Shamanism is a word derived from the Evenki of North Asia. It refers to a person who shares some shamanistic beliefs and can contact spirit helpers through a state of consciousness. There are two basic shamanic forms: healers and herbalists. Herbalist shamanism refers to the art of using plants as healing remedies. Shamanism of healers refers to the use of spirit helpers for the healing process. For both forms, the shaman has to contact a spirit helper for health.
The spirit helper will direct the herbalist on the plant to use, and dosage for a particular illness. If more than one plant is required, the spirit helper will instruct on proper mixing. The healing plants found in a given area are well known over time. This allows a herbalist to practice his trade, not through spirit helpers but the known local plant knowledge.
Shamanism of the healer is a little more complex. Different spirit helpers are used to heal various illnesses. This means that a shaman is more powerful when he has more spirit helpers. The spirit helpers can be acquired through vision quests or dreams. The spirits choose whom they would prefer to serve. A special altar may be prepared, and associated calling songs sang to welcome a new spirit.
Shamanism for help
Shamanism can be used for support as well, which come in any form. Examples include finding game, increasing skills, locating lost items, bringing rain, answering questions and much more. The help offered by the helpers is limited to knowledge vs. altering reality. This means that the helper will be able to tell where food is as opposed to manifesting the food. They are all-knowing but not all-powerful.
Some evil shamans are an equivalent of sorcerers. Sorcerers usually make people ill and charge a fee to the individual if he/she wants to be cured. A good shaman can also help in such cases by sending the illnesses back to the evil shaman.
There are many different forms of shamanism in the world, but they all contain some core features. One of the main core features is trance induction, usually achieved through methodical drumming. Another core characteristic is the description of the spirit world by the shaman, as divided into the upper world, middle world, and lower world levels.
Neoshamanism is the name given to modern shamanism of non-indigenous forms. It resembles some bits of the indigenous forms and has the same intent, which is to achieve a shamanic state of consciousness to contact spirit helpers.