Shamanism

   Until the arrival of Cossacks in Siberia and the Russian Far East, shamanism reigned as the dominant faith in the region. Even when Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity began to attract converts, most indigenous peoples of Asiatic Russia continued to employ shamans for purposes of health care and as spiritual guides, creating unique syncretic forms of faith. The word shaman is, in fact, of Tungusic origin and thus native to Russia’s extreme eastern periphery; it has been adopted in many European languages to describe intermediaries between humans and the spirit world. During the late Romanov period, the Russian Orthodox Church expanded its reach among the Sakha, Chukchi, Evenks, and other non-Russian peoples of the taiga and tundra zones; however, shamanism was not eliminated. Even in European Russia, the Mari continued to preserve folkloric traditions, venerate sacred groves, and observe pagan rites, even as they ostensibly embraced Christianity, exemplifying the so-called double faith (dvoeveriie). Under the Soviets, a vigorous anti-religion campaign weakened the influence of shamans and forced many practices underground.
   With the introduction of perestroika in the late 1980s, cultural groups among the indigenous peoples of the north and other traditionally shamanistic ethnic minorities blossomed. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, shamans have begun to accrue political, as well as cultural, influence among certain nationalities, including the Altays, Buryats, Tuvans, and Mari. In the post-Soviet period, the Russian government created the Shamans Register of Russia to provide some level of oversight over the practice of “neo-shamanism” and to prevent charlatanism.
   In recent years, some ethnic Russians have gravitated to neopaganism, which employs the use of Slavic shamans, who are more likely to be “New Age” enthusiasts as opposed to hereditary inheritors of shamanistic knowledge. In 2009, the country saw its first “Top Shaman” contest where adherents to shamanism could vote for their favorite candidate.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Shamanism — • A vague term used by explorers of Siberia in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to designate not a specific religion but a form of savage magic or science, by which physical nature was believed to be brought under the control of man… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Shamanism — Sha man*ism, n. The type of religion which once prevalied among all the Ural Altaic peoples (Tungusic, Mongol, and Turkish), and which still survives in various parts of Northern Asia. The Shaman, or wizard priest, deals with good as well as with …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • shamanism — (n.) 1780, from SHAMAN (Cf. shaman) + ISM (Cf. ism) …   Etymology dictionary

  • shamanism — [shä′məniz΄əm, shähā′məniz΄əm; sham′əniz΄əm] n. the religion of certain peoples, esp. some indigenous to N Asia, based on a belief in good and evil spirits who can be influenced only by the shamans shamanist n. shamanistic adj …   English World dictionary

  • Shamanism — Shaman redirects here. For other uses, see Shaman (disambiguation). Russian postcard based on a photo taken in 1908 by S. I. Borisov, showing a female shaman, of probable Khakas ethnicity.[1] Shamanism is an anthropological term referencing a… …   Wikipedia

  • shamanism — shamanist, n., adj. shamanistic, adj. /shah meuh niz euhm, shay , sham euh /, n. 1. the animistic religion of northern Asia, embracing a belief in powerful spirits that can be influenced only by shamans. 2. any similar religion. [1770 80; SHAMAN… …   Universalium

  • SHAMANISM —    the indigenous RELIGION of Northern Eurasia where trance and the control of SPIRITS by exceptional individuals or SHAMEN who negotiate between this world and the spirit world is a central feature. Shamanism is found among hunting peoples and… …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • shamanism — noun 1. any animistic religion similar to Asian shamanism (especially as practiced by certain Native American tribes) • Derivationally related forms: ↑shamanistic • Regions: ↑United States, ↑United States of America, ↑America, ↑the States, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • shamanism — [[t]ʃe͟ɪməmɪzəm[/t]] N UNCOUNT Shamanism is a religion which is based on the belief that the world is controlled by good and evil spirits, and that these spirits can be directed by people with special powers …   English dictionary

  • shamanism — shaman ► NOUN (pl. shamans) ▪ (especially among some peoples of northern Asia and North America) a person regarded as having access to, and influence in, the world of good and evil spirits. DERIVATIVES shamanic adjective shamanism noun… …   English terms dictionary

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