This article is from the Religion-Shamanism FAQ, by Dean Edwards, Stef Jones, Jilara, Jane Beckman, Ann Albers with numerous contributions by others.
A motif frequently encountered in
shamanic practice. There seem to be three distinct types of shape-
a. The way in which an inner body appears. This may be called soul or
spirit shifting, because it involves the movement and shifting in
appearance of the image of someone or something as they appear
inwardly in spirit form.
b. When it is the spirit form which can be physically seen. The
person shapeshifts and can change how they appear to others while in
c. Actual physical shapeshifting.
There are also stories of bilocation in which a person may appear
in more than one location at the same time. This is not necessarily a
shapeshifting phenomenon, but may also involve shapeshifting.
Dean Edwards (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In non-ordinary reality, in journeys, a shaman can take on forms
other than his/her own body. This might be called shapeshifting.
Some people believe that powerful shamans can take on other forms in
ordinary reality too.
Stef Jones (email@example.com)
In old days, transforming your energy into a different physical
form; I believe a modern version of "shapeshifting" occurs when we
alter who we are around different people. I used to say that the best
corporate leaders were the greatest "shapeshifters"; they
could speak into any listening and dance with any situation
Ann Albers (firstname.lastname@example.org)