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Shamanic trances: Dancing

Module by: Margaret Jones. E-mail the author

In many shamanic traditions, dancing accompanies drumming. Siberian shamans, for example, dance as they beat on their reindeer-hide drums, imitating the movements of animals and birds whose qualities they wish to emulate during their trance. Rhythmic music and dancing are also traditional among Chinese and Japanese shamans.

In some cases, people from a shaman's community join in the dance. In Korea, for example, a shaman who is healing a patient using trance dances while changing costumes to display her connection to royal and bureaucratic spirits. All of the patient's family and friends dance with her. If he can, the patient even joins in. During trance ceremonies among the San of South Africa, participants from the shaman's community dance, clap, and chant with such enthusiasm and abandon that many of them apparently enter a trance themselves!

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