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Interpretations - Sacred Knowledge - Native American Shaman or Medicine Man

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The Medicine Man

Among Native Americans and other traditional peoples as far back as Paleolithic times, a person believed to possess supernatural healing powers was known as a medicine man.

Like the shaman, the medicine man was a specialist in spiritual healing. In some groups, women could assume an analogous role. The medicine man was often accorded many powers, including the ability to inflict pain, promote fertility, and secure good hunting and fishing.

Most Native Americans typically regarded illness as resulting from the entry of malignancy into the body, or the departure of the soul from a body—through violation of a taboo or through the activities of a sorcerer from an enemy tribe.

The medicine man strove through his ritual to remove or cast out the illness from the patient, or to induce the soul to return to a patient's body. The rituals might involve a variety of techniques (e.g., bloodletting, application of herbs, or the suction of the malignancy from the patient's body).

Some traditional herbal remedies were undoubtedly efficacious; other practices, though deceptive, may have been of psychological benefit to the patient.

Shaman

Native American and First Nations cultures have diverse religious beliefs. There was never one universal Native American religion or spiritual system. Though many Native American cultures have traditional healers, ritualists, singers, mystics, lore-keepers and "Medicine People", none of them ever used, or use, the term "shaman" to describe these religious leaders. Rather, like other indigenous cultures the world over, their spiritual functionaries are described by words in their own languages, and in many cases are not taught to outsiders.

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Alone on the Canyon Rim at Bryce Canyon, by Stephen Conklin, Jr. - www.pisceandelusions.org

"Alone on the Canyon Rim" | ©2006, Stephen Conklin, Jr.

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Looking Over Devil's Canyon in Utah, by Stephen Conklin, Jr. - www.pisceandelusions.org

"Looking Over Devil's Canyon, Utah" | ©2006, Stephen Conklin, Jr.

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Once Upon a Tree at San Rafael Swell, by Stephen Conklin, Jr. - www.pisceandelusions.org

"Once Upon a Tree at San Rafael Swell" | ©2006, Stephen Conklin, Jr.

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Evening Shadows Approaching Bryce Canyon, by Stephen Conklin, Jr. - www.pisceandelusions.org

"Evening Shadows Approaching Bryce Canyon" | ©2006, Stephen Conklin, Jr.

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