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Pajelanca of the Brazilian North

Pajelanca refers to several forms of shamans among indigenous and peasant populations of the region from the northwestern to the northeastern borders of Brazil. They include healer shamans, priestly shamans, assault sorcerers, and prophets.

The first have as their main objective the healing of the sick. Sickness is widely conceived of as the detachment of “soul” elements from a person's body for whatever reason, such as a sudden fright or the appearance of an omen of death. The detached soul becomes lost in any one of the multiple layers of the cosmos, which are all full of traps, snares, and demons who take the souls as prey. The shaman thus undertakes in trance a perilous journey, which he or she has been trained to do in ...

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