Posted 07 October 2013 - 09:15 PM
I'll have to explain my thought process on this one when I get to a place where I can actually post. Edit to follow.
Edited to add:
Sorry, about that. My phone suddenly decided that it did not want to let me post.
Anyway, Moondark's request for information about Hedge Witchery made me think of this thread. At first, I wasn't sure why, given that it references Shamanism, but I think it is probably because I think of both the path of the Shaman and the path of the Hedge Witch of having a few similar features. I am neither a Shaman or a Hedge Witch, but both practitioners, not only walk the edge of the veil, but actually cross over. Both paths, as I understand them, are extremely dangerous and require advanced training and practice. Very few of the people, who claim to be either Shamans or Hedge Witches, actually are. I am not certain why I make a connection between these two practices; probably just something I got stuck in my head.
Edited by Jevne, 07 October 2013 - 10:44 PM.
Posted 25 March 2014 - 06:29 PM
I noticed a number of posts saying that shamans are more involved in community then witches sometimes.... In my experience in the Amazon, the shamans are respected and feared, and they usually live on the outskirts of town between the village and the jungle. Many of the shamans are also brujos - a Spanish word meaning sorcerer or witch, and sometimes they curse people, or return justice to them, and people are afraid of this. People are also afraid of what they dont understand. They love and respect the shaman for providing protection and healing, but at the same time, they keep the shamans at a safe distance, and often have fear or envy towards them. At least - this is how it is in the Amazon. Could be way different in Asia or Africa, but I think at least some communities there would be similar.
Overall, I agree with the sentiment that shamans and witches can often share similarities, but can also be very different or even completely different. Heck - even some shamans can have extremely unique and different practices from each other! Maybe the name depends somewhat on location, cultural views, and on the focus of the individuals practice.
Personally, I associate spells more with witchcraft, and I associate visions and healing more with shamanism, but I also see a lot of cross-over here, where many people do both.
Posted 26 March 2014 - 01:31 AM
Excellent thread. I've enjoyed reading it.
I'm sure some of you are familiar with Robin Artisson... here is something he wrote in response to the same question:
" "Shaman" is (among other things) an academic term; "witch" a folkloric one. Both are anthropological terms. Shamans are power workers who are parts of indigenous communities and empowered by their community to represent their spiritual interests, and perform spiritual services. Witches are people from any part of the world or any community that have managed to forge some kind of alliance with spiritual helpers or familiars, and can therefore affect "magical" type changes in their world- including healing, cursing or hexing, and divination.
There is obviously a large overlap between witchcraft and shamanism, but shamans can be mainstream members of communities, and witches seldom are. Also, both shamans and witches have "familiar" powers, spiritual allies that they work with to bring about extraordinary outcomes. Both share a "core" technique that defines their work, namely spirit-flight. But they are different in many ways, too, largely in how their communities perceive them.
The real difficulty in the overlap between "shaman" and "witch" is the extent to which shamans necessarily belong to traditionally indigenous communities, and witches can be (and often are) parts of our so-called "civilized" world. But "witchcraft", as a term, can refer to more than just marginal or hidden spirit working-type magical practices from historical European cultures; it can refer to any range of harmful magic, in both academic and anthropological literature. In this sense, shamans in indigenous societies who stray outside of the range of their social acceptance- often through gaining "bad spirit allies" that lead them to mediate bad or harmful power to communities- can be accused of witchcraft or labeled "witches", even in their own societies.
This point is further complicated by the fact that in nearly all indigenous communities, shamans are expected to be able to work harmful magic against enemies, and some communities even tolerate harmful work against community members- Wilby gives a superb study of "dark shamans" in one Brazilian society that have full social permission, at times, to spiritually prey on totally innocent members of the society, as part of a spiritual vocation of satisfying the powers of death and taking for the good of the rest of the society.
This is an important point, one that has to be watched for when discussing witchcraft in its other usage, the usage and angle I write from, primarily. I never use "witchcraft" to mean the practice of harmful magic only. And indeed, historically speaking, witches were not "harmful only" by any means, until later century propaganda painted their helpful works as still "Devilish." And even in those paranoid societies, people still sought them out for extraordinary aid."
Some of what he has said here has already been posted by others on this thread, but just the same i thought his answer would be appreciated as its very well informed.
Edited by melusine, 26 March 2014 - 01:35 AM.
Posted 26 March 2014 - 02:14 AM
Good addition! My experience in the Amazon is similar to what the author said of Brazil - the people expect the shamans to fight each other, and to even use magic to settle disputes between people, or return curses to the sender, or in some cases just make a curse on someone. It's one of the reasons learning indigenous practices in that area can be dangerous - jealous shamans will attack competition, or potential competition, and some especially hate gringos. Actually - one good side-effect of so many hippies flocking to the area for spiritual tourism is that they bring the love and peace vibe, and some of the local shamans are starting to leave behind the war-like mentality of brujeria. Good in some ways, but also at a loss of local culture and custom - so much of their magic developed out of tribal warfare and inner warfare that it is heavily ingrained within the tradition.
Edited by travsha, 26 March 2014 - 02:14 AM.
Posted 26 March 2014 - 03:53 AM
There are differences even in witchcraft that the Artisson article did not touch on. Not all witches use spiritual allies and familiars to affect change in environment. Some have the ability to do so themselves. These people are not always on the fringe of society either, some of these people can be well known and well liked by their community, though maybe not always for what they truly are, as most people with ability hide it.