1)This deviation is an extension of a discussion I had with some people online over classification of religion. I don't know how many Guenonian Traditionalists, Mircea Eliade fans, or folks interested in Shamanism or comparative religion there are on DA. I thought I would upload the comment as any food for thought for those interested in Shamanism, Mysticism, Esoterism, Spirituality, anthropology and/or religion. I realize that a lot of readers probably won't understand a lot of what is being said here, but I plan to upload a series of musings of Religion and Philosophy from a "Traditionalist" perspective. Traditionalist in that is influenced primarily from the French Metaphysician, Rene Guenon and his students, Italian esoteric and Nobleperson Julius Evola, Historian of Religions Mircea Eliade (whose book "Shamanism" is the main study here") Spiritual leader Frithjof Schuon, and a host of others.
2)There is essentially no difference between the Shaman and the Mystic of any other Tradition who goes through the levels of spiritual reality. Essentially the Shaman/Mystic/Esoteric is one who goes through the world, underworld, and Spiritual world, encountering spiritual beings and being tested through each level of initiation. The end result is a destruction of the self/ego and the replacement of new Self, which is a reflection of the Absolute. Reading the experiences and mythology of Shamans and it readings almost identically to Meister Eckhart and Al-Hallaj.
3)Furthermore, The "Shaman" in any given society is, just like the Mystic, a member of an exclusive group of individuals. For just as the case of Abrahmic religions, Primitive religions have belief in a fall from grace. Before this fall, everyone was considered a Shaman. Yet know because there is an exile to the Material world, the Shaman functions as a bridge to maintain the societies contact the Supernatural. In any given society, the process is generally very selective and the process of becoming a Shaman is even more difficult. The selection can range from a pool of random boys from the village, blind women, grandchildren of Shamans, or any other number of things. The vast majority of them are weeded out through vigorous trials and tribulations, such as periods of prolonged seclusions and fasting and sustaining injury.
4)Shamanism exists alongside the Abrahmic and Dharmic religions. In Tibet, there exist Buddhist Shamans who practice Shamanism alongside Tibetan Buddhism. In Kyrgyzstan, there exist Muslim Shamans, who practice Shamanism alongside Islam. In South America, many people practice Christianity alongside Shamanism.
5)For any real study of religion to be done, the whole concept of an "ism" has to be dispensed with, for it is assigned a quantitative limitation to something which is purely quantitative, or in other words, putting a "physical" limitation on something that is purely metaphysical. This is why there is so many disgusting and ludacris perceptions of non-western religion today. These conceptions being "Sufism is a sect of Islam" "Hinduism is polytheistic" "Primitive societies is animistic" etc, but applying the term "Shamanism", we are now essentially creating another misconception of "Shamanism is a religion".
Not sure if there is a Traditionalist community on DA, but thought I should throw this lengthy comment i made in a facebook discussion here.
I honestly enjoy all of the 'mythos' that any culture creates in the further thinking of a "Higher being" and or the afterlife. The only thing I don't like about them sometimes, are the crazy people that make it their duty to shove the fruitcake of religion down your throat. Very interesting read, and I can't wait for the next!