Patterns of Religious Healing Among the Ojibway Indians
Written by John Grim
The Shaman: Patterns of Religious Healing Among the Ojibway Indians opens with a comparative study of shamanism in the Siberian context. Four patterns are proposed that are then brought to a focused study of the healing practices of the Great Lakes peoples who have been called Ojibway, Ojibwa, Chippewa and who often self-designate now as Annisinabe. These four patterns, namely, Cosmology, Tribal Sanction, Ritual Reenactment, and Trance Experience are used to explore particular healing practices among the Anisinabe. Through these four patterns, it becomes evident that healing among these peoples is a deeply spiritual activity that relates to the larger powers in the cosmos. Yet, healing also arises from local community concerns. Moreover, the healer, or shaman, is not simply an exceptional, charismatic individual, but a person fully committed to community welfare. Thus, these healers develop their exceptional religious, or trance, experiences in rituals that reenact their spiritual experiences of the natural world. By evoking and directing these cosmological powers, then, Anishinabe healers respond to individual needs for transformation, build social identity, and transmit traditional ecological knowledge. This study concludes with a comparative discussion of the shaman as a religious personality similar to, but different from, those found in other religious traditions, namely, priest, yogi, and sage. This final section asserts that there is a shamanic dimension expressed in various ways throughout human cultures. Most importantly, this shamanic dimension is always found in close connection to ecological understandings that bridge in particular cultural expressions to cosmological insights.