Contemporary Shamanic practice in Scotland : a new paradigm of spirituality and religion
Like many new religious movements, contemporary shamanism is a religious phenomenon with ancient roots and modern forms. It is not included or acknowledged as a world religion; in fact, scholars debate whether it even qualifies as a religion. Regardless, over recent centuries most indigenous systems of shamanism have fragmented under many of the same pressures that have threatened organized, institutional religions. That fragmentation, the unexpected survival of various traditional shamanic cultures, and the emergence of the neo-shamanic movement all parallel the survival of a number of new religious and spiritual phenomena from within many organized, institutional religions. However, like shamanism, many of these new phenomena remain unknown, ignored, or discredited without proper study, because some of the analytical models, definitions, and methodologies available often reflect world views that have not adapted to accommodate a more contemporary understanding of pluralism, diversity, religion, spirituality, moral decision-making, faith development, and the importance of balancing an insider perspective with the subjective role of an observer when conducting ethnographic and phenomenological research. This thesis set out to study a limited number of shamanic practitioners and their communities in Scotland; to determine a possible correlation between their shamanic work and seven basic elements of cross-cultural shamanism; to discover whether their shamanic practice corresponds to key components in French sociologist of religion Daniele Hervieu-L6ger's definition of 'religion as a chain of memory'; and to identify the influence of critical factors effecting a transformation in religion and culture. Research results show that three sets of contemporary shamanic practitioners and their communities in Scotland do reflect core elements found in the shamanic model. However, though they closely resemble the model of religion, they actually access a core lineage of spirituality, not religion. Their spirituality is global, and they reflect all the factors contributing to the transformation of religion.