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The Spirit Guides have spoken.

Shamanism is a practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with a spirit world and channel these transcendental energies into this world[1].


Shamanism is a term used to group the spiritual knowledge and religious practices of the various indigenous tribes. These practices are predominantly linked to the mysteries of the Earth, and are based on the principle that everything that exists is a manifestation of the divine. As explained by a shaman to Captain John Alden, everything that exists in nature — such as the trees, the rivers, the animals and the human beings — are connected to each other like the limbs of a human body. Although the shamanic practices are largely holistic and aim to cure the body and soul of those in need through the implement of herbs and prayers, it is also a religious experience that allows natives to connect with the spirits of nature, ancestors and entities that the shaman called "Spirit Guides." The witch Tituba has also suggested the existence of a chief spirit, known as the "Great Spirit." Through an affinity and contact with such entities, the shamans like the village chief and his daughter, Sooleawa are able to perform feats of magic.

For example, they are able to deviate and obscure the "Witch Eye", deceiving witches with false visions. They are also able to bestow paranormal powers upon chosen champions, through ceremonies in which they bind their soul to the Spirit Guides. Another example of how shamanic magic is applied in the physical plane is the creation of so-called "Tools of Power", able to counter Witchcraft and even to mortally wound witches. Among these there is also a medicine bag which guarantees invisibility to its owner, thus making skilled shamans a considerable threat to even expert witches. (Blood Kiss)


A Shaman is an intermediary between the human realm and the spirit world. They act on behalf of the community conducting ceremonial rituals, healing the people, and helping to guide others on the Shamanic path. A Shaman’s life belongs to the community and it is their responsibility to ensure the well-being of their family and village. Shamans believe in using ancient ceremonies and rituals to attune themselves with the natural rhythms of the universe in their efforts to obtain guidance and knowledge from their Gods. Many Shamans believe that the Great Spirit is an all-powerful and benevolent deity that exists in all things.

Throughout the Salem Series

Season One

Mortally wounded during a battle during the seven years of war away from home, John Alden was healed by an unidentified shaman through rituals and traditional medicines of the Native American culture of the unknown tribes [2] (Ashes Ashes).

Season Two

When Alden was dying once again, wounded by militiamen, he was rescued by members of the tribe and brought back to the village where he was again healed. Native American shamans have also proven to be able to counter the powers of witches, when Sooleawa built a particular dreamcatcher able to deflect the "Witch Eye."

John Alden undergoing the ritual

John Alden was also provided by mystical powers through a complex and dangerous shamanic ritual. Naked, covered in blood and pigments, he received mystical powers from the Great Spirit through the intercession of the shaman. In his body, precisely under the skin of the neck, a living insect was inserted in a similar way how witch Familiars are used, while tribal tattoos were etched on his back and chest, all while the smoke of the sacred incense thickened the air. Presumably, to seal the ritual John Alden had a sexual intercourse with the shaman's daughter Sooleawa; naked, her body painted all in red and with eyes that seemed real due to hallucinogenic drugs taken during the ceremony. (Cry Havoc)

The true nature of this ritual is not entirely clear, but it was revealed that once accomplished his task, Alden would have died and while he was talking to Cotton Mather, Alden referred to himself as someone not quite alive. (The Wine Dark Sea)



  • The Native group featured in the show was most likely either the Pennacook or the Massachusette.
  • The Great Spirit is not a specific deity and is not actually reflective of the real religious traditions of most Native cultures. "Great Spirit" is actually more of a generic term that was historically coined by white people as a stereotype of Native traditions. Many different Native groups believed in different deities, with some being monotheistic and others being polytheistic. Shamanism was typically heavily intertwined with most if not all of the different ethnic groups' religions in a variety of ways.
  • The Shawnees of what is now southwestern Pennsylvania and much of West Virginia and Kentucky believed in the One they called Moneto, which means "Master of Life." Likewise, the Iroqois of northern New York believed in a deity called Gitchi Manitou, which does translate as Great Spirit. In Arizona and New Mexico, the Apache people's religion was largely monotheistic, recognizing Usen as the creator God. While these religions are not entirely monotheistic, the chief emphasis is put on the creator God. Moneto, Gitchi Manitou, and Usen, as well as others from other Native cultures, all seem to be different interpretations of the same deity, recognizing the belief that there is a sole creator God. Even with the Christianization of these groups, many of them still use these traditional names when addressing the Christian God, claiming that they knew Him all along, even before the whites brought Christianity.
  • The religion of the Lakota Sioux of South Dakota and parts of Wyoming and Nebraska, believed in a pantheistic-like entity known as Wakan Tanka, which can be translated as either "the great mystery" or "all that is." It is the Divine web of life that transcends all things and is the creator, and is one with all of its creation. Nature is personified as being divine spirits such as the sun, the thunder and lightning, the earth, etc. Together, all of humanity, nature, the universe and the Creator form Wakan Tanka. the Lakota often use the term "Tunkashila," which literally means grandfather, to address the Creator. Many Lakotas today believe that Wakan Tanka and Tunkashila are one and the same with the One that Christians call God.
  • Shamans do not consider themselves witches, nor have any connection to the Devil.
  • Shamans have a less-than-friendly relationship with the witches and seem to disapprove of their lifestyle. Whether or not this animosity is directed towards all witches in general, or if it is only directed towards the Salem witches, remains unknown.
  • Shamanism is an ancient form of spiritual healing. The teachings of Shamanism focus on the human connection to nature and the promotion the health and well-being. Shamanism also allows a Shaman to work with, and not in supplication to, Higher Powers with the intent of living in harmony and achieving balance with all things.


  1. Shamanism on
  2. Probably Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe or the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah, as the territory of Massachusetts Bay was mainly inhabited by such tribes.

See Also