The Nature and Basis of Shamanism: Cross-Cultural and Neurophenomenological Perspectives
The shaman is the primordial human specialist, a skilled manager of consciousness, emotions, social relations, health, and interaction with the natural and supernatural or symbolic domains. Shamanism is found throughout the world and across time. Although conceptualizations and manifestations of shamanism differ, it nonetheless reflects a transcendent reality based in human neurophenomenology and constitutes an etic phenomenon. A brief overview of the historical development of Western knowledge and literature on the shaman establishes the context for early-twentieth-century perspectives. Eliade's ( 1964) synthesis of the cross-cultural data on shamanism set the stage for contemporary considerations of the universals of shamanism and its cultural functions. As anthropological studies of shamanistic phenomena were extended in the twentieth century, debates arose as to the definition of shamanism.
Empirical answers to questions about the characteristics of shamans are provided by a study utilizing formal analysis of cross-cultural data ( Winkelman 1984, 1986a,b, 1990a,b, 1992). This study