Shamanism is perhaps one of the oldest divinatory practices in the world to promote healing. By archaeological and anthropological evidence the practice has existed for some 20,000 to 30,000 years, perhaps since the beginning of the human race. Evidence of shamanism has been found globally in isolated regions of the Americas, Asia, Africa, regions of Europe and Australia.
It is most prominent in tribal cultures. Although differences of the practices are found among the cultures similarities are found too. The shaman is a person who can enter an ecstatic state of altered consciousness. While in the state of altered consciousness or trance he communicates with his guardian spirit who gives him information and/or power to heal the sick person. Usually the shaman who enters the trance is said to seek information in another reality.
Most believe that they must have a close connection with nature because their guardian spirit usually is that of a plant or animal. Many say the guardian spirit takes the shaman to the other reality where he is given his needed knowledge and power through a hole in the world. The shaman may also seek information to help his people and village.
In the various cultures trances are induced by singing, dancing, chanting, and drumming. Some cultures also used psychedelic drugs to actuate trances.