This article is from the Shamanism FAQ, by Dean Edwards email@example.com with numerous contributions by others.
In contemporary, historical or traditional shamanic practice the shaman
may at times fill the role of priest, magician, metaphysician or healer.
Personal experience is the prime determinant of the status of a shaman.
Knowledge of other realms of being and consciousness and the cosmology of
those regions is the basis of the shamanic perspective and power. With this
knowledge, the shaman is able to serve as a bridge between the mundane and
the higher and lower states The shaman lives at the edge of reality as most
people would recognize it and most commonly at the edge of society itself.
Few indeed have the stamina to adventure into these realms and endure the
outer hardships and personal crises that have been reported by or
observed of many shamans.