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Renaming Fantasy Shamans/Shamanism (+)

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So, one of the magic skills in my game is currently Shamanism, and an archetype is The Shaman. I feel that most people immediately get that a Shaman will be a character who deals closely with spirits, who can enter the spirit world, who can heal and bless and curse. The problem is, it isn't actually clear that Shaman is rightly a generic anthropological term for ecstatic holy people, because there are somewhat compelling arguments that have been made that the term essentially "belongs" to the Tungusic and/or Mongolian peoples.

On the other hand, as a generic anthropological term, several scholars and activists have criticised the term on the grounds that it implies that ecstatic and spirit-calling traditions around the world are simple and similar, ie that they are "all basically the same thing", which is reductive, as well as on the grounds that it is a term with roots in colonialism and that due to it's history in western scholarship and rhetoric, it perpetuates ideas of the "noble savage", and contributes to the marginalization of indigenous peoples.

In short, it's a contentious term.

Now, "Shaman" is easy to replace for a game term. Spirit Caller springs immediately to mind.

But what are some terms that can be used to refer to the act of contacting and negotiating with spirits, calling upon them to aid you or others, driving out evil spirits, healing spiritual ailments, and the people who specialize in these practices?

Anyone got any good latin or greek words that have a good ring to them? What would the greek -mancy terminology be?

Please note that this is a + thread, and remember the forum rules. We aren't here to argue about politics, the value of inclusion, or whether it's worth thinking through this sort of thing.
 

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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Mystic is my default for the shamanistic range of class abilities, but I also use Keeper, Warden and Grey Walker to designate various magical specialties. Or I guess Spirit Walker could be a thing.
Keeper has a nice ring to it.

My game isn’t trying to be historically accurate, so more fantasy flair is fine, but it does take place in an AU Earth, so there is room for a lot of wiggle, here.

for instance, Warlock refers to magical warriors whose magic comes from some manner of transgression, usually involving rituals and sources of power others consider taboo or otherwise off limits. They magically cheat in order to “punch above their weight class”. The transgression ties in with the historical meaning of the term, while the rest harkens to largely discredited interpretations of the term.

Likewise many creatures that folklore calls evil or monstrous are morally ambiguous or otherwise exemplify that humans tell stories without much regard to truth, especially when scared or excited.

A fun one is goblins, which are also Kobolds, which are mining spirits, right. But they are only associated with mines because kids were used to get to places adults couldn’t in mines throughout history, and it sometimes cost them their lives, and in my game, goblins are lost children who were found by goblins and taken to goblin town. They’re basically the lost boys, and they can create Crossroads (paths between worlds) in places associated with lost kids, like mines, abandoned places of entertainment, and cemeteries.
 


DeviousQuail

Adventurer
I don't have anything in Latin or Greek but here are the English words that jumped out to me:

Contact and negotiate = commune
Calling for aid = channeling
Driving out evil spirits = revoke/rescind
Healing spiritual ailments = alleviate?

People who specialize = Venerator (gains the knowledge and power of memories that have imprinted on the world), Intercessor (acts as a bridge between spirits and the physical world), Scion (guided by spirits through a relational connection)

I actually made a venerator class once upon a time but I'm not sure where that notebook is now.
 





Bilharzia

Fish Priest
Mythras uses "Animism" to describe the system of belief and "Animist" to describe the practitioner. From my reading it is broad enough to include all related practices across the world and history, without mis-understanding, mis-labelling or appropriating from any specific culture or practice.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Bridger. As in "the bridge between the mortal and spirit worlds."
That is a very good one for a certain tone, which might fit a game set in the modern world. That is really good.
I don't have anything in Latin or Greek but here are the English words that jumped out to me:

Contact and negotiate = commune
Calling for aid = channeling
Driving out evil spirits = revoke/rescind
Healing spiritual ailments = alleviate?

People who specialize = Venerator (gains the knowledge and power of memories that have imprinted on the world), Intercessor (acts as a bridge between spirits and the physical world), Scion (guided by spirits through a relational connection)

I actually made a venerator class once upon a time but I'm not sure where that notebook is now.
Venerator might have legs.
Soul Speaker, Second Sited, Diviner, Ancestor, Forbearers

Latin for:
Soul is Anima
Shaman is Flaminis
Ghost is Exspiravit
Spirit is Spiritus
Yeah I think anima is the best one there. Flaminis is interesting.
Recently I put out the animist class, as when I was doing my research, animism was the best term that covers shamanism but without the regional/cultural identifiers. Stay away from spirit talkers or spirit animal terms (indigenous appropriation)
That makes sense. And yeah I also need to find a good name for the ability to step into the spirit world that isn’t “spirit Walker”.
Mythras uses "Animism" to describe the system of belief and "Animist" to describe the practitioner. From my reading it is broad enough to include all related practices across the world and history, without mis-understanding, mis-labelling or appropriating from any specific culture or practice.
Animism is very good, for the skill at least.
 


Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Animist
Medium
Seer
Channel
Preserver
Grey Warden
Cheval - term used in Haitian practice
Iatromantis - Greek Witch doctor
Ecstatic - Shamanisn is a term applied to practitioners of ecstatic meditative practices so may as well go to the source for a name
 
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Bluenose

Adventurer
Shaman is Flaminis
Flamen. Flaminis is genitive, of the Flamen. And honestly I'd probably translate that as Priest, since they were associated with particular gods (the Flamines Maiores, the three major ones, were the senior priests of Jupiter, Mars and Quirinus). I'd perhaps use something like Loquitur Manes/Lares/Spirites, a Talker to Ghosts, ancestors or spirits. It's not exactly a Latin (or Greek) concept, as that was something that a priest would also be expected to do.


A pretty common term is Practitioner, somone who follows one of the many Practices that engage with spirits/ the spirit world. But like animist, that applires to ordinary members of the group too, rather than just the leaders. If you want most people to be able to use magic, the animist or practitioner have the advantage that it's how they're used in real life; if you're after specialist spellcasters then Shaman isn't the worst choice, with priest and wizard already taken or with other meanings, and while there are plenty of alternative terms they also tend to be culture-specific.
 



Bilharzia

Fish Priest
Animism is very good, for the skill at least.
Mythras again, goes further. Animism uses two skills, Trance and Binding.

Trance is used to travel to and navigate the spirit world. More specifically if the animist is trying to find a particular kind of spirit, the Trance skill can also be used to help with the search. Trance may also be used to sense the presence of spirits.

Binding is used to communicate and negotiate with spirits. Binding is used in spirit combat to defend or attack hostile spirits. When communicating with a spirit, use of the binding skill may be thought of as a conversation or a negotiation with the spirit if it is a neutral or friendly one - as a social skill would be used with a NPC. Usually the animist is asking the spirit for a favour - would it help heal a companion, or provide some knowledge, or manifest its power within the animist. With a hostile spirit, Binding may be used to compel a spirit to perform a service, where it is commanded to carry out a task, or to be bound within a binding object, such as a fetish, but it could also be bound to a creature.

Different traditions, people or tribes have access to different spirits, this is an example from Monster Island:
XakkK8T.png

The Mandahi tribe worship the python god, Mandahu the cold embracer, as their founder god-spirit. The friendly spirits (easy to find) give the animists certain benefits particular to the python - damage, control over serpents, hypnotism, and the ability to turn into a python.
 
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Doug McCrae

Legend
These are from the glossary in Georg Luck, Arcana Mundi: Magic and the Occult in the Greek and Roman Worlds 2e (2006). Note that goes and hariolus have negative connotations:

Greek

goes 'wizard, sorcerer, juggler, charlatan'... The word can designate the "wizard" (a low-class type of magos) or any quack, humbug, or impostor... Originally, goetes (from goao 'to wail') could have been an early Greek shaman whose specialty was a ritual lament over the dead (screams uttered in ecstasy), but it could refer to shrill cries uttered in a normal state of consciousness, during a magical ritual.
iatromantis 'physician-seer', also 'miracle-worker' (semimythical figures like Abaris, Aristeas, Epimenides, Hermotimus). Another form of shamanism in Greek culture (diagnosis, prescription, and prognosis made in trance).
psychagogos 'expert in raising spirits' (to consult them about the future or use them as harmful agents).
sibylla 'ecstatic female seer of a certain type' (localized, attached to sanctuary, but prophesying without answering formal questions).
theios aner 'divine man, holy man', i.e., miracle-worker, prophet, healer, shaman.

Latin

gnarus 'one who knows'. Probably vague on purpose, like other terms of this kind.
hariolus '[ecstatic] seer, prophet, diviner', but usually in a pejorative sense.
peritus 'expert' (in magic).
Sibylla 'type of female diviner, ecstatic prophetess', sometimes worshiped as deity.
 


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