my impressions.

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#5 CelticGypsy

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 01:38 PM

I suppose I'll just go ahead and ask because it will never get answered if I don't.

I was wondering if there was a big difference between Shamans and Witches. I have been doing a little research and I'm only finding a few things different so far. Does one consider a shaman to be a traditional witch if they have learned from traditional sources? Witches and Shamans are both healers of their social groups and can perform various other tasks, and these tasks are awfully similar.

Just lost in thought.
-Jet


I agree with my Peers on this Jet, and the other link provided is outstanding. I've come to know, that when reading about Celtic nature and it's praxis, that "all Druids were Celts, but not all Celts were Druids. " just my 2 cents on this.

Regards,
Gypsy

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#6 Scylla

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Posted 13 July 2011 - 04:22 AM

I was wondering if there was a big difference between Shamans and Witches.


In the narrowest definition, Shaman is a Tungus spiritual leader - their specific practices involve the use of psychotropic herbs and trance induction to bridge between the world of the living, and the world of the spirits. That is where "Shaman" originally came from. However, "Shaman" (for good or ill) has become a generic, anthropological, term describing any number of persons who practice spirit-work, "witchcraft" both benign and maleific, intercession between the living and the dead, healing work, herbal knowledge, trancework... etc.

I think the idea that the Shaman is part of the community, while the Witch is not is largely based on a misunderstanding, or a lack of knowledge about cultures for whom there is still a living, "shamanic", tradition. In most tribes (the majority of those surviving are in Africa, Asia and South America) the Shaman (medicine man, root doctor, witch doctor, fairy doctor... what have you) is an outcast. He or she is made to live separated from the community, because their powers are considered dangerous if one is in constant contact with them. They are often both reviled, and consulted with great reverence - they're just from the wrong side of the spiritual tracks, and not fit company at the dinner table. Their roles can be very different, true - but they are all rooted in the concept of intercession, or interaction with the spirit world.

Viewed through that lens it's not at all controversial, or out of bounds to say that the Witch was the Shaman of Britain as long as one understands that they're referring to a role or job description, and not specifically to Tungus spiritual leaders.

Edited by Scylla, 13 July 2011 - 04:24 AM.

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#7 Jevne

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 05:38 AM

Bumping this short-lived, but still discussion worthy thread, as it relates to Shamanism 101, which may interest a member or two. I know that this subject has been discussed in many, much deeper ways, in other threads, of course, but I think Scylla's and the other's comments are worth another look, especially for anyone who is still struggling with exactly what a Shaman is and what it means to be one. It seems that the reality is very different from the popular definition and understanding.

BTW, I am not a Shaman and make no claims to the related knowledge or practice.

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#8 Michele

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 01:43 PM

I personally believe that true witchcraft (i.e. not ceremonial magic or other practices that include magic but are not "witchcraft") is/was shamanic in origin. That to me is one of the signs of what is witchcraft and what is not. Magic is an aspect of the craft, but I believe the craft itself originated from contact with the spirit world and with those who guided the dead (including keeping them away from the living). This relates specifically to European witchcraft/shamanism, not Native Shamanism (which I've never looked into so can't comment on). The shaman worked for the good of his/her clan thereby serving both himself and his people. Yes, this person could have been viewed as dangerous, especially in relation to their knowledge of the soul and their relationship with the dead.

If one thinks about it, most "craft" families that I know of have someone - a grandparent, an elder - who has the final say when the shit hits the fan and there is discord. This person (if they're any good) would have the respect of the family and the power to keep that respect, the psychological soundness necessary to mediate within a family and the observation skills necessary to intercept most problems before they become problems. To me that is acting as a sort of "family" spiritual leader, shaman, whatever. Even if there is no "religious" spirituality to the family there will be death lore and beliefs and customs, and the "clan mind" of the family which becomes the family "spirit" and must be kept intact and passed down. This person would also need the intestinal fortitude to be able to ban from a family a member who became a viable, without-question, not-going-to-change, threat to the family (or else the absolute power to control that person against that person's will). So in a way I sometimes think the old "clan" shaman has evolved in today's society to the craft family head. But a shaman, to me, is definitely a leader... not someone who just goes on a "journey" to other worlds... one who protects the clan and yes, serves the clan.

M

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#9 Guest_atropa_*

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 08:52 PM

I suppose I'll just go ahead and ask because it will never get answered if I don't.

I was wondering if there was a big difference between Shamans and Witches. I have been doing a little research and I'm only finding a few things different so far. Does one consider a shaman to be a traditional witch if they have learned from traditional sources? Witches and Shamans are both healers of their social groups and can perform various other tasks, and these tasks are awfully similar.

