Central Asian Mythology

Master Spirits and Shamans

What role do shamans play?

In Siberia and elsewhere in Central Asia, as in parts of Native America, shamans still play a role. The shaman’s job is to cure diseases, to perform important hunting, birthing, and other rites, and to serve as a mediator between the spirit world and the human world. Shamans are “called” to their profession by their spirit ancestors in the Underworld. The shaman’s soul is sometimes said to have entered the human world in the form of his special totem animal. Shamans have the power to change shapes in order, to, for instance, enter the spirit world during ritual séances. In this shapeshifter aspect of their beings, shamans resemble tricksters. To Native Americans, these shamans became “Medicine Men.”


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