Whenever we visit a happening from a world different to our own, we tend to see the happening through the lens of our own desires and fears.
Shamans have been seen as religious/spiritual operatives, protectors/interpreters of the natural world, healers, death dealers, law makers, judges, many things.
But when I look at them, I see storytellers.
Shamans interpret the chaos of their world and give it meaning. Their stories give people a way of understanding their world and acting in it.
The problem in our world is we've split this story telling into component parts. The lawyer tells the justice story, the doctor the medical story, the priest the religious story. People are left to try and blend these competing stories together into a meta-story in which they can understand their world and act in it.
Is it any wonder we're all confused?
Writers are one of the few people (entertainers, fools) with a role that allows them to pick up the shamanic tradition. We write our worlds, structuring for coherence, guiding characters on a journey. We can provide a framework for people to look at the world anew.
I'm still thinking about this idea. So this is a preliminary post. Way back when I started this blog I intended to reflect on the numinous in urban fantasy. I think that ties into this concept of writers as shamans.
Writers help people encounter the numinous.