Just lost in thought.
-Jet


Hello Sugarbunny

Etymology of the word 'shaman' is hotly debated, however its root either comes via Siberia where the meaning is "priest of the Ural Altaic peoples" or some claim it comes from the Tungusic word Saman, Tungisic languages where the root of the word is 'sa' meaning 'to know'.

Looking at the areas the word originates from and understanding the abilities that are Witch abilities, they yesm the abilities of what is termed 'shaman' are those of a particular type of Witch.

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#10 DarqsAngel

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 11:41 PM

The differences I have observed between Shamanism and Witchcraft seem to focus on the Shamans' belief that all of our world is a reflection of the Spirit world. Or perhaps our world is a manifestation of the Spirit world. In any case what happens here has its cause and solution in the Spirit world. So in that way you don't have a pain and trouble breathing because of congestion in your chest, your have a pain and trouble breathing because your spirit has been damaged in some fashion. The Shaman's job then is to journey to the Spirit realm and repair that damage (and figure out what happened in the first place). Sometimes this will include battling other spirits that are attacking you or performing a soul retrieval for a part of you that has become lost for varrious reasons. If the Shaman uses herbs or plants in anyway it is usually to access the Spirit of those plants for aid in the journey or healing. So in this case Spirit is everything, energy is the movement or manifestation of Spirit, and the physical world is incidental.

The witch on the other hand very much gets that there are multiple components to this process. He or she may honor the plants and trees and their spirits but the witch also understands there is an oil in the bruised bark that takes away pain and making a tea will help move the congestion out of your chest. The witch then will access the energy from what ever source to add power to the oil and tea he or she makes for your ailment. In this way it is energy acting on the physical world in conjunction with knowledge of the physical world to reach a desired outcome. In all of this the Spirits may or may not come into play depending on the witches personal beliefs.

My guess in all of this is that Witchcraft grew out of Shamanism much like religion did.

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#11 Evergreen47

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 06:15 AM

I have not done research on this, and I am far from an expert, but IMO a "shaman" connotes more a spirit-worker to me. Focusing on hedge-crossing, ancestral work, animist principles, astral projection. It has a more chthonic feel to it and it can not be practiced apart from spirituality/religion, whereas someone who identifies with the word "witch," even though they may have all of those things in their practice, is much more focused on spellwork and crafting. A witch can also separate the working from spirituality or religious affiliation.

But, like I said, I've not looked into these differences much. I just wanted to be part of the convo... :wink:

Edited by Evergreen47, 29 November 2012 - 06:16 AM.

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#12 Michele

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 12:13 PM

I have not done research on this, and I am far from an expert, but IMO a "shaman" connotes more a spirit-worker to me. Focusing on hedge-crossing, ancestral work, animist principles, astral projection. It has a more chthonic feel to it and it can not be practiced apart from spirituality/religion, whereas someone who identifies with the word "witch," even though they may have all of those things in their practice, is much more focused on spellwork and crafting. A witch can also separate the working from spirituality or religious affiliation.

But, like I said, I've not looked into these differences much. I just wanted to be part of the convo... :wink:


That makes quite a lot of sense.... I think I'd agree with that explanation.

M

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#13 CelticGypsy

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 07:20 PM

Interesting.... thanks for bumping this up for further discussion and insight. I can not really say what a difference in our modern times, versus the older practices where a Witch and Shaman do on some level can be cohesive or united at some intelligent level. When I grew my borage this year, as I'd never worked with that plant or it's properties before, I formed a relationship with borage, after studying much on it. I had to consider what I was intellectually reading, and put that aside and listen to what the plant was offering to me. Could I of been walking within the realm of shamanism ? I don't know, it just felt " spiritually right ".


I attempted 2 times to harvest this plant, yet the plant was telling me, " I'm not ready ", I was perplexed as to why I stayed my hand. I was intellectually worried as we had frost warnings, and I didn't want all my efforts come to nothing. I left the borage uncovered, as the bees were so interested in it. Two days later, a bright purplish blue flower appeared, if I would of not listened, I would of harvested the plant too quickly, and I needed the blossom for my crafting. The bees played a big part of loving the blossom also. I harvested the borage, after the bees had had their fill. I felt quite spiritual in this, Witch and Shaman, strong and unyielding, a journey together. Do I do this all the time.....no.. but this time, it just felt right due to the respect and relationship with borage. I don't count out that Witchs on some level walk unknowingly into the mind/soul set of Shamanism, on some small part of that belief system. I struggle with the labels of this experiance, all I know is what I received from the experiance.


