Shamanism refers to a range of traditional beliefs and practices concerned with communication with the spirit world. There are many variations in shamanism throughout the world, though there are some beliefs that are shared by all forms of shamanism:
The spirits can play important roles in human lives.
The shaman can control and/or cooperate with the spirits for the community’s benefit.
The spirits can be either good or bad.
Shamans engage various processes and techniques to incite trance; such as: singing, dancing, taking entheogens, meditating and drumming.
Animals play an important role, acting as omens and message-bearers, as well as representations of animal spirit guides.
The shaman’s spirit leaves the body and enters into the supernatural world during certain tasks.
The shamans can treat illnesses or sickness.
Shamans are healers, gurus and magicians.
Practices and beliefs that have been termed “witchcraft” do not constitute a single identifiable religion, since they are found in a wide variety of cultures, both present and historical; however these beliefs do generally involve religious elements dealing with spirits or deities, the afterlife, magic and ritual. Witchcraft is generally characterised by its use of magic.
Sometimes witchcraft is used to refer, broadly, to the practice of indigenous magic, and has a connotation similar to shamanism. Depending on the values of the community, witchcraft in this sense may be regarded with varying degrees of respect or suspicion, or with ambivalence, being neither intrinsically good nor evil. Members of some religions have applied the term witchcraft in a pejorative sense to refer to all magical or ritual practices other than those sanctioned by their own doctrines – although this has become less common, at least in the Western world. According to some religious doctrines, all forms of magic are labelled witchcraft, and are either proscribed or treated as superstitious. Such religions consider their own ritual practices to be not at all magical, but rather simply variations of prayer.