Shamans Priests and Witches
// November 18th, 2009 // Publications
Michael Winkelman | Arizona State University 1992
This book integrates the findings of a cross-cultural study on types of magico-religious practitioners and shamanistic healers within the context of anthropological and sociological studies. The study provides a general framework for explaining magico-religious and shamanistic phenomena through statistical analysis of data from a formal cross-cultural sample. This provides a typology of magico-religious practitioners with universal applicability, distinguishing the shaman from other types of healers. The analysis reveals an empirical structure related to the institutional bases of these practices–altered states of consciousness (ASC), political control, and social conflict. The correlation between types of practitioners and socioeconomic conditions provides the basis for a general theory of magico-religious phenomena, the origins of shamanism, and its transformation under socioeconomic change. These findings are integrated with other studies on magic and religion to provide a general organizational framework for understanding diverse magico-religious phenomena and traditional healing practices. The biological basis in ASC are shown to provide the origins of shamanism and the therapeutic mechanisms of shamanistic healing.