Regards,
Gypsy

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" The last thing you wanted a Witch to do is get bored and start making her own amusements, because Witches sometimes have erratically famous ideas about what was amusing "

 

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#14 Michele

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 11:27 PM

Someone once said to me that a difference between "old" shamanism and "new age" shamanism was who it served. That a shaman used to serve his or her people, the go-between his/her people and the spirit world whereas today it is often used for personal enlightenment. I found that an interesting suggestion and could see that side of it.

M

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#15 CelticGypsy

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 12:47 AM

Someone once said to me that a difference between "old" shamanism and "new age" shamanism was who it served. That a shaman used to serve his or her people, the go-between his/her people and the spirit world whereas today it is often used for personal enlightenment. I found that an interesting suggestion and could see that side of it.

M


See I struggle with this M... as when a Witch knowingly has with in their psyche/soul to transend into the Otherworlds with ease, and those who over try or try to hard and have no outcome. I don't personally believe that the experiance the Witch has when successfull gives way to a label of sorts. " Old Shamanism " " New Age " ? If my Path is my Teacher, my Teacher knows just how much my human brain can handle and absorb. So I still stand on the premise that sometimes the Witch walks unbeknowingly walks the ways of a Shaman, possibly as a teaching tool, the Path would allow ( ? ) . I do accept that personal enlightenment bears great weight for the Witch. I also believe that forming relationship with plants, and one's tools, give great weight to the Witchs soul/psyche. How is the Witch to know, if the Witch doesn't make the attempt. Like visiting with your Ancestors, be they Family members or dieties like Saints, those who were human at one time and walked the earth.


It's RUDE of me not to interact with my Ancestors on a daily basis, just like it's RUDE of me, not to speak to my Herb allies or my invoked tools, or the Elements , I work with.

If one puts themselves in the way of humbley learning the Runes, that Student is open to all the Runes will give them, it is like walking into the OtherWorld for example, the Student learns to touch Magic in a way that gives enlightenment, that turns into a skill, that skill turns into a practiced Craft, imho.


Regards,
Gypsy

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" The last thing you wanted a Witch to do is get bored and start making her own amusements, because Witches sometimes have erratically famous ideas about what was amusing "

 

Terry Pratchett Legends 1 


#16 Michele

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 12:48 AM

I suppose it would depend on the "Sabbat" or where they journey to and why. There are some who guide the dead, and that would be done on behalf of their people. I do believe there are places one can travel to (what I call hedge-crossing). I don't hedge-cross because I believe it can be dangerous and because I have no reason to (nor any training in it) but I do hedge-sit, lol.

M

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#17 Michele

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 12:56 AM

See I struggle with this M... as when a Witch knowingly has with in their psyche/soul to transend into the Otherworlds with ease, and those who over try or try to hard and have no outcome. I don't personally believe that the experiance the Witch has when successfull gives way to a label of sorts. " Old Shamanism " " New Age " ? If my Path is my Teacher, my Teacher knows just how much my human brain can handle and absorb. So I still stand on the premise that sometimes the Witch walks unbeknowingly walks the ways of a Shaman, possibly as a teaching tool, the Path would allow ( ? ) . I do accept that personal enlightenment bears great weight for the Witch. I also believe that forming relationship with plants, and one's tools, give great weight to the Witchs soul/psyche. How is the Witch to know, if the Witch doesn't make the attempt. Like visiting with your Ancestors, be they Family members or dieties like Saints, those who were human at one time and walked the earth.


It's RUDE of me not to interact with my Ancestors on a daily basis, just like it's RUDE of me, not to speak to my Herb allies or my invoked tools, or the Elements , I work with.

If one puts themselves in the way of humbley learning the Runes, that Student is open to all the Runes will give them, it is like walking into the OtherWorld for example, the Student learns to touch Magic in a way that gives enlightenment, that turns into a skill, that skill turns into a practiced Craft, imho.


Regards,
Gypsy


Perhaps it is a difference in how I define the word "travel" lol - to me to travel, the hedge-cross, is to leave the body completely. The body is non-responsive and won't "wake" up if the phone rings or the house catches on fire and burns down with the body inside it. This is how I have come to define hedge-crossing. I define "hedge-sitting" as entering the hedge, but not going over/past it. This is what I do with my ancestor contact. It is a "dropped down" and open state... trance-like, but I am still in my body and can react if something happened like the cat knocked a candle over.

