A shaman is a religious or mystical expert (male or female) who in FIRST NATIONS and INUIT societies undergoes initiation experiences in altered states of consciousness (trance or possession). Initiates have frequently reported experiences of death, followed by a rebirth and total healing. The healed shaman is believed to become a bringer of health and prosperity, as a power-filled guide and technician in religion, and in magical, prophetic and mythic dramas. Some are thought to possess evil powers. Translations such as "witch doctor" are pejorative.
See also NATIVE PEOPLE: RELIGION.