Chinese Shamanism

Chinese Shamanism, also known as Wuism or Wuismism, is an indigenous religious and spiritual tradition practiced by various ethnic groups in China, including the Han Chinese, as well as minority groups such as the Manchu, Mongols, Tibetans, and others. It is characterized by its focus on the worship of spirits, ancestors, and nature deities, as well as the practice of shamanic rituals and ceremonies.

Key aspects of Chinese Shamanism include:

  1. Belief in Spirits: Chinese Shamanism revolves around the veneration of various spirits, including nature spirits, ancestral spirits, and deities associated with mountains, rivers, and other natural features. These spirits are believed to influence human affairs and can be either benevolent or malevolent.
  2. Shamanic Practitioners (Wu): Shamans, known as Wu or Wuji in Chinese, are spiritual intermediaries who have the ability to communicate with the spirit world and perform rituals to invoke or appease spirits. They often undergo rigorous training and initiation rites to develop their shamanic abilities, which may include divination, healing, exorcism, and guiding souls.
  3. Rituals and Ceremonies: Chinese Shamanism involves a variety of rituals and ceremonies aimed at maintaining harmony between humans and spirits, ensuring good fortune, and addressing spiritual and worldly concerns. These rituals may include offerings of food, incense, and other symbolic items, as well as drumming, chanting, and trance-induced performances by the shaman.
  4. Ancestor Worship: Ancestor veneration is a central aspect of Chinese Shamanism, with families paying homage to their deceased ancestors through offerings, prayers, and rituals. Ancestors are believed to play a protective role and influence the fortunes of their living descendants.
  5. Cosmology and Mythology: Chinese Shamanism encompasses a rich cosmology and mythology that often involves the worship of celestial bodies, legendary figures, and mythical creatures. These beliefs are deeply intertwined with Chinese folk religion and folklore, as well as Taoist and Confucian influences.
  6. Symbology and Symbolic Objects: Symbols and symbolic objects play an important role in Chinese Shamanism, serving as conduits for spiritual power and communication with the spirit world. These may include talismans, charms, amulets, and ritual implements such as drums, bells, and mirrors.

Chinese Shamanism has evolved over thousands of years and continues to be practiced in various forms across China and among Chinese communities worldwide. While it has experienced periods of suppression and assimilation under state-sponsored religions such as Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism, it remains a vibrant and resilient aspect of China’s cultural and spiritual heritage.