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Shamanistic societies from Siberia to the Amazon believe that, in serious illness, the soul of the sick person has been taken over by malign forces. The shaman`s role is to heal both the physical and the spiritual dimension of the illness. The patient cannot be truly cured until his or her soul has been freed from evil spirit include dancing, chanting, drumming, playing games, and the stirring of ashes or sprinkling of water. By taking hallucinogens such as peyote (Lophophora williamsii), the shaman is able to reach out to the spirit world and heal both the individual and the community as a whole. 

Herbs are thought to have spiritual energy and many of them are invested with great magical power. The Iroquois believe that cardinal lobelia (Lobelia cardinalis) and morning glory (Ipomoea pandurata) have the ability to heal or harm, and should be picked, stored and used with great care. Morning glory is considered so powerful that even touching it could cause harm. The Iroquois use the plant as a remedy for coughs, tuberculosis and other ailments, and also take it as a decoction with sunflower seeds (Helianthus annuus) as a sacrament in spring and autumn rituals.

Tobacco, now considered an addictive drug, was a sacred shamanistic herb for most Nature American people. It was smoked in pipes and thrown into fire as an offering, cast into the wind and water to abate storms, scattered on the fishing net to improve the catch etc.




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