The Origins of Shamanism

PaganGreen Paganism and Witchcraft

The roots of shamanism are lost in antiquity. However we do know,
that given the similarities between shamanistic practices in the new
world and Europe, that the fundamental elements of shamanism
had been established as the first Paleo-Americans began to move
across the Bering land bridge which connected Siberia to Alaska.
This bridge disappeared about 12,000 years ago, as the Artic glaciers
melted.
Another source of the origins of shamanic practice lies in the
study of psychotropic plants. The ethnobiologist R.G. Wasson
proposed that all major world religions grew from psychotropic
experiences, and most shamanic cultures have some form of
psychotropic plant associated with them. Siberian shamans make
use of Amanita Muscaria, which has been tentatively identified as
the divine Soma of the Rig-Vedas. There are at least 80 different
types of psychotropic plants the were, and continue to be used in
North and South America, and American Indian shamans have made
extensive use of both the red Mescal bean and peyote. An American
researcher, R.K. Seigal, has also demonstrated a link between the
psychotropic-induced visions of shamans and tribal pottery and
weaving designs.
Of course drugs are not the only means of inducing ecstasy, and
many shamanic techniques revolve around drumming, dancing,
singing, fasting, sleeplessness, and physical feats of endurance.