For me my path isn't specifically my teacher, it is the path I walk. I knock on doors and those doors open, what comes out is not dictated or controlled by anything watching over me other than whatever allies I have cultivated within the hedge and to me they are not "all powerful." And my allies won't protect me from myself, lol... they will protect as they can if asked, but if I, say, decided to drop a ton of acid to try and hedge-cross, they're not going to protect me from overdosing. I hope I explained that in a way that makes sense, lol??

M

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#18 CelticGypsy

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 01:10 AM

I suppose it would depend on the "Sabbat" or where they journey to and why. There are some who guide the dead, and that would be done on behalf of their people. I do believe there are places one can travel to (what I call hedge-crossing). I don't hedge-cross because I believe it can be dangerous and because I have no reason to (nor any training in it) but I do hedge-sit, lol.

M


Witchs journey with set goals in mind, and on a set protective path, they either listen to their guides/Teachers or the experiance or enlightenment is not for them at that time. Same as when a Witch casts, it's not just meek and mild, and toss without a care. Casting is as individual and unique to the Witch. There may be similiarities of how Witchs cast, but its unique to that particular Witch.


" Any training in it " your reference to Hedge crossing. Exactly, one doesn't have or seek a " relationship " with the tools a Witch would use to " cross ". I understand that.

I'm just saying that there is not a huge vast chasm between a Witch who practices consistantly, and finding a bit of a Shamanic touch with the experiance.

Any time I've just sat out in the forest, and removed one of my physical senses, like blindfolded myself, and placed my back against the trunk of a tree, took off my shoes and dug my toes and buried my feet into the soil, I would accept that I " Hedge sat " too. LoL ! Allowing the experiance to give me a personal enlightenment of OtherWorldly.


Regards,
Gypsy

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" The last thing you wanted a Witch to do is get bored and start making her own amusements, because Witches sometimes have erratically famous ideas about what was amusing "

 

Terry Pratchett Legends 1 


#19 Jevne

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 02:54 AM

. . .
For me my path isn't specifically my teacher, it is the path I walk. I knock on doors and those doors open, what comes out is not dictated or controlled by anything watching over me other than whatever allies I have cultivated within the hedge and to me they are not "all powerful." And my allies won't protect me from myself, lol... they will protect as they can if asked, but if I, say, decided to drop a ton of acid to try and hedge-cross, they're not going to protect me from overdosing. I hope I explained that in a way that makes sense, lol??

M


Makes sense to me . . .

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#20 Jevne

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 03:07 AM

See I struggle with this M... as when a Witch knowingly has with in their psyche/soul to transend into the Otherworlds with ease, and those who over try or try to hard and have no outcome. I don't personally believe that the experiance the Witch has when successfull gives way to a label of sorts. " Old Shamanism " " New Age " ? If my Path is my Teacher, my Teacher knows just how much my human brain can handle and absorb. So I still stand on the premise that sometimes the Witch walks unbeknowingly walks the ways of a Shaman, possibly as a teaching tool, the Path would allow ( ? ) . I do accept that personal enlightenment bears great weight for the Witch. I also believe that forming relationship with plants, and one's tools, give great weight to the Witchs soul/psyche. How is the Witch to know, if the Witch doesn't make the attempt. Like visiting with your Ancestors, be they Family members or dieties like Saints, those who were human at one time and walked the earth.


It's RUDE of me not to interact with my Ancestors on a daily basis, just like it's RUDE of me, not to speak to my Herb allies or my invoked tools, or the Elements , I work with.

If one puts themselves in the way of humbley learning the Runes, that Student is open to all the Runes will give them, it is like walking into the OtherWorld for example, the Student learns to touch Magic in a way that gives enlightenment, that turns into a skill, that skill turns into a practiced Craft, imho.


Regards,
Gypsy


While it is all good and well to say what one should do, including learning the lessons that come along as one travels on the road of life or honoring one's talents or abilities (such as those of the Witch or Shaman, or whatever name), we all know that is not always the case. Just because one can do this, that, or the other, does not mean they will choose to do so.

I honestly do not believe that the "Path" itself gives a flying fuck if we (as Witches, Shamans, or just plain old humans) can handle what life has to throw at us or not. People go through life making a lot of choices, both good and bad. If left to chance, sometimes things work out, and sometimes, they don't. The ace in the hole for practicing Witches is that we take the bull by the balls and make things happen the way we want (or at the very least, try to), which puts us ahead of all those other dumb-asses out there waiting for someone or something to save their sorry asses.

That being said, I know that we have allies, friends, family, and others, who are genuinely concerned for our welfare, who will help, guide, teach, etc. as we navigate this crazy world. It is good to form alliances, make connections, and take heed of what other entities have to offer. I am not above learning from someone else's wisdom or their mistakes